July 23, 2003 - Sharon L. Applegate has been named executive director of DEAF, Inc., the Commonwealth's first and only multi-service community-based agency run by and for Deaf or Hard of Hearing people. Ms. Applegate joins DEAF, Inc. following a nationwide search to replace Heidi Reed, who led the Organization as its executive director for fourteen years, but who left last fall to accept an appointment to serve as Commissioner of the Massachusetts Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing.
Ms. Applegate, who is Deaf and fluent in American Sign Language, brings to DEAF, Inc. 20 years of experience working with Deaf, Hard of Hearing, and Deafblind people. Most recently, and for the past six years, she served as Assistant Executive Director for the New York Society for the Deaf, and held broad leadership, executive, administrative, and financial management responsibilities for that Agency - a nonprofit organization with 80 staff, 3,000 consumers, and an annual budget of $10 million.
"We are delighted that we were able to attract someone of Sharon's considerable capabilities to take the reins at DEAF, Inc.," said DEAF, Inc Board President Heather Harker. "That Sharon was willing to relocate to Massachusetts to accept this position speaks well for DEAF, Inc.'s track record of service and the depth of our programs, a credit to Heidi Reed and the staff she built and directed over 14 years. We are grateful to her, and to Chris Casey, woh led DEAF Inc. as acting executive director during our search for a new director, for their unwavering commitment to the Deaf community through service to DEAF, Inc."
"The search to replace Heidi Reed involved both DEAF, Inc. board members and members of the community," added Harker. "Ultimately, we were unanimous that Sharon was the candidate best equipped not just to continue DEAF, Inc.'s 25-year impressive legacy of quality programming and advocacy for the range of populations we serve- but to chart new directions, meet expanding demands even in the wake of current budget pressures, and take the Organization to new heights. We are delighted to have Sharon aboard and enthusiastic about the prospect of introducing her to our community when we celebrate our 25th anniversary as an organization in September.
Ms. Applegate holds two masters degrees from Columbia University (Social work and public health) and a B.A. in sociology from Columbia University. She is a resident of Framingham, where her daughter Louise (7), also Deaf, is a student at The Learning Center.
Since its founding 25 years ago, DEAF, Inc. (Developmental Evaluation and Adjustment Facilities, Inc.) has served more than 20,000 members of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing population of Massachusetts and the Northeast through its headquarters in Allston, and its regional offices in Salem, Middleboro, and New Bedford. The Organization provides comprehensive services to Deaf, Hard of hearing, Deafblind and Late Deafened people, as well as to their family, friends and employers, to encourage and enable consumers to participate effectively and productively in their communities. DEAF, Inc. offers educational programs, information and referrals, advocacy, skills assessment and training tailored to consumer needs in a supportive community environment - one that is linguistically and culturally accessible to Deaf and Hard of Hearing people from diverse backgrounds.