Hearing loss is our passion.
Meet the Hearing Loss Association of America, California State Association (HLAA-CA) dedicated, tireless team members. All are volunteers united by commitment to hearing loss causes.
Jeffrey Chess, HLAA-CA Treasurer
Jeffrey Chess was appointed HLAA-CA treasurer in May 2009. He is also Treasurer of the Long Beach Walk4Hearing. Jeff is a Certified Public Accountant (CPA). He began his career in 1984 with the Defense Contract Audit Agency (DCAA) of the Federal government, from which he recently retired as a senior auditor after over 30 years of service. During his working career, he was recognized as DCAA’s Outstanding Employee with a Disability for Government Fiscal Year 2004 at DCAA Headquarters and also at the 24th Annual Department of Defense Disability Awards in December 2004. Jeff has been an active member of Toastmasters International (TI) for the past 30 years. He loves to golf. Jeff was born with severe hearing loss. He says without his powerful hearing aids, he can barely hear jackhammers and emergency sirens. His hearing aids help him communicate effectively with others on a daily basis, and he uses an amplifier for telephone communication. Jeff lives in Irvine, California.
Thibault Duchemin, HLAA-CA Trustee
Thibault Duchemin was elected HLAA-CA trustee in March 2016. Thibault is founder and CEO of Ava, a provider technology for empowering deaf/hard-of-hearing people in group conversations. Engineer by training, Thibault has devoted recent years to creating radically innovative hearing loss accessibility solutions, founding the first speech recognition enabled group captioning system designed specifically to help people with hearing loss follow group conversations and business meetings. Thibault was named one of Inc.’s 2015 Top 50 Emerging Global Impact Entrepreneurs to Watch. He has a Masters of Engineering degree from UC Berkeley and a Bachlers degree from École des ponts ParisTech in France. Thibault grew up the only hearing person in his family, helping his parents and sister get through the communication challenges associated with hearing loss and advocating, throughout his whole life, for his parents’ and sister’s rights in a society largely lacking of solutions to hearing loss problems. Thibault lives in the greater San Francisco Bay Area.
Marjorie Iller, HLAA-CA Trustee
Marjorie (Maggie) Iller was elected HLAA-CA trustee in March 2016. Maggie also serves as first Vice President of the HLAA Silicon Valley Chapter (HLAA-SV). Maggie has been an active member of HLAA-SV since 2004, and served as HLAA-SV president, vice president, and secretary. Maggie has been involved with the HLAA-CA board on several state conferences and has done extensive outreach and volunteering work related to hearing loss. She has been actively volunteering for various hearing causes since 1991. Maggie taught hearing-impaired/deaf children and blind children for 20 years, and she also worked and volunteered as ASL teacher, tutor, and interpreter. She was Director of Religion Education for Deaf and Hearing Youth at St. Benedict Deaf Parish. Maggie has a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gallaudet College. She was diagnosed at the age of four with severe, mixed (conductive and sensorineural), bilateral hearing loss. She grew up with hearing loss. Maggie lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Zina Jawadi, HLAA-CA President and Trustee
Zina Jawadi was elected HLAA-CA trustee in February 2013 and reelected in February 2016. She was elected HLAA-CA Secretary in February 2013, Vice President in February 2014, and President in February 2015 and again in January 2017. She has been HLAA-CA webmaster since July 2013 and served as HLAA-CA Facebook moderator from 2013 to 2014. Zina has interned at the UCSF Otology and Cochlear Implant Center and also at the House Ear Institute in Los Angeles. Zina is a three-time recipient of the United States President’s Volunteer Service Award, is the recipient of the 2014 HLAA Outstanding Young Adult Award, and is founder of the Disability Awareness Program at The Harker School in San Jose, California. Zina is active in hearing loss and disability causes through community service and social media. Zina has prelingual bilateral sensorineural hearing loss, and she underwent almost eight years of intensive speech therapy. She wears hearing aids. Zina attends Stanford University, Stanford, California. She lives in Silicon Valley, California.
Lynne Kinsey, HLAA-CA Trustee
Lynne Kinsey was elected HLAA-CA trustee in February 2012 and reelected in February 2015. She also served as HLAA-CA Secretary from February 2015 to February 2016. Lynne also serves as Secretary of the HLAA Silicon Valley Chapter (HLAA-SV), where she also served in other roles, including Vice President and chair of multiple committees. Lynne has been a member of HLAA, HLAA-CA, and HLAA-SV for 22 years, since experiencing a sudden profound hearing loss. She has worn one hearing aid for 22 years and received a cochlear implant in 2014 in the other ear. Previously, Lynne worked for Lockheed in Sunnyvale as a Satellite Operations Engineer and Data Analyst. She has a B.A. in Mathematics from San Jose State University, San Jose, California. Lynne is married to Stephen D. Kinsey; they live in San Jose, California, and they have one daughter and two grandchildren.
Gail Morrison, HLAA-CA Vice President and Trustee
Gail Morrison was elected HLAA-CA trustee in February 2012 and reelected in February 2015. She was also elected HLAA-CA Vice President in February 2015 and again in January 2017. Over the years, Gail has served on the Board of Directors of seven different organizations, holding nearly every officer’s position including President. From 2008 to 2010, she served on a multi-million dollar corporate Board of Directors as Press and Public Relations Chairman for the Assistance League of Long Beach. She has been promoting publicity for HLAA-Long Beach/Lakewood Chapter and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) since 2008 by sending out press releases to 22 media newspapers/ online sources on a monthly or as-needed basis. In February 2011, Gail was appointed to serve on the Disabled Resources Center Board of Directors in Long Beach. Gail has hearing loss and wears hearing aids. She lives in Seal Beach, California.
Rachel Otto, AuD, HLAA-CA Trustee and Secretary
Dr. Rachel Otto was elected HLAA-CA trustee and secretary in March 2016. Rachel is an audiologist, practicing with Pacific Hearing Service in Los Altos, California. She earned her Bachelor of Science degree at DePaul University in Chicago, Illinois, and her AuD degree at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Her doctoral research project focused on maximizing the perception and enjoyment of music for hearing aid users. She was awarded the grand prize in the Academy of Doctors of Audiology Student Business Plan Competition in 2014. She completed her clinical externship at the University of Chicago Hospital. Between her undergraduate and doctoral studies, Rachel spent six years working in the field of finance. She decided to transition from business to audiology after several meaningful volunteer experiences. Rachel has volunteered for Walk4Hearing and was on the Chicago HLAA Walk4Hearing Planning Committee. Rachel participated in a hearing service trips overseas in 2015 and 2016, performing diagnostic testing and fitting hearing aids in countries lacking audiology services. Rachel lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Grace Tiessen, HLAA-CA Newsletter Editor
Grace Tiessen has been editor of the HLAA-CA state newsletter since 2001. She was an HLAA-CA trustee from 1997 to 2011, and she served as HLAA-CA Corresponding Secretary from 1997 to 1998, Vice President from 1999 to 2000, and President from 2001 to 2002. Grace was President of the HLAA San Gabriel Valley Chapter from 1985 to 1990. She has been active with HLAA and HLAA-CA for over 30 years. Grace has a B.A. in English from UC Berkeley, B.A. in psychology from California State University, and B.A. in math and computer science. Grace worked as a software engineer before retiring. Grace served as a member of the California Department of Education Advisory Task Force for the deaf and hard of hearing, a member of the Board of Directors of the HEAR Center, and a member of the City of Pasadena Commission on Accessibility and Disability. Grace received HLAA’s Keystone 2003 Award. Grace grew up with hearing loss, started wearing two hearing aids in 1970, and now uses cochlear implants. Grace lives in Pasadena.
Margaret Wallhagen, Ph.D., HLAA Trustee and Chairperson, HLAA-CA Ex Officio Trustee
Dr. Margaret Wallhagen was appointed to the HLAA Board of Trustees in June 2010 and currently serves as HLAA’s Chairperson. Dr. Wallhagen has been HLAA-CA ex officio trustee since 2011. Dr. Wallhagen is a Professor of Gerontological Nursing and a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner in the School of Nursing, University of California San Francisco (UCSF), San Francisco, California. She received her initial nursing degree from St. Luke’s Hospital School of Nursing in New York, her Baccalaureate and Master’s degrees from UCSF, and her doctoral degree in nursing from the University of Washington in Seattle. Since joining the faculty at UCSF in 1988, she has taught gerontological nursing at both the masters and doctoral level, and works as a Geriatric Nurse Practitioner. Dr. Wallhagen recently completed a four year longitudinal study of the experience of hearing impairment in older adults and their partners. In January 2006, Dr. Wallhagen became the Director of the UCSF/John Hartford Center of Geriatric Nursing Excellence. She lives in San Francisco, California.
Bob Zastrow, HLAA Northern California Chapter Coordinator, HLAA-CA Ex Officio Trustee
Bob Zastrow is a retired United States Marine Corps veteran. He came to HLAA in the 1980s when an audiologist at his local Veterans Administration told him about the newly-formed Diablo Valley Chapter in Walnut Creek, California. Bob has been active in the HLAA Diablo Valley Chapter ever since, including having served as president. In addition, he regularly participated in HLAA-CA board meetings, which he attends as a guest and provides technical support by setting up the hearing loop for the meetings. Bob is also very knowledgeable about assistive listening devices. He has helped many new chapters during their startup, and knows what it takes for chapters to survive and grow.