Barry Saudan, President
Barry Saudan was appointed by CCAF/Ability Central Board of Directors as President and Chief Executive Officer in January of 2015, following the retirement of Shelley Bergum, one of CCAF’s founders and CEO since 2003.
Prior to taking over as CEO, Barry was the Director of Operations and part of CCAF’s Executive Management Team that oversees CCAF’s contract with the California Public Utilities Commission (CPUC) to manage and operate the Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program (DDTP).
Barry has over 30 years’ of executive management experience, including technical operations and strategic management in the financial systems and software sectors. Barry’s experience also includes working for a nonprofit in the workforce development sector and as a small business owner. Barry holds a Master’s Degree in Business Administration and Under Graduate Degrees in Information Systems Management and Electronic Engineering.
Jesus M. Gonzalez, Interim Chair
Jesus M. Gonzalez joined the CCAF Board of Directors in 2017. He currently serves as the Executive Director of Wesley House Student Residence Inc., a nonprofit organization located in San Diego, CA that provides housing and support services for low income students attending San Diego State University. Jesus has 20 years of executive level experience in general management of small to mid-size organizations, fund development, contract and grants administration, program development and implementation, business operations, and human resources management.
He is skilled in public speaking, change management, coaching and training, organizational development, cross-functional team leadership and non-profit board governance. His passion is to work with organizations to develop infrastructure that leads to viability and sustainability.
Jesus earned his bachelor’s degree in social services from the Metropolitan State University of Denver.
Celia C.J. Solis, Vice Chair
Celia C.J. Solis joined the Board of Directors in 2020. Celia is the Director of Operations and Development for Azul where she brings a wealth of knowledge and skills to day-to-day operations and sustainability. Celia is a senior executive with over 15 years of experience in corporate and not-for-profit administration, human resources, organizational and community development, information technology and marketing. The daughter of immigrants, and an immigrant herself, Celia emigrated from the Philippines and hails from a civic minded family with a passion and appreciation for service and culture, who put family above all. Her father served in the US Navy and taught his family a strong work-ethic. Her mother, a Doctor of Dentistry in the Philippines, became a nurse in the United States, instilled the love for music and the arts; and her brother, dedicated his career to community and service, retired as the Assistant Chief for the San Diego Police Department.
With an extensive background developing and executing strategic plans for sustainability and growth, Celia served as the Director of Human Resources and Administration for RioPort, a start-up international Internet music company. After a successful corporate career in the Bay Area, Celia moved back to San Diego where she was recruited to work for environmental nonprofit organizations responsible for developing Strategic Development Plans, managing the Volunteer and Internship Program, and overseeing the Information Technology Services. Celia also served as the Director of Human Resources and Community Outreach for Ephesians Home Care which provided Alzheimer’s support and education to the senior community, and Director of Operations and Administration for New Americans Museum, an organization that honors, educates, and celebrates the contributions of immigrants.
Celia continues to volunteer her time for various community organizations for both local for-profit and non-profit organizations. Celia serves as a Board Member and Committee Chair for the California Communications Access Foundation and is an advisor for the Pre-K Autism Program at Lindale Elementary School in San Jose, CA.; serves as a Commissioner for the Diocese of San Diego, volunteers for St. Rose of Lima Parish as a member of the Pastoral Council and as a liturgical sign-language Interpreter. As an advisor to for profit community organizations, Celia volunteers with Let’s Talk Seniors (servicing seniors and families facing Alzheimer’s) and The Greatest Gift Program (providing vision care services to marginalized communities). A graduate from San Diego State University, Celia earned her BA in Speech Pathology and Audiological Communicative Disorders and later earned her MBA with a concentration in Management of Information Systems. She continues to live in sunny San Diego, enjoying the surf, waves and seashore.
Jimi Gilroy, Secretary
Jimi Gilroy joined the Board of Directors in 2015. Jimi has worked in the San Francisco Bay Area for the last 20 years. He has a passion for bringing technology to individuals to support their independence including communication and learning needs. Jimi currently works as a Vendor Manager for the Localization Team at Dropbox.
Jimi has worked in various non-profits including Compass Family Services, Support for Families of Children with Disabilities, and the San Francisco Child Abuse Prevention Center, and WestEd. Jimi also serves as a Board member for the East Bay Integrative Pregnancy Project.
Jimi spent more than six years studying and working in mainland China and Central America where he learned to speak Spanish and Mandarin, as well as the benefits of Chinese medicine. In his spare time, he enjoys playing with apps, reading, and spending time with his family, including his three nieces.
Jimi earned his bachelor’s degree in Sociolinguistics from Long Island University- Southampton in 2001 and an MBA from Western Governors University in 2016.
Sarah Slaughter, Treasurer
Sarah Slaughter joined the Board of Directors in 2017. Sarah has been in the nonprofit industry for over 20 years. Sarah has worked for the San Diego History Center, The San Diego Foundation, The Campanile Foundation, SDSU, and San Diego Second Chance. She also has her own consulting business, where she is utilizing her years of experience in the larger foundation sector to assist smaller nonprofits to raise their level of financial integrity. Sarah has a BS in Accounting from San Diego State University.
Philip Prinz, Director
Dr. Philip M. Prinz joined the Board of Directors in 2016. Dr. Prinz is Professor Emeritus in the Department of Special Education at San Francisco State University (SFSU). He also served on the faculty of the Joint Doctoral Program in Special Education administered by SFSU and the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, Dr. Prinz was on the faculty in the Communication Disorders Program at The Pennsylvania State University and the Department of Communication Disorders at the University of Colorado.
He completed a B.A. in Comparative Literature at UCLA, an M.S. in Journalism at Northwestern University, an M.S. in Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences at Boston University, and a doctorate in Applied Psycholinguistics and Special Education at Boston University. Dr. Prinz holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech, Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) and a Speech & Language Pathologist License from the State of California.
He conducts communication/language and literacy assessments with children and adults. His research has emphasized, among other things, language differences and disorders across spoken, written, and signed modalities; American Sign Language (ASL) acquisition and assessment; the relationship between ASL proficiency and English literacy development; and the differentiation between typical vs. atypical language abilities of English language learning children (second language learners).
Dr. Prinz has received research grants from the U.S. Department of Education (Office of Special Education Programs) and was a recipient of Research Fellowships from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation and the Fulbright Commission. He received an Ed Roberts Senior Fellowship from the National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research (NIDRR) and the University of California, Berkeley.
Michelle Yook, Director
I am Michelle Yook, and my Korean name is Yook Soon Myung (육순명) – it means “light of the earth.” I have been an advocate, with a Master of Social Work degree, for the Deaf Counseling Advocacy and Referral Agency (DCARA) for five years. Also, I volunteer my time as a Disability Advisory Group member for Ability Central (formerly known as the Disability Communications Fund).
Currently, I live in San Jose with my husband, Jim Laffer. I am a lifetime member of the Association of Late-Deafened Adults (ALDA), thanks to my husband who is a leader of an ALDA group in San Jose. I am honored to be on the board for Ability Central!
Andreas Forsland, Director
Andreas Forsland joined the Board of Directors in 2021Andreas is the Founder & CEO of Cognixion, a digital health startup based in Santa Barbara, California and Toronto, Ontario. Cognixion builds accessible and affordable neuroprosthetic software and wearables that use biometric sensors and ML in new ways to help people with complex disabilities use their face, eyes and brain as a direct control interface for mobile and AR accessibility. Cognixion is recognized as a top 21 neurotech startup to watch, and is focused on scaling up the transformation of over 100 million lives and translating universal design approaches for everyone by focusing on the most challenging human interaction needs.
Griffen Stapp, Director
Griffen Stapp joined the Board of Directors in 2021. Griffen is an accomplished accounting and operations executive. Griffen has been in accounting and operations for over 18 years, been on nonprofit boards for 13 years, and has been teaching college for over 8 years. Currently, Mr. Stapp serves as Financial Controller at IRRAS, running the finance side of a biomedical company and clinical research company, and running the Finance team at New Leaf Biofuel, a biodiesel and used cooking oil collection company. Mr. Stapp holds a Masters of Business Administration from Cal State University, San Marcos and USC, and is a Certified Public Accountant from Washington State.
Sofia M Vergara Ed.D
Dr. Sofia Vergara joined the Board of Directors in 2021. Dr. Vergara has been a Spanish teacher at New Roads School for the last 15 years and served as Curriculum Coordinator for the Spanish division of her department. She is an alumnus of the school and decided to go back and work there after graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in Political Science and minors in both Spanish and Disability Studies. She also earned a Masters degree in Secondary Education and Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership for Social Justice both from Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles.
In 2017, Dr. Vergara was asked to join LMU’s School of Education as a lecturer where she has taught undergraduate and graduate courses focusing on disability and multiculturalism in special education, specifically in the areas of educational supports for students with disabilities (FBAs, IEPs 504 plans), IDEA, Universal Design for Learning, and transitional planning. Sofia also served as a member and chair of the Board of Directors of the Westside Regional Center, whose mission it is to empower people with developmental disabilities and their families to choose and access community services. These educational and professional experiences, as well as her passion for advocacy and inclusion of individuals with disabilities, are also the essential driving forces behind why, in 2020, Dr Vergara and a colleague co-founded Bridges to Inclusion, a company that provides training and support to educational institutions, organizations, families, and individuals with disabilities.
Linda Drattell became deafened in her thirties and had to relearn to navigate social, professional, and family relationships; she has chronicled this process in her nonfiction, fiction, and poetry writings, which have been published in anthologies, newsletters and magazines.
She has held the positions of director of community relations for the Deaf Counseling, Advocacy and Referral Agency; past president of the Association of Late-Deafened Adults; president and founder of the Bay Epicenter of Advocacy for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing; and past member of the BART Accessibility Task Force. She is a member of the California Writers Club and the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators. She holds an MBA from the American University and a bachelor’s degree in social work from the Hebrew University.
She celebrates life as a wife and mother. She enjoys long-distance running and the company of her aging horse and three goats, who remind her age is just a number and one’s capability is an ongoing discovery.