top of page

Illinois Hands & Voices
Junior Board of Directors

Our Junior Board of Directors was started in early 2021 by Lydia Hernandez, our board Vice President.  At that time, we found that we provide events for families with teens. We developed our Junior Board to encourage and mentor teens to be the face of the future of Illinois.  They will be future DHH Guides, future DHH Board Members, future volunteers, and contributing deaf/hard of hearing members of the community. These young adults will ensure that Illinois follows the JCIH Principle of DHH Adult Infusion representation.  We believe that this begins with young adults who want to lead!  Our Board of Directors provide support, but the Junior board is charged with bringing forth ways to meet, interact, and hold events for families of teens who are deaf/hard of hearing in our state.  While the teens are mingling and having fun, we will provide support and networking opportunites for the rest of the family.


Ramona Martin- Hands & Voices Jr. Board Advisor

Ramona Martin graduated with her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Springfield. She is currently a School Social Worker at Douglas PREP Alternative High School in Springfield, IL. Ramona lives in a small town in Central Illinois, Illiopolis, with her husband, daughter, Hannah, and 3 sons, Hunter, Owen and Noah. Ramona has 2 sets of twins, born in 2008 and 2011; 1 son from each set of twins was diagnosed with hearing loss after being referred from their newborn hearing screenings. She and her family worked with Legislators in Illinois to get a bill passed for insurance coverage for children who need hearing aids in Illinois. In July 2020, Ramona was hired as a Parent Guide with Guide By Your Side. In 2021, she became a board member with Illinois Hands & Voices. She facilitates monthly virtual “get to you know” zoom meetings for parents in Illinois since 2022. Ramona is also a moderator for “Fostering Joy – Families of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Children.” Ramona began leading the Junior Board of Directors in 2023. Ramona enjoys working with youth and families, supporting and learning from them. 


Brook Heimlich - Jr Board President

Hi I’m Brooke Heimlich. As a teen with hearing loss, I love to help others that are struggling with hearing loss or if I’m being honest just anything I can help with. I love to dance/sing/act/or do anything that involves being with my friends and family. I know how hard it can be to not know all the answers and have so many questions, and the teen board/all the other boards are here to help you with that. Looking forward to meeting or chatting with lots of you!


Vivian Johnson - Jr Board Vice President

Vivian Johnson is a sophomore at Wheaton North High School. She was born hearing, and then was diagnosed with progressive bilateral hearing loss at the age of 3. She has worn cochlear implants on both ears since she was 5 years old. Vivian has participated in multiple deaf and hard-of-hearing programs, and currently, her first position on a board is here on the Junior Board of Directors for Illinois Hands and Voices. She is excited to be able to support other families with deaf/HOH members!


Lynette Hernandez - Jr Board Secretary

I was 4 when I failed my preschool hearing test, and it was later determined that I have unilateral hearing loss. Since then, I've used FM Systems and hearing aids, to help catch up on speech I miss. I've been lucky enough to have attended several Hands and Voices and Guide By Your Side events to get to understand what other kids are going through with their deaf/hoh stories. In my free time, I love to read, listen to music, play guitar, and spend time with friends or family!


Appu Gunturu - Jr Board Member - Social Media Chair

My name is Aparajita (Appu) Gunturu, and I am a member of the first junior board of directors for Illinois Hands & Voices. I live in the Chicago metro area in Naperville IL, and I am going to be a Senior in the 2022-2023 school year at Metea Valley High School. I also have experience in volunteering and have volunteered in places like Feed my Starving Children. I also volunteered for several social organizations which were hosted by an organization in my school called Rho Kappa. As a Social Media Manager for Illinois Hands and Voices, I would work towards promoting digital campaigns and increasing awareness about hearing loss. Some of my hobbies include watching tv, playing video games and photography. I mostly like taking photos of city life as well as nature and landscapes. I live with my parents and a younger sibling. 

Tessa (portrait).jpeg

Tessa Brannigan- Jr Board Member 

Bio coming soon.

bottom of page