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.
Lydia Hernandez - Hands & Voices Vice President - Jr. Board Advisor
Lydia Hernandez graduated Cum Laude with her BA in Liberal Studies from the University of Illinois at Springfield. Her daughter was diagnosed with hearing loss in 2010 at the age of 4, since then she has taken an active role in providing guidance to families like hers. In 2014, Lydia was hired as one of the Spanish speaking Parent Guides which she swiftly took a leadership role and since then has been helping bilingual families in Illinois. In 2015, she held a lead role for IL Hands & Voices’ biggest fundraiser of the year. In 2020 she became a board member with Illinois Hands & Voices, taking a leadership role in enhancing Spanish involvement within the community. Lydia currently holds the position of Vice President of Illinois Hands & Voices focusing her efforts on inclusion of the Spanish speaking families in Illinois who need support in their native language. She also leads the Junior Board of Directors for the chapter. She is actively involved in projects working on enhancing the EHDI system on a state and national level. Her project work includes managing referrals for Spanish speaking families that have been confirmed with a hearing loss through the Illinois Department of Public Health. Lydia works on translations for Illinois Guide By Your Side, Illinois EHDI, NCHAM and Illinois Hands & Voices. Through the years she has served as a board member for her Local School Council and volunteered her time with various non-profits due to her daughter with hearing loss also having multiple medical conditions including Celiac Disease and a rare genetic disorder called TRAPS (Tumor- Necrosis Factor Receptor Associated Periodic Syndrome). Lydia was born and raised and continues to live in Chicago with her husband Wilson and four daughters Angela, Lynette, Isabella and Skylar.
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.