Dear Alexander Graham Bell Community,   
 
It is my honor and my pleasure to wish you great joy throughout the holidays and into the New Year. I'm sure that, like me, you are looking forward to spending warm moments with family and friends, to making memories that will last your whole life long, and to sharing what you have with others.

I want to thank you for making it possible for AG Bell to share what we have and change lives through the gift of sound. Our friends contribute so much to help people learn to listen and speak - their knowledge, their experiences and their support. I am gratified to have the chance to celebrate all you do to change lives.

This past year, you have made it possible for AG Bell to enrich so many lives, and I'm happy I can share that with you.

Evan Mercer speaks to his colleagues at Johns Hopkins University
With the support of generous souls who looked to the future and built their legacies, AG Bell awarded over $500,000 in financial aid and scholarships. Among these awardees are two brilliant, young scientists - Willa Tsao and Evan Mercer - who spent their summer advancing research through our brand-new STEM internships program. I am grateful for the efforts of several of our most enthusiastic College Scholarship Committee members and particularly to Johns Hopkins University and the University of Southern California. Scholarships from funds invested by former AG Bell presidents, professionals and people with hearing loss made it possible for 23 deserving students to aim for the stars and advance their education
. I was happy to see the recent video reports from our scholarship recipients Kira Holton and Zachary Schumann, who both received AG Bell College Scholarships in 2016.

More than 400 children were helped on their journey to listening and spoken language through the AG Bell Financial Aid Programs. Every day we receive a new video or a new letter from a financial aid recipient who has been touched by your gifts. Every individual or family that we support has their own incredible success story - unique but always steadfast as they face seemingly insurmountable obstacles.

LOFT 2016, Session 2
 
The 40 teens and six counselors participating in our Leadership Opportunities for Teens program continue to pay forward the gifts of self-advocacy and leadership. LOFT has changed the lives of over 400 teenagers who not only found lifelong friends, but were equipped with critical tools to succeed in adult life. Every year, I see the LOFTees grow tremendously in the few days they spend together, collaborating on team-building exercises and self-advocacy activities that help them transition to independence in the wider world .

The 2016 AG Bell Convention was a wonderful time to meet so many professionals and families and I was pleased to recognize many familiar faces! This Convention took a new track and so many people had the opportunity to try new ways of learning, share their stories and explore new ideas. We brought several superstars into the spotlight - Neil Maes, Brick Reilly, Jonathan Hutcherson, and Nina Poersch - and we honored those who have given so much back to our community - Kathleen Treni, Warren Estabrooks, Judith Simser, and Christine Yoshinaga-Itano. I'm also pleased that we were able to celebrate the achievements of Meredith Sugar during her Presidency of AG Bell and usher in Dr. Ted Meyer's term with such a fantastic party!

But no party could surpass the outstanding Legacy of Innovation Gala, the celebration of the 125th Anniversary of the Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and the lasting legacy of its founder. The Gala completely sold out and was the talk of the town the day after.  We took the opportunity to honor a singularly impactful figure in the history of our organization, Alexander Graham Bell's great-grandson, Gilbert M. Grosvenor.

AG Bell Staff at the 2016 Legacy of Innovation Gala

Gil is a Renaissance man, true to his family roots. Through his service to AG Bell and as the leader of the National Geographic Society for over 30 years, Gil has contributed a robust legacy to all of us. It was such a pleasure to celebrate his life along with Dr. Bell's descendants, and I hope their participation will continue for many generations to come. We also honored United States Representatives Lois Capps and Brett Guthrie, whose support in the House for the reauthorization of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention bill was invaluable. I particularly want to thank Elena LaQuatra, whose bright optimism and open heart make her a joy to be with; Neil Maes and his courageous family; Brick Reilly who is always seeking a way to help others; and Lance Allred, all of whom helped us Raise Each Other Up.

On Giving Tuesday, Elena and I were delighted to be featured on Great Day Washington, the morning show on our local CBS station, WUSA9, as well as their evening news. The theme of our campaign this year is not only how important it is that we protect the choice to hear and talk, but how the AG Bell community continues to raise each other up. I have never known a more supportive and tight-knit community so willing to give everything it has for each other. It has been a treasure to spend the year with AG Bell and with you. We made a special present just for you - AG Bell's 2016 year in review video!

I wish you and your loved ones the happiest of holidays, and I look forward to beginning an outstanding New Year with you.

Until next year,

Emilio EAM signature blue transparent
Emilio Alonso-Mendoza
 

For last year's words belong to last year's language and next year's words await another voice .

T.S. Eliot