Thoughts on the search for RID CEO

Emory David Dively blogged about how the RID could build trust in the hiring process.

Nice thoughts but to be honest, after what happened last summer, I can’t think candidates are willing to put themselves in public view to be humiliated. The Board has not shown their ability to be professional or ask professional questions in interviews. I’m adding a few thoughts below.

  1. The hiring committee should be majority deaf. The RID board has a long history of being oppressive toward the deaf members of the RID board. There are many horror stories about microaggressions and marginalization by the hearing people on the RID board toward the deaf people who are outnumbered. Deaf individuals on the board have little power to push back.
  2. The RID board needs anti-bias training. They all need to work on their racism, sexism, heterosexism, audism, and ableism. And while on this: all board members should have professional conduct and anti bias training upon election. Many of them do not reflect well on our profession.
  3. The board needs a workshop (or a dozen of them) on what nonprofit leadership requires. HINT 1: For-profit business skills don’t translate to nonprofit operations. HINT 2: Data science and research skills are highly valuable and sought after traits for both non-profits and for-profits. Anti-intellectualism is not a good look. HINT 3: A good understanding of the issues confronting the organization/nonprofits/the field. HINT 4: Passion for Mission.

Speaking of Passion for Mission:

The RID is in rough shape. We all know that. Non-profit work is not sexy work. You have to do a lot with little money. Your object is not profit but outcomes and services. So your decisions and ability to obtain resources is not enabled by pursuing opportunities for profit. Your decisions and ability to obtain resources is governed by your mission.

Running nonprofits requires a lot of work and commitment while operating on limited resources. This requires heart. This requires a deep-seated commitment to the organization’s mission. This requires passion. This requires that you put aside ego in pursuit of a shared goal. This requires thick skin and the ability to withstand criticism. Nonprofits require a particular brand of leadership. It was clear from the beginning that Joey did not have this. If he had, he would have lasted more than 90 days.

So this means that the RID board really. did. not. know. what. they. were. doing.

Dazzled by neat business spreadsheets and a mediocre white man’s C.V., they were oblivious to a few important facts:

  1. Asking good questions about what drives this person to want to lead this organization that’s in bad shape.  Money or service?
  2. Can this person authentically reach across aisles to reconnect communities? How can a person who’s not of the interpreting world and barely of the deaf world make this connection?
  3. Because this is a nonprofit organization driven by service to mission, not profit, how important is it that the CEO understands the core of RID’s mission- that is, how well should the CEO know and understand the day-to-day work/experience of interpreters as well as the questions, challenges, issues, and future of the interpreting field?

I have more but time has run out today. The RID board needs more non-profit experts or consultants at least.

As for the next CEO of the RID- I would like to see Kelby Brick in the hot seat. But he has a great job now. Would he give up such a sweet gig? I’d be surprised if he does.



Bullying among Interpreters

I witnessed a horrific case of bullying from one interpreter towards another. In front of other interpreters.

Who stood up for the bullied?

The bullied person. She wrote a response reminding us that we should support each other and not tear each other down. Then a few people responded but there was little direct condemnation of the bully’s actions.

Why is it that women feel the need to tear down other women?

Why is it okay for women to be bystanders while women commit violence toward other women?

Furthermore, deaf interpreters don’t get respect or equitable treatment in the interpreting field. If we work against each other, the system wins.

So when a deaf person puts down a deaf colleague, they become part of the system. And they made sure it worked perfectly, just as it should.

When a woman puts down another woman, they become part of the patriarchy. And makes sure it keeps functioning.

Systems of oppression work because of people like that and people who stand on the sidelines saying nothing. Color Me Lesbian (deaf queer woman of color) made a great video about this in ASL.

It was a obvious case of bullying with the intent to destroy a person’s reputation and career.

If that isn’t enough, think about this as a professional. Starting rumors or saying bad things about your colleagues without grounds is a clear violation of the code of ethics.





People are praising the RID for “doing the right thing.”

They have not. They did not explain the reason for Joey’s departure. It is likely he left of his own accord. But unless the board explicitly states that they asked him to resign because they heard us and our concerns, they have not taken action to correct a wrong.

Unless Joey explicitly states that he resigned because he heard us, he has not taken action to correct a wrong.

When 1988 DPN happened, Zinser resigned. Because she heard us.

She said so.

She said so herself. She didn’t hide behind the Gallaudet Board of Trustees and ask them to do that for her.

Even though she was threatened. Even though there were effigies (dolls of her) being hung from trees. Even through she got a lot of verbal abuse.

She got up on stage. Face to face.


And owned it.

That was huge ovaries on her part.

Joey on the other hand. Avoided us. Hid in the dining room at NAD conference with the board. Refused to interact with deaf people. Vlogged a single time in 3 months. Resigned in less than 90 days. Did not announce his own resignation. Did not offer any iota or shred of evidence that he listened, understood, or empathized.

He said “I’m going to do the job I’m hired to do.”

No acknowledgement or ownership of privilege, of our pain, of our outcry. Not from him. Not so much from the board either.

Then this so called announcement from the RID Board. Joey out of sight.

I have one word to describe how Joey and the board handled this.




Joey Trapani is Out as CEO of RID

He’s ending his tenure. Didn’t last six months, even.

At NAD conference, he couldn’t be bothered to leave the private dining room with RID board members to interact with deaf people at the conference. I wondered how long he would last.

Now we know.

What next? See the announcement from the RID Board of Directors. I can promise you this- Sheneman would’ve lasted longer.




Jerk Move, Interpreting Provider

So the Interpreting Agency responded to Melissa’s request about trilingual interpreters. I posted about this yesterday. They responded. I cut and pasted their response at the bottom of this post. But I took issue with one line in particular. “Therefore, my committment to support the ADA, means that I must also support our commitment to equal opportunity.”

Jerk move. You know how we might interpret that line? Allow me.

If you want us to support disability access and rights to full linguistic access then you must allow me to uphold whiteness and white supremacy under the guise of “equality.” That was a jerk move.

One set of rights shouldn’t mean we have to give up another set of rights e.g. linguistic access at the cost of cultural access or racial equity.


The following is from Melissa’s post on Facebook.

“Melissa Elmíra Yingst This is the latest. Sigh. We truly appreciate everyone chiming in. We have gone back and forth all day.


Socorro y Melissa,

It is my hope that you will have a wonderful presentation tomorrow. We have honored your request by providing you with female, trilingual interpreters that are of color, for the duration of your presentation. I believe it is your intent to incorporate these interpreters into your presentation.

As for your request to change the assignment of the other sign language interpreters based on gender and ethnicity, I cannot do so. UTEP is a public institution that has a commitment to support equal opportunity in all aspects of campus life. I believe the professional organization that is co-sponsoring the Summer Institute also has a similar obligation. I have also been told that men and women that are not of color, are already utilized in other aspects of this conference. Therefore, the use of the ASL Interpreters that are already scheduled for the duration of the conference helps to fulfill the University’s commitment of promoting diversity and inclusion.

If you are interested in understanding this point further, I have attached the equal opportunity statement for the University:

The University of Texas at El Paso is an Equal Opportunity/ Affirmative Action Employer. The University is committed to providing equal opportunity to all employees and individuals seeking employment or access to its programs, facilities or services, and will not discriminate against these persons on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, religion, age, disability, genetic information, veteran’s status, sexual orientation, or gender identity. In addition to this commitment, the University will take affirmative steps to insure that applicants are employed, and employees are treated, during all aspects of employment, in a non-discriminatory manner.

My office typically addresses issues associated with disability, but we must also support the University’s commitment to equal opportunity. Therefore, my committment to support the ADA, means that I must also support our commitment to equal opportunity.

I do hope that you will have a great experience while you are here. I also appreciate your raising these issues for my attention.

Good luck with your presentation!”