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Leadership Team

Board of Directors

Headshot of Marie Coppola

Marie Coppola

Founder and Chair

M.A., Ph.D., Brain & Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester
Asst. Professor, Departments of Psychology and Linguistics, University of Connecticut

Marie’s interest in language and effective communication is long-standing, being rooted in her experience as the hearing daughter of two Deaf parents who use American Sign Language. Her academic research focuses on the importance of sign language input and a linguistic community for deaf children’s linguistic and cognitive development. Through Signs and Smiles, she strives to connect deaf children and their families with linguistic resources.

Headshot of Chris Kurz

Christopher Kurz


Ph.D., Foundations of Education, University of Kansas
Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology/National Technical Institute for the Deaf

Chris is on the faculty of RIT/NTID and is an avid traveler. His research and development interests are mathematics and science language and learning. In addition, he has done collaborative projects internationally where he trains and develops a teacher training curriculum for future teachers of deaf.

Headshot of Patrick Graham

Patrick Graham


Ph.D., Educational Theory and Practice, University of Georgia
Assistant Professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

A long time advocate of equity and excellence in Deaf education, Patrick worked with Dr. Joseph Tobin at the University of Georgia and his colleagues on a Spencer funded research project, studying deaf preschools in Japan, France, and the United States. He is also interested in equity in education, disability studies, multicultural education, and culturally sustaining pedagogy.

Headshot of Audrey Loudenback

Audrey Loudenback

MA in Interpreting Studies
ASL-English Interpreter and Adjunct Instructor 

Audrey lives in Salem, Oregon with her family where she works as a freelance interpreter in a variety of settings. She also teaches interpreting courses at Western Oregon University as an Adjunct Instructor, and is working with a research team to publish data on BIPOC interpreters’ experiences in the field.

Headshot of Kyle Duarte

Kyle Duarte

Ph.D., Information and Communication Sciences, Université de Bretagne-Sud
Owner, The Kyle Duarte Company

Kyle is a nationally-certified sign language interpreter based in Washington, DC. His firm provides interpreting and captioning services to a number of academic, nonprofit, and business clients. Previously, his doctoral research considered the practical applications of avatars as a form of accessible technology for deaf users. In his leisure time, Kyle is a wine reviewer and avid traveler.

Mick Posner

Mick is a seasoned public school teacher, adjunct ASL instructor at Southern Connecticut State University, and mentor to new educators. He is also a co-proprietor of an apartment building in Phoenix, Arizona, and part-owner of a home renovation company in northern New Jersey. Despite his various endeavors, Mick’s true passion lies in Deaf Education, particularly in underserved countries. He wholeheartedly strives to improve access to quality education for the Deaf community, dedicating his efforts to creating positive change in their lives.

Headshot of Tommie Sarchet.

Tommie Sarchet

Thomastine A. Sarchet-Maher, Ed.D. is assistant dean and director of the Center for International Educational Outreach in the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, at the Rochester Institute of Technology. She has over fifteen years’ experience as a Deaf education researcher, teacher, professional development trainer, curriculum developer, program evaluator and international project manager. Her primary work focuses on building local community partnerships, documentation and dissemination of local sign languages into schools, and expanding educational and employment opportunities of Deaf people through professional and community development.