Governor Moore Announces Appointments to Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and State Board of Sign Language Interpreters

Maryland Governor News

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (Nov. 15, 2023)— Governor Wes Moore today announced the appointment of Usherla DeBerry as acting director of the Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. The governor also announced the members appointed to the newly-created State Board of Sign Language Interpreters.

“It is vital that we provide all resources and access to opportunities for Maryland’s Deaf and hard of hearing community. I am confident that we have the right team in place to accomplish that goal,” said Gov. Moore. “I am grateful that Ms. DeBerry and the new board members answered the call to serve. I thank Acting Director Breen for her tremendous work and leadership in the Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing during this search process and I look forward to all that the office, the board, and our administration will do together in partnership.”

The Governor’s Office of the Deaf and Hard of Hearing promotes equal and full access for all Marylanders by providing expertise that enhances the general welfare of Maryland’s Deaf and hard of hearing residents. The office addresses policy gaps, provides expertise related to Deaf and hard of hearing issues, and facilitates the ability to access resources and services.

Usherla DeBerry is a seasoned professional in program administration and advocacy within the Deaf community. Prior to this role, she was a Regional Manager for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services Division of Services for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and the Housing Operations Manager at Gallaudet University. She also has been adjunct faculty at Gallaudet University, Wake Technical Community College in Raleigh, North Carolina, and Delaware Technical Community College.

DeBerry holds a Bachelor of Science from Gallaudet University and a Master of Education from Wilmington University. Her appointment will be submitted to the Senate for confirmation during the 2024 legislative session.

Governor Moore also announced the members of the newly-created State Board of Sign Language Interpreters. In May, Governor Moore signed the Maryland Sign Language Interpreters Act into law, which established a licensing and regulatory system for sign language interpreters under the State Board of Sign Language Interpreters. Governor Moore’s appointees to the State Board of Sign Language Interpreters include:
Susan Beaver is a nationally certified American Sign Language Interpreter who primarily works in K–12 educational settings and is a Child of a Deaf Adult. Her previous interpreting experience was staff interpreter and interpreter coordinator for the Deaf Independent Living Association. Beaver maintains memberships with the Registry of the Interpreters for the Deaf as well as the Potomac Chapter of Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf. Beaver holds a degree from the Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Pamela Collins is an assistant professor for the Department of Interpretation and Translation at Gallaudet University. Her extensive professional expertise includes various faculty roles. Her research interests lie in the institution of access, services providers as an institution, the regulation, practice, and impact of scheduling practices in American Sign Language-English interpreting, the social organization of interpreters regarding race, culture, equality, inclusion, and diversity; and the educational experiences of minoritized students in interpreter education programs, and Deaf/Hearing teams. Dr. Collins was the president and board member of the National Alliance of Black Interpreters, D.C. chapter. Dr. Collins earned her Doctorate of Philosophy in Interpretation at Gallaudet University.

Shane Feldman founded and led Innivee Strategies, Inc., an organizational and leadership development company that rapidly grew from a start-up to a nationally recognized consulting firm. Previous professional experience includes positions as executive director of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf and as chief operating officer for the National Association of the Deaf. Volunteer experiences include several years as president, vice president and board member of various organizations including the Maryland Association of the Deaf. Feldman was the former chair of the Maryland Advisory Council on the Deaf and Hard of Hearing and was a member of committees and task forces to review medical video interpreting and interpreter standards. He earned his Master of Science in Management from the University of Maryland University College.

Jacob Leffler is a legislative and public affairs analyst at the United States Agency for International Development. His extensive volunteer experience includes serving as the vice president of the Maryland Association of the Deaf; as founder and president of the Baltimore City Association of the Deaf; and as Region 1 board member at the National Association of the Deaf. Leffler earned a Master of Arts in Public Administration from Gallaudet University.

Trudy Suggs is a Certified Deaf Interpreter with an extensive background in writing and publishing. Suggs has strong expertise in nonprofit management, budgeting, business communications, grant writing, publishing, and curriculum and workshop development and implementation. Suggs is the business owner of T.S. Writing Services, L.L.C., a writing and editing service. Through Savory Words Publishing, she has published works of Deaf authors in various genres. Suggs is the vice president of the Maryland School of the Deaf Foundation and holds a Master of Arts in Public Administration from the University of Illinois.

Kaylee Teixeira is a nationally certified and freelance American Sign Language interpreter. Her experiences include leadership and membership in the Potomac Chapter of the Registry of Interpreters for the Deaf, the National Alliance of Black Interpreters, D.C. chapter, and the National Black Deaf Advocates. Teixeira holds a dual bachelors in American Sign Language-English Interpreting and International Global Studies from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Applications are being reviewed for the seventh member of the board. The board will elect the chair.



How Small Businesses Can Retain Customer Loyalty This Holiday Season

(StatePoint) Small business loyalty is on the rocks, according to a new study that finds that consumers are feeling more love for big retail brands this holiday season.

The study, from cloud-based accounting platform Xero, found that while 27% of consumers feel loyal to big retail brands, only 14% feel loyal to small businesses.

“For a small business owner who launched their business because of a passion, identifying ways to gain customer loyalty can be overwhelming. Fortunately, our data provides insights into tactics that small businesses can take to nurture ongoing relationships with customers,” says Ben Richmond, chartered accountant and U.S. country manager at Xero.

As the holiday season approaches, Xero is sharing these tips and survey insights to holiday-proof operations and keep customers satisfied:

• Keep delivery affordable: According to the Xero survey, 25% of survey respondents believe that delivery should always be free, regardless of original purchase price.

“Free delivery is an effective way to build customer loyalty, so offer it if you can. Just be sure to utilize cash flow forecasting or work with your accountant to gauge how much it will cost you long-term,” says Richmond.

If free shipping isn’t viable for your business, keep this fee low—30% said spending $21–$50 for delivery was agreeable. To bring down shipping costs, consider using shipping brokerages or building shipping into your pricing.

• Make delivery fast: At a point in the year when timing truly matters, it’s a good idea to offer express shipping. Thirty percent of consumers want their items faster, plus this allows you to charge for expedited shipping. On this front, customers appreciate communication. Encourage them to start seasonal shopping early and set their expectations with cut-off dates for when the last orders can be delivered in time for the holidays. You may also want to consider diversifying your supply and distribution channels by looking to both local manufacturers and service providers, and also large delivery partners, so you have options to fall back on if links in the chain are disrupted.

• Make shopping convenient: Match big retailer convenience by accepting multiple payment options, including e-wallets and by offering your products online. According to the survey, 50% of consumers are buying more online now post-pandemic, so it’s a good idea to meet them where they are.

• Build your reputation: Show your passion and small biz credentials in your branding and packaging. Don’t be shy about asking for reviews and referrals, as they’re key to building trust. And when you’re criticized online, always respond respectfully.

• Return-proof your products: Include detailed descriptions and pictures of your products to minimize returns. At the same time, consider offering more lenient policies for holiday-related returns. This both increases customer loyalty as well as extends the amount of time a return may impact your bottom line, as an extended period can allow for a slower trickle of negative growth.

• Use tech: Have a pulse-check on your cash flow by leaning into technology, like Xero’s cloud-based accounting platform, to automate tasks, manage inventory and track transactions in real-time. Technology investments can help ensure you’re constantly aware of how much return loss is acceptable per month as you plan inventory needs.

Check out the full study in Xero’s report into online shopping trends by visiting

“With a game plan that combines strategic actions, responsive communication and adaptability, small businesses can compete with the big box stores, and win customer hearts and minds over the holidays,” says Richmond.


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