Oticon Recognizes 13 Individuals for Outstanding Achievement in Hearing Loss Awareness and Advocacy

The 2017 Oticon Focus on People Awards honors adults, students, advocates and hearing care professionals from across the U.S. for contributions to the hearing impaired community

SOMERSET, N.J.--()--Oticon, Inc. announced the winners of its 2017 Focus on People Awards, a program honoring outstanding people with hearing loss and hearing care professionals who have made a positive impact on the hearing impaired community. Now in its 19th year, the Oticon Focus on People Awards recognize individuals in four categoriesStudent, Adult, Advocacy, and Practitionerwho have challenged outdated stereotypes and demonstrate that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to succeed and make a difference.

The first place winners of the 2017 Oticon Focus on People Awards are:

  • Ellie Kobak of Portland, Oregon is a high school senior who devotes her time to tutoring and mentoring other students. She has testified before state senators on behalf of students with disabilities, and provides support for parents of hearing-impaired children as part of the Oregon Department of Education’s program for students with select disabilities.
  • Lt. Commander Michael McManus of Honolulu hesitated to wear hearing aids for fear of how it would impact his military career. Now the decorated naval officer campaigns to reduce the stigma of hearing loss in the military, and mentors other hearing-impaired members of the armed forces.
  • John Cartwright of Anchorage, Alaska is a lifelong advocate for early hearing loss detection. As a volunteer with the local Alexander Graham Bell committee, John provides his expertise and support for families of children with hearing loss.
  • Marilyn M. Hinrichs, AuD, CCC-A of Dallas participates in hundreds of community events each year to increase awareness of the impact of untreated hearing loss. She is also establishing a non-profit foundation, Ears4Years, which will provide hearing services and hearing aids to less fortunate people in her community.

This year, Oticon also issued an Outstanding Achievement Award to 10-year-old Braden Baker. Braden started a GoFundMe campaign to help children who can’t afford hearing aids, and has so far raised more than $66,000 for the cause.

“The Focus on People Awards winners each have a powerful story about how they’ve helped to drive awareness and open new doors for themselves and for the millions of people with hearing loss,” said Nancy Palmere, Director of Consumer Marketing and PR for Oticon, Inc. “We commend these individuals for their exceptional work as hearing loss champions, and hope their stories inspire others to get involved and become an advocate for all people with disabilities.”

Second and third place winners for the 2017 Focus on People Awards include:

  • Student – Rachel Friedman of Weston, Florida; Tsering Shola, of Camas, Washington
  • Adult – Mala Bawer of Bernardsville, New Jersey; Dan Beck of Rockville Centre, New York
  • Advocacy – Jena Howell, RN, MSN of Texarkana, Arkansas; Cheri Perazzoli of Redmond, Washington
  • Practitioner – Diane Kenworthy, AuD of Utica, New York; Doug Wesson, BC-HIS, ACA of Manteca, California

First place winners were honored at Oticon’s annual Focus on People Awards ceremony held on Nov. 11 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. All winners received a cash prize and Certificate of Recognition from Oticon. First place winners received a donation to a charity of his or her choice, and winners in the Student, Adult, and Advocacy categories also received a pair of Oticon hearing aids.

To learn more about all of the 2017 Oticon Focus on People Award winners visit: www.Oticon.com/FOP. Photos of the award ceremony are also available here.

About Oticon

Oticon is one of the most innovative hearing device manufacturers with more than 110 years of experience putting the needs of people with hearing loss first. Oticon has spearheaded a number of technological breakthroughs which have made a significant difference for people with hearing loss. Oticon’s “brain first” audiological focus recognizes that speech understanding and comprehension are cognitive processes that happen in the brain. Oticon’s innovative BrainHearing™ technology is helping to provide better hearing with less effort by giving the brain the clearest, purest sound signals to decode. Oticon designs and manufactures hearing solutions for adults and specialized pediatric instruments. “People First” is Oticon’s strongest and most valued commitment to empower people to communicate freely, interact naturally and participate actively. For more information visit www.oticon.com.


Gregory FCA
Denise DiMeglio, 610-228-2102

Release Summary

Oticon announces winners of the 2017 Focus on People Awards, honors 13 individuals for outstanding achievement in hearing loss awareness and advocacy.


Gregory FCA
Denise DiMeglio, 610-228-2102