Program Information

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Friday Evening

6:00 - 9:00  Registration
  Hors D’oerves
7:00 - 7:30 Welcoming Remarks—
Linda Drattell, DCARA Community Relations Director
DBS Sponsors— Sorenson- Jason Jackson, InnoCaption- Chuck Owen, Oracle, CapTel, NTID/RIT- Scot Atkins
7:30 - 8:30 Keynote Speaker—Sean Virnig, Joshua Beal
8:30 - 9:00   Meet and Greet


Exhibitions open 9am-5pm

8:30 - 9:30 Breakfast
9:15 - 10:15  Opening Presentation: Dr. Scot Atkins—“Networking for Deaf Entrepreneurs and Business Owners – Best Practices and Implications for the Future
10:30 - 12:30 Workshop 1: Gary Beal – “Learn Critical principles of negotiation with hands-on role playing
12:30 - 2:00 Brown Bag Networking
“One-on-One 10-minute meetings with individual business leaders”
2:00 - 3:30 Workshop 2: Joshua Beal – “Learn How to Grow Your Business Through a Public–Private partnership AND Learn to Maximize Your Tax Benefits as a Small Business Owner”
3:30 - 5:00  Workshop 3: Amina Makhdoom – “The Art and Science of Goal Setting — How to Take Your Business to the Next Level”
  Dinner on your own


9:00 - 1:00 Brunch
9:30 - 11:00 Presentation: Gail Su – “Legal Tips for Your Business - Business Law Basics”
11:00 - 12:00 “One-on-One 10-minute meetings with individual business leaders”
12:00 - 1:30 Panel Presentation: CONVO – “A Conversation With The Key Players of One of the Bay Area's Most Successful Deaf Companies” faciliated by Jim Brune
1:30 - 2:00 Parting Comments — Russell Stein
2:00-3:00  View Exhibitor Booths
2:00-3:00  “One-on-One 10-minute meetings with individual business leaders”
3:00 ERC Closes


Event PhotographyIMPORTANT

Photographs from the event are now available in our Facebook Page album!

Featured Presenters

Dr. W. Scot Atkins

Networking for Deaf Entrepreneurs/Business Owners- Best Practices and Implications for the Future

Academic research regarding Deaf people owning their own businesses has just begun in earnest. The number of Deaf people owning a business has increased exponentially over the years, making this a worthy subject for scholarly exploration. Especially in today’s economy, entrepreneurship, or the process of establishing and maintaining a business, has become a viable career option for many Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals as they pursue their lifelong dreams. The challenge is for new Deaf and Hard of Hearing individuals to establish their businesses and to begin their efforts in creating demand for products and services. One essential ingredient in the successful deployment of new businesses is to capitalize on existing networks and markets. Deaf business owners in the San Francisco Bay area established the Deaf-Owned Businesses of the Bay Area (DOBBA). One of the reasons for the establishment of DOBBA was the desire for networking among Deaf business owners. This organization could very easily become a model for the development of similar organizations in other locations.

The goal of this presentation is to delve into the current situation regarding Deaf Entrepreneurship, specifically as it relates to networking and expanding markets. Ultimately, the goal is to shed light on the value of networking and collaboration in the Deaf Community as far as deaf-owned businesses are concerned. Implications for the local area, especially specifically in the greater region, will be discussed. The presentation will cover the following topics:

  • Deaf Entrepreneurship in Literature through the Years.
  • Findings of Dissertation, “The Lived Experiences of Deaf Entrepreneurs and Business Owners”.
  • Discussion of theme, “building their enterprise through collaboration, networking and a deep understanding of the market”
  • NTID/RIT Kauffman Study on Deaf Entrepreneurship- preliminary findings.
  • Discussion of Best Practices and Implications for Networking.
  • Discussions for Implications in the Region and Beyond.

The presenter is currently involved in several other research initiatives in the area of Deaf Entrepreneurship at the National Technical Institute for the Deaf/Rochester Institute of Technology and will be sharing some preliminary data from that work. The presentation will close with an open discussion about networking for business owners with the goal of providing information to encourage more Deaf people to pursue their dreams.

Scot Atkins

Dr. W. Scot Atkins has over 19 years of experience in teaching, human resources, organizational development and training. Currently, Atkins is an assistant professor of business at the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) at NTID’s Business Studies department. Atkins earned his doctorate degree in organizational development from the University of St. Thomas in Minnesota and his dissertation topic was, “Exploring the Lived Experiences of Deaf Entrepreneurs/Business Owners”. Atkins is deaf and has earned both his bachelor’s and master’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology.

Atkins has spent time in Costa Rica, the Philippines, England and in Ukraine doing organizational development work and currently is the owner of Thrivo, a consulting business providing organizational development and human resources consulting for small and medium sized companies, mostly for non-profit organizations.

Atkins has been working on several research initiatives regarding Deaf Entrepreneurship. Recently, he collaborated with Dr. Richard DiMartino, of the Simone Center on Entrepreneurship on a research project on Deaf Entrepreneurship that was funded by the Kauffmann Foundation. Atkins teaches classes on entrepreneurship to deaf college students and has given a number of presentations on a variety of topics related to Deaf Entrepreneurs for various conferences. Atkins will present a workshop at the Deaf Business Symposium, “Networking for Deaf Entrepreneurs/Business Owners- Best Practices and Implications for the Future”.

Joshua R. Beal, MBA

Learn How to Grow Your Business Through a Public-Private Partnership

- What is a Public-Private Partnership (PPP)
- Ideal Opportunities for PPP
- Challenges/Rewards of a PPP
- Case Study - "DeafTaxVITA Program"

Learn to Maximize Your Tax Benefits as a Small Business Owner

- How should you set up your business? LLC, Corporation, Sole Proprietorship?
- Understanding the Tax Code as a Business Owner
- Learn about Schedule C -- Your New Best Friend!
- Tax Loopholes and Deductions For Your Business

Joshua Beal

Joshua R. Beal, MBA graduated from University of Hawaii-Manoa with a BA in Economics in 2003. As a NTID Professional Fellow Scholar, he attended Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) and graduated with a MBA in Entrepreneurship in 2009. He was recognized as the 2011 Outstanding Advocate for Children and Youth by the Hawaii State Legislature and received the 2009 National Disability Institute (NDI) Richard Keeling Award for leading the nationwide DeafTaxVITA public-private partnership. Mr. Beal is the founder of and the managing partner at Schwarz Financial Services LLC.

Before entering the financial services sector, Joshua worked at Gallaudet University Regional Center at Kapiolani Community College as a Special Projects coordinator. After completing undergraduate studies, he became the Chief-of-Staff and Legislative Analyst for the State House Representative Corinne W.L. Ching during her first term at the Hawaii State Legislature. When Mr. Beal relocated to Washington D.C., he was the first Deaf person to work in the Operations side at the World Bank Group. He assisted the Eastern Europe and Central Asia (ECA) Human Development Network team in the development of loan programs focused on disability development which were in excess of $150+ million for the countries of Ukraine and Romania.

Returning to his roots as an actor and model, having appeared on numerous TV shows, films and commercials during his twenties, Joshua recently produced the film “Deaf ME- Surfing Through Life” which documents some of the challenges many Deaf people encounter in education and employment, as told through his life experiences, along with showing how they can turn those challenges into their greatest asset through community service. The film will premiere in during the later part of 2013.

Gary Beal, Negotiation Specialist

Fundamental Principles of Business Negotiation

This workshop is based on work originally done at the Stanford Graduate School of Business, and Boalt School of Law at the University of California, Berkeley. It has been codified by BayGroup International, who has taught these principles at hundreds of companies, in 40 countries, in 14 languages.

The workshop begins with participants engaging in a brief, every-day negotiation. They are invited to bring their best negotiation skills to this transaction. In the debrief that follows the negotiation, participants will be invited to explore two objectives:

1. What is the baseline of their negotiation skills, i.e., how much skill can they actually demonstrate in a simple business negotiation?

2. What are the fundamental principles that underlie every negotiation (whether as buyer or seller, defendant or plaintiff, lessor or lessee)?

As time permits, these questions regarding negotiation principles will be examined:

•Where does the sharing or withholding of information fit into negotiation? Is it acceptable to mislead or deceive in order to obtain a fair settlement?

•What should one do about the underlying motivation of the other party?

•What is the role of conflict or tension in trying to reach a mutually-acceptable agreement?

•How important is the creation of a theme or framework for a negotiation?

•When asking for something from the other party to the negotiation, how much is too much?

•Which elements of negotiating are natural extensions of typical business behavior, and which ones are counter-intuitive?

•How should one handle the “give and take” of concessions in trying to reach agreement?

While two hours is an impossibly short amount of time to address these questions fully, participants will leave the workshop with practical skills that they can apply immediately in their next negotiation.

Gary Beal

Gary Beal has been a negotiation consultant and trainer for over 25 years. As a negotiation expert, Gary is often contracted to work with companies on critical or high-stakes negotiations, and has participated in hundreds of such consultations in the past dozen years. You can read about some of the work he has done on his website,

Gary also trains executives throughout the US, Europe, and Asia, on a variety of negotiation topics, including sales negotiation, procurement negotiation, merger and acquisition negotiation, and insurance claims negotiation. His clients over the past two years have included Motorola, Chevron, Oracle, Owens-Corning, Sherwin-Williams, Cisco, Abbott Laboratories, Dell Computer, and UPS.

Gary has consulted extensively with the world’s leading business negotiation firm, BayGroup International. Gary has heavily influenced the content and direction of BayGroup International’s negotiation product offerings, having been involved with the development, piloting, installation, and trainer certification of nearly all of BayGroup’s negotiation programs. Those products include Situational Sales Negotiation™, SSN 2: Negotiating Value™, Situational Negotiation Skills™, Negotiating With Suppliers™, Situational Claims Negotiation™, Winning Insurance Negotiations™, Negotiating Mergers, Acquisitions, and Alliances™, Managing Quality Contact™, as well as numerous customized programs for various clients.

Gary has a Master’s Degree from the Marriott School of Business at Brigham Young University, where he was mentored for two years by Stephen R. Covey, author of The Seven Habit of Highly Effective People. He and his wife Becky are the parents of eight children, aged 16-42, including two hearing-impaired sons.

Amina Makhdoom

The Art and Science of Goal Setting - How to take yur business to the next level

1. Encourage business leaders to write goals that keep them focused on their core genius and the value their business provides to others.

2. Provide specific, proven, scientific methodology overview on how to write these goals.

3. Inspire participants by hearing of how other successful business owners have used goals and clear vision to achieve amazing results.

Hannah Kelley-Bell

Ms. Amina Makhdoom specializes in high performance. She focuses on lovingly lifting and inspiring others to achieve their dreams thereby contributing their unique talent to support a world that works better for everyone.

Amina’s work focuses on brining proven success strategies to individuals and companies in order to help them achieve their most important, challenging goals. She teaches a one day Success Strategies seminar for individuals to help them clarify what they want to do and determine the obstacles that have kept them from achieving their dreams. With her combined background in business consulting and human performance, Amina is able to help individuals and businesses apply proven principles for sustained success.

Amina is affectionately labeled “A Ray of Sunshine” not only for her positive attitude and disposition, but for her warmth and ability to connect with each person in the room creating a space that allows for growth. Ms. Makhdoom resides in Laguna Beach, California where she is currently writing her first book on living a heart centered life.

Amina has worked with many clients to help them overcome their biggest change management challenges to create high performing teams and organizations. She has 15 years of Management Consulting experience, working with Accenture and North Highland. She leads the training team for Jack Canfield, author of the Chicken Soup series as well as The Success Principle, has been in the Human Development field for 10 years.

Gail Su

Legal Tips for Your Small Business – Business Law Basics

This workshop focuses on the legal issues that are most likely to arise when starting or expanding your small business. From deciding how to structure your business, to hiring your first employee or selecting a business name, this workshop will teach you the basics to protect your company and your brand. Topics include a general overview of business entities, employment law and contracts, commercial leases, and intellectual property.

Hannah Kelley-Bell

Gail Su is a corporate attorney specializing in intellectual property issues, including technology transactions, open source, and the protection and strategic use of IP. Gail is currently Counsel at Hewlett-Packard on the Strategic IP Transactions and Counseling team, where she primarily supports Global Supply Chain, HP Software, and HP Labs. She has, in the past, also supported HP’s Personal and Printing Systems Group as well as the webOS Business Unit. Her practice includes structuring and negotiating technology transactions, developing IP strategy, helping her clients understand the risk landscape associated with different technology areas, and IP infringement evaluation and analysis.

Outside of work, Gail enjoys volunteering with a number of local and national organizations such as LCCR, Citizen Schools, and Street Law. Additionally, she enjoys planning her wedding, a good game of Starcraft, and delicious food (mostly made by her fiancé).

Gail received her J.D. from Harvard Law School, a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Texas at Austin, and a B.A. in Plan II Honors from the University of Texas at Austin. She is admitted to practice law in California and is a licensed United States Patent Attorney.

Russell Stein

Hannah Kelley-Bell

Russell Stein was born in New York City to a Deaf family. He attended Lexington School for the Deaf during his formative years. He obtained his Business Management degree from Gallaudet University where he graduated summa cum laude. Russell first started his career with Relay America/MCI implementing and managing Relay America in California. After performing in different capacities within the company Russell moved over to Communication Service of the Deaf headquarters in South Dakota working at first in TTY relay operations, then became one of the four people instrumental in launching its Video Relay Service, namely USAVRS - partnering with Sprint. His strengths are in training people and programs; project management, management and operations, marketing, and sales. He is also a dynamic speaker giving presentations on numerous topics, and also provides support to his wife, Melody Stein in operating their restaurant, Mozzeria in San Francisco, CA.

Robin Horwitz, Co-Founder of CONVO

Hannah Kelley-Bell

Robin Horwitz (born in Rochester,New York) is an entrepreneur most noted for his success with starting up Convo Communications, a Video Relay Service company. Convo Communications is currently the only VRS company that is Deaf-owned. After working at another video relay service provider, he co-founded and began serving as CEO of Convo Communications in 2009. Under his stewardship, Convo went from a startup company to exceeding $6 million in revenue in fewer than three years. In addition, Convo was one of the few VRS providers to receive full certification from the Federal Communications Commission (FCC).

Jewel Jauregui, VP of Operations (CONVO)

Hannah Kelley-Bell

After working at Deaf and Disabled Telecommunications Program building then managing the Field Operations for all disabled people of State of California, Jewel joined Convo as the 5th employee, after 4 co-founders. During that period, Jewel was the catalyst for facilitating communications between four Deaf co-founders and hearing vendors, FCC administrators, lawyers and call centers. As Convo grew, her role became bigger, handling all aspects of the call center operations along with several other departments focusing on the implementation and training phases. Convo successfully became 4th largest provider in the industry under her role as a VP of Operations.

Sean Virnig

Hannah Kelley-Bell

Rawland Cycles founder and owner Sean Virnig started riding at five when he received his first bike without training wheels. His passion for the bike grew with each hour riding racing in Minnesota. After a rare illness left him paralyzed for months when he was sixteen, Sean came to appreciate the restorative magic of cycling when it helped bring him back on pedals (and feet). In its sixth year of operation with an international customer base, several industry Best of Show awards, and a U.S. patent, Rawland is now based in Danville, California, in the shadow of Mount Diablo. Sean’s significant other, Anna, too owns Rawland, and manages daily operations while Sean designs and tests quality production bicycle frames and forks with custom qualities.