HHF staff

HHF Welcomes Margo Amgott as Interim CEO

By Lauren McGrath

Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) is pleased to begin the New Year with the guidance of Margo Amgott as Interim Chief Executive Officer, succeeding Nadine Dehgan’s dedicated service to the foundation. Margo will lead HHF overseeing operations and working with the Board on a search for a permanent replacement.


“I am excited to work with HHF’s committed Board of Directors and talented staff to foster support for groundbreaking hearing and balance research,” said Margo, who will champion the start of HHF’s seventh decade of advancing scientific knowledge of hearing loss. HHF has funded research leading to the development of cochlear implant technology and biological hearing restoration in mammals. She added that she is “thrilled to be a part of this vibrant organization supporting life-changing discoveries.”

Board Chair Elizabeth Keithley, Ph.D., remarks, “HHF is delighted to partner with Margo as we continue to nurture cutting-edge research. The Board and I are confident she will be an asset during this time of transition overseeing our operations and helping us to identify the next leader for our dynamic organization.”

With 30 years of nonprofit leadership experience, Ms. Amgott’s professional history includes service to academic medical centers, higher education institutions, government agencies, and healthcare and community nonprofits. Earlier in her career, she directed New York City’s Early Intervention Program and also served as Executive Director of the NYU Child Study Center. She holds a masters degree in health policy and management from NYU’s Wagner Graduate School of Public Administration and a BA in anthropology from Barnard College.

Margo also shares a deeply personal connection with HHF. In 2014, she was diagnosed with a mild unexplained hearing loss and tinnitus in her left ear.

“I welcome the opportunity to work with HHF because of its mission to improve the quality of life for nearly 50 million Americans,” Ms. Amgott says. “I am learning professionally―and personally―from the work HHF does every day. The partnership between our remarkable scientists and our generous supporters has made demonstrable progress towards prevention and cure, and like so many others, I look forward to these vital discoveries.”

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Intern Awareness: Reflections from HHF

By Vicky Chan, Lauren McGrath, and C. Adrean Mejia

This spring, Hearing Health Foundation (HHF) has been fortunate to welcome two outstanding, dedicated young professionals to its office: Vicky Chan, Copywriting Intern and C. Adrean Mejia, Social Media and Digital Communications Intern. In honor of Intern Awareness Month, celebrated each April, Vicky and Adrean reflected on their experiences as members of the small yet mighty HHF team under the supervision of Lauren McGrath, Marketing Manager.

Vicky, a recent graduate from Brooklyn College with a Bachelor’s Degree in English, believes that interning at HHF has equipped her with invaluable, real-world experience to grow as both a professional and an individual. So far, Vicky has utilized her skills by editing, researching, and conducting interviews for HHF’s blog and magazine. A former writing tutor, Vicky acknowledges that writing for an official publication like Hearing Health magazine is markedly different than completing a college professor’s assignment. Unlike academic essays, Vicky’s articles at HHF must fit the voice of an established organization. And to effectively craft interview-style stories, Vicky has learned to put herself in the subject’s position to determine how they want their story to be portrayed.

Adrean Mejia (left) interned with HHF as a Social Media and Digital Communications Intern this semester. Vicky Chan is a current Copywriting Intern.

Adrean Mejia (left) interned with HHF as a Social Media and Digital Communications Intern this semester. Vicky Chan is a current Copywriting Intern.

“Everyone at HHF has been open to my questions or suggestions to create an inviting learning environment,” Vicky notes. She’s pleased that HHF has given her purpose and the responsibility to produce written content about hearing health awareness. “Each time I complete an article or see my name on the byline, I feel a sense of satisfaction and pride because it shows that I am working towards my career goal—one step at a time.” Vicky plans to pursue a career in the book publishing field.

Adrean, who will soon complete his Bachelor’s Degree in Corporate Communications from Baruch College, recently ended his internship feeling inspired by HHF’s mission and enlightened by what he’s learned. Adrean, speaking honestly about the experience, admits, “At the beginning, adapting to the nonprofit sector and understanding the concepts related to hearing health were challenges for me.”

Fortunately, the role turned out to be enjoyable for Adrean thanks to the accommodating, communicative staff. He is grateful for the experience, which has opened up his eyes to new horizons and enabled him to contribute to an inspiring mission. Now ready to begin his postcollegiate career, Adrean’s long-term professional goal is to achieve a high position in the entertainment and beauty industry to showcase his vision as an artist.

HHF is grateful to Vicky, Adrean, and the dozens of other interns who have offered their time and talents to further hearing loss research and awareness. The foundation looks forward to meeting its Summer 2018 interns, who will pursue projects related to awareness, advocacy, video production, communications, digital media, fundraising, and donor management. To learn about Fall 2018 opportunities, contact us at careers@hhf.org or visit www.hhf.org/join-our-team in August.

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Tuning In

By Laura Friedman

As my three-year work anniversary approaches, I’ve been reflecting on my learnings as a team member of Hearing Health Foundation (HHF). There is one that sticks out the most: As someone who has only known her life as being one with hearing loss and wearing hearing aids (I was diagnosed at age 3 ½), I don’t know what I’m missing, compared with my typical hearing peers. I have learned from those who have acquired hearing loss later in life, even as young adults, that they are acutely aware of the difference in their hearing experience even with assisted listening devices. They aren’t enjoying music like they once did, they have increased difficulties hearing conversational speech around the dinner table and at restaurants, and they are missing things in meetings that the “old” them would never miss.

Ok, I lied. There are actually two major learnings. The second is, which is something I’ve experienced within my own family, is the prevalence of hearing loss denial and the resistance to treating one’s hearing loss. For those who do acknowledge their hearing loss, many do not wear their hearing devices, further isolating them from a world they were previously a part of.

As a young child when I visited my grandfather, who was notorious for not wearing his hearing aids, I told him, “If I have to wear mine, you have to wear yours!” He would give me his signature smirk and appease his granddaughter. But I knew once I left, back in the drawers those hearing aids went.

Denying the existence of an ailment or resisting treatment is not unique to hearing loss; this is true for many diagnosed with other serious and life-changing conditions. However, when it comes to hearing loss, almost one-third of an estimated 40 million U.S. adults with hearing difficulties haven’t even taken the first step to see a specialist for help. What’s even more troubling is today it is estimated that 360 million people worldwide have hearing loss, with 1.1 billion people at risk for acquiring it, according to the World Health Organization.


In the U.S. nearly 25 percent of those ages 65 to 74 and half of those older than 75 have a disabling hearing loss. An even more astounding fact is that over 70% of adults in the U.S. who have hearing loss and who would benefit from a hearing aid don’t have one.

Studies show that untreated mild to moderate hearing loss is linked to increased levels of loneliness and isolation, depression, dementia, and medical conditions like heart disease and diabetes. It can even hurt earning potential and career mobility. Treating hearing loss can significantly offset and decrease the risk of acquiring these consequences. So the question is: If treating hearing loss deters the onset of detrimental health conditions, why aren’t more people taking preventative measures to protect their hearing or taking actionable steps to treat it?

For those in the U.S. there is unfortunately little to no insurance and Medicare coverage for hearing aids, meaning those who need them most are unable afford them. While there’s still a lot left to do, policy is slowly moving in the right direction: In August 2017 the Over-the-Counter Hearing Aid Act was signed into law, paving the way for a new class of hearing aids to enter the marketplace. This will provide greater access to hearing technologies for those with mild-to-moderate hearing loss at a fraction of the price.

I can’t imagine how frustrating it must be to know what you’re missing; it is my wish that nobody has to experience that feeling. This is why I chose to work for an organization dedicated to funding research to develop better technologies, therapies and cures for hearing and balance disorders. Discoveries are the only way to better the listening experience of those with hearing loss and bring more options to the market.

I ask you to do this one thing: Get your hearing tested and encourage your friends and loved ones to do the same. If necessary, treat your hearing loss. Treating hearing loss has been a life-changer for me, as well as millions of others around the world, who choose to tune in, ultimately benefiting our health, work, and life.

Laura Friedman is the Communications and Programs Manager of Hearing Health Foundation. Read her hearing loss story in the Spring 2016 issue of Hearing Health magazine.

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