2022 Focus on
People Awards

Adult category


Meaghan Thomas

Nashville, TN

Meaghan, a popular broadcast meteorologist, had always been self-conscious about her hearing loss. In 2021, she chose the word “bold” to motivate her actions in the coming year. True to her resolution, Meaghan posted her photo on Instagram proudly holding her hearing aids. Her post and advice — “Embrace what makes you different and celebrate it! So cheers to my ears & whatever makes you special” — went viral. The outpouring of support from people around the world — and a front-page posting on the Good Morning America website — inspired her to become even bolder. Today, she is the author of a children’s book, Heart of Hearing, and founder of The Heart of Hearing nonprofit that supports young professionals with hearing loss.


Shirley Forpe

Palatine, IL

Shirley, who was diagnosed with hearing loss as an adult, is a recipient of the national Power of Art Award by the Rauschenberg Foundation. A retired teacher, she has perfected her craft through art education, mentoring student teachers and serving as a sketch artist for her local police department. Her newest passion confirms a belief she holds dearly — art can help heal! Shirley is a founder and driving force behind Art Helps Heal, a nonprofit that provides specialized backpacks with quality art materials and self-directed project books for teens who are long-term hospital patients. With the support of the nonprofit’s volunteer staff, she continues to find new and creative ways to artistically inspire hospitalized teens throughout the Chicago area.


Zina Jawadi

Los Altos Hills, CA

Diagnosed with significant hearing loss at 3.5 years old, Zina’s life-long passion has been to help transform the lives of people with hearing loss. Today, she is a medical student and the youngest ever member of the Hearing Loss Association of America Board of Directors. Zina advocates for people with hearing loss among medical professionals. She believes accommodations are essential in establishing trust, formulating a diagnosis, creating an effective treatment plan, and ensuring patients play an active role in their health. Her long‑term goal is to increase representation of people with hearing loss in the field of medicine and to address accessibility barriers for people with hearing loss and with disabilities more broadly.

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