Congratulations 2020
Oticon Focus on
People Award winners

Meet the 2020 Oticon Focus on People Award winners

Since 1997, the Oticon Focus on People Awards has honored more than 300 outstanding people who are helping to show the world that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to make a positive difference in their families, communities or the world. 

This year, we celebrated our 2020 Award winners at a special virtual celebration attended by thousands of hearing care professionals from across the country.  More than 13,000 votes cast by people from across the US helped to select this year's honorees - a testament to the remarkable achievements of our 12 finalists!

Meet our 2020 Oticon Focus on People Award winners

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Congratulations to all!


Student - 1st Place

Wyllow MacLaren
Cleveland, TN

This little girl selling chocolate-covered strawberries is more than a budding entrepreneur. Eight-year-old Wyllow is on a mission to make a positive difference. “The Giving Berries” charity grew out of Wyllow’s desire to raise funds to gift the first American Girl doll to wear a hearing aid to every child in her summer camp for children with hearing loss. She succeeded! With the help of other young volunteers, Wyllow continues “The Giving Berries” fundraisers to benefit local causes. Her mom says, “Wyllow knows that to make a change in the world you need to step up and set an example. She takes that step every time she gets out of her booth to sell her berries.”

  • 2nd Place

    Sara Rodriguez
    San Antonio, TX

  • 3rd Place

    Owen Chapman
    Mt. Pleasant, SC


Adult - 1st Place

Narita Snead
Richmond, VA

Diagnosed with hearing loss as a child, Narita feared that wearing hearing aids would impede her ability to lead a full and successful life. It is a tale she compassionately tells in her recently published children’s book, Zola Gets Hearing Aids. Today, the achievements of that worried little girl are a testimony to what people with hearing loss can achieve even under the most adverse circumstances. Narita is a respected nurse practitioner with advanced degrees in public health administration and owns and operates an independent healthcare service and hospice agency. She is also the founder of Sodality Respite Inc., a nonprofit that provides hospice care to homeless individuals.

  • 2nd Place

    Matt Hay
    Westfield, IN

  • 3rd Place

    Matt Deller
    Sun City, AZ


Advocacy - 1st Place

Dylan Rafaty
Plano, TX

Dylan is a navigator, influencer, and disability rights advocate committed to serving all people with hearing loss and others in the cross-disability community. Dylan started DylanListed, a transition support services provider, and works for C-Hear, Inc. as the Head of Accessibility Strategy & Partnerships, a company that developed a way to make images accessible and heard. His book, Occupy Special Education – Children Should Be Seen and Heard, encourages students with disabilities to speak up about their educational needs. Dylan serves on many executive boards, including the Texas Governor’s Committee for People with Disabilities. In 2020, Dylan was inducted into the Susan M. Daniels Disability Mentoring Hall of Fame.

  • 2nd Place

    Sherry Ball
    Fall Branch, TN

  • 3rd Place

    Jerry Bergman
    New York, NY


Practitioner - 1st Place

Kristina Sheehan, AuD
Fort Wayne, IN

Tina is passionate about giving people the information they need to successfully navigate the world with hearing loss. This year, she has doubled down to advocate for students with hearing loss returning to school amid the COVID pandemic, working closely with teachers and schools. As director of audiology at GiveHear, Tina leads a dedicated team providing hearing healthcare to underserved adults and children. Through the nonprofit’s Circle of Giving program, patients give volunteer hours to the community for each hearing aid they receive. This unique approach reflects Tina’s own commitment to build the self-worth of individuals by restoring their hearing potential and provide them with opportunities to engage with their community through service to others.

  • 2nd Place

    Jessica Messersmith, PhD
    Vermillion, SD

  • 3rd Place

    Sheri Mello, AuD
    Raleigh, NC


Congratulations to all our 2020 Focus on People Award winners!


Winners in each of the four categories will receive prizes and national recognition that creates awareness and helps to open doors of opportunity for all people with hearing loss.

1st place winners  in Student, Adult and Advocacy
Receive $1,000 cash prize, $1,000 donation to a charity of their choice and a pair of Oticon hearing aids with BrainHearing™ technology

1st place winner in Hearing Care Practitioner
Receive $1,000 cash prize and $1,000 to a charity of their choice

2nd place winners
Receive $500 cash prize

3rd place winners
Receive $250 cash prize

All nominees receive a Certificate of Recognition

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