Oticon Celebrates Winners of the Annual Oticon Focus on People Awards

Somerset, NJ
8 March 2023

12 inspiring individuals recognized for empowering and advocating for people with hearing loss

Oticon, Inc. announced the winners of the 2022 Oticon Focus on People Awards, a national program dedicated to honoring outstanding individuals who have made a positive impact on the hearing loss community. Thousands of people from around the world voted during Fall 2022 to determine this year’s winners in four categories.

The 2022 first place winners in each category are:

● Student: Erin Cembrale of Dunedin, Florida views her hearing loss as a strength that motivates her to try harder and never give up. This commitment has fueled a successful soccer career. Since age 3, Erin has played for a variety of club, high school and college teams, including the U.S. Deaf Women’s National Team (USDWNT), with whom she won gold in the 2022 Deaflympics in Brazil. This year, she will travel to Korea with the USDWNT to compete in the World Cup. Off the field, Erin inspires and mentors young soccer players with disabilities.

● Adult: Zina Jawadi of Los Altos Hills, California is an advocate 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. A medical student herself, Zina is the youngest ever member of the Hearing Loss Association of America’s Board of Directors. Her long-term goal is to increase representation of people with hearing loss in medicine and to address accessibility barriers for people with hearing loss and with disabilities more broadly. Zina plans to donate all prizes, including the hearing aids, from this award to the Hearing Loss Association of America.

● Advocacy: Gregory Scott of New York, New York drew on his personal experiences with hearing loss to create SoundPrint, a crowdsourcing app that enables anyone to measure and report the sound levels in bars and restaurants. SoundPrint serves as an important free resource for people with and without hearing loss who are looking for quieter venues that make conversation easier. Additionally, the SoundPrint database is shared with venue managers, public health researchers, and hearing health advocates to let them know people care about noise.

● Practitioner: Jamie Marotto of Fairfield, Connecticut is the Director of the Sacred Heart University (SHU) Undergraduate Program in Communication Disorders and Director of the Audiology Clinic. She knows the value of integrating classroom teachings with clinical experience, especially when caring for patients in underserved communities. In the clinic, students learn how evaluating and treating hearing loss across a lifespan can improve a patient’s ability to work, interact socially and minimize health risks associated with hearing loss. To further drive home the importance of using their knowledge and skills to give back, Dr. Marotto leads students on an annual service-learning trip to Guatemala to provide hearing-related services and hearing aid fittings to in-need children and adults.

“From the youngest students to accomplished professionals and global brands, the winners of this year’s Oticon Focus on People Awards are redefining perceptions of hearing loss, encouraging inclusivity, and empowering others around them," said Nancy Palmere Mucha, Director of Consumer Marketing and Public Relations for Oticon, Inc. "Through their leadership, advocacy, and resilience, they are inspiring change and making the world a better place for people with hearing loss.”

As part of this year’s program, Oticon has also recognized Barbie with Hearing Aids and leading toy manufacturer Mattel with a special award for the brand’s commitment to creating dolls with a variety of looks to represent everyone. The brand unveiled Barbie with Hearing Aids in 2022 as part of their ongoing efforts to amplify diversity and inclusion.

“The Barbie brand believes in the power of representation, and we are committed to continuing to introduce dolls, like Barbie with Hearing Aids, that reflect the diversity children see in the world around them,” said Lisa McKnight, Executive Vice President and Global Head of Barbie and Dolls, Mattel. “It’s important for young people to see themselves reflected in our products. And it’s equally important to encourage children to play with dolls that may not resemble them to help them understand and celebrate the importance of inclusion.”

The 2022 Oticon Focus on People Award winners were revealed on February 25 during the Oticon Next Conference, a gathering of hearing care professionals from around the country. As part of the event, Mattel donated more than 950 Barbie with Hearing Aids dolls to the hearing care professionals in attendance, equipping them with a valuable tool to connect with patients.

Established in 1997, the Oticon Focus on People Awards program has honored more than 300 outstanding individuals throughout the United States. This year’s second and third place winners are:

Student — Lauren Harris of Knoxville, Tennessee; Mercy Botchway of Everett, Massachusetts
Adult — Meaghan Thomas of Nashville, Tennessee; Shirley Forpe of Palatine, Illinois
Advocacy — Renee Polanco Lucerno of Culver City, California; Shanna Groves of Olathe, Kansas
Practitioner — Dawn Heiman of Woodridge, Illinois; Mary Frintner of Burbank, California

First place winners received a $1,000 prize as well as a $1,000 donation from Oticon to the non-profit organization of their choice. In addition, first place winners in the Student, Adult, and Advocacy categories received a pair of Oticon hearing aids.

To read the stories of all the Oticon Focus on People Awards finalists, visit Oticon.com/FOP.

Oticon, Inc. – Life-Changing Technology
Oticon is one of the world’s most innovative hearing device manufacturers, with more than 115 years’ experience in the design and development of hearing aids for adults and children. Our comprehensive portfolio of life-changing technology improves not only the quality of hearing but the overall quality of life for people with hearing loss. Oticon challenges conventions and pushes the limits of technology to bring to market hearing solutions that exceed the needs and expectations of people with hearing loss, so that they can live their lives without limit. Our groundbreaking BrainHearing™ technology is helping to provide better hearing with less effort by giving the brain the clearest, purest sound signals to decode. For more information visit Oticon.com.

Media Contact
Allie Carroll
Gregory FCA