2017 Focus On People awards

Adult category



Mala Bawer

Bernardsville, NJ

Mala Bawer, who has lived with hearing loss for more than 30 years, understands the ways that technology — in the form of hearing aids or digital resources — empowers life-changing possibilities. Co-founder of CyberSmart Education, she is passionate about the importance of fostering digital literacy. She pioneered the development of the first digital literacy curriculum now modeled internationally. Her initial work in Sub-Saharan Africa inspired Mala’s production of the internationally acclaimed feature film TALL AS THE BAOBAB TREE. Today, Mala and the CyberSmart Africa team work in partnership with the Senegalese Ministry of Education and The Earth Institute at Columbia University tackling the challenge of delivering a 21st century education to millions of youth in Sub-Saharan Africa with extremely limited access to school books. Mala’s team is piloting an innovative digital learning platform to deliver up-to-date learning and teaching resources to schools across the developing world.




Dan Beck

New York, NY

Dan Beck wants everyone — with and without a hearing loss — to hear the music. This celebrated Trustee of the Music Performance Trust Fund oversees the distribution of grants that pay professional musicians to perform free in schools, senior centers, hospitals and parks across North America. During his 45-year career in the music industry, Dan pioneered closed captioning to music videos, working with artists including Cyndi Lauper, Michael Jackson, Pearl Jam and more. When he stepped down as President of Richard Branson’s V2 Record label, he committed to raising awareness of hearing conservation. As a Board member of Hearing Education and Awareness for Rockers (H.E.A.R.), Dan promotes hearing awareness to musicians and fans alike.




Michael McManus

Honolulu, HI

Decorated naval officer Mike McManus served in the Marine Corps in Kuwait during the first Gulf War and voluntarily deployed multiple times with the US Navy Seabees during Operation Iraqi Freedom. Mike, who was diagnosed with mild-to-moderate hearing loss, hesitated to wear hearing aids, concerned about how this might affect his career in the military. He quickly recognized that his openness and willingness to learn and experience new technologies has consistently benefited his professional and personal life. That acknowledgement was a turning point for Mike who now proudly wears his hearing aids on duty and off. His thinking: the ability to hear information critical to the success of his missions is far more important than the perception of “perfect” hearing. Today, Mike is actively pursuing a personal campaign to reduce the stigma of hearing loss in the military, aiming to serve as a role model and mentor to those coming up behind him.


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