TLC Welcomes Three to Board of Trustees

May 04, 2023

The Learning Center for the Deaf (TLC) has welcomed three new members to its Board of Trustees.

Michael Higgins, of Framingham, has a wealth of experience from more than 15 years in business, education, and nonprofit sectors.  He is a third-year doctoral student in the Language and Literacy program at Boston University.

Before moving to Massachusetts, he was a high school and early education teacher at Laurent Clerc Center. During this time, he helped to launch Hands Land, a nonprofit organization that creates educational ASL resources. He began his career at Wells Fargo, where he was Segment Marketing Leader for the people with disabilities consumer segment. While in the Bay Area, he served as a board member for Deaf Counseling Advocacy and Referral Agency.

He has three children at The Learning Center and volunteers as a soccer coach for the school. He also sits on the TLC Board Academic Affairs/Facilities Committee.

Andy Tao, of Derwood, MD, holds a Ph.D. in Epidemiology from Walden University in Minneapolis, MN. He also received his certificate in Deaf Education from the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, FL.

Since 2021, Andy has been the CEO and Founder of Blue20 LLC, connecting visions and ideas through customizable accessible video content from concept to delivery.

Prior to founding Blue20, Andy also worked at Sorenson Communications, Florida School for the Deaf and Blind, and Gallaudet University.

Andy provided extensive expertise during the COVID-19 pandemic, sharing data and assessments of health disparities among disabled populations; in particular, health discrimination and equity among deaf and hard of hearing populations.

He is fluent in ASL, English and Latin.

Laurie Shaffer, Ph.D., of Peterborough, NH, is the director of and an assistant professor in the University of New Hampshire-Manchester American Sign Language/English Interpreting bachelor's degree program. She started her career at The Learning Center as a teacher. She now has over 30 years of experience as an interpreter and for many of those years, also has served as an interpreter educator. She with her colleague Wendy Watson developed a peer mentoring model and program – a model that has been shared across the country with various groups of ASL/English interpreters, including many who work in the K12 environment.

Laurie completed her Ph.D. from Gallaudet in Translation and Interpreting Studies in 2018. Her research examines questions of how the power of various social institutions intersects with the everyday work of American Sign Language-English interpreters.

She served as coordinator of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services at both Boston University and the University of Virginia.  While at these two universities and in her current position at the University of New Hampshire-Manchester, she has worked on various committees and projects that focus on Diversity, Equity, Inclusion, and Access.  Laurie sits on the TLC Board Academic Affairs/Facilities Committee.