HLAA executive director to retire in 2013; new president installed

David Kirkwood
August 1, 2012

Brenda Battat

This Hearing News Watch post was updated on August 6.

BETHESDA, MD–Brenda Battat, who has been executive director of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA) since March 2008, announced last week that she will retire effective August 31, 2013. She has been with the organization since 1989, when it was known as Self Help for Hard of Hearing People and was headed by its legendary founder, Howard “Rocky” Stone.

In other news, the association announced on August 1 that  Diana D. Bender, PhD, from Phoenixville, PA, had been installed as president of the board of trustees

In a statement on the HLAA web site, the board of trustees stated that it “has accepted, with reluctance,” Battat’s decision to retire. Diana Bender, president of the board, said:

“I would like to thank Brenda for her more than two decades of service to HLAA. We thank her, too, for graciously giving us more than a year to identify and appoint a successor, time that will allow us a smooth transition to new leadership.

“Brenda’s early work with our founder, Rocky Stone, laid the foundation for her tireless work on behalf of people with hearing loss. As public policy director, Brenda’s advocacy on behalf of HLAA increased access for people with hearing loss in so many areas of everyday life.”

Bender added, “HLAA has flourished under her leadership and our organization now finds itself on sound financial footing and hard at work on the programs she and her dedicated staff have developed in order to fulfill our mission. Although we will miss her greatly, we have much to be thankful for as we wish Brenda a long and happy retirement.”



In an online message, Battat told members, “With the baby boomer generation aging, one in four teens experiencing hearing loss, and thousands of our young veterans returning home with a hearing loss, HLAA has never been more needed or relevant.

“During my last year together with the HLAA national staff, I will push even harder to have hearing loss taken more seriously as a public health issue and for people to value their hearing more; to open the door wider to innovation in accessible and affordable hearing health care; for hearing-accessible places and captioning everywhere to be the norm and mainstream technology to be seamlessly usable by hearing aid and cochlear implant wearers.”

Battat has been with HLAA since 1989, serving in several roles including director of public policy and deputy executive director. As executive director, she has successfully worked to execute the policies set forth by the board and to fulfill the mission of HLAA: “To open the world of communication to people with hearing loss through information, education, advocacy and support.”

Under her leadership, HLAA has built a strong national organization with more than 200 chapters and 14 state organizations across the country. It is a staunch advocate and well-respected presence on Capitol Hill and before federal and state agencies. It has expanded media and communication platforms for outreach and education, increased the national Walk4Hearing awareness event to 21 cities across the country; and significantly increased participation at annual HLAA Conventions.



Diana Bender

Diana Bender, who assumed the presidency at HLAA Convention 2012 in Providence, Rhode Island, is a scientist who, after receiving her doctorate in organic chemistry at the University of Munich in 1967, investigated new cancer drugs as a post-doctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. K.C. Tsou at the University of Pennsylvania from 1968 until 1970. After leaving academia following the birth of her first son, she resumed her career in 1979, working on palladium-catalyzed coupling reactions as a post-doctoral fellow with Dr. Richard Heck at the University of Delaware. Heck was awarded the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 2010.

From 1980 to 2001, Bender worked as a research chemist and product manager in the Agricultural Products division of Rohm and Haas Company, a Philadelphia-area specialty chemicals company.

She was first diagnosed with a progressive hearing loss at the age of 10 and began wearing a hearing aid at the age of 15. She received a cochlear implant in 2004. A member of HLAA since 1995, she began serving on the board in 2009 and was elected secretary in 2010 and president in 2012.


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