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Oticon Announces Winners of 2017 Focus on People Awards

SOMERSET, NEW JERSEY — Oticon has announced the winners of its 19th annual Focus on People Awards, a program that honors outstanding people with hearing loss and hearing care professionals that have made a positive impact on the hearing loss community.

The Focus on People Awards recognize individuals in four categories: Student, Adult, Advocacy and Practitioner. These are individuals that have “challenged outdated stereotypes and demonstrate that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to succeed and make a difference”.  


“The Focus on People Awards winners each have a powerful story about how they’ve helped to drive awareness and open new doors for themselves and for the millions of people with hearing loss. We commend these individuals for their exceptional work as hearing loss champions, and hope their stories inspire others to get involved and become an advocate for all people with disabilities.” –Nancy Palmere, Director of Consumer Marketing and PR for Oticon


Focus on People Award Winners


First place winners were honored at Oticon’s annual Focus on People Awards ceremony held on Nov. 11 at the Gaylord Texan Resort & Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas. All winners received a cash prize and Certificate of Recognition from Oticon. First place winners received a donation to a charity of his or her choice, and winners in the Student, Adult, and Advocacy categories also received a pair of Oticon hearing aids.

The first place winners of this year’s Focus on People Awards included:


Student: Ellie Kobak is a high school senior from Portland, OR, who devotes her time to tutor and mentor other students. She has testified before state senators on behalf of students with disabilities, and provides support for parents of hearing-impaired children as part of the Oregon Department of Education’s program for students with select disabilities.

Adult: Lt. Commander Michael McManus, a decorated naval officer, campaigns to reduce the stigma of hearing loss in the military, and mentors other hearing-impaired members of the US armed forces.

Advocacy: John Cartwright has been a lifelong advocate for early hearing loss detection. As a volunteer with his local Alexander Graham Bell committee in Alaska, John provides his expertise and support for families of children with hearing loss.

Practitioner: Marilyn M. Hinrichs, AuD, participates in hundreds of community events each year to increase awareness of the impact of untreated hearing loss. She is also establishing a non-profit foundation, Ears4Years, which will provide hearing services and hearing aids to less fortunate people in her community.


Braden Baker (L) receives Outstanding Achievement Award. Oticon President Gary Rosenblum (R)

This year, Oticon also issued an Outstanding Achievement Award to 10-year-old Braden Baker. Braden, who started a GoFundMe campaign to help children who can’t afford hearing aids, has raised more than $67,000 to date.

Second and third place winners for the 2017 Focus on People Awards were also announced:

  • Student – Rachel Friedman of Weston, Florida; Tsering Shola, of Camas, Washington
  • Adult – Mala Bawer of Bernardsville, New Jersey; Dan Beck of Rockville Centre, New York
  • Advocacy – Jena Howell, RN, MSN of Texarkana, Arkansas; Cheri Perazzoli of Redmond, Washington
  • Practitioner – Diane Kenworthy, AuD of Utica, New York; Doug Wesson, BC-HIS, ACA of Manteca, California



Source: Oticon; Businesswire