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Oticon Focus on People Awards Celebrates 20 Years with Gala Ceremony Honoring 2018 Award Winners


SOMERSET, NJ  October 17– The Oticon Focus on People Awards celebrated a 20-year milestone at a gala event honoring the 2018 Oticon Focus on People Award winners. Held on October 13 at the OticonNext Conference in Orlando, the Awards ceremony recognized 13 remarkable individuals in the Student, Adult, Advocacy and Hearing Practitioner categories who are helping to change the perception of what it means to have a hearing loss. More than 10,000 votes cast by people across the US helped to select the winners, each vote an affirmation of the awards program’s aim to show that hearing loss does not limit a person’s ability to live a full, productive and inspiring life.

“In 20 years, the Oticon Focus on People Awards has honored more than 270outstanding individuals with hearing loss,” said Nancy Palmere, Director of Consumer Marketing and Public Relations for Oticon, Inc. “All Focus on People Award winners, like our 2018 honorees, share a determination to contribute that has enabled them to overcome challenges and achieved goals well beyond what many thought possible. In two decades, we never cease to be amazed and humbled by all that our Focus on People Award winners have accomplished.” 

The 2018 first place Award recipients include an 18-year-old environmentalist, a national advocate for media inclusion of people with disabilities, a trailblazing firefighter and a dedicated audiologist who has spent more than 40 years supporting children with hearing loss and their families. Special Achievement Award winner Jonathan Hutcherson, a singer and songwriter and former contestant on NBC Network’s The Voice, performed for the audience of more than 700 hearing care professionals.

2018 First Place Winners

STUDENT - Celine Yang, Belmont, CA  

Celine led a plan to implement a tri-bin waste system on her high school campus, an idea first generated when she served as Environmental Education intern with her city’s waste facility. Celine and the student “Green Team” proposed the concept to administrators, managed logistics, and took on the challenge of educating others. Now a first-year student at UC Berkeley, Celine is pursuing her interest in environmentalism.

ADULT - Clare Wolf, Rubicon, WI 

A late diagnosed hearing loss isn’t keeping Clare from her goal to become a fulltime fire fighter and an emergency medical technician (EMT), both of which require acute hearing ability. She currently works as a volunteer firefighter and a paid on-call firefighter and recently completed EMT training. This spring, she participated in a Foreign Exchange Program in Germany for Fire and EMS students.  

ADVOCACY - Jamie McClintic, Alpena, MI  

Jamie, a Doctor of Occupational Therapy, is a passionate advocate/spokesperson for the Changing the Face of Beauty, a national campaign to empower people with disabilities by advocating for inclusive imagery in media and advertising. Through her work, Jamie aims to normalize stigmas associated with individuals with hearing loss and all people with disabilities. Her book, Grieving the Gift (Jan. 2019), provides support for families when receiving a life-altering diagnosis.

PRACTITIONER - Johnnie Sexton, AuD, Raleigh, NC 

Johnnie has worked with children who are deaf and hard of hearing for almost four decades. In 2009, he created the nonprofit CARE Project for the advancement of family, professional and pre-professional training opportunities in emotional/adjustment counseling. The CARE Project helps to ease the emotional journey and grieving process in families who learn their child is deaf or hard of hearing, with the ultimate goal being acceptance and advocating for the best life possible. 


Jonathan Hutcherson, Nashville, TN - Jonathan is a singer and songwriter who gained national acclaim when he competed on Season 10 of The Voice.  The talented artist now lives in Music City USA (Nashville), where he proudly wears his hearing aids on stage, in studio and when he’s meeting fans, driving awareness and inspiring others with hearing loss to live their dreams.

In addition to a $1000 prize, first place winners received a $1000 donation from Oticon, Inc. to the non-profit organization of their choice. First place winners in the Adult, Student and Advocacy categories also received a pair of advanced technology Oticon hearing aids.  

There are eight second and third place winners in the program’s four categories: 

Student - 

2nd place – John David Cobb, Knoxville, TN

3rd place – Julio “James” Hernandez, Atlanta, GA

Adult -                     

2nd place – Frederick Brooke, Old Lyme, CT

3rd place – Garth Baker, Twin Falls, ID

Advocacy -              

2nd place – Rich Patterson, Cedar Rapids, IA

3rd place – Mark Goldstein, Thousand Oaks, CA

Practitioner -         

2nd place – Lena Kyman, AuD, Raleigh, NC

3rd place – Carol Clifford, AuD, Albuquerque, NM

To read the stories of all 2018 Oticon Focus on People Awards winners, visit

The 2018 Oticon Focus on People Awards recognized 13 remarkable individuals in the Student, Adult, Advocacy and Hearing Practitioner categories who are helping to change the perception of what it means to have a hearing loss. (l-r) First place winners Celine Yang (Student category); Clare Wolf (Adult); Oticon President Gary Rosenblum; Johnnie Sexton, AuD (Practitioner) and Special Achievement Award winner Jonathan Hutcherson.  Not shown, Jamie McClintic, first place winner in the Advocacy category.

2019 NIHL Series | 4 advanced-level live webinars | June 5, 12, 19, + 26 | 12:00 pm EDT | Guest Editor: Brian J. Fligor, ScD, PA