Who We are
Lauren, Kavita and Lisa (L to R)
Lisa Hermatz Chahayed
A co-founder of KODAWest, Lisa Hermatz Chahayed was born deaf and raised in Michigan, in an oral program, and learned ASL as a student at RIT/NTID where she graduated. She began acting and dancing, and eventually moved to Los Angeles, where she founded and directed the dance troupe, Prism West. She has worked in several productions at Deaf West Theatre where she earned a “Best Translation” nomination at the 2000 Los Angeles Ovation Awards, for her role as ASL Master. For numerous years, Lisa instructed dance workshops to deaf and hearing children at the House Ear Institute’s annual Family Camp. She taught ASL and coordinated the TRIPOD Family Sign Program for ten years. Lisa is currently teaching ASL at Pierce College and Glendale Community College, and previously at John Burroughs High School in Burbank and The Country School. Seeing the gaping need for a program to serve not only the hearing children of deaf parents here in Southern California, but the Deaf parents with hearing children, Lisa decided it was vital to establish an organization that focuses on those needs. Since the establishment of KODAWest, she has given presentations on KODA Teen Behavior, joined a committee which initiated liaisons made between the CODA International organization and KODA organizations of the world, and orchestrated the establishment of the Big CODA Little KODA program. She is a proud mother of two hearing daughters, Monessa (20) and Linnea (18).
Lauren Abbott Maucere
A proud alumnus of California State University, Northridge (CSUN) with a B.S. in Environmental and Occupational Health, Lauren received her multiple subject teaching credentials as well as her Masters of Arts in Special Education from CSUN in 2012. A Jules Spizziri Graduate Scholarship winner for her excellence in leadership and community involvement, she is presently a high school educator at Los Angeles' only day school for the deaf, Marlton. Prior to becoming a teacher, she directed the health department of the Greater Los Angeles Agency on Deafness (GLAD), overseeing Teen Pregnancy Prevention, Deaf Women Outreach, Latino Family Outreach, Tobacco and Breast Cancer research, and HIV/AIDS Awareness garnering recognition by the California AIDS Clearinghouse for their "Unsung Heroes" award. In addition, she served on the board of Our Community, a nonprofit Burbank parent organization for deaf, hard of hearing children and KODAs. Lauren was a member of the task force for the National Center on Deafness at CSUN, developing and implementing its mission statement and center guidelines, and on the steering committee for the award-winning documentary, Through Your Child's Eyes: American Sign Language. Drawing inspiration as a mother of two KODAs ( Kids of Deaf Adults), Daniela, 13 and Gianni, 10, she co-founded KODAWest, the first non-profit organization in the United States to provide full service programming to KODA families including an annual camp of over 100 KODA campers. For her work, Lauren was recognized by the City of Los Angeles in 2009 and the National Center on Deafness in 2012. Currently, she is being seen in Disney's Baby Einstein DVD series teaching sign language.
Ms. Pipalia, originally from Calcutta, India, graduated from Gallaudet University with BA in Business Administration. While at Gallaudet, she was involved with the Indian Deaf Organization, the International Club for the Deaf, and chaired both, the Homecoming Float Team, and the Leadership Training Program. For her involvement, Ms. Pipalia earned an honorary award from Gallaudet. She taught adult literacy and computer classes at Goodwill, and then was promoted as program manager of Deaf services and Interpreting services. Ms. Pipalia served on the board of California Relay Service Advisory Committee for eight years. During that time, she was chairperson for the Board of “Request For Proposal” committee to bid for Video Relay services. Ms. Pipalia continued her education at California State University, Northridge , graduating with a MPA in Public Administration. Currently, Ms. Pipalia serves as an advocate and advisor to several Indian Families who have deaf children and is serving as president of “Seven Summit”, a non-profit organization, that serves the deaf and deaf/blind nationwide. She also works for Sprint Relay. Ms. Pipalia is a deaf mother of two hearing kids, Erica, (17) and Zak, (15).