Meet Meredith Sugar

Meredith KnueveThe Alexander Graham Bell Association for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing (AG Bell) is pleased to announce the selection of Meredith K. Sugar as AG Bell’s president-elect. Sugar will transition to the role of president in 2014 during the AG Bell 2014 Convention.

Elected by a membership vote in 2009, Sugar has served on the AG Bell board of directors as its secretary-treasurer since 2010. Sugar is a practicing attorney in the Business & Finance and Private Client groups at the law firm of Taft Stettinius & Hollister in Columbus, Ohio, and has a 6-year-old son, Jonah, who uses bilateral cochlear implants as well as two other sons. Sugar previously served as secretary of the board of directors for the AG Bell Ohio Chapter and is active in other nonprofit capacities, specifically organizations related to hearing loss.

Sugar credits AG Bell with equipping her and her family with the knowledge to seek listening and spoken language for Jonah. Sugar and her family first attended an AG Bell convention when Jonah was 6 months old. “I think of AG Bell and the hope it gave my family when we attended the convention and learned that Jonah could embark upon the gifts of listening and spoken language…I look forward to serving the organization that so positively changed the lives of my son and entire family,” Sugar said.

Sugar credits her background as a lawyer in helping her work more effectively with professionals and navigate the process of early intervention and insurance issues. She now helps others navigate the same issues as president of the board of Easter Seals Central and Southeast Ohio.

Even with her enthusiasm and hope, Sugar recognizes there are challenges facing children with hearing loss. She believes that engaging parents’ constant efforts on behalf of their child and helping them become better advocates for their child is vital to a child’s success. “Having dedicated, almost ‘overboard’ parents who are committed to speech and language 24/7...all day, every day...it can be exhausting but pays off.”

Sugar also believes that better communication with the community about hearing technology will go a long way to help children socialize with their peers, and that early and accurate diagnosis of hearing loss remains critical.

Cost is another challenge. “It is imperative to me that information be given to and available for parents who cannot afford to buy all the books, purchase the online research articles, pay for endless speech therapy, travel to the top few hospitals, etc. The highest standard of care, and most certainly and at least the information about what that standard should be, should be available to all families.” 

And she is proud to support AG Bell, a group that is continually addressing these challenges. “I am thrilled for my son that an organization like AG Bell exists to provide him an extra circle of family and friends as he travels through life.  To help with and contribute to the leadership of an organization that serves such an instrumental role in people’s lives is my great privilege. I see first-hand the sense of community AG Bell provides to adults who are deaf and hard of hearing, parents and professionals...all three sectors of our membership tug at my heartstrings and evoke passion in me.”