National Association of the Deaf

Judges' Biographies



A deaf business owner, Alicia Lane-Outlaw is president and chief creative officer of AllOut Marketing. Her firm connects unique communities with a comprehensive portfolio of services including marketing strategy, web/print design, and online marketing for clients such as Bayer, the State of Minnesota, American Society for Deaf Children, ASL Teachers Association, University of Minnesota, the National Technical Institute for the Deaf, and Gallaudet University. A longtime community activist, Alicia currently serves on the board of the National Association of the Deaf and recently served as a judge to select the 2016 awardees forthe nation’s only deaf artist residency program. Past activism includes creating the visual materials for the 2010 Deaf Rochester Film Festival, maintaining a longtime deaf news and events site, and serving several years as a judge for NTID’s Next Big Idea competition. Alicia graduated cum laude from Lenoir-Rhyne University with a bachelor's degree in biology and a visual arts minor. A St. Paul resident, she enjoys humor, the outdoors, and involvement in the local community with her wife Susan and their daughter.

Chad A. Ludwig was elected as President of the Oregon Association of the Deaf in 2013. Chad’s goal is to engage in a community-based assessment that will identify and address the needs and concerns of the deaf, DeafBlind, DeafPlus and hard of hearing community in Oregon. Chad relocated from Rochester, NY to Portland, Oregon in October 2012 to be closer to his family.  He currently works as Senior Regional Director of West Region for ZVRS, one of six video relay service providers.  A California native, Chad graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Science in Social Work and a Master of Social Work from East Carolina University, including a Graduate Certificate in Social Work Practice with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing. In November 2015, he received a certification in American with Disabilities Act Coordinator through ADA Coordinator Training Certification Program (ACTCP) at University of Missouri. Currently, Chad is an advisory board member with Oregon Deaf Empowerment and Advocacy for Families, Oregon’s Early Hearing Detection & Intervention, chair for Community Needs Assessment Stakeholders Group, and co-chair for Oregon Deaf and Hard of Hearing Services.

Michelle “Elle” Mendiola-McKinnie is a native of Chicago, who had been involved in pageant industry for a little over decade (former Miss Deaf Illinois 1997-1999, chaperone, stage manager, state pageant director, and judge). Elle began her career as a Domestic Violence Counselor providing support, counseling and advocacy to victims who are deaf or hard of hearing. She continues in this capacity and provides workshops and education throughout the Chicago-area on self-advocacy and the rights of people who are deaf and/or hard of hearing. Elle has expanded her role at the Chicago Hearing Society to include Manager of the Youth Program where she also serves as a leader and mentor to children who are deaf/hard of hearing throughout the Chicago-area. Under the Youth Program, Elle manages the "Adult Role Models in Education of the Deaf" (ARMED), which is a unique program where deaf and hard of hearing adults from all kinds of jobs and careers travel to schools with deaf and hard of hearing children, enabling them to envision all kinds of job possibilities for themselves. Elle is married with three beautiful girls, two of whom are deaf.Storm Smith is known as a visionary storyteller through her work. Storm did not limit herself to only films, but rather expanded her horizons by producing and directing a variety of music videos, sports promotional videos, commercials, including ABC Family Switched at Birth, webinars and interviews. In addition, Storm is a motivational speaker across the nation. She delivered presentations regarding film theories and topics related to the power of passions, identity, and visual storytelling at Harvard University, UCLA, Boston University, California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and many more. Storm graduated with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology from Gallaudet University and she received a Master’s Degree in Media Entrepreneurship from American University in May 2016. Currently, Storm is working as a Video Producer/Director specializing in Creative Marketing for the University Communications at Gallaudet University. Aside from living her dreams and making her passions a reality, she continues to be a vibrant role model for all members of the deaf community, particularly for deaf people of color. Storm also leads as an example for the hearing community, finding the courage to live a creative life.

Tri Ngo is a proud native of the Bay Area, the heart of Silicon Valley. He attended the Rochester Institute of Technology where he earned a B.S. degree in Information Security & Forensics and an M.S. degree in Information Technology. His passion for computer science started in early childhood, when he received his first computer, the Commodore 64, and learned his first programming language, Basic.  Since 2012, he has worked at Google as an M&A operations engineer. Twenty percent of his time at work is focused on advocating for deaf communities and accessibility. In 2013, he was involved in the Google I/O Youth Program as an ADA advocate mentoring and empowering middle school students from the California School for the Deaf - Fremont to explore the endless possibilities in the field of computer science. In addition, he has visited a deaf school in Dalat, Vietnam, and inspired deaf students there to overcome their struggles and oppression. In his free time, he enjoys biking, movies and amazing food.

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National Association of the Deaf | 8630 Fenton Street, Suite 820, Silver Spring, MD 20910-3819