Resignation Statement of Dr. Opeoluwa Sotonwa

Dear Missouri Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community:

Some hours ago, I informed the MCDHH board and staff of my intention to step down from my role as MCDHH Executive Director effective March 1st, 2021.

It has been the greatest honor of my life to have served Missouri for over six and a half years. I am grateful to each and every person who has served with me and am proud of the progress we have made together. I have worked tirelessly on MCDHH’s behalf, motivated by a single overriding criterion: What is in the best interest of my Deaf and Hard of Hearing Community?

The past years have been deeply rewarding for me. On one hand, this was due to the opportunity for enhancing the visibility of the work of MCDHH and helping to pass over twenty pieces of legislation. These projects reaffirmed our enduring values and consequent approach to several policy initiatives, establishment of new programs, training and education, and building new partnerships including our several collaborative efforts and a deeper engagement with the community.

On the other hand, the rewarding nature of the work I have been engaged in over these years is also due to the personal relationships that have been forged with many organizations and individuals with whom I have worked closely over that time. This includes MCDHH staff, MCDHH Commissioners (present and past), Board for Certification of Interpreters, State Committee on Interpreters, Missouri Commission on Human Rights, Missouri Association of the Deaf, Hearing Loss Association of America (Greater Saint Louis and Kansas City), Sight and Sound Impaired of Saint Louis, Saint Louis Metro Black Deaf Advocates, DEAF, Inc., Deaf LEAD, Beyond Interpreting, Helen Keller National Center, The Whole Person Inc., Missouri School for the Deaf, Central Institute for the Deaf, The Moog Center for Deaf Education, William Woods University, Florissant Valley Community College, Starkloff Disability Institute, Governor’s Council on Disability, 911 Service Board, MO Relay Service Advisory Committee, Deaf Advisory Council on Mental Health, Deafblind Advisory Committee, interpreters and community members. Thank you all for the great partnerships that have delivered results for Missouri.

I am grateful to my boss, Dr. Stephen Barr, who from Day One took me under his wing, provided me with the roadmap to the institutional knowledge of Missouri system, and mentored me to be a better public service leader.

While I will miss working with you, Missouri will always be in my heart. I am confident that MCDHH is on a solid footing to continue the important work on behalf of Deaf and Hard of Hearing Missourians. From now until my last day, I will do everything within my power to prepare a smooth transition process as well as assist the board with the process of finding my replacement.

Sincerely,

Opeoluwa Sotonwa