About MeAD

About Us:

The Maine Association of the Deaf, Inc., a non-profit organization serving the Deaf community of Maine, was established in 1877 and incorporated in 1906. We are among the oldest organizations in the nation serving the Deaf community.

Mission Statement:

The object of the Association shall be to promote the social, recreational, educational, civic, and economic welfare of all deaf citizens within the State of Maine and to cooperate with other associations for the purpose of advancing the cause of the Deaf on a national scale.

Summary of the history of the organization: 

1877 – East Belfast, ME

A group of six deaf people attending a bible study with a preacher from Massachusetts discussed the need for a statewide organization for the deaf on the evening of December 31.

1878 – First meeting of fifty deaf people was held at a home in Biddeford, ME. They voted to form the first organization, Maine Deaf Mute Mission and elected officers.

1906 – Incorporation of the organization with the assistance of a Portland lawyer after the revision of the constitution and by-laws for the renamed Maine Mission for the Deaf, Inc on January 30th. The incorporation officers were elected to serve until the 27th convention in Sanford during the weekend of August 23 – 27. The membership elected officers after voted in favor of the revised constitution and by-laws, including the new name for the organization.

1977 – The centennial celebration of the organization was held in Portland. The membership approved the revision of the constitution and by-laws and the new name: Maine Association of the Deaf, Inc. (MeAD) It became a cooperating member of the National Association of the Deaf.

20232024 – Maine Sign Language Interpreting Committee applied for MeAD to become the RID Certification Management Program (CMP) Sponsor. That application was approved on January 4th, 2024, a historic moment as MeAD is the first Deaf Association in the nation to earn the designation.

Our Board:

Co-President — Sitara Sheikh

Sitara graduated from RIT (Rochester Institute of Technology) with a Bachelor’s degree in Social Work and moved internationally for
three years to teach collaboratively with the Peace Corps in Kenya. Sitara has a Master’s in Human Resources Development and another one in Rehabilitation Counseling. She moved to Maine in 2010 to work for the State of Maine as a Vocational Rehabilitation counselor.

Sitara can be reached at .

Co-President — Thomas Minch

Tommy grew up in New Hampshire and attended Gallaudet University and the Rochester Institute of Technology. He brings extensive knowledge of the Deaf community – his family, including 12 cousins, are all Deaf. Tommy is a proud dad to a Deaf son and proud uncle to an amazing niece and nephew. He is a member of the National Association of the Deaf, is a co-president for the Maine Association of the Deaf and serves on Maine Educational Center for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing as a board member.
He also is a board member for New England Homes for the Deaf, A
Deaf/Hard of Hearing nursing home. He currently works for Disability
Rights Maine, as their Deaf Service Advocate. His passion is going
camping and traveling.

Thomas can be reached at .

Secretary — Emily Blachly

Emily is an ASL Specialist/Teacher of the Deaf at Gov. Baxter School for the Deaf/Maine Educational Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing. She has a BFA in Fine Arts Studio and an MS in Deaf Education from Rochester Institute of Technology. She is working on her Ed.S in Instructional Technology from the University of Maine. Apart from teaching ASL, Emily does mixed-media illustrations on the side and teaches painting the Maine landscapes in the community. She enjoys collaborating with Deaf artists on various projects.

Fun fact: she has had a childhood pet, Ivy the Turtle, for over 25 years.

Emily can be reached at .

Treasurer — Kevin Bohlin

Kevin is an Early Intervention Provider for
families with Deaf/Hard of Hearing babies (birth to 3
years old). Kevin also coordinates Deaf/Hard of
Hearing leadership camp through Pine Tree
Society/Pine Tree Camp. Bohlin also works as an
Advisor for Maine State Commission on Deaf and Hard of Hearing related to Education and Leadership.

Kevin can be reached at .

Our Staff:

Grant Administrator — Matt Webster

Matt, a native of Colorado, moved to Maine in 2017. Matt devotes his time to raising funds for the Maine Association of the Deaf to reach organizational goals. Matt also provides live-streaming services to various entities in the New England region.

For fun, Matt can be found playing chess and cards across the green felted tables, hobbies he has enjoyed since childhood.

Matt can be reached at matt@deafmaine.org.

Maine Sign Language Interpreting Committee:

Picture of the committee coming soon!

MeSLIC can be reached at meslic@deafmaine.org.