American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Special Events at the ASHA Convention

Opening General Session 

Thursday, November 20
8:30 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.
Orange County Convention Center, West Building, Level 2, Hall D2

2014 - Harry Belafonte

Experience the magic of the ASHA Convention as we kick off our annual event with the Opening General Session Thursday morning. This popular session brings everyone together to celebrate the speech and hearing professional community. You'll be welcomed by our mistress of ceremonies, the amazing President Elizabeth McCrea, who will charm and inspire you with her insights about the state of the discipline. Then, the team of Convention Co‑Chairs Jaynee Handelsman and Lynn Williams will entice you with a preview of what's to come—including special sessions, new events, and other not-to-be-missed activities.

In the spirit of the 2014 Convention theme—"Science. Learning. Practice. Generations of Discovery," we're excited to welcome, as keynote speakers, the Belafonte family—Harry Belafonte, his daughter Adrienne Belafonte Biesemeyer, and granddaughter Rachel Blue Biesemeyer. They will talk about passing on the gift of social activism through the generations.

Harry Belafonte is as well-known for his social activism and pursuit of social justice as he is for his acting and musical talent. His album "Calypso" made him the first artist in history to sell more than 1 million records, and he has won a Tony award, an Emmy award, and the National Medal for the Arts.

2014 - Adrienne and Rachel Biesemeyer

He has also been widely recognized in the social justice arena, receiving numerous accolades for his activism. Over the decades, Mr. Belafonte has worked with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy, and Nelson Mandela and was a driving force behind the 1985 "We Are the World" project to help people affected by war, drought, and famine in Africa. He has served as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador and is a recipient of the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors for excellence in the performing arts.

Following in her father's footsteps, daughter Adrienne Belafonte Biesemeyer, along with her daughter Rachel Blue, founded the Anir Foundation in 1997. The foundation provides socially responsible volunteer opportunities, internships, and cultural awareness programs in Southern Africa and the Caribbean. Anir helps communities develop programs that will move people towards empowerment and away from bigotry, hatred, prejudice, and unhealthy lifestyle behaviors exacerbated by poverty and illiteracy. Anir also focuses on global community issues—specifically, understanding and appreciating diversity; heritage preservation; and teaching tolerance through music, art, and dance. The Anir Experience offers its participants a glimpse of the wonders of Africa and the Caribbean as they give a helping hand to those in need.

Join Harry Belafonte and his family—three generations of social activists—on Thursday morning as they discuss the importance of helping others and social justice and instilling this passion in others. The Opening General Session will set the agenda and tone for the next 3 days!

ASHA Awards Ceremony

Friday, November 21
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Orange County Convention Center, West Building, Level 2, Hall D2

2014 - Bill and Willie GeistThe Awards Ceremony celebrates the highest achievements and excellence in the professions. Presentations will be made to recipients of the Honors of the Association—ASHA's most prestigious award, which recognizes lifetime achievement—and to ASHA Fellows, whose contributions are the cornerstones of the professions. Additional awards will be given to honor other members who have also contributed to the professions and Association. View the 2014 recipients of ASHA Awards [PDF].

The Annie Glenn Award will also be presented. Annie Glenn, wife of Senator John Glenn, is known nationwide for her advocacy for those with communication disorders. Each year, the "Annie" is given in her name to an individual who demonstrates Mrs. Glenn's spirit.

This year, Mrs. Glenn will present the 2014 "Annie" to Bill and Willie Geist, a father-and-son duo of television journalists. Bill Geist is a correspondent for CBS Sunday Morning and son Willie is a co-host of NBC's Today and MSNBC's Morning Joe.

Bill has Parkinson's disease. For many years, Bill tried to hide his struggle from his children and others; in 2012, he finally shared his diagnosis. Following his announcement, Bill realized that he needed to reach out to his family and talk about difficult, sensitive topics. Together, Bill and Willie have written a book, Good Talk Dad, about the importance of opening up and learning to better communicate with each other.

In keeping with the Convention theme of generational ties, the Geists will be honored for their message of family solidarity and open communication. In accepting the Annie Award, the Geists will emphasize that facing adversity together can strengthen family bonds.

Join the ASHA community on Friday evening as we recognize the achievements of your colleagues in the professions and Mrs. Glenn awards the "Annie" to Bill and Willie Geist.

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