#NADHandwave: May 2017

For this month’s #NADhandwave, we recognize Marla Hatrak for her years of selfless commitment for deaf education and deaf youth! One cannot meet Marla without noticing her unlimited energy and zest for life.  Marla is dedicated to ensuring that deaf and hard of hearing babies and children, and their families, have access to American Sign Language and English.

Marla is a volunteer, and one of the core leaders, with the national Language Equality and Acquisition for Deaf-Kids (LEAD-K) campaign team as the language acquisition researcher and policy developer. LEAD-K’s goal is to get all deaf and hard of hearing children Kindergarten-ready through a dedicated focus on ASL-English language development.

In spite of her busy schedule, Marla is also the Vice President of the California Association of the Deaf (CAD). She is also the Co-Chair of CAD’s Public Policy committee focused on deaf babies and early childhood education. Currently, she is the Lab Director and a research assistant at the Mayberry Lab at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD). She also worked the Salk Institute of Biological Sciences. She has a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Studies with a Specialization in Public Policy and Advocacy and is currently a doctoral student in Educational Policy, Leadership, and Management.

Marla was a camper at the NAD Youth Leadership Camp in 1969 and is very fond of her memories that she later returned in 1971-1975 to work as a staff member. She fundraises often for YLC and ensures at least one deaf youth from San Diego to join YLC. Additionally, she is the President of the YLC Alumni Foundation.

She is a native of Indiana and graduated from the Indiana School for the Deaf (ISD). Later, Marla moved to California where she met her husband, Doug Sampson and raised their two deaf children, Matthew and Tory, in San Diego. Doug and Marla worked together at DawnSignPress, an ASL publishing company before she accepted a job at UCSD as a researcher focused on linguistics.

With her tireless dedication, it is no surprise that we recognize her this month! Thank you for all that you do Marla. Your impact is so great and not limited to our community but creates ripple effects around us.

The NAD gives monthly #NADhandwaves to people in our community. This is a great opportunity for the NAD to recognize exemplary people or the work they do.  With such great people, the world continues to progress.  If you know someone who deserves a #NADHandwave, submit your suggestions online!


The NAD was established in 1880 by deaf leaders who believed in the right of the American deaf community to use sign language, to congregate on issues important to them, and to have its interests represented at the national level. As a nonprofit federation, the mission of the NAD is to preserve, protect, and promote the civil, human, and linguistic rights of deaf and hard of hearing people in the United States. The advocacy scope of the NAD is broad, covering the breadth of a lifetime and impacting future generations in the areas of early intervention, education, employment, health care, technology, telecommunications, youth leadership, and more.