About Us

Board of Directors

Eliot Hence


Eliot Hence is a Middle Tennessee State University graduate, currently working in in his sixth (6th) year at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). He was selected as the Outstanding Disabled Federal Employee of the Year for 2016. Mr. Hence is actively involved in the improvement of the Deaf community and currently serves as the Board President of DeafConnect’s Board of Directors.

Dr. Heather Tahler

Vice President

Dr. Heather Tahler is a clinical psychologist in the community. She is originally from the northeast and a new elect to the Board of Directors. Before moving to Memphis, she completed most of her clinical training within the deaf and hard of hearing communities providing therapy, advocacy, and building resources. Dr. Tahler is fluent in ASL and hopes to continue her connection with the deaf and hard of hearing communities through serving on the Board of DeafConnect.

Philip Moser


Philip Moser, CFP® is a financial advisor at Dixon Hughes Goodman Wealth Advisors and serves as practice leader in their Memphis office. As a Certified Financial PlannerTM professional, he is pleased to be able to use his knowledge and experience in financial planning to benefit the Deaf community of the Mid-South. He and his wife, Courtney have two sons. They are active members of their church, serving as group leaders and volunteers at a local retirement community for low-income residents.

Vanessa Smith


Vanessa Smith currently serve as a speech-language pathologist for Shelby County Schools and has served several school systems in this role over the past 23 years. An Ole Miss (University of Mississippi) graduate and a Grand Canyon University doctoral candidate, she shares her passion for effective communication and collaboration through her community and professional affiliations such as Quota International, Douglass Alumni, Pathfinders, Incorporated and Tennessee Achieves. She is the mother of two adult children and grandmother of four who love the beach, singing in the choir and taking the scenic route when travelling.

William (Billy) O. Leavell

Board of Director Member

Born in Montgomery, Alabama, William (Billy) O. Leavell was deaf at birth due to rubella mother had during her pregnancy. He graduated from high school a private school for boys and then enrolled in what is now called David Lipscomb University in Nashville, graduating in 1961. After this he became full-time minister to the deaf at Central Church of Christ in Nashville. In 1975 Mr. Leavell moved with his family to Memphis, TN, and became minister to the deaf at East Frayser Church of Christ, and later at White Station Church of Christ. He has contributed to work on the English Version for the Deaf of the Bible.
He married the former Marilyn Jean Allgood and they have three children and eight grandchildren. He has served as secretary at both the Nashville and Memphis chapters of the Tennessee Association of the Deaf in addition to the Board of DeafConnect.

Steve Conlee

Board of Director Member

Steve Conlee is a Web Specialist at The University of Memphis devoting 29 years of service. He has lived in Memphis, TN since 1988. He obtained a Bachelor of Music (BM) degree from Delta State University in 1980. Steve studied ASL courses at the former Interpreting Services for the Deaf (ISD) at St. Joseph Hospital. Steve enjoys Deaf culture, ASL, and cherishes the community and frequents deaf gatherings when possible. As a new Board of Director member to DeafConnect, I am proud to be serving the Mid-South community and DeafConnect.

Leah Williamson

Board of Director Member

Bobby Jackson

Board of Director Member

Belinda Casanova

Board of Director Member

Text Size Invert