Advisory Council

Welcome to the USDB Advisory Council. The purpose of the Council is to advise the USDB Superintendent and Associate Superintendents regarding the needs of Utah children who are deaf, blind, and deaf-blind. Advisory Council meetings are held at least ten times per year and are open to the public.

New Advisory Council Meeting Schedule 2021/2022

Advisory Council Leadership

Chair Philippe Montalette

Philippe MontalettePhilippe Montalette of Utah is a data analyst for Sorenson Communications and has been with the company for over 12 years. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Information Technology from the University of Phoenix. He is currently treasurer of the National Association of the Deaf (NAD) as 3rd term. He is a former president of the Utah Association of the Deaf (UAD). Montalette’s passion is working with and raising funds for various local non-profit organizations like UAD and Sego Lily Center for the Abused Deaf. He strongly believes in partnerships with different organizations. He has enjoyed hosting ASL Films movies in Salt Lake City and St. George for a few years. Montalette, who was born in Paris, France, and spent his childhood in New York City and London, England, enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with his family. Montalette is married to Yvonne.

Vice-Chair, Ray Wright

Ray Wright pix for USDBRay Wright is originally from Southern California where he grew up with his two sisters that were both born profoundly deaf.  At the age of 22, he was diagnosed with a degenerative eye disease called Retinitis Pigmentosa and found out he was legally blind. He continued his work in the Motion Picture Exhibition field as a Theatre Manager, Promotions Coordinator, Company Photographer, and Graphic Designer. In 2001, Ray became totally blind and received blindness training in Northern California at the Orientation Center for the Blind. It was there he was introduced to woodworking as a blind individual.  After his training, he was elected to the Board of Directors at the Vista Center for the Blind in Palo Alto, California where he remained until
he moved to Utah in 2007. Ray became a student at DSBVI in 2008 where he focused on honing his blindness skills including advancing his woodworking knowledge. After graduating, he started his own woodworking business and continued to study, practice, and demonstrate alternative approaches to non-visual woodworking techniques on a state and national level. Ray has entered his wooden creations in juried art exhibits in several states. He has won many blue ribbons for his designs.  In the Utah State Fair, he won Best of Show awards two consecutive years in a row.  Ray continues to own and operate his woodworking business and is currently the woodshop instructor at the Division of Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired in Salt Lake City where he is able to ”pay-it-forward” and teach and share his passion for woodworking.

Advisory Council Members

Jared Allebest

Jared allebestJared Allebest was born in Los Angeles and grew up in Laguna Hills, California. He went to an oral school at Kaiser Elementary in Costa Mesa. He later attended University High School in Irvine, California which was a magnet school for Deaf and Hard of Hearing high school students. Jared learned ASL at University High and later went on a Sign Language mission for the LDS Church in Rochester, New York. After his mission, he went to Brigham Young University he graduated from BYU with a BA in English. A year later, he attended law school at Thomas Jefferson of School of Law in San Diego, California. He graduated in 2009 with a J.D. and moved to Utah to practice law. Jared opened up his own law practice, Allebest Law Group, and began representing both hearing and deaf clients on a wide variety of legal matters. He specialized in the following areas of law: family law, estate planning, business law, discrimination law, and Deaf Rights. He is currently working for Goldman Sachs and is the Co-Chair for Loop Utah, an ongoing advocacy campaign dedicated to educating Utah venues about the many benefits of hearing loop technology, which delivers sound directly to an individual’s telecoil-equipped hearing aid or cochlear implant and gives the Hard of Hearing (HoH) community the enriched experience they deserve in venues across the state of Utah. He has visited 27 countries around the world. Jared’s news story. 

Sterling Hilton

Sterling HiltonSterling Hilton received a BA in Economics, an MA in Political Science, and an MS in Statistics from Brigham Young University. He received his Ph.D. in Biostatistics from Johns Hopkins University. He has been a faculty member at Brigham Young University for the past 20 years: 8 in the Dept. of Statistics and 12 in the Dept. of Educational Leadership. Sterling consults on a variety of medical research studies, including cystic fibrosis; however, his primary area of research is in mathematics education and educational systems change. He recently completed a seven-year stint as department chair and works with several doctoral students who are examining mechanisms and ways to increase principal capacity to bring about sustainable improvement in student learning. He and his wife, Heidi, are parents of four children and live in Orem. Their youngest has severe vision and hearing loss and is served by the Utah Schools for the Deaf and Blind. He has served as a member of his children’s schools’ community council for over ten years and is a strong advocate for public education as an institution.

Sundie Goulding

Sundie Goulding Sundie Goulding received her BS in Psychology at Westminster College, her Master’s in Developmental Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, and her Early Childhood Credential and Deaf-blind Endorsement at the University of Utah. She has a lifelong passion for transforming the lives of children with sensory problems, particularly those children with Deaf-blindness.  For over 12 years, she has had the privilege of serving in multiple children with Deaf-blindness and their families for The Utah Schools for the Deaf and the Blind. When not with other families, she enjoys spending time with her own family of three girls! All of which keep her busy running from soccer games to dance performances.

John Clements

John kleinJohn Clements lost a significant portion of his vision as a young adult.  He began what would become a full working career with the Federal Government.  He completed his service as a Supervisory Management Program Analyst.  He earned a BA in English with a minor in Asian Studies from Weber State University.  He is an avid reader, taking full advantage of the opportunity provided by the NLB. He enjoys his family, reading, bike riding, and helping his granddaughter with her Chinese homework.  John has embraced technology, integrating it into his life to enhance and enable.


Jill Weiss

Jill weissJill Weiss resides in Ogden with her husband and two young children.  She grew up in New Jersey and received her B.S in Education from the Kutztown University of Pennsylvania.  She received her master’s degree from Utah State University in Deaf Education with an endorsement in Listening and Spoken Language.  Currently, she works for the Utah School for the Deaf and the Blind as a Listening and Spoken Language Kindergarten Teacher. She is also pursuing her Ph.D. in literacy from St. John’s University. In her free time, Jill enjoys snowboarding, snowshoeing, hiking, trail running, and camping with her family.  She serves as a non-voting member of the Advisory Council.

Karen Harrop

Karen Harrop

Karen and her husband Robb are the proud parents of four active and busy sons who they are privileged to focus their lives on. Karen was born and raised in Sydney, Australia, and moved to Utah in her high school years. While in high school she had the opportunity to work with students with significant cognitive disabilities and knew then that would be her life’s work and passion. She attended Utah State University where she graduated with a bachelor’s in Special Education and Early Childhood Education. It was during this time that she spent 18 months working with the Deaf and Hard of Hearing in Riverside, California, and Miami, Florida, and learned American Sign Language. After graduation, she taught students with significant cognitive disabilities and emotional and behavioral disorders before becoming a coordinator in the Special Education Department for the Ogden School District. During this time she completed a Master’s degree in Special Education with a specialization in Autism Education. She is currently the Director of Special Education for Ogden City Schools and is finishing her Ed.S. in Educational leadership. She is thrilled to be involved in the work of improving educational outcomes for all students.

Jen Hayes

Jen Hayes smiles for a pictureJennifer (Jen) Hayes received her BS in Social Work from Idaho State University and her Master’s of Education in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education from Utah State University with an emphasis in Deafblindness. She was part of the first cohort of Helen Keller Fellows and a contributor in creating the Open Hands Open Access (OHOA) Intervener Training Modules. As a mother of two deafblind children (one deceased, one living) and two typically developing children, the study of deafblindness has become part of her daily world and reality. Jen enjoys spending time with her family, reading, running, crocheting, knitting, crafting, and blogging. She is a mother, advocate, caregiver, student, and artist with a life-long passion to grow and learn while helping those around her achieve their best self regardless of their perceived limitations.

Hilary Fisher

Hilary FisherHilary Fisher and her family moved to Utah in 2019. She and her husband lived in San Francisco for approximately 5 years pursuing their education and careers. When their son was born in 2018 and they discovered that he was deaf, they went in search of ASL support for hearing parents. They found their home at USDB’s deaf mentor and PIP program. With PIP’s support and encouragement, they were able to slowly and confidently learn ASL. Hilary is excited to give back and support USDB. She currently works as a Nurse Practitioner in the community. When not working, Hilary enjoys DIY renovating her home, doing crossword puzzles, watching sports, and listening to true crime podcasts. She currently lives in Millcreek with her husband and two young children.”

Katie Groves

head shot of katie wearing a winter cap and coat in a snowy backgroundKatie Groves is pleased to be on the USDBI advisory council as a parent of a blind child. Though Katie grew up in Utah, for the past 20 years she has lived in Iowa and North Carolina with her husband and 6 children.  In 2020 she and her family moved to South Jordan. Her 14 year old daughter has been blind since birth and has thrived in many ways do to strong family support and the wonderful support of the blind and visually impaired community.  Katie hopes to share her experience and support as well as learn from those in similar circumstances as she sits on the advisory council. She hopes to help improve lives and services for the visually impaired in Utah. Katie enjoys spending time outdoors with her family, as well as reading books and trying new food. One day she hopes to travel and experience new people and places around the world. 


The Advisory Council has no current vacancies.

For more information about the USDB Advisory Council, contact Executive Assistant Tamara Flint