Committed to Improving the Lives of People of All Ages with Hearing and Communication Challenges

The Marion Downs Center

Marion Downs Center is recognized worldwide for its leadership, progressive innovations, and cutting-edge clinical services. Its mission to value and promote individual and family choices in treatment, communication, and technological options for people with hearing loss and their families is unique.

Our Mission

The Marion Downs Center provides state-of-the-art, culturally sensitive services, resources, education, and research to support the needs of individuals with communication challenges and their families. 

Our Goals:

  1. Provide high quality evidence-based service to all individuals
  2. Decrease communication barriers for all we serve
  3. Identify and support the early identification, education, and literacy of those most vulnerable to early learning challenges
  4. Provide services that accommodate and support individuals from all socioeconomic and cultural backgrounds
  5. Engage and educate the community and professionals in the areas of hearing loss, deafness, and communication challenges

Our Vision

To improve quality of life through compassionate, multidisciplinary, and high quality services and education. 

History

The roots of what is now the Marion Downs Center began in 1918 when the Denver League of Hard-of-Hearing began providing community support to individuals with hearing loss. In 2015, the Marion Downs Hearing Center merged with the Center for Hearing, Speech, and Language to become the Marion Downs Center (MDC). The MDC's extraordinary legacy was built through enriching people's lives by providing innovative, caring and high-quality services for people with barriers to communication regardless of financial status. The MDC is truly community based and relies on generous support from organizations, foundations, donors, and community partners. 

Success Stories

"The Marion Downs Center is great! They are the first place to really help me with my hearing in 55+ years".

- J.W.

"Thank you for all your help at a less than optimal time in my life! Fitting hearing aids post surgery was a bit crazy, but we succeeded! Your expertise in Audiology has not only improved my hearing remarkably, but very importantly, my quality of life. I thank you, as do the people with whom I come in contact, as I can now hear what they're saying the first time! What a concept! You are a true expert in your field, and a very pleasant person with whom to work."

- C Carroll

"The staff and curriculum at Marion's Way use best practices for educating the DHH as well as doing research on ways for continuous improvement. They held classes for the parents to teach us skills techniques, and approaches to use at home and in the community. The information we learned is invaluable and Connor's language, social skills, and communication showed significant improvement."

- Annie Mason

"Chase has attended Marion's Way Preschool two summers in a row. He continues to make huge strides in his education, has now been mainstreamed in public kindergarten and doing very well. Without the support, guidance and expertise from Marion's Way, Chase would not be where he is today! Today, Chase is a typical, happy, smart outgoing and socially curious 5 year old who just happens to be hard of hearing."

- Cynthia Monson

"My daughter is learning her letters and her numbers in the Early Language Literacy Program. She also knows her colors. She is very happy taking the class and her English is getting better like her older brothers, who also participated in the program and are now fluent in English and in elementary school. She is learning to get along with other children, it is a big help for us. She watches her brothers do homework and wants to do some too. It is a big help. We are very happy you can do this."

- Father of an Early Language Literacy Program Participant

"I was born with Shpritzen Syndrome and gradually my hearing kept getting worse. I had trouble understanding what was on the TV, hearing the doorbell, and other everyday things most people take for granted. It was a true miracle that Marion Downs granted me a gift of hearing aids. I totally love them and everything seems like a new world. They helped give me a new life!"

- April Kauffmann

"I have had my hearing aids for a month now and can't believe how life-changing the ability to hear so clearly is," I don't have to have the TV loudly blaring. I don't have to always ask people to repeat what they have said. I have lived in such a muted world for so long and now I can hear birds, crickets, and my kids talking clearly to me."

- Gayla Greenfield

Changing Lives

Chimie was 6 years old with bilateral severe-profound hearing loss when she began receiving audiology and speech services from the Marion Downs Center. Her hearing aids were not programmed to meet her needs; she had little interest in communication and it was challenging to keep her attention. According to her father, "The improvement in Chimie's communication and behavior is life changing. You have been a strong advocate for her needs and taught us the strategies we needed to ensure her success. We will be forever grateful."  Equipped with bilateral hearing aids, "sugar plum" sparkle earmolds, an FM system, and strategies to optimize her auditory, speech, and literacy skills, Chimie is exceeding expectations at home and in school.

Chimie was 6 years old with bilateral severe-profound hearing loss when she began receiving audiology and speech services from the Marion Downs Center. Her hearing aids were not programmed to meet her needs; she had little interest in communication and it was challenging to keep her attention. According to her father, "The improvement in Chimie's communication and behavior is life changing. You have been a strong advocate for her needs and taught us the strategies we needed to ensure her success. We will be forever grateful."

Equipped with bilateral hearing aids, "sugar plum" sparkle earmolds, an FM system, and strategies to optimize her auditory, speech, and literacy skills, Chimie is exceeding expectations at home and in school.

Christina is a thoughtful and kindhearted 5-year-old who struggled to understand speech in everyday life and in school. MDC audiologists diagnosed her mild hearing loss at the age of 4 and fit her pink hearing aids shortly after.  Through the Marion's Way Preschool program, Christina and her family implemented strategies to help Christina maximize her auditory, speech, and literacy skills. Christina is now using a Roger system to improve hearing access in background noise and is thriving at home and school. Her speech and language development continues to improve by leaps and bounds. She is bright, compassionate, and loving to all and is a huge Rockies fan. Your support helps children like Christina grow to their full potential!

Christina is a thoughtful and kindhearted 5-year-old who struggled to understand speech in everyday life and in school. MDC audiologists diagnosed her mild hearing loss at the age of 4 and fit her pink hearing aids shortly after.

Through the Marion's Way Preschool program, Christina and her family implemented strategies to help Christina maximize her auditory, speech, and literacy skills. Christina is now using a Roger system to improve hearing access in background noise and is thriving at home and school. Her speech and language development continues to improve by leaps and bounds. She is bright, compassionate, and loving to all and is a huge Rockies fan. Your support helps children like Christina grow to their full potential!

Marion's Way Preschool 2019

Service Event: Colorado Symphony

Meet Our Team

Our compassionate team of professionals are dedicated to the provision of exceptional service that changes lives.

Our Staff

Carolina Aranis, M.D.

Kid Screen Team Member

Maeline Barnstabel, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist | Director, KidScreen
Emory Bratton, B.S.

Audiology Fellow
Sandra Abbott Gabbard, PhD

Clinical Audiologist | President/CEO
Cindy Gladden

Coordinator, KidScreen
Caleb Kronen, AuD

Clinical Audiologist
Ginny Lupo, AuD

Clinical Audiologist
Lynne Lyons, MPA

Director of Finance and Government Relations Chief Operating Officer
Kim Mesa

Early Language Learning Outreach Lead Teacher | Kidscreen Team Member
Kim Moon

Front Office
Ashley Muniz, MSDE

Marion’s Way Lead Teacher
Julie Peterson, AuD

Clinical Audiologist

Thomas Vickers


Occupational Hearing Conservationist

Aaron Rose, MSDE

Marketing/Outreach Coordinator
Clarisse Simonini-Weber, MA, CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist
Jill Wayne, AuD

Clinical Audiologist | Associate Director

Our Board of Directors

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Laura Aubert, AuD

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Had Beatty

Chairman of the Board

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Barbara Biddle Galoob

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Dr. Stephen Cass, MD

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Sandra Gabbard, PhD

MDC President and CEO

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Charlie Hebeler, PhD

Board Treasurer

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Linda Hood, PhD

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Cliff Linhardt

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Jerry Northern, PhD

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Christie Morin

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Jill Wayne, AuD, Secretary

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Chris Writer

4th Year AuD Fellowships

The Marion Downs Center (MDC) is currently accepting applications for 4th year AuD Fellows for the 2021-2022 academic year. Applications are due by November 1st, 2020.

The MDC is a nonprofit “Center of Excellence” that provides culturally sensitive services, resources, education and research to support the needs of individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing or who have communication challenges, their families, and the professionals who serve them.   

The Colorado LEND Program currently supports a 4th year Fellow at the Marion Downs Center.  The Colorado Audiology LEND is a program through JFK Partners at the University of Colorado Denver (UCD).  LEND Fellows participate in multidisciplinary educational opportunities at UCD in addition to their clinical responsibilities at MDC. Sandra Abbott Gabbard, PhD is the Audiology Discipline Director of the Colorado LEND and provides LEND mentoring and clinical services at the MDC.   

The 12-month MDC Fellowship includes experience with all ages of patients in multiple areas of practice including:

  • Audiometric assessment (behavioral, immittance audiometry, OAEs, ABR, ASSR)
  • Amplification (hearing aids, FM, assistive devices and devices for tinnitus)
  • Cochlear Implant candidacy and mapping
  • Pediatrics (diagnostic assessment, amplification, community-based screening, preschool audiology support)
  • Aural (Re)habilitation (Marion’s Way Preschool and adult classes)
  • Hearing Conservation (industrial and musician care)

The clinic faculty at the MDC consists of four audiologiststhree speech-language pathologists, and a teacher of the deaf.  The MDC has many community programs including a screening program for hearing and speech, a summer preschool, and many special events and educational programs throughout the year.   

Every student is unique with different interests; therefore, an effort is made to tailor the experience to the student’s individual needs and professional goals.

Students interested in applying for the 2021-2022 year need to submit their application packet by November 1st, 2020 In the application, please include the following: 

  • A letter of intent explaining what type of experience you have or plan to have prior to starting your 4th year and your interests and expectations for your 4th year experience
  • A resume including relevant education and experience
  • Two letters of recommendation 
  • Any additional information that may be helpful in determining whether or not you would be a good fit for our program

We strongly encourage a visit and personal interview for all applicants. Applicants who cannot visit may be offered a telephone/video interview. A decision about accepted applicants will be made by December 1st, 2020.

Application materials can be sent electronically to Sandra.gabbard@mariondowns.org or mailed to: 

Sandra Abbott Gabbard, PhD; 4280 Hale Parkway; Denver, CO 80220

Internships/Clinical Opportunities

Internship opportunities are structured for individuals interested in gaining knowledge, skills and experience to support future career goals. Interns can be current undergraduate students, graduate students or recent college graduates with completed college level academic coursework in content areas that relate to the job duties.

Applicants will be matched to opportunities at the MDC that best fit their academic background, experience and interests. Interns must commit to a minimum of 8 hours per week for 2 academic semesters. Qualified candidates will be self-motivated, creative, efficient, good with deadlines, and possess strong communication and organizational skills.

All current MDC Internship opportunities are unpaid. Academic credit maybe given at the discretion of the enrolled institution.

Volunteer commitment can range to a one-time project to long-term on-going support. If you are interested in applying for our volunteer program, click here.

Volunteer

Loyal, committed, energetic volunteers contribute significantly to our mission. Volunteer commitment can range to a one-time project to long-term on-going support. Areas of need include: administrative support, community outreach, fundraising, special events, mentorship, early childhood literacy with direct child contact, educational materials preparation, building support and maintenance.

We require fingerprinting and background checks for all direct contact volunteers.

Do you have a skill that you think the Marion Downs Center could benefit from? Do you want to volunteer but have something else in mind? Contact us! We welcome your support and will work together to identify a project that interests you.

Internship opportunities are structured for individuals interested in gaining knowledge, skills and experience to support future career goals. If you are interesting in our internship program, please click here.

Jobs

We currently do not have any open positions at this time.

We also accept in-kind donations. We are looking for used hearing aids, books, arts and craft supplies, and other items for our programs.

 

Marion’s Legacy

January 26, 1914 – November 13, 2014

Marion Downs was a distinguished professor emerita at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, where she spent more than 35 years providing clinical services to patients with hearing loss. She devoted her professional life to promoting early identification of hearing loss in newborns, infants, and young children.

During her career at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, Marion Downs created, developed, and evaluated a variety of techniques for testing children’s hearing and fitting them with hearing aids. She was among the first to recognize the need for babies with hearing loss to use hearing aids as early as possible. This way, during the infant’s critical development years, their speech, language, and communication skills could improve.

In 1963, Marion Downs pioneered the first national infant hearing screening program in Denver, CO. Since then, she had relentlessly pursued the identification and management of hearing loss in infants and children as a public health issue and an important medical and educational consideration. Her success has resulted in a widespread national program, which makes the screening of newborn hearing a functioning preventative program in more than 40 states across the US as well as in foreign countries.

Marion

She is recognized internationally for her work in pediatric audiology. Her publications and lectures have helped people become more alert to the importance of early intervention for hearing loss.

In 1969, Marion Downs proposed that a national committee be established to ensure that pediatric hearing loss would stay as a concern for pediatric health professionals. The committee would have representatives from various professional hearing healthcare organizations interview, evaluate, and recommend best practices to newborn hearing screening programs.

As a result of her visionary thinking, the nation’s Joint Committee on Infant Hearing (JCIH) was organized to provide multidisciplinary leadership and guidance for 35 years in all areas of newborn and infant hearing issues.

An Exemplary Teacher

Marion Downs had lectures throughout the US and in more than 15 foreign countries. She had published nearly 100 articles and books on various aspects of audiology and served as a co-author of Hearing in Children—a textbook that was updated between 1972 and 2013. For thousands of audiologists-in-training, Hearing in Children was their cornerstone to learn how to evaluate and manage children with hearing loss.

Marion

Awards Received

Marion Downs received an extensive array of awards that recognize her contributions throughout her career. Among her many honors include:

  • Gold Medal Recognition from the University of Colorado School of Medicine
  • Medal of Ministry of Health of South Vietnam
  • Outstanding Achievement Award from the University of Minnesota

In addition, she has been recognized with honors in nearly every professional hearing-related society, including:

  • American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery (AAO HNS)
  • American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
  • Colorado Academy of Audiology
  • American Academy of Audiology

Achievements and Contributions

She was a founder of the American Auditory Society, and in 1980, she was invited to present the prestigious Carhart Memorial Lecture. Marion Downs received an Outstanding Service Recognition Award from the American Medical Association for her work in teaching audiology in Vietnam.

Marion Downs was one of the founders of the International Audiology Society. She has served on numerous committees, boards, and task forces on local, national, and international projects. On two occasions, she served as the program chair for the International Society of Audiology Congress.

The Marion Downs Center is dedicated to continuing her legacy and to developing and providing hearing, speech, and language services to our community.

Marion Downs was inducted into the Colorado Women's Hall of Fame in 2006. Watch this video about Marion Downs.