As Cochlear recipients, our volunteer community understands the importance of hearing loss prevention and are in their communities sharing just how life changing a hearing solution can be. Cochlear has the opportunity to recognize these amazing volunteers and it is our pleasure to announce the 2023 Cochlear volunteer Hear-o of the Year, Jane from Virginia.


Jane was nominated by her local Cochlear Engagement Manager, Martha Schley Smith. She shared, “It’s hard to figure out where to begin when it comes to writing all the ways Jane has contributed to not only the Cochlear implant community but the hearing loss community as a whole. She is always the first to raise her hand to help—be it as a speaker at our monthly Virginia Beach Open Houses, a constant guest on virtual Q&As, helping work local events or as a volunteer who mentors those going through the implant process. Her community involvement is well known and can be felt and seen throughout the area.”

Jane, the 2023 volunteer Hear-o of the year, with Martha Schley Smith. Jane is holding her plaques and flowers.

How it started

In 2005, Jane started losing her hearing due to Mononucleosis and was later diagnosed with Meniere’s disease. Over time her hearing gradually worsened, she began wearing hearing aids in 2014. When hearing aids were no longer enough, she found out she qualified for cochlear implants. Her left ear was implanted in 2017 and right ear in 2018. Jane proudly uses both the Cochlear™ Nucleus® 7 Sound Processors and Cochlear Kanso® Sound Processors. For daily use, she enjoys the comfort of the Kanso Sound Processors being off-the-ear. She prefers her Nucleus 7 Sound Processors when riding her bike because she feels they fit under her helmet better. You can read tips about wearing a Cochlear hearing device with a helmet on this Hear & Now blog.

Jane, the 2023 volunteer Hear-o of the year holding her celebratory cake.

Jane is involved volunteering in her community

Jane became a Cochlear volunteer in 2019. As Martha Schley mentioned, Jane attends and speaks at open houses, she mentors candidates that have been referred to her and she is always willing to communicate with them by their preference be it phone, texting, email or even in person. Jane cofounded a support group, sharing, “the group, Virginia Hearing Loss Support Network, has monthly meetings, in person. We offer a safe space for people with hearing loss, particularly those with cochlear implants, to socialize and learn about resources available to them. Family and friends are also welcome.” One piece of advice Jane always stresses to candidates is the importance of aural rehabilitation after they’ve been implanted. She goes on to explain, they need to be prepared for a period of adjustment after surgery because it takes the brain some time to adapt to processing sounds with a cochlear implant.”Jane, the 2023 volunteer Hear-o of the year showing off her plaques.

Jane has also volunteered with Access Virginia, a non-profit organization that provides open captioning and audio description at live theatrical performances. She was even involved in the production “Between Sound & Silence”, which participates in educating the public about life with hearing loss. In addition, Jane is a member of the local Hearing Loss Association of America Virginia Beach Chapter, where she has served as chapter vice president and as the community outreach coordinator.

Jane also mentors cochlear implant recipients referred to her by her audiologist and a speech pathologist. One of Jane’s favorite parts of volunteering is getting to know cochlear implant recipients, both before and after surgery and seeing how much their quality of life has improved.

We are privileged to announce Jane as the 2023 Hear-o of the Year. Congratulations Jane. To connect with a volunteer like Jane, click here.

Anna Martinez
Anna Martinez is the Associate Volunteer Engagement Manager and has worked for Cochlear since 2016. She is responsible for communication and onboarding with the Cochlear volunteer community. Anna is a Colorado native and enjoys being outside in the beautiful weather with her son.