Ensuring Access to Justice for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Clients in the Immigration Context

Event Description

The MN/Dakotas AILA Chapter Pro Bono Committee
MSBA Immigration Section
Ballard Spahr LLP

This free bias CLE breakfast sponsored by the MSBA Immigration Law Section, the Pro Bono Committee of the MN/Dakotas AILA Chapter and Ballard Spahr LLP is to celebrate lawyers who have provided pro bono service for immigration clients. Speakers will provide information and best practices guidance for working with Deaf, DeafBlind and Hard of Hearing clients, in particular those navigating an immigration process.

Breakfast and registration begin at 8:30 AM. The program will begin at 8:45 AM.

IDS Tower, 3rd Floor Conference Center
80 South 8th Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402


Aaron Gutzke is the Executive Director of ThinkSelf. He leads ThinkSelf in providing learner- and survivor-centered services. Aaron believes that multidisciplinary collaboration is the key to removing barriers and generating innovative advocacy, education and arts opportunities. Throughout his career, Aaron has worked to ensure access for all and most recently received the University of Minnesota’s 2017 Polaris Award for Disability Rights & Advocacy. Aaron holds a Master’s degree from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and graduated from Gallaudet University with a Bachelor’s in English and Secondary Education. He enjoys spending his spare time with his husband and doting on his sassy Corgi/Black Lab Mix, Percival Stackhouse.

Alison M. Olson Cox is a Staff Attorney at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, where she practices immigration law. Alison handles a wide variety of immigration matters for including complex naturalization cases, court representation, and immigration benefits for survivors of domestic violence. Her experience has allowed her to work with diverse immigrant communities learning the needs of these specific groups along the way. She received her JD from William Mitchell College of Law in 2006 and started practicing immigration law shortly thereafter. While in law school Alison participated in the immigration law clinic working on cases involving domestic assault victims. Alison also worked as a law clerk for Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services where she handled immigration, housing and other cases affecting migrant farm workers. She earned her undergraduate degree in International Business and Spanish from the University of Colorado.

Jimmy Beldon, CDI, MA, has been a leader in the interpreting field and a mentor to other interpreters for many years. A native of Deaf culture and American Sign Language, as well as a trained and certified interpreter, Jimmy has gained prominence as a communication specialist and certified deaf interpreter throughout the court system. He also provides consulting on issues of deaf culture, communication needs, and working with deaf immigrants and/or refugees. Jimmy specializes in consulting on interpreting and teaches at St. Catherine University’s Interpreter Training Program on the St. Paul campus. Jimmy served on a national board for interpreters for 8 years and continues to volunteer his time to the National Registry of Interpreters, (RID).

Fardowsa Mohamed Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia. She is the only deaf person in her family. Fardowsa was born into a life of violence, isolation, and hardship. While the country was in turmoil with the civil war, poverty, and oppression; Fardowsa lost many of her family members. Fardowsa's sister was able to move to United States to escape the war-torn countries. Her sister worked to work with the authorities to bring Fardowsa to America as well. After moving to the United States, Fardowsa immersed herself in the American culture, learned American Sign Language and enrolled in the Deaf Adult Basic Education program. Fardowsa obtained her Citizenship in 2011. Fardowsa also obtained her driver’s license, which is unheard of in her home country. Today, Fardowsa works for Amazon. In her spare time, she volunteers countless hours for the Deaf Muslim communities. She is a founder of the Minnesota Deaf Muslim Community. She also serves on boards of two non-profit organizations, Deaf Equity and Minnesota Association of Deaf Citizens.   

Patty McCutcheon, CSC, SC:L, BSM, is well known in the interpreting field as a model and mentor to interpreters in specialty areas. Patty has taught legal interpreting, performing arts interpreting, corporate board interpreting and post-secondary interpreting to students and practicing interpreters. In addition to her 31 years of community interpreting experience, Patty has 25 years as a coordinator of interpreters in post-secondary settings. A native of Wisconsin, Patty has served the Wisconsin Registry of Interpreters, (WisRID) for 10 years as Treasurer, President and Past President. Upon moving to Minnesota she joined the Minnesota Registry of Interpreters (MRID) and has served as Treasurer.

CLE Credits:

1.5 Elimination of Bias CLE Credits approved | Event Code: 272785


Free for all attendees.

Remote Participation: 

Remote participation is not available.


Want more information about the Immigration Law Section? 
To register with a check, please mail in this registration form.
Need to cancel? Please see our cancellation policy.
Questions? Contact Kayla Erbach  | 612-278-6325

The MSBA is committed to creating an inclusive environment in which all members can participate fully. If you need reasonable accommodations to participate in this event, please notify Kayla Erbach.  Please provide notification at least 72 hours prior to the meeting to allow sufficient time to make arrangements for accommodations.

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Pre-Registration is Closed

Friday, May 10, 2019

8:30 AM to 10:30 AM

3rd Floor Conference Room / Ballard Spahr Minneapolis, MN United States