American Tinnitus Association Elects New Board Members to Expand Services to Tinnitus Community During Pandemic

The American Tinnitus Association has elected four members to its board of directors to expand its leadership and help it better understand and respond to the challenges that the coronavirus pandemic has created for the tinnitus community. Frequently referred to as ringing in the ears, the chronic condition often is exacerbated by increased stress and anxiety, which are at unprecedented levels due to wide sweeping uncertainties linked to the pandemic.

“All of us have been touched in one way or another by the virus, and the ATA will navigate this by drawing on the insights of those affected most – tinnitus patients – and the expertise of healthcare providers, and researchers,” said Jill Meltzer, AuD, and Chair of the ATA Board of Directors. “Our board is comprised of these voices, so we hear firsthand what we need to know and do today to ensure that the entire tinnitus community is in a better place a year from now.”

The American Tinnitus Association is North America’s only nonprofit dedicated solely to advancing treatment, research, and education into the management of tinnitus.

“Every year, we receive extraordinary applications from members of the public who want to share their time and expertise to help the ATA continue to meet the needs of the public, from educating doctors on how tinnitus can be managed and helping patients find qualified healthcare providers to funding international research initiatives aimed at curing and treating tinnitus,” Meltzer said.

The ATA is committed to improving the lives of approximately 26 million adults in the United States with tinnitus. Meltzer emphasized that diversity of perspective and experience, as well as the ability to empathize and communicate effectively are critical, particularly since the tinnitus community – like everyone else – is no longer easily able to meet in person.

Newly Elected ATA Board Members:

Sharzad Cohen, AuD, MS, is the owner and lead audiologist of Hearing Loss Solutions as well as Auditory Processing Centers in California. Cohen has extensive experience working with the public and other professionals to raise awareness of hearing health and the dangers of loud noise. Cohen developed tinnitus after giving birth to her son in 2004, and it informs her approach to helping patients and healthcare providers understand tinnitus management and treatment options. Cohen said, “I believe in the mission of the ATA, which is focused on finding solutions and answers for tinnitus.” She is trained in tinnitus management, including Tinnitus Retraining Therapy. She also is an expert in the evaluation, programming, and management of cochlear implants and bone-anchored hearing aids. Cohen earned her AuD from the University of Florida and her MS from California State University, Northridge.

Stelios Dokianakis, AuD, MS, is founder of Holland Doctors of Audiology in Holland, MI. Dokianakis noted that Jack Vernon, PhD, and co-founder of the ATA, was an early influence in his decision to dedicate himself to tinnitus education and its management. He has worked as a clinician helping patients manage hearing loss and tinnitus for almost 20 years. He has noise-induced tinnitus, which informs the work he does with musicians to safeguard their hearing. “Working with patients has afforded me deeper empathy, compassion, and an increased appreciation of the ATA’s role [in the tinnitus community].” Dokianakis also moderates a tinnitus support group to give people a forum to express their experiences and learn about ongoing activities in the field of tinnitus. He earned his AuD from the AT Still University of Health Sciences in Kirksville, MO, and his MS in Communication Science Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Allan C. Mayer, Jr., MBA, is a retired marketing executive with more than 30 years of experience in strategic business leadership across a variety of industries. Mayer has had tinnitus for about 10 years and is keenly interested in patient outreach efforts, advocacy, and advancing progress toward understanding and curing tinnitus. “Personally, my biggest challenge with tinnitus has been understanding why it’s relatively mild one day, then incredibly strong and annoying the next.” Mayer is the founder and president of ConsumerView Research and also served as a partner at The HMC Company for more than 20 years. He served as a member of the National Institutes of Health’s National Advisory Board for Arthritis, Musculoskeletal & Skin Diseases, as well as the president of the Board of the National Psoriasis Foundation. Mayer earned his BS in Speech Science from Northwestern and his MBA from Arizona State University.

Re-elected Director:

Jinsheng Zhang, PhD, is a professor of Otolaryngology and Communication Sciences & Disorders at Wayne State University. He heads a tinnitus research laboratory that investigates the mechanisms of noise- and blast-induced tinnitus and related traumatic brain injury, as well as the development of pharmaceutical and medical device solutions. His research has been published extensively and funded by numerous federal and private agencies. He has trained close to 50 residents, post-doctoral candidates, and graduate students. He organized a special issue on tinnitus, which appeared in the journal Frontiers in Neurology. Currently, he and Grant Searchfield, PhD, are editing the volume “The Behavioral Neuroscience of Tinnitus,” by Springer. Zhang has served on the ATA board since July 2015 and is a former Chair of the ATA’s Scientific Advisory Committee.

About the ATA
The core purpose of the American Tinnitus Association is to promote relief, prevent, and find cures for tinnitus, evidenced by its core values of compassion, credibility, and responsibility.

The leading cause of tinnitus is exposure to loud sound that damages an individual’s auditory system; the second leading cause is head or neck trauma. Tinnitus also is the leading service-connected disability for U.S. veterans.

The ATA is wholly funded by individual donors and companies to fulfill its critical mission. Please donate and/or consider becoming a member so the ATA can continue to improve the quality of life for those living with tinnitus and to educate the public on its prevention. See for more information.

If your tinnitus is causing you distress, getting help is crucial. Call 1-800-634-8978, if you need general guidance on tinnitus management and seeking care.

Margaret Brown
American Tinnitus Association