The Silent Garden program at Fresno State will bring Academy Award-winning actress, author and deaf advocate Marlee Matlin to the Valley as the guest of honor at The Silent Garden Gala at 5 p.m., Saturday, February 25 at Fort Washington Country Club (10272 N. Millbrook Ave.) in Fresno. The gala will support student scholarships within The Silent Garden program at Fresno State.

The gala begins with cocktails at 5 p.m. and dinner at 6 p.m., followed by the program and live auction at 7 p.m. Matlin will be joined by Fresno State President Joseph I. Castro and First Lady Mary Castro, whose father is deaf. Mary Castro and Dr. Paul Ogden, the founder of The Silent Garden, will provide keynote remarks. Graciela Moreno, of ABC 30 Action News, will serve as the evening’s master of ceremonies.

“We are thrilled to have Ms. Matlin as our guest of honor at our first-ever Silent Garden Gala,” Ogden said. “She is a stellar role model in the deaf community and beyond who continues to play a key role in activism of accessibility for both youth and adults. Ms. Matlin’s work truly exemplifies the depth and reach of the mission and vision of The Silent Garden at Fresno State.”

Matlin is best known for her leading role in “Children of a Lesser God,” which earned her the Best Actress award in 1987 at the Academy Awards and Golden Globe Awards – making her the first deaf actress to achieve that honor. Most recently, she guest-starred on the NBC show “Code Black” and ABC Family’s “Switched at Birth.”

Over her career, Matlin has been a champion for the deaf and hard of hearing community, advocating Congress to support closed captioning for television and in the digital world through streaming and online videos. She also authored three novels for children, including “Deaf Child Crossing.”

Founded in 2008, The Silent Garden is a program within the Department of Communicative Sciences and Deaf Studies at Fresno State that provides educational programs, workshops and resources to the deaf and hard of hearing community in Central California.

The gala’s theme, “Planting the Seed,” reflects a new phase in The Silent Garden with growth towards an executive director/master gardener and the development of scholarships for Fresno State students interested in majoring in deaf education and sign language interpreting. Proceeds from ticket sales, and the live and silent auctions, will go toward the scholarships. Steve San Sebastian of Fresno Auction Company will lead the auction.

“The Silent Garden continues to flourish, providing a unique training ground for students majoring in these very important areas,” Ogden said. “Hopefully through these scholarships, we will have the opportunity to academically prepare more future professionals in deaf education and sign language interpreting, enabling them to touch the lives of countless deaf and hard of hearing children, youth and adults in the Central Valley and beyond.”

Local opera singer Katharine McGregor will provide musical entertainment for the gala, accompanied by certified deaf interpreter and Fresno State lecturer, Rosemary Wanis. Dinner will be followed by a night of dancing to the sounds of Los Angeles DJ Ethan Castro.

Sponsors include the Office of the President at Fresno State, the College of Health and Human Services, the Kremen School of Education and Human Development, Castro Accountancy Corporation, Victoria and Michael Bernhardt (McCormick Barstow), Jim and Ann Corley, Laura Hamill, Dan and Barbara Koontz, John and Rebecca McGregor (McCormick Barstow), Ruthie McLeod, Ellen Bowman and Gary Morse, the Montan family, Paul and Anne Ogden, Nancy Grosz Sager and Paul and Sally Taylor.

Tickets for the event are sold out. To get on the waiting list or to “plant a seed” and donate to The Silent Garden, visit For more information, contact 559.278.5590.

View Dr. Ogden’s appearance at Central Valley Today at the link below.