About Starkey Hearing Technologies

Helping people hear - it's the reason we're here

  • William F. Austin Bill Austin

    Owner and CEO

    William F. Austin — or Bill Austin, as most know him — is the founder, principal owner, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Starkey Hearing Technologies.

    In 1961, to help pay for college and with the goal of attending medical school to become a missionary doctor, Bill started in the hearing aid industry making ear pieces in his uncle’s shop. His role quickly expanded, and he began designing hearing aids as well. One day, Bill worked tirelessly to fashion a hearing aid for a patient with profound difficulties who others had given up on. The joy in the man’s eyes when he could finally hear better set Bill on his life’s mission — to help the world hear. Bill then realized that through this industry, he could impact and help more lives than by working alone as a missionary doctor, and that his life would have a greater value. So, Bill started his own company. Bill’s company, in the 1960s, serviced and repaired more hearing aids from any manufacturer than anyone else in the world, and Bill and his expanding team continued to design, manufacture, and sell in-the-ear hearing aids. In 1970, Bill Austin purchased a three-employee company for $13,000 called Starkey Laboratories, which was making ear molds for Bill’s business. Bill then folded his larger operation under the Starkey name, and the rest is history. Bill’s original repair shop still operates within Starkey.

    More than 50 years later, Bill’s business acumen has grown Starkey Hearing Technologies into what it is today: the only American-owned and operated global hearing aid manufacturer. Starkey continues to set itself apart in the industry through its quality, service and innovation.

    Now in his sixth decade in the industry, Bill is at his happiest when personally providing and assisting people with hearing aids. When necessary, Bill works day and night, often seven days a week, to ensure that everyone receives the care and treatment needed to utilize their own hearing aids. Bill Austin’s generosity and steadfast belief that the gift of hearing can change the world led him to found Starkey Hearing Foundation, a charity that gives free hearing aids to those in need around the world. Bill and his wife, Tani Austin, travel with the Foundation on dozens of hearing missions every year. Alongside audiologists, hearing professionals and other volunteers, Bill has helped the poor on missions in more than 100 countries and on every continent except Antarctica.

    Nationally and internationally, Bill has been a part of helping more people achieve better hearing with hearing aids than anyone else in the history of the industry. In addition to the young children in third-world countries he has witnessed hear for the first time, Bill has personally assisted five U.S. Presidents, two Popes, Mother Teresa, and Nelson Mandela with Starkey hearing aids, to name a few. However, no matter a person’s reputation or financial means, Bill treats every person with the same respect and kindness; providing the gift of hearing is bigger than him — it’s a lifelong commitment to change the world.

    For his philanthropic work, Bill Austin has received numerous honors, including: the Horatio Alger Award, Mexico’s Aztec Eagle Award, the Jefferson Award, the Albert Schweitzer Leadership Award, the National Caring Award, and the Humanitarian Award from Variety International. At the United Nations in 2017, Bill Austin was named the first Goodwill Global Ambassador for Ear and Hearing Health.

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  • Tani Austin Tani Austin

    Chief Philanthropy Officer

    Tani Austin is Chief Philanthropy Officer at Starkey Hearing Technologies. Tani has more than 35 years of experience in the hearing healthcare industry, including: maintaining her own hearing aid practice for 10 years and serving as the Illinois Department of Public Health Practicum Examiner for licensure of hearing aid dispensers, Secretary of the Illinois Hearing Society, and on the National Board of Certification in Hearing Sciences.

    Tani Austin has a deep-rooted passion for helping those in need, and for her, that starts with giving everyone access to hearing. In her role, she executes the company’s philanthropic efforts, focusing on improving hearing health across the world and other important humanitarian causes in our local community and beyond.

    Named Female Philanthropist of the Year and honored at the First Ladies Summit at the UN General Assembly in 2015, Tani Austin, volunteers the majority of her time to Starkey Hearing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity. The Foundation is the world’s largest hearing healthcare charity. The Foundation provides complimentary hearing healthcare services to people in need, empowering them to achieve their full potential. According to the World Health Organization, an estimated five percent of the world’s population have disabling hearing loss, with the greatest prevalence in low and middle-income populations. The impact of hearing loss not only affects the individual but their family, community, country, and the world at large. Especially in third-world countries, gaining the ability to hear provides the opportunity for gainful employment, which in turn helps the entire family. The Foundation has touched the lives of individuals with the greatest need in more than 100 countries and on every continent except Antarctica, providing primary ear care services, hearing screenings, hearing aids, batteries, and repair and replacement of hearing aids, as necessary. In addition to providing hearing healthcare services, the Foundation has developed a formalized process for building, running, and evaluating a community-based hearing healthcare program and has established that program in more than 60 countries to date−where people in the country are paid to work and provide services to the poor.

    Tani, along with her husband, Bill Austin, founder, principal owner and CEO of Starkey Hearing Technologies, travels with the Foundation on hearing mission trips the majority of the year. Tani Austin’s relentless efforts volunteering for Starkey Hearing Foundation has helped it become a global force in empowering local communities to develop sustainable, community-based systems of hearing healthcare.

    In 2016, Tani Austin was invited to be the Delta Zeta Sorority Convention’s initiate. The national sorority supports Starkey Hearing Foundation’s hearing health awareness and education through the Listen Carefully campaign and pledged to raise $5 million over the next five years.

    Tani’s commitment to philanthropy goes beyond hearing. By supporting a multitude of both local and global charitable causes, her inspiring vision and selfless dedication has helped change countless lives.

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  • Brandon Sawalich Brandon Sawalich

    President

    Brandon Sawalich is President of Starkey Hearing Technologies. In 2017, Brandon Sawalich was named President, a culmination of a life’s passion for helping the world hear. Brandon leads a global team of more than 5,000 employees, with facilities in over 23 countries. He drives the strategic direction of Starkey Hearing Technologies and works closely with the Executive Team and other leaders throughout the organization to support the company’s values and goals.

    As President, Brandon Sawalich is focused on forward-thinking leadership and is committed to continuing to innovate the science, design and production of hearing aid technologies, while providing consumers the best quality products at affordable prices.

    Under Brandon’s leadership, Starkey Hearing Technologies has integrated sensors, artificial intelligence, and Healthable technology into our hearing health products, and he continues to seek out opportunities to bring cutting-edge products and solutions to market.

    In 1994, Brandon Sawalich began his career at Starkey’s All Make Repair and Earmold Lab. Over two decades, Brandon worked his way up, learning diligently across many aspects of the company, and before becoming President, he helped grow, shape and lead the sales division. Through his broad professional experience, Brandon has developed a deep understanding of the company’s products and the customers’ needs.

    Prior to his tenure as President, Brandon Sawalich served as Senior Vice President of Starkey Hearing Technologies from 2005 – 2017.

    During his long career, Brandon came to understand that personalized customer service, customized fitting, professional evaluation, and state-of-the-art technology must all come together seamlessly to properly serve each and every unique customer.

    Brandon believes hearing loss is a critical medical issue and is committed to improving people’s lives through the gift of hearing. According to the World Health Organization, at least five percent of the global population suffers from hearing loss, which, without being treated, can cause social isolation, depression, and dementia. Brandon has volunteered with the Starkey Hearing Foundation, a 501(c)(3) charity, to provide free hearing aids to people in need.

    In addition, Brandon Sawalich works with the International Hearing Foundation to spread the gift of hearing overseas. In 2017, he was elected to lead the Hearing Industries Association as Chairman of the Board of Directors, an 18-member industry group that works with government leaders to support efforts to increase the accessibility and affordability of hearing aids, especially given the overall importance of hearing health.

    Among Brandon’s other interests and activities are various philanthropic and community-based ventures. He is dedicated to raising Minnesota’s and the Twin Cities’ profiles, both nationally and abroad, as a leading hub of business, especially in the medical and technology sectors. Brandon is also a longtime supporter of Special Olympics Minnesota and was elected to the organization’s Board of Directors in 2014 and served through 2015.

    Brandon Sawalich is a proud husband to Stacy Sawalich and father to their two children. When he’s not providing life-changing hearing devices, he can be found coaching little league, supporting his children’s passions, enjoying activities on the lake with his family or cheering on the Chicago Cubs.

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  • Achin Bhowmik Achin Bhowmik, Ph.D.

    Chief Technology Officer & Executive Vice President of Engineering

    As Chief Technology Officer and Executive Vice President of Engineering for Starkey Hearing Technologies, Dr. Achin Bhowmik leads the company’s research and product development efforts. Prior to joining Starkey, Dr. Achin Bhowmik was vice president and general manager of the Perceptual Computing Group at Intel Corporation. There, he was responsible for the R&D, engineering, operations, and businesses in the areas of 3D sensing and interactive computing, computer vision and artificial intelligence, autonomous robots and drones, and immersive virtual and merged reality devices.

    Dr. Achin Bhowmik holds adjunct and guest professor positions, advises graduate research and lectures on human-computer interactions and perceptual computing technologies at the Liquid Crystal Institute of Kent State University, Kyung Hee University, Seoul, Indian Institute of Technology, Gandhinagar, Stanford University, and the University of California, Berkeley, where he is on the board of advisors for the Fung Institute for Engineering Leadership. Dr. Achin Bhowmik has over 200 publications, including two books and 34 issued patents.

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  • Sara Burdak Sara Burdak, Au.D.

    Chief Audiology Officer

    Dr. Sara Burdak joined Starkey Hearing Technologies as an audiologist on the Hearing Research and Technology team in 1999. Over the last 16 years, Sara Burdak has worked to bring impactful programs to our global customer base. She is responsible for developing and aligning Starkey’s global audiology strategy as it relates to education and training programs, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and customer and industry relations. Sara Burdak earned her bachelor's degree in audiology and speech sciences from Michigan State University, her master's degree in audiology from Wayne State University, and her Au.D. from the Arizona School of Health Sciences.

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  • Bill Courtney Bill Courtney

    Chief Financial Officer

    Bill Courtney holds over 30 years of experience in retail strategy, global financial infrastructure and medical device leadership. His extensive finance experience spans across manufacturing, operations, IT, supply chain, and other functions throughout a variety of industries and companies, such as Hertz, Best Buy, Barclays Global Technology and Operations, and most recently, Medtronic.

    During his time as Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Global Operations & Business Services at Medtronic, Bill Courtney was responsible for financial and strategic support to teams throughout the world.

    He obtained his bachelor’s degree in accounting from Elon University (Elon, North Carolina), and his MBA in finance from the University of Pittsburgh – Joseph M. Katz Graduate School of Business in Pittsburgh. Bill Courtney’s experience, knowledge and attitude is vital in bringing us to a new level of efficiency, transformation and excellence in hearing healthcare.

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  • Dave Fabry Dave Fabry, Ph.D.

    Chief Innovation Officer

    As Chief Innovation Officer, Dave Fabry, Ph.D., leads end-to-end innovations within our clinical audiology department. His collaboration with our engineering and marketing teams allows Starkey Hearing Technologies to continue to design and provide superior products.

    
Dave Fabry received his Ph.D. in hearing science from the University of Minnesota. Subsequently, he divided his career between academic/clinical roles at the Mayo Clinic, Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the University of Miami Medical Center, and several industry positions. He served as President and Board Member of the American Academy of Audiology and was recently elected to the Board of Directors of the American Auditory Society.

    Additionally, Dave Fabry has served as Editor-in-Chief of Audiology Today since 2008 and is a past Editor of the American Journal of Audiology and Section Editor of Ear and Hearing. He is licensed as an Audiologist in Minnesota, Florida, and Rwanda.

    His 30+ years of industry experience and proven ability to implement forward-thinking concepts is instrumental in shaping the future innovations at Starkey Hearing Technologies.

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  • bio_chris_hillman Chris Hillman

    Chief Operations Officer

    With over 20 years of experience developing, transforming and leading global businesses and world-class operations, Chris Hillman is responsible for Starkey Hearing Technologies’ operational execution. In his previous role as Vice President and General Manager of Global Services Supply Chain for GE Healthcare, Chris Hillman successfully executed the aftermarket equipment business’ commercial operations, supply chain and operations strategies.

    Prior to GE, Chris Hillman held multiple leadership positions at Scientific Games and Motorola where throughout his career, in addition to his operational responsibilities, he led or co-led a number of large scale business transformations. He holds a B.A. in business from DePaul University.

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  • Mary Jeffries Mary Jeffries

    Chief Strategy Officer

    As Chief Strategy Officer, Mary Jeffries is responsible for Starkey Hearing Technologies’ strategy formulation, strategic planning and key enterprise initiatives.

    Mary Jeffries has 30 years of experience leading business transformation initiatives for billion dollar conglomerates, start-ups, private equity and venture capital firms; including C-level leadership roles for name brands like Polaroid Corporation, Weber Shandwick, St. Paul Venture Capital and ZINK Imaging. Most recently, Mary Jeffries served as Starkey Hearing Technologies’ Interim Chief Technology Officer.

    Mary Jeffries received her B.A. in business and accounting from the University of Northern Iowa and is a CPA (inactive).

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  • Chris McCormick Chris McCormick

    Chief Marketing Officer

    Since joining Starkey Hearing Technologies in 1988, Chris McCormick has worked and excelled in multiple sales, service and marketing positions with Starkey's mission in mind – to serve our customers better than anyone else. Chris McCormick’s deep knowledge of Starkey and our customers and consumers allows him to lead our marketing efforts to a new and unified global level. His leadership and vision drives Starkey's strategy to strengthen our brand loyalty and values to our customers and their consumers. Chris McCormick earned his bachelor's degree in marketing from the Herberger College of Business at St. Cloud State University.

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  • Paul Phillips Paul Phillips

    Executive Vice President of International Sales

    As Executive Vice President of International Sales, Paul Phillips leads our efforts in growing and developing our markets throughout the world. For the last 24 years, Paul Phillips has given his time and talent to Starkey in many capacities in the United States, Europe and New Zealand. Having worked in sales, marketing and retail roles, he has a deep understanding of how and why we provide better hearing around the globe.

    Paul Phillips holds a B.A. in international business and economics from Temple University.

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  • Doug Reynolds Doug Reynolds

    Chief Information Officer

    With more than 25 years of executive-level experience in information technology, Doug Reynolds is responsible for aligning Starkey Hearing Technologies' Computer Systems and Information Technology. His passion for strategy, execution, results and accountability is instrumental to the company's success in the rapidly changing industry.

    Doug Reynold’s Previous experience includes leadership roles at companies such as Prudential Insurance, Delta Dental, Best Buy, Allianz, Regis Corporation, and, most recently, Digineer. Doug Reynolds received his bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University (Minnesota) and holds an MBA from the University of St. Thomas (Minnesota).

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  • Lisa Richards Lisa Richards

    Chief Customer Officer

    Lisa Richards has been a champion in the field of hearing healthcare for more than 20 years and is currently serving as Chief Customer Officer for Starkey Hearing Technologies. In her role, Lisa Richards is responsible for developing Starkey Hearing Technologies’ customer relations teams and expanding corporate resources and operations globally. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership and is a proven expert in the areas of cross-departmental process improvement, team building and organizational development. Richards’ primary objective is to advance the company’s vision – which is to “serve our customers better than anyone else.”

    Lisa Richards holds a B.A. in marketing and psychology from Upper Iowa University.

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  • Steve Richards Steve Richards

    Executive Vice President of North American Sales

    Steve Richards is responsible for growing Starkey Hearing Technologies’ North American revenue and market share. With more than 30 years of industry experience, Steve Richards has a proven track record in sales and management. He began his career as a hearing aid technician in 1985 and joined Starkey Hearing Technologies in 1992 as a field sales representative for Omni Hearing Systems, a Starkey subsidiary located in Carrollton, Texas. Steve Richards has held a number of leadership roles in the company including Vice President of Network Development, Managing Director of Starkey Texas, Managing Director of Audibel and Senior Managing Director of Exclusive Networks.

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  • Tom Ting Thomas Ting

    General Counsel

    Tom Ting holds 14 years of extensive legal and business experience gained in various company settings. During his time as General Counsel at Sun Country Airlines, he provided legal counsel and business consultation to management teams.

    Prior to Sun Country, Tom Ting held essential counsel positions at Moneygram International, Polaroid Corporation and Petters Group Worldwide. He received his Juris Doctorate from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and he holds a B.A. in medical ethics from Davidson College.

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