CFP Speaker Bios
Josie Sevier Alston, M.A., CCC-SLP is the Clinical Director of the UMMC Voice and Swallowing Center and Chief of the Division of Speech-Language Pathology in the Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Josie obtained her initial experience as a voice disorder specialist at the Vanderbilt Voice Center in Nashville, Tennessee and has been practicing at UMMC since 2012. In 2013, Josie was appointed as a Board Member of the Mississippi Council on Developmental Disabilities and in 2018 was selected for the American Speech and Hearing Association Leadership Development Cohort. In 2019, after several years serving on different MSHA committees Josie was elected as the Vice-President of Healthcare for the Mississippi Speech and Hearing Association. Josie received her M.A. degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Memphis in 1997 and her undergraduate work was completed at the University of Georgia in 1995. Josie currently specializes in the evaluation and treatment of voice, resonance, airway, head and neck cancer and dysphagia disorders at UMMC.
Stacy Callender is Director of the Bureau of Early Intervention in the Office of Child and Adolescent Health at the Mississippi State Department of Health (MSDH). She serves as the State Coordinator of the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention Program in Mississippi (EHDI-MS) and the Part C Coordinator for the Mississippi First Steps Early Intervention Program. She holds a Specialist Certificate in Education and School Psychological Services from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Janie Cirlot-New, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech language pathologist with experience in augmentative communication (AAC) evaluations, intervention and training. Janie has experience with AAC for individuals of all ages. Janie currently contracts with the Center for AAC and Autism to provide training in AAC throughout the United States.
Melanie Reeves Clyatt, M.S. CCC-SLP, is a speech language pathologist who graduated from the University of Southern MS with a masters of science in speech language pathology. She has worked in the public schools for 14 years. Prior to that, she worked as a teacher for autistic students, as a Speech Language Pathologist with a hospital system and as Clinic Director in a not for profit clinic. She is currently serving as therapist for preschool and high school populations for Clinton Public School District. Prior responsibilities include serving every age level from 3 to 21. Her clinical interests include preschool and young school-aged populations, creating therapy materials that are engaging and easily used for family carryover, and the use of technology as a supplement to the personal interactions, guidance, and feedback that a trained therapist provides.
Victoria K. Cruce, M.S., CCC-SLP, is the National Director of Clinical Services for Halcyon Rehabilitation. She is an ASHA-certified and Florida-licensed, and enjoys providing clinical education, documentation auditing, continuing education, program development, and quality assurance training for PTs, OTs, and SLPs. Tori assists with clinical development and mentorship of Clinical Services staff, Rehab Directors and clinicians in order to improve clinical service delivery and program presence at the facility level for SNFs, Rehab Agencies, and Home Health.
Rinki Varindani Desai is a medical speech-language pathologist, certified brain injury specialist and certified dementia practitioner; specializing in the assessment and treatment of cognitive-linguistic and swallowing disorders in adults. She is the founder of the Medical SLP Forum, co-creator of the Dysphagia Therapy mobile app, and co-founder of the Swallowing Training and Education Portal learning platform for dysphagia clinicians. Rinki currently serves as Associate Coordinator of ASHA’s Swallowing and Swallowing Disorders Special Interest Group (SIG 13) and as Co-Chair of the Dysphagia Research Society's Public Relations and Communications Committee. A recipient of multiple ASHA ACE awards, Rinki was one among 30 clinicians in the US selected for ASHA’s Leadership Development Program and more recently for ASHA’s Faculty Development Institute Program. She has practiced for 9 years in acute care, sub-acute and long-term care medical settings. Rinki currently practices as the adult outpatient lead and a clinical instructor in the Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson, Mississippi.
Ying Hao is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Mississippi. She received her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin. Her research interests are in the areas of child language development and disorders. She studies the usage of tele-practice to provide language intervention to families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Another line of her research is to explore linguistic manifestations of Developmental Language Disorder in monolingual bilingual Mandarin-speaking children. Her work has been published in prestigious journals in the field, for example, Journal of Speech, Language and Hearing Research, International Journal of Speech-Language Pathology. She was a recipient of multiple national and international awards.
Katherine (KK) Harrington is Speech-Language Pathologist from Jackson, MS. She attended Mississippi State University for her undergraduate and University of Mississippi for her Masters in Communicative Sciences. Following graduate school, KK entered the medical SLP world. She found a special interest in dysphagia, particularly dysphagia assessment. She spent most of her work in the acute care settings in large hospitals in the areas of Knoxville and Nashville, TN from 2013-2017. During her time in Nashville, KK was trained in FEES in 2015.. She continued to develop the skill while working in the hospital. KK moved back to Jackson, MS where she took a job at UMMC.In 2019, she opened a mobile FEES practice called Mississippi Dysphagia Specialists. She has been providing FEES service to the state of Mississippi for the past 9 months.
Kym Heine M.S. CCC-SLP. Kym has worked exclusively in the field of AAC since receiving her Masters in 1982. She has been employed in a variety of settings to include rehabilitation centers, hospitals and outpatient clinics. She previously owned a private practice which provided contractual services emphasizing the training of AAC facilitators in schools, group homes, residential facilities, and private homes.
In her current role as regional consultant for the Prentke Romich Company (PRC) she spends the majority of her time training individuals how to implement the use of communication devices at home, as well as in school.
Michele Hurley, Au.D. Senior Education and Audiologist, Starkey Hearing Technologies
Dr. Hurley has over 25 years of experience in clinical Audiology and manufacturing. Dr. Hurley has presented on a variety of topics at state, national and international meetings
Teresa Laney is a Speech-Language Pathologist with the Office of Special Education at MDE. She has 12 years of experience as a school-based Speech-Language Pathologist in three different districts in Mississippi. Teresa has an M.S. in Communication Disorders from Western Kentucky University, and is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She is also certified in dyslexia testing and has seven years of experience tutoring children with reading difficulties.
Amy Lebert serves as the Speech-Language Pathology Clinic Director at the University of Southern Mississippi. She teaches several courses and supervises graduate student clinicians during their on-campus clinical practicum. She serves on numerous college level committees and currently chairs the graduate admissions committee. She also is involved with a myriad of professional activities including the following: ASHA CAA Site Visitor (2018-2012); CSAP President-Elect (2019); MSHA Conference Chair 2015, 2016, 2017 & 2019; MSHA President 2018
Amy Livingston is a Speech-Language Pathologist and regional director for EBS Healthcare. She has worked for the University of Mississippi for the past five years. Her areas of expertise include autism spectrum disorders, language disorders supervision and literacy.
Jessica May MA CCC-SLP is originally from Ohio. She received her Master's degree in Speech Language Pathology from Kent State University in 2010 and her BA in Psychology from Southern Wesleyan University in 2007. FEES certification since 2013, Jessica is also certified to perform MBSS and Videostroboscopy studies and is trained in Vital STil therapy and Myofacial Release. Because of her expansive understanding of all diagnostic options available, Jessica is able to clearly convey the benefits and her preference for FEES exams. Jessica is currently employed by UMMC.
Susanna McDonald, M.S., LSLS. Susanna McDonald is a listening and spoken language therapist at The Children’s Center for Communication and Development at the University of Southern Mississippi. Susanna works closely with families of children with varying degrees of hearing loss to help them implement auditory strategies in their daily routines to stimulate spoken language ages birth through 5 years.
Lance McLemore: Lance received his B.A .in studio art and philosophy from the University of Alabama in Huntsville. He currently works for the Prentke Romich Company and the Center for AAC and Autism as an ambassador. He started using AAC at age 24 while in college. His first AAC device was a keyboard and word prediction program which he used until 2016. Currently he uses an Accent 1000 with LAMP Words for Life vocabulary and is a very fluent communicator. As an ambassador he Skypes, speaks at conferences, and attends LAMP workshops across the country sharing the impact the LAMP method and the LAMP WFL vocabulary has had on his life.
Lara Monico is a pediatric speech language pathologist with Laskin Therapy Group and also serves as an Outreach and Training Coordinator for the Early Hearing and Detection and Intervention Program in Mississippi (EHDI-MS). She is a LSLS Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist and has over 20 years of experience helping children who are deaf or hard of hearing develop listening and spoken language skills.
Caroline Murray is a Speech-Language Pathologist in the Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. She attended Kansas State University where she received her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2016 and her B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders in 2014. She currently specializes in the evaluation and treatment of resonance, voice, and swallowing disorders in adults and children at UMMC and is the primary SLP working with the Head and Neck Cancer Institute at UMMC.
Jenna Nassar, M.S, CCC-SLP, BCS-S is a pediatric speech pathologist and an instructor in the Department of Otolaryngology and Communicative Sciences at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. In addition to these roles, Mrs. Nassar is also the Clinical internship coordinator for the department of Speech Pathology. She specializes in pediatric swallow & feeding disorders, is trained in the SOS approach to feeding and has begun orofacial myology certification. She has completed her Board Certification in swallow and swallowing disorders. She is a member of both the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, the Mississippi Speech Language and Hearing Association, and SIG 13. Her background includes several years of working with swallowing disorders in trach & ventilator patients and now pediatric feeding disorders. She graduated summa cum laude in 2007 from Mississippi University for Women with a BS in speech and hearing science and then graduated in 2009 with high distinction with an MS in Communicative Sciences from Jackson State University. She enjoys the academia related to her profession and has served as an intermittent adjunct professor as well as a student intern supervisor.
Alyssa Nuzzo, M.S., CCC-SLP. Pediatric outpatient speech-language pathologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. I received my Master's degree from Northwestern University. I specialize in the treatment of pediatric feeding/swallowing disorders, pediatric speech/language disorders, and pediatric AAC.
Marla Perkins, Ph.D., is a linguist and speech-language pathologist. She received her doctorate in linguistics and cognitive science from the State University of New York at Buffalo and is an internationally recognized independent scholar in discourse analysis, pragmatics, semantics, and sociolinguistics. She has taught linguistics and English on four continents to students ranging in age from two to eight-two, among whom she is appreciated for her quirky personality and wide-ranging interests, which allow her to help her students explore corners of the English language that are not accessible to many others. When asked nicely, she provides linguistic consulting services to various individual and corporate clients. She conducts field research on the island of Borneo among the Hobongan, working toward language documentation and conservation. In her spare time, if that were possible, she enjoys reading, hiking, swimming, cross-country skiing, traveling, creating fine art in ink and watercolor, and playing piano and cello. On occasion, she also solves Rubiks cubes.
Missy Schraeder, PhD, CCC-SLP, CALT-QI, is the Director at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at The University of Southern Mississippi. Previously, she served as the school’s professional development coordinator and a classroom teacher. She received her doctorate degree in educational administration and her master’s degree in speech-language pathology. She is a nationally certified speech-language pathologist, a Certified Academic Language Therapist-Qualified Instructor (CALT-QI), and a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist (CERI-SLDS). She has served as an adjunct instructor at The University of Southern Mississippi. She holds Mississippi licensure in Speech-Language Pathology and Education (speech-language, K-8). She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Academic Language Therapy Association, and the Mississippi Chapter of the Academic Language Therapy Association. She has presented at regional and national conferences in the areas of oral and written language disorders (including dyslexia), multisensory instruction, and childhood apraxia of speech.
Catherine Sledge, D.M.D., is a general dentist in Ridgeland, Mississippi and co-owner of Carter Sledge Family Dentistry. Dr. Sledge has been treating babies with ankyloglossia (tongue tie) and other oral restrictions since 2013. She is a member of the American Dental Association, the Mississippi Dental Association, the MS Association of Women Dentists, the International Affiliation of Tongue Tie Professionals, and the American Laser Study Club. Dr. Sledge is passionate about treating babies with tongue ties, giving them the opportunity for a great start in life in speech, feeding, and social skills. She shadowed world renowned tongue tie expert Dr. Larry Kotlow as a part of her training. Dr. Sledge received her D.M.D from the University of Mississippi’s School of Dentistry in 2011. She and her husband, Taylor Sledge of Sledge and Company, and their three sons, reside in Jackson.
Brooklyn Sparnecht: I am a speech-language pathologist on the MS Thrive! Child Health Development Project through the University of Mississippi Medical Center. I provide services to children ages 0-6 with various speech, language, and associated disorders.
I received my B.S. in Speech-Language Pathology with a minor in Psychology from Mississippi University for Women in May 2017. I received my M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology from Jackson State University in May 2019.
Dr. Courtney Turner is an educational audiologist at The Children’s Center for Communication and Development and adjunct professor and clinical supervisor in the School of Speech and Hearing Sciences at the University of Southern Mississippi. Dr. Turner provides clinical and educational audiology services to children from birth to 5 years of age, as well as transitional support for students entering school. Dr. Turner serves on the advocacy committee of the Educational Audiology Association and the MSHA audiology committee. She is currently serving as VP Public Relations & Marketing for MSHA.
Rachel Tyrone: I am a Speech Language Pathologist at the University of Mississippi Medical Center where I have specialized in the evaluation and treatment of pediatric feeding and swallowing disorders. I am currently the supervising Speech Language Pathologist on the MS Thrive! Child Health Development Project in which we provide clinical services to children 0-6 years of age. I obtained my B.S. and M.S. in Speech Pathology from the University of Southern Mississippi. I am currently studying for my PhD in Population Health Sciences through the University of Mississippi Medical Center.
Whitney Wallace. I graduated with my masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Southern Mississippi. I work at a pediatric outpatient clinic at UMMC called the Center for Advancement of Youth. I specialize in the treatment of pediatric speech and language disorders with a focus on behavioral concerns and Autism.
Kimberly Ward, Au.D., is an Associate Professor and Audiologist at The University of Southern Mississippi. She is responsible for teaching graduate courses in the Doctor of Audiology program at USM. Dr. Ward is currently serving as Past President of the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association and as President of the Educational Audiology Association. She received the MSHA Clinical Achievement Award in 2015.
Alison Webster, MS, CCC-SLP, CALT, CERI-SLDS, is the professional development coordinator at the DuBard School for Language Disorders at The University of Southern Mississippi. She is a nationally certified speech-language pathologist, certified academic language therapist, and a Center for Effective Reading Instruction structured literacy dyslexia specialist. She holds Mississippi licensure in Speech-Language Pathology (K-12) and an endorsement in Mild to Moderate Disabilities in Special Education (K-12). She is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the Academic Language Therapy Association and the Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from The University of Southern Mississippi.
Karen West: Karen earned her Bachelor of Arts in Speech Language Pathology and her Master's degree in Communication Disorders, both at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech-Language Pathology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Karen has worked primarily in the public school setting since 1999. She currently works in the Ocean Springs School District at Ocean Springs Upper Elementary where she provides speech and language services for children who exhibit a wide variety of communication disorders.