Who We Are

FRIENDS is a national nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support and education to young people who stutter, their families, and professionals, through annual conferences, one-day workshops, and outreach. Our vision is to help build a world in which all young people who stutter feel empowered to communicate whenever, wherever, and however they want to. FRIENDS is directed by Lee Caggiano, the mother of a son who stutters and a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP).

Our Story

In 1997, FRIENDS was founded by John Ahlbach and Lee to meet the need for organized support and education for young people who stutter and their families. Over the years, we have expanded into a national organization that hosts a large annual convention each July and many regional one-day conferences around the country throughout the year. We primarily serve young people and their families, but also provide invaluable education to SLPs and graduate students and welcome adults who stutter into our community as volunteers.

Executive Director, Co-Founder

Lee Caggiano, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-F

Lee is the Director of Stuttering Therapy and Resources of Northern Colorado and treats children, adolescents and adults who stutter. Lee is the mother of a son who stutters and is co-founder and Director of FRIENDS: The National Association for Young People Who Stutter. She is committed to providing a high level of parent education and training and has developed and coordinated workshops for children who stutter, families and professionals for the past several years. She has presented at local and national conferences regarding the needs of young people who stutter and their families. Lee serves as a consultant to many school districts as well as teaching the graduate level fluency courses at New York University, Queens College, and Long Island University-Post.

Co-Founder

John Ahlbach

I co-founded FRIENDS in 1997 with Lee to provide young people and their families with their own space, their own identity within the stuttering community. I have loved every minute of it with all my heart!

Board Members

Caryn Herring

Caryn Herring

Chair Person of the Board

Caryn Herring, M.S. CCC-SLP is a person who stutters and a speech-language pathologist, currently pursuing her PhD at Michigan State University.

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Caryn’s research interests include the process of desensitization for people who stutter and the role of voluntary stuttering. Caryn has been involved with Friends since 2010, running workshops, coordinating one-day conferences, and editing the Friends newsletter, Reaching Out. She co-hosts the StutterTalk B-Team and is an active member of other stuttering organizations, including SAY and the NSA.
 

Stavros Ladeas

Stavros Ladeas

Vice Chair Person

I am a person who stutters and have been involved with FRIENDS during these last few years. I live in Queens, am involved in the tech scene, I enjoy hiking and exploring different parts of the city.

Arin Sheeler

Arin Sheeler

Secretary

I am the proud parent of a young boy who stutters. Our family found FRIENDS through The Ohio State University One-Day Conference in 2018, and we attended our first Annual Convention in Chicago in 2019.

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My husband and 3 children and I live in Columbus, Ohio, and both my husband and I work for The Ohio State University. I am a Speech Language Pathologist specializing in adults with acquired neurogenic communication disorders. I work part time as a Clinical Supervisor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences and at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in the Rehabilitation Hospital. We fell in love with FRIENDS because of the fantastic people that we have met and the welcoming community. Our son especially has felt a real sense of belonging in the FRIENDS family, and I am excited to be a part of helping FRIENDS continue to flourish!

Rick Arenas

Rick Arenas

Treasurer

I am a person who stutters and a parent of a child who stutters.  I work at the University of New Mexico as an associate professor where I teach and conduct research in the area of stuttering.  I’m honored to be able to be part of FRIENDS.  The organization does an amazing job supporting young people who stutter and their families.  

Eric Jackson

Eric Jackson

Eric Jackson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a person who stutters, speech-language pathologist, and Assistant Professor at NYU, where he conducts research on stuttering. He is a long-time supporter and volunteer for FRIENDS.
Joe Klein

Joe Klein

Joe Klein, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a person who stutters and an Associate Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina. 

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Joe teaches classes in fluency disorders and research methods and supervises therapy for people who stutter. Joe has presented at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and The National Stuttering Association annual conventions in the United States and for Friends: The Association of Young People who Stutter in India and the US. He has also published articles about stuttering in Contemporary Issues in Communication Sciences and Disorders, Perspectives in Fluency Disorders, and The Journal of Fluency Disorders. Joe’s research interests are in the areas of support and therapy for people who stutter. Joe lives in Boone, NC with his wife, Holly, and children, Zachary, Greta, Emaline, and Abraham.
 
Sara MacIntyre

Sara MacIntyre

Sara MacIntyre, M.A., CCC-SLP is the director of YouSpeak, a private practice in Philadelphia, where she works with individuals of all ages who stutter. She is also the Director of Programs and Education for The Stuttering Foundation.

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Sara previously served as the Friends One-Day Conference Director and is passionate about continuing to grow access to local support opportunities. Sara is a person who stutters herself and has the support community to thank for shifting her thoughts, creating hope, and showing her that you can succeed, and be someone who stutters.

Mary McLoughlin

Mary McLoughlin

I am a person who stutters and have loved the opportunity to be involved with FRIENDS. I’ve learned so much about voice from FRIENDS, and I am excited to keep growing with and through this organization.
Roisin McManus

Roisin McManus

Róisín McManus is a proud stutterer. She has volunteered with FRIENDS, StutterTalk, the National Stuttering Association, and was co-founder of the NYC Stutters Conference. She is a nurse practitioner specializing in palliative care at a NYC hospital.

Erin Samenuk

Erin Samenuk

Volunteer Coordinator

I was introduced to Friends when our family attended the 2016 annual convention. Those three days were incredibly impactful for my son who stutters. Our family was forever changed for the better because of that experience. I want to help Friends give the same hope and positivity to other young people who stutter and their families. I can provide that parent perspective as I have been on the same journey as many others. 

Friends Committees

Angelina Bruno-Metzger

Angelina Bruno-Metzger

Convention Auction Coordinator

Angelina is a person who stutters and has been a part of the FRIENDS family since 2003 and continues to be inspired by every member’s brilliance, boldness and compassion. When she’s not in the courtroom, Angelina can be found planting in her garden, cooking in her kitchen, or hiking with her husband and two dogs. 

Bridget Chapman

Bridget Chapman

SLP Convention Program Coordinator

Bridget Allen Chapman, M.A. CCC-SLP is a licensed and certified Speech-Language Pathologist. She is a Clinical Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University and serves as coordinator of The Flaum Fluency Program at The OSU Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic. She received her B.S. from West Virginia University and her M.A. from the University of Pittsburgh. Bridget has experience working with pediatric clients in out-patient clinics, schools, and home-based settings.
Noura Embabi

Noura Embabi

Bookkeeper

I am a speech-language pathologist and I work to help FRIENDS grow its wonderful community. I live in India where I support people who stammer in creative and communicative endeavors.
Jim Fortunato

Jim Fortunato

Raffle Fundraiser

The oldest of my three children is a person who stutters and brought us to FRIENDS. For the past ten years, we look forward to the annual three day conferences and build our vacations around them.
Cheryl Goettsche

Cheryl Goettsche

Outreach Coordinator

Cheryl Goettsche, M.S., CCC-SLP serves as the FRIENDS Outreach Coordinator. She is a lecturer and clinical supervisor in the Department of Speech-Language-Hearing Sciences at Lehman College in NYC as well as SUNY New Paltz. Cheryl has been involved with Friends since 2001. She is the mother of a young man who stutters. He was her motivation to go back to school and complete her education and become a speech language pathologist.
Chaya Goldstein

Chaya Goldstein

Stepping Up Program Coordinator

I am a PWS and SLP dedicated to educating the public and empowering children who stutter. I am also co-leader of the NSA adult chapter in Midtown, and teach the stuttering course at LIU. I am forever inspired by FRIENDS.
Dhruv Gupta

Dhruv Gupta

Virtual Program Coordinator / Administrative Assistant

Co-founder of Ahara.org, Yoga Teacher, Whole Plant-Based Cooking Instructor, Compassion Cultivation Teacher in Training, Adult Stuttering Self-Help Group Facilitator at The Indian Stammering Association.  

Dave Hankins

Dave Hankins

Convention Store Coordinator

I am a proud parent of a child who stutters. We have been involved with FRIENDS for a while, and the support we have received from this amazing organization has been immeasurable. Now we want to give back!
Brooke Leiman Edwards

Brooke Leiman Edwards

Graduate Student Training Program Coordinator

Brooke Leiman Edwards, MA, CCC-SLP, BCS-F is the Director of the Stuttering Clinic at National Therapy Center and a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders. She has been presenting at FRIENDS annual conventions since 2016 and recently began volunteering as a One Day Conference Coordinator. 

Mark O’Malia

Mark O’Malia

Stepping Up Program Coordinator

Mark O’Malia, M.S., CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and person who stutters. He is a full-time clinician at The American Institute for Stuttering in NYC, working with people who stutter across the lifespan. Mark is actively involved in the stuttering self-help community, frequently facilitating and presenting workshops at national conferences for both Friends and the National Stuttering Association (NSA).
John & Sue Parisi

John & Sue Parisi

Merchandise Managers

We are the proud parents of a child who stutters. We have been involved with FRIENDS for a while, and the support we have received from this amazing organization has been immeasurable. Now we want to give back!
Shelly Roney

Shelly Roney

Hotel Liasion

I am the parent of two teenage boys who stutter. Our family joined FRIENDS in 2012 and since then have attended 6 annual conventions and multiple one-day conferences. The experience has been life-changing for all of us. I feel very fortunate to be able to lend my time to help FRIENDS continue their mission to positively impact the lives of other children and families!
Ed Samp

Ed Samp

Convention Scholarship

My son Eddie is a stutterer. Our family attended the 2nd annual FRIENDS convention in 1999 in Boston when Eddie was 9. It changed our lives. Over the years, we’ve enjoyed staying connected with our FRIENDS family through the annual conference. Our Scholarship Program helps others afford the expense involved in attending our annual convention and conferences.

Professional Advisors

Joe Donaher

Joe Donaher

PhD, CCC-SLP, Board Certified in Fluency Disorders

I am a speech-language pathologist, and live outside of Philadelphia with my wife and 2 children. I became involved with Friends after sitting next to Lee Caggiano for several days at a stuttering workshop in 1998.
Heather Grossman

Heather Grossman

PhD, CCC-SLP, Board Certified in Fluency Disorders

I am a speech therapist who became involved with FRIENDS in 1998 because I was inspired by Lee Caggiano and working with CWS! It has become a second family to me that I can’t wait to visit each year.
Patty Walton

Patty Walton

M.A, CCC-SLP, Board Certified in Fluency Disorders

I am a board recognized specialist in fluency disorders. Being a part of the FRIENDS family has been an amazing blessing to my entire family. I am also an avid skier and love to travel.
Tricia Zebrowski

Tricia Zebrowski

PhD, CCC-SLP, Board Certified in Fluency Disorders

I am a university professor and SLP with a special interest in working with teenagers who stutter. My involvement with FRIENDS over the years has helped me to be a better therapist, teacher and researcher.

FRIENDS

FRIENDS: The National Association of Young People Who Stutter is a non-profit, tax-exempt charitable organization under section 501(c)3.

Contact Us

FRIENDS
23429 County Road 1
Berthoud, CO 80513

friends@friendswhostutter.org

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