Who We Are

FRIENDS is a 501 (c)(3) 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. FRIENDS events provide workshops for children, adolescents, parents and adults who stutter. Some topics addressed during our workshops include self-advocacy, self-disclosure, navigating middle school, navigating high school and college, bullying, teasing, successful academic outcomes, successful career outcomes, navigating employment issues, interviewing skills, diversity in the workplace, educating our peers in academic and employment environments. Workshops for parents include discussing how best to support your child, advocating for your child, working with schools to ensure academic success, how to talk about stuttering with your child, family, school and extended families. 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. 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,

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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. 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

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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.
Joel Korte

Joel Korte

Joel Korte is a person who stutters and the owner of www.chasebliss.com, a Minneapolis based company that designs and manufactures guitar pedals.

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.

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.

Mark O'Malia

Mark O'Malia

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 (AIS) in NYC, working with people who stutter across the lifespan. 

Development and Advancement Board

Haley Warner

Haley Warner

Co-Chair

Haley Warner, M.S. CCC-SLP is a speech-language pathologist and currently pursuing her PhD in the stuttering and vvariability (savvy) lab at New York University. She attended her first FRIENDS Annual Convention in Chicago in 2019 and is passionate about the important work FRIENDS does.

Jackie Winter

Jackie Winter

Co-Chair

Jackie Winter is a long-time member and supporter of the FRIENDS community. She and her husband, Paul, are the proud parents to Ray, a 20-year-old adult who stutters, and to Lily, a 23-year-old and an amazing sibling to her baby brother. Jackie is a VP and Senior Operations Manager at First American Title Insurance Company.

Ernie Canadeo

Ernie Canadeo

George Daquila

George Daquila

George Daquila has stuttered his whole life. He found the stuttering community later in life at the age of 28, he loves being part of it and the broader disability community. George is an Engineering Manager at Google, where he is also a member of the disability community and a leader of the stuttering group. George is a fierce advocate for equality of people with disabilities in the

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workplace. He believes his experiences with stuttering make him a more effective and empathetic manager. George holds a PhD in physics from Virginia Tech.
 

Gerald Maguire

Gerald Maguire

Kate Popovich-Gargiulo

Kate Popovich-Gargiulo

Anthony Saleh

Anthony Saleh

Friends Committees

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.
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

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

Sarah Hershey

Sarah Hershey

Annual Convention Coordinator

Sarah is a Speech-Language Pathologist who graduated with her MA in Speech-Language Pathology at University of Colorado, Boulder in 2018. She has had an interest in serving people who stutter since early on in her undergraduate career. She

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also has a drive to help build, and become a part of, tight-knit communities. She is excited to help facilitate community-building amongst people who stutter. Sarah enjoys hiking, dancing, listening to and making music, and spending time with loved ones.
 

Allison Ladavat

Allison Ladavat

One-Day Conference Program Director

Allison Ladavat, MA, CCC-SLP is a person who stutters and a speech-language pathologist. She currently works at Duquesne University as the clinical adjunct instructor for the stuttering clinic. She is dedicated to educating SLPs

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and students, so they feel confident working with individuals of all ages who stutter.

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

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self-help community, frequently facilitating and presenting workshops at national conferences for both Friends and the National Stuttering Association (NSA).
 

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

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Scholarship Program helps others afford the expense involved in attending our annual convention and conferences.

Allison Tichenor

Allison Tichenor

Outreach & Marketing Coordinator

Allison Tichenor is the spouse of a person who stutters. She is a family nurse practitioner specializing in palliative care, working in Pittsburgh, PA. She attended her first FRIENDS conference in 2017 and is passionate about stuttering advocacy.

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.
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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