Community Speaker Series

Let us come together every month to reflect, laugh, and inspire.

Everyone is welcome!

December 2020

Opening the Present with FRIENDS

Mindfulness, the why & how, for all ages

Sunday, Dec 13 @ 4-6pm ET

You’re invited to our first community mindfulness session! Dr. Michael Boyle will share the benefits of mindfulness and lead the adults in a mindfulness practice while the kids practice mindfulness in a breakout room with Arin Sheeler. We will then reconvene to share our experiences and ask any questions. Feel free to join sitting on a Yoga mat or cushion.

FRIENDS New Years Party 

December 30 @ 7 pm ET

You, your family, and friends, are invited to our community New Years Party! We will have a virtual ball drop, open mic wishes from each of our groups – Kids, Teens, Adults, and Parents, and a moment of community reflection.

PREVIOUS EVENTS in the SERIES

November 2020

Challenging Stuttering Stereotypes

Sunday, Nov 22 @ 12:30 to 2:30 pm ET

November’s community event was an invitation to discuss different ways of viewing stuttering and other themes from the book Stammering Pride and Prejudice: Difference not Defect. “We challenge the stereotype that stuttering is inherently negative, instead positioning it as a different, valuable and respected way of speaking,” say editors Patrick Campbell, Christopher Constantino and Sam Simpson. Combining personal narrative, art, and disability theory, the book documents how society has historically disabled people who stutter and the diverse ways in which people have created novel and exciting understandings of their speech.

The authors listed below were invited to either read a selection from their chapter, offer a reflection, share an idea, or all three! After each sharing, there was a discussion. We went in the order the chapters appear in the book – “an order that begins in the depths of prejudice, wanders through therapy, and arrives at pride.”

Joel Korte

Christopher Constantino lives in Tallahassee with his wife, Megan, and son, Augustine. He is a speech-language pathologist and assistant professor at Florida State University. He teaches stuttering and counseling. He researches ways to improve the embodied and social experiences of stuttering. He co-edited the book Stammering Pride & Prejudice.

Kristel Kubart
Emma Alpern has been a part of the stuttering support community for almost ten years and has written several articles and essays about stuttering. She lives in Brooklyn and works as a copy editor. 

Kristel Kubart
Erin Schick (they/them) is a queer, trans, and multiply disabled social worker in upstate New York. Their work focuses on queer liberation and disability justice. 

Joel Korte

Joshua St. Pierre is Canada Research Chair in Critical Disability Studies and Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Working at the intersection of critical disability studies, contemporary political theory, and feminist theory, his research focus on the interplay of communication and disability within information societies.

Joel Korte

Patrick Campbell is a stammerer and doctor living in Cambridge, England. Through his personal experience, he has developed an interest in how public and self-stigma intertwine to produce disability for people who stammer and how this debilitating process can be altered through seeing positive value in stammering. Patrick has recently enjoyed editing the book Stammering Pride and Prejudice. During lock-down, he has got back into jogging.

Kristel Kubart

Kristel Kubart is a speech-language pathologist and a passionate person who stutters. She believes that it is important to ‘show up’ for members of the stuttering community and to live the message that, “It’s ok to stutter.” She works as a speech therapist at an elementary school in Brooklyn, NY where she also supervises NYU graduate students. Additionally, she is a speech therapist at the American Institute for Stuttering. She received her B.A. in Psychology from the College of the Holy Cross and her M.S. in Speech and Language Pathology from Purdue University. She is happily married and lives with her husband Jason and their cat Winnie in Brooklyn, NY.

Joel Korte

Nina G is a comedian, professional speaker and author of Stutterer Interrupted. She has been featured in/on everything from NPR’s 51%, BBC’s Ouch, Psychology Today, Tedx, multiple day time talk shows, Howard (Stern) 100 News and even the Stuttering John Podcast. Nina shares her wit and wisdom with corporations, colleges, libraries, conferences, and community events. Her no nonsense approach to disability awareness and acceptance helps to bring institutions, communities and individuals to deepen their understanding of the disability and bring practical approaches to making a more inclusive society.

Joel Korte

Sam Simpson is a speech and language therapist with over 25 years experience of working with people who stammer and their families in the public, private, education and voluntary sectors. She is also a person-centred counsellor, supervisor and trainer who has a private practice just outside London. She co-edited the book Stammering Therapy from the Inside with Carolyn Cheasman and Rachel Everard in 2013, and most recently co-edited Stammering Pride and Prejudice: Difference not Defect with Patrick Campbell and Chris Constantino.

October 2020

Living our best lives as stutterers

Joel Korte’s Keynote talk-back

Saturday, October 24 @ 11 am to 1 pm ET

Joel is an adult who stutters, a musician, and the owner of Chase Bliss Audio, a guitar effects pedal company used by John Mayer, Ed O’Brien from Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails, and many others. Some successful adults or celebrities talk about how they “used to stutter” or how “they are successful now that they’ve overcome stuttering”. Joel shows us all that we can be wildly successful, AND stutter openly.

Come join our next community event and hang out with Joel! Kids, teens, adults, parents, and SLPs are all welcome! Ask Joel questions about his FRIENDS Virtual Convention Keynote address and discuss how we can live our best, authentic lives as stutterers.

Joel Korte

Joel Korte is an electrical engineer and entrepreneur. He graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology in 2013, and earned his Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of St. Thomas in 2007. He lives with his wife and two boys, Chase and Griffin, in St. Michael, Minnesota. 

September 2020

What can 2030 look like for a teen who stutters?

Keynote talk-back with Barry Yeoman

Saturday, September 26 @ 11 am to 1 pm ET

Barry Yeoman’s keynote at the FRIENDS Virtual Convention, “Meeting a plague with stuttering community,” was received enthusiastically. Through personal stories, Barry made clear the benefit of community-building, and shared his vision for how a teenager who stutters growing up in 2030 could benefit from our community’s actions today. Let’s come together ready to brainstorm how to build a stuttering community for our current and future teens. If you have not watched the keynote, please do so, and come with questions and ideas. Here are four lessons from Barry’s keynote. Relatives and SLPs are also invited to listen, learn, and explore how to show up as allies. Please email friends@friendswhostutter.org for a link to the Keynote talk-back.

Barry Yeoman

Barry Yeoman is an award-winning freelance journalist in Durham, North Carolina. He works in both print and audio, putting human faces on complex social and political issues. He also teaches journalism at Wake Forest University and Duke University. He has been involved in the stuttering self-help movement since 1992.

August 2020

Back to School Panel: Challenges & Opportunities for 2020

Saturday, August 29 @ 11 am to 1 pm ET

Let us use this opportunity to grow through challenges of showing up at school (online or in-person), building and making new friendships, and learning & studying in new circumstances. A mixed-age panel (tween, teen, college age, parent) will share followed by a facilitated community circle discussion. Relatives and SLPs are also invited to listen, learn, and explore how to show up as allies.

Recorded live on Saturday, August 29 with an audience of 86 people on Zoom.

Highlights from the event

Nuggets of wisdom from the panelists:

Ava: “For me, I get anxious when I have to disclose to someone about (my stuttering). But on the other hand, if someone interrupts you like that, you could use that opportunity to disclose about your stuttering and then they might be more understanding. Now that you told them, they might not interrupt you again because they understand what happened.”

Brayden: “In class I get really anxious… sometimes I just go right through it like drive through the moment. That is how I usually deal with it… To always persevere through moments like these, through moments that you have. Never let that ruin the mental side of yourself, and to always think up not down.”

Jonathan: “I would recommend talking to your professor and teachers, and letting them know – ‘look I have a stutter.. these are things I’m comfortable with.. these are my limitations’. You’ll be surprised, a lot of them will respect that.”

Grant: “What I did when I was in high school, I would send all my teachers a mass email before school started, and disclose to them that I just wanted to let them know that I’m a person who stutters. If you hear me stutter in class, don’t be surprised, type of thing. That really helped me a lot.”

Owen: “Knowing the fine balance of trying to support but not over support, and infuse ourselves into his educational career too much. He needs to make some of his own choices too, but he also needs to know his parents have his back.”

Rick: “For me, overcoming would be something like – it plays no role at all in the choices and the things that I do. I still get nervous and scared, but I feel like most of the time, I do and say whatever it is that I want.”

Back to School Panelists 

Akaiya image

Ava Towvim is a person who stutters who is going into 8th grade. She has attended FRIENDS conferences for the last 6 years and it’s always something she looks forward to. FRIENDS gave her the opportunity to meet new people who stutter who encourage her to be her best self, and constantly inspire her to not let anything get in the way of what she wants. Ava is looking forward to the next time when she can see everyone in person again. 

Grant image

Brayden Harrington was introduced to Joe Biden by his father, Owen Harrington. Brayden and the Vice President had stuttering in common and the former VP shared his strategies for managing a stutter with Brayden. Based on the positivity of the interaction, Brayden was invited to share his experience at the 2020 Democratic National Convention. The result of Brayden’s speech was an overwhelming sense of positivity throughout the country and opening the doors of normalizing stuttering by a normal kid.

Grant image

Grant Smith is a current sophomore at Baldwin Wallace University majoring in neuroscience and biology, and a person who stutters. He has been coming to annual FRIENDS conferences for the past four years, and he hopes to give back to the community that he says helped him find his voice and realize he was not alone.

Jonathan image

Jonathan Williams is a young 22 year old senior Anthropology student at University of Northern Colorado, who stutters and plans on graduating this fall. While this is his first FRIENDS event, he is excited to connect with other people who stutter.

Rick Arenas 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.

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

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