Community Speaker SeriesLet us come together every month to reflect, laugh, and inspire.
Everyone is welcome!
Stuttering Stories Across America
Saturday, May 15 @ 12 pm to 1:30 pm ET
Invite your friends and family to a National Stuttering Awareness Week (May 10-15) celebration with a panel of young people who stutter from across America. Each panelist will share a story or two about stuttering in their community to build a collective sense of the diversity and unity in stuttering experiences across America. Panelists are listed below alphabetically (by first name).
My name is Brandon D’Onofrio. I am 21 years old from Long Island, New York. I am a person who has stuttered my entire life, although I never allowed it to define myself as a whole person. I see it only as a small fraction of who I really am because I know that I am so much more. I began attending speech therapy when I was 2 1/2 years old when my parents discovered that I stuttered, however, I did not actually see a stuttering specialist until I was 8 years of age. I also attended another stuttering specialist when I began high school as well. I have learned so much along the way including tools and techniques to help me cope with my stutter and have endured ups and downs when it came to speaking. I honestly never allowed my stutter to affect me to point where I felt like I wasn’t capable enough or worthy of good things in life. I always faced each challenge no matter how difficult or daunting it was. I never truly avoided speaking in the first place. I wasn’t perfect, but I would have rather faced the fear than let the monster grow and take over.
Hi there, my name is Jenna Clark and I am currently a sophomore in highschool. Growing up in Wisconsin I adore being outdoors and spending time with my friends/family. I love staying busy and am involved in extracurricular activities such as golf, music, and community service clubs.
Nick May is a singer/songwriter, educator, songleader, and inclusion activist based in Fairfax, Virginia. Growing up in New Orleans and being the son of two accomplished musicians, he was raised with a variety of musical influences from contemporary Jewish and folk to funk and hip hop. Being a person who stutters (PWS), Nick latched on to music as a way to fluently express himself from a young age. In summer 2018, while songleading at BBYO’s Chapter Leadership Training Conference, Nick got the chance to do something he had never done before, go up in front of a room of people he didn’t know well and share his intimate story of growing up as a PWS and how the communities he grew up in built him up. This experience inspired him to create Being Heard. Being Heard is a program that combines storytelling, singing, and group discussion to show the power of being inclusive, not only towards others but to ourselves. Since then, Nick has brought Being Heard to camps, congregations, and youth groups across North America.
My name is Shian Williams. I am 28 years old and I live in Atlanta, Georgia. I am a speech-language pathologist and owner of Ultimate Stuttering Therapy. Ultimate Stuttering Therapy specializes in holistic treatment and life coaching for people who stutter. I am passionate about authentic self-expression and I spend my time exploring creative avenues such as writing poetry, dancing, and acting. Creative expression has been healing for my self-confidence after years of choosing silence as a person who stutters.
Hi Everyone! My name is Sophie Tabrizi and I have attended FRIENDS since 2010. FRIENDS changed my life and gave me the confidence to embrace my stutter. I am thankful for the amazing community this conference has granted me and many others. Throughout the years, I have come in contact with exceptional Speech-Language Pathologists who specialize in stuttering. I am proud to say that I will be attending CU Boulder’s MA in Speech-Language Pathology program starting August. I look forward to giving others the resources my SLP gave to me.
My name is Ziad Elfakhoury, I am a fifth grader at Haigh elementary. I can play guitar and I love making little structures out of my 3-D pen.
Facilitator: Reuben Schuff is an aerospace engineer in Los Angeles where he works on rocket propulsion systems for space exploration. He is a person who stutters and contributes to the stuttering community in a variety of ways. He has been a National Stuttering Association (NSA) family chapter leader and regular workshop presenter at national conferences. He also has facilitated workshops for Friends Who Stutter, volunteered with Camp SAY LA, and is a frequent contributor to the StutterTalk podcast, and is a contributing author in the StutterTalk book. Reuben served on the National Stuttering Association Research Committee (NSARC) for several years and is currently the consumer representative for the American Board for Fluency and Fluency Disorders (ABFFD), which oversees the Board Certified Specialist in Fluency (BCS-F) credential. He is also on the board of directors of the Stuttering Scholarship Alliance (SSA).
PREVIOUS EVENTS in the SERIES
Stuttering Around The World!
Saturday, March 27 @ 11 am to 1 pm ET
A panel of young people who stutter from around the world – Brazil, Britain, China, India, Italy/USA, New Zealand, and South Africa – reflected on the question “What is it like for you to stutter in (country)”? The reflections were followed by Q&A and discussion. Learn more about the experience of stuttering around the world!
Ankit Singh. I am 22 year old and live with my family in New Delhi. I am a PWS. I have completed my Bachelor’s in Computer Science from Delhi University. Currently I am preparing for Defence and Civil Service Exam. I love to write, I have just started my own blog. Also, I love to read non-fictional books. As, my father is a Yoga Instructor, so, I have a natural inclination towards yoga and meditation.
Bianca Zackiewicz Ribeiro. Hi my name is Bianca, I am 16 years old and I live in São Paulo, Brazil. I love practicing sports like soccer, basketball and trekking. I am passionate about sustainability and being around nature.
Brenna Carter. Brenna is a 15 year old high school student from New Zealand, who’s particularly interested in more creative hobbies such as visual art, and creating music.
Ennio. My name is Ennio and I am 26 years old currently living in New York. I was born in Italy and moved to the U.S. with my family when I was 2 years old. Since my freshman year of high school, I started going back to Italy every summer. I keep in touch with my Italian family and friends throughout the year and have gotten to know the Italian language and culture very well.
Jack Dinsley. My name is Jack Dinsley, 21 years old and I’m a stammer activist from the UK. I founded the Be Kind Stammer Campaign in January 2020 to promote awareness for stammering and to create more education on the subject. The campaign has grown with popularity in the last year – with the campaign working with primary schools, colleges and universities. I’ve spoken to the BBC on several occasions about stammering and the campaign.
Jia Bin. Jia was born and raised in China. She was a language teacher (English and Mandarin Chinese) who taught in China, the United Kingdom and the United States. Jia’s passion for helping others to communicate has led her to become open about her own experience of stuttering in various cultures. Jia is an active member of NSA and used to serve as the regional chapter coordinator. She is also a StutterSocial host. Jia co-founded a Chinese stutter podcast and has been hosting online support meetings for the Chinese speaking people who stutter both in and out of China. Jia is currently a graduate student in Communicative Science and Disorders at Michigan State University.
Madoche Tamba. My name is Madoche Tamba. I am 16 years old and live in South Africa. I am passionate about sports and my goal is to become a soccer player. I live with my parents and three siblings that are all girls. I school in Lonehill International academy and I am very active.
Ozair. My name is Ozair, and I am a 16 year old going to school in the UK. I am part of the Youth Panel for the Action for Stammering Children charity, where we work to raise awareness about stammering. I have a passion for making videos, learning languages and raising awareness about stammering!
FRIENDS Winter Convention
January 30 & 31, 2021
The first FRIENDS Winter Convention was a success! We had over 185 people register from all over the country and Canada – our keynote speaker, Jordan Scott, joined us British Columbia! The keynote and panels were recorded, and you can watch them for free on our FRIENDS Winter Convention 2021 YouTube Playlist. Thank you to all of the volunteers and participants who came together for one another offering a safe place for healing and inspiration.
FRIENDS New Years Party
December 30 @ 7 pm ET
You, your family, and friends, are invited to the FRIENDS New Years Party hosted by our very own Cole! We will have an open mic, singing, small breakout rooms, a countdown, and a virtual ball drop. Drop in and say hi to friends! You’re also welcome to wear your festive New Years attire and drink your bubbly!
Opening the Present with FRIENDS
What is mindfulness?
Sunday, Dec 13 @ 4-6pm ET
Dr. Michael Boyle presented a critical look at mindfulness, including discussion of potential benefits as well as challenges and controversies. Mindfulness was also compared to cognitive behavioral therapy to see if these approaches can be integrated. This session welcomed questions and comments from participants to have a discussion about people’s opinions and experiences using mindfulness.
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.”
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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 email@example.com for a link to the Keynote talk-back.
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.
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
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.
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 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 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.
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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