25th Annual Convention
Facilitators and Speakers
Get to know the facilitators of this year’s virtual convention by FRIENDS. Below is a partial listing for this year’s virtual workshops and will be continuously updated.
Rick Arenas is an associate professor at the University of New Mexico. His primary area of research is developmental stuttering. In his early career he focused on the neurobiological mechanisms involved in the variability of stuttering across contexts. Recently his research has transitioned toward the way people relate to their stuttering and how it plays a role in their personal narrative. Using qualitative methods, he is investigating how people who stutter change their thoughts and beliefs to live harmoniously with stuttering.
Michael P. Boyle
Michael P. Boyle, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Montclair State University where he directs the Fluency Disorders Laboratory, teaches graduate courses in fluency disorders, and mentors graduate student researchers in the area of stuttering. His research is focused on understanding how stigma limits successful communicative outcomes for people who stutter, developing assessment measures for the stigma experienced by people who stutter, and testing interventions for public and private stigma reduction. Dr. Boyle authored the Self-Stigma of Stuttering Scale (4S), and continues to identify evidence-based anti-stigma strategies that are utilized internationally by researchers, advocates, and speech-language pathologists.
Hi everyone! My name is Akaiya Bryant. I live in Indianapolis, Indiana. This upcoming fall, I will be a senior in high school. I am an avid animal lover! Some of the things I enjoy doing is biking and hanging out with friends. After high school, I plan majoring in Deaf Education and minoring in Special Education.
Lee Caggiano, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-F 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.
Jason Cassell, LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist who has been in practice since 1999. He is board certified in clinical social work, and has advanced training in psychoanalysis, trauma, and mindfulness. He is in private practice in New York City where he treats men, women, adolescents, and couples, including many patients who stutter. He helps his clients process and work through their feelings of shame, fear, and pain. In the past he has conducted workshops for speech therapists on counseling techniques at FRIENDS, the National Stuttering Association, the American Institute for Stuttering, and New York University. His wife Kristel is a person who stutters and he has been a part of the stuttering community for the last 10 years.
Bridget Allen Chapman
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.
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.
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.
Heather Grossman, PhD, CCC-SLP, BRS-FD is the Director of the American Institute for Stuttering in NYC. She was among the initial select group of therapists to be recognized as a specialist in stuttering and has worked with people who stutter and their families for over 25 years. She has extensive experience as a teaching professor, supervisor, and researcher and is proud to be a regular presenter at FRIENDS annual conventions and one-day workshops.
John Hendrickson is a Senior Political Editor at The Atlantic, where he recently wrote about former Vice President Joe Biden’s journey with stuttering. John previously wrote and edited for Esquire, Rolling Stone, and The Denver Post.
Caryn Herring, M.S., CCC-SLP is a person who stutters, an SLP, and a doctoral candidate 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, and now serves as the chairperson of the board of directors. She co-hosts the StutterTalk B-Team and is an active member of other stuttering organizations, including SAY and the NSA.
Eric S. Jackson
Dr. Eric S. Jackson is assistant professor and director of the stuttering and vvariability (savvy) lab at NYU Steinhardt. His research examines the variability of stuttering — the context-based inconsistency with which stuttering occurs – and the factors that drive it including social interaction and anticipation. Dr. Jackson draws on his own experience as a person who stutters to both inform and inspire his research, practice, and teaching.
My son Evan is a person who stutters. When we found FRIENDS, our lives improved immeasurably! Every year I learn a little something more about supporting my son and myself. My favorite part of the conventions now, is connecting with new parents who are just beginning their journey toward acceptance. Evan recently said to me, “I’m really glad I stutter, because if I didn’t, I never would have come to FRIENDS and met all these wonderful people.” I couldn’t agree more.
Joel Korte is an electrical engineer, entrepreneur, and a person who stutters. 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. Joel is the owner of the Chase Bliss Audio, a guitar effects pedal company, and is a musician. Joel lives with his wife and two boys, Chase and Griffin, in St. Michael, Minnesota.
Kristel Kubart, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a person who stutters and a speech-language pathologist at the American Institute for Stuttering in New York City where she works with children, teens, and adults who stutter. She also works as a speech therapist in an elementary school in Brooklyn. She received her Masters Degree in speech and language pathology from Purdue University in 2009, where she worked as part of a team of researchers to help understand how stuttering develops in young children. She loves volunteering with FRIENDS and this will be her 10th FRIENDS convention.
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).
My name is Gianna Parisi, and I’m a 20-year-old from New York. I’m an upcoming senior at Boston University majoring in Environmental Policy and minoring in Deaf Studies.
Nan Bernstein Ratner
Dr. Nan Bernstein Ratner is Professor of Hearing and Speech Sciences, University of Maryland, College Park. She is an ASHA Honors recipient, as well as a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). She conducts research and publishes widely in the areas of child language development and disorder, stuttering and fluency of speech production, and evidence-based practice. With the late Oliver Bloodstein, she is co-author of A Handbook on Stuttering, being prepared for its seventh edition, co-written with Shelley Brundage. With Brian MacWhinney, she directs the NIDCD- and NSF-supported FluencyBank project at TalkBank.org. Dr. Bernstein Ratner currently serves as President of the International Fluency Association (IFA). She is proud to have been named Distinguished Researcher by the International Fluency Association (2006) and Professional of the Year by the National Stuttering Association (2016).
Our 10 year old daughter Lexi stutters and we discovered FRIENDS at the 2019 Annual Convention. Our lives were transformed the moment we walked in the door. There was instant support and friendship not only for our daughter but for my husband Anthony and me as well. We learned how to celebrate and support our child that stutters and went from feeling isolated and helpless to empowered and motivated to spread the information we learned. Listening to those that stutter, their families and the keynote speakers journeys opened our eyes in innumerable ways! We are now part of a family that welcomed us with open arms. If you or a family member is a person who stutters we promise….you have FRIENDS.
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.
Vivian Sisskin is a clinical professor at the University of Maryland, an ASHA Fellow, and a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders. She served as Coordinator for ASHA’s Special Interest Group 4 (Fluency Disorders), Chair of ASHA’s Council for Clinical Certification in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology, and received ASHA’s Media Champion award. Sisskin served as Vice-Chair of the American Board on Fluency and Fluency Disorders and is a faculty member for the Stuttering Foundation’s Mid-Atlantic Workshop. She was named Speech-Language Pathologist of the Year by the National Stuttering Association. She owns the Sisskin Stuttering Center in the Washington DC area.
Onur is 28 years old and has stuttered since the age of 3. After moving to Chicago to improve his English skills, he read Van Riper’s books which subsequently changed his life. He wanted to challenge himself because he always hid his stuttering from friends and family, so he began voluntarily stuttering with people all over the city. These open conversations with over 200 random individuals helped him realize that stuttering isn’t something to feel ashamed or embarrassed about. Onur graduated from the University of Thrace in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Econometrics.
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.
Tricia Zebrowski, Ph.D., CCC-SLP is Professor Emerita at the University of Iowa, and a speech-language pathologist specializing in stuttering. Her clinical, research and teaching expertise is stuttering intervention, with a special focus on teenagers who stutter. For over 20 years, Tricia directed UISpeaks for Teens, a residential therapy program for teens who stutter. Her most recent work attempts to uncover the ways of thinking that facilitate teenagers’ decisions about their stuttering.