Board Members

The Aphasia Access board of directors manages the activities of the organization and includes experts in the field of aphasia programming, marketing, fundraising, and research. Its members are noted below.

President Ruth Fink, MA, CCC-SLP (Pennsylvania) is co-founder of the MossRehab Aphasia Center and Scientist Emeritus of the Moss Rehabilitation Institute. She has over 40 years experience in the assessment and treatment of aphasia and related disorders and since 1989 has served as Co-PI and Project Director on numerous treatment studies in the areas of word retrieval, sentence processing and computer-assisted treatments. Her research has been published in peer- reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. Ms. Fink is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA), the Academy of Aphasia and a founding member of Aphasia Access.
Secretary-Treasurer Elizabeth Hoover, Ph.D., CCC/SLP, BC-ANCDS, (Massachusetts) is a Clinical Associate Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences and the Clinical Director of the Aphasia Resource Center at Boston University.  Dr. Hoover holds board certification from the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences (ANCDS).  She has over 19 years of experience working with individuals with aphasia across the continuum of care.  She has contributed to numerous presentations and publications including topics on the effectiveness of intensive intervention for aphasia, and the effectiveness of group treatment for aphasia.
Immediate Past President Kathryn Shelley (New Mexico), is the founder, prior Executive and current Marketing and Development Director of the Aphasia Center of West Texas (ACWT). The ACWT is the second independent, nonprofit organization in the U.S. to incorporate the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia model. Prior to this, Ms. Shelley was co-owner of a marketing and graphic design firm. She founded Adoption Knowledge Affiliates, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) education, and support organization for adoptive families. Ms. Shelley has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit governance, strategic planning, grant writing and marketing. She has been awarded the Beacon Award for Outstanding Communications and the Beacon Award for Outstanding Nonprofit Leadership. 
Darla Hagge (California) is an associate professor and graduate coordinator in the Department of Communication Sciences & Disorders at California State University Sacramento (CSUS), founder/director of NeuroService Alliance-- a collection of life participation approach programs for adults with acquired communication disorders, co-founder/co-director of the CSUS College of Health & Human Services (CHHS) Interprofessional Education Center for Innovative Teaching and Learning, co-faculty advisor for the Student Interprofessional Education (SIPE) Organization, and a speech-language pathologist at St. Jude Medical Center. She is a board member of the Head Trauma Support Project of Sacramento, an affiliate of the National Aphasia Association, Fellow of the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and recipient of the 2016/2017 CSUS CHHS Outstanding Teaching Award.
Denise McCall, MA-CCC, (Maryland) is Program Director of the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enhancement (SCALE), a Community-Treatment Center for people with aphasia and their families that incorporates the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia model. She co-founded SCALE in 2008 and in 2014 merged the Center with a larger non-profit- The League for People with Disabilities. SCALE is now a specialty program within The League’s Medical Day Program. Ms. McCall has over 25 years of experience as a clinician & researcher. Her work has primarily focused on investigating the effectiveness of software-based language treatment for people with aphasia. She has collaborated with interdisciplinary researchers in the fields of neuropsychology, neurology, linguistics and computer science. She has published her work in several peer-reviewed journals and presented research findings at state and national professional societies.

Tom Sather,  PhD/CCC-SLP (Wisconsin) is an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire and a speech-language pathologist at Mayo Clinic Health System - Eau Claire.  He is a board member of the Chippewa Valley Aphasia Group, co-supervisor of the UW-Eau Claire BluGold Aphasia Group, and founding board member of the Chippewa Valley Aphasia Camp. He is chair of the Wisconsin Hearing and Speech Board, and is the founder and liaison for the Communication Partners Program, matching student and community volunteers with individuals with aphasia throughout the greater Eau Claire community.  Dr. Sather has 20 years of experience working with individuals with aphasia within the neuro-intensive care unit, acute care, outpatient and community levels. He is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences (ANCDS).  He has published and presented nationally on topics relating to aphasia camps, aphasia groups, environmental supports for individuals with aphasia, community models for aphasia rehabilitation, flow and experience sampling methodologies.


Barbara B. Shadden, Ph.D., CCC/SLP, BC-ANCDS (Arkansas), is University Professor Emerita, Co-Director of the Office for Studies on Aging, and former Director of the Program in Communication Disorders at the University of Arkansas. She has published /edited five textbooks, three journal issues, and numerous peer-reviewed articles on aging, aphasia and other neurogenic disorders, and discourse. She has 45 years of experience in assessment and treatment of aphasia and related disorders and is board-certified by the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences (ANCDS). Dr. Shadden has received the Honors of ANCDS (past board member) and of the Council on Academic Programs in Communication Sciences and Disorders (past President) and is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She has served on the editorial board of two journals and as reviewer for seven journals and three funding agencies.

Todd Von Deak MBA, CAE is the Executive Director of Aphasia Access. Mr. Von Deak has nearly 20 years of experience in the association management industry, including eight years with a large national healthcare organization. Over the course of his career, he has held functional and management responsibilities for departments including business development, communications, human resources, information technology, marketing, membership and general operations. He earned his MBA from the Drexel University's LeBow College of Business in Philadelphia, PA, where he is also a member of the faculty. 

To reach members of the board, please email [email protected] or contact Todd Von Deak, Aphasia Access' Executive Director at [email protected].