Who’s behind it all?
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.
Elizabeth Hoover, Ph.D., CCC/SLP, BC-ANCDS
Elizabeth 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.
Tom Sather, PhD/CCC-SLP
Vice President (Wisconsin)
Tom 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.
Melinda is a professor and clinical supervisor at the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She serves as the assistant director for all programs in the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences. She has published and presented in the areas of aphasia, dementia, and student learning. She directs the Stroke and Aphasia Recovery (STAR) Program, including a summer aphasia arts day camp, in Lubbock, Texas. She is president of the Texas Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation and a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and the Academy for Neurologic Communication Sciences and Disorders as well as an affiliate member of the National Aphasia Association.
Ruth Fink, MA, CCC-SLP
Past President (Pennsylvania)
Ruth is a 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.
Board Member (Illinois)
Michelle Armour is a speech-language pathologist, program lead clinician, and founder of the Northwestern Medicine Aphasia Center at Marianjoy Rehabilitation Hospital in Wheaton, IL. She specializes in stroke rehabilitation with specific area of interest in neurogenic communication disorders. Michelle has conducted clinical research and had her work published on the topic of supportive communication, quality of life, and acute inpatient rehabilitation for patients with aphasia. In addition to her work at Marianjoy, she has served as an Adjunct Professor teaching the subject of aphasia at Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL. Michelle is also currently serving as co-chair on the Aphasia and Other Communication Disorders Task Force through the American Congress of Rehabilitation Medicine (ACRM).
Karen Castka, MS, CCC-SLP
Board Member (New Jersey)
Karen is the Clinical Director at the Adler Aphasia Center in New Jersey. She has more than 15 years experience working in community-based programs for people with aphasia, as well as inpatient rehab and long-term care facilities. At the Adler Aphasia Center, Karen created innovative programming for people with aphasia. She established a unique introductory program for incoming members, developed the volunteer training program, and founded the drama club as well as an annual camping program for people with aphasia. She has published and presented nationally on Performing Arts programs for aphasia groups. Karen earned her Master of Science degree from James Madison University in Communication Sciences and Disorders.
Board Member (Pennsylvania)
Wendy is a Project Manager at the Eleanor M. Saffran Center for Cognitive Neuroscience at Temple University. She has over 30 years of experience working with adults with neurogenic communication, cognitive and swallowing disorders and specializes in the area of aphasia. She has worked in a variety of settings including hospitals, university clinics and community-based programs for people with aphasia, most recently the Adler Aphasia Center in New Jersey. She is a founding member of Aphasia Access. She graduated from the State University of New York at Buffalo with a Master of Arts degree in Speech-Language Pathology.
Katarina Haley, PhD/CCC-SLP
Board Member (North Carolina)
Katarina is an associate professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and co-director of the UNC Center for Aphasia and Related Disorders. She has worked with people who have aphasia for over 30 years. The main goals of her research program are to improve the diagnostic and assessment process for speech disorders related to aphasia and to empower families and rehabilitation clinicians to collaborate on interventions and solutions that strengthen communication access. Her research is published in peer-reviewed journals and presented at national and international conferences. Dr. Haley is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences (ANCDS).
Board Member (Denmark)
Jytte Isaksen is an associate professor at the Department of Language and Communication, University of Southern Denmark in Odense, Denmark. She lectures in the speech-language pathology and audiology programs in evidence-based practice, research methodologies, neurogenic communication disorders and other clinical subjects. Jytte’s research is centrered around aphasia and interaction, e.g. communication partner training of health professionals, outcome evaluation of aphasia therapy, and involvement of people with aphasia in research. Jytte is a part of the international research group Collaboration of Aphasia Trialists, where she serves in the executive committee and as chair of the working group Societal Impact and Reintegration.
Board Member (California)
Nidhi Mahendra is a tenured faculty member in the department of Communicative Disorders and Sciences. Her areas of clinical and research interest are in Dementia and Aphasia, Healthy Aging, Multicultural Issues in Speech-Language Pathology, and in Palliative Care. At SJSU, she directs the Spartan Aphasia Research Clinic (SPARC) and is a core faculty member of the interdisciplinary Center for Healthy Aging in Multicultural Populations (CHAMP). She has been a faculty member in the California State University system since 2005 (2005-2016 at CSU East Bay) and came to San Jose State University in Fall 2016. A multilingual speech-language pathologist, she is state-licensed and nationally certified as a practitioner. Her current research is externally funded by the El Camino Hospital and Healthcare District, and the Gary and Mary West Foundation. Other recent research has been funded by The California Wellness Foundation, the Alzheimer’s Association, the American Speech Language Hearing Association, and the Masonic Homes of California.
Jodi Morgan, CCC-SLP
Board Member (Florida)
Jodi is a speech-language pathologist, manager and founder of the Brooks Rehabilitation Aphasia Center. She also serves as Clinical Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences at Jacksonville University. She teaches courses in adult language disorders and cognitive disorders and rehabilitation. Her research interests and publications are in the area of aphasia and cognition-linguistic rehabilitation in adults. Jodi has received multiple ASHA ace awards and is an active member of special interests divisions through ASHA. She is a member of JASPA (Jacksonville Area Speech Pathology Association) and FLASHA (Florida Speech and Hearing Association) and has recently received JASPAs personal achievement award and Brooks rehabilitation research award. She presents both nationally and a state level in the areas of aphasia, supported communication, cognitive disorders and improving functional communication in adults with cognitive disorders.
Nina Simmons-Mackie Ph.D., BC-ANCDS
Board Member & Founding President (New Orleans)
Nina is Professor Emeritus at Southeastern Louisiana University in Hammond, LA. She serves as a research consultant at the Aphasia Institute in Toronto and on the research committee of the Adler Aphasia Center in New Jersey. She has published over 150 articles and chapters and has many years of clinical, academic and research experience in the area of adult aphasia. She served as an editor and author of Supporting Communication for Adults with Acute and Chronic Aphasia. She has received the Honors of ASHA, ANCDS and the Louisiana Speech-Language-Hearing Association as well as the Robin Tavistock Award for Aphasia from the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia in the UK. Interests include neurogenic communication disorders, qualitative research, and social model philosophies.
Sarah E. Wallace, CCC-SLP, ASHA Fellow
Board Member (Pennsylvania)
Sarah is an Associate Professor and Program Director for the Adult Language and Cognition Clinic in the Speech-Language-Hearing Clinic at Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, PA. Dr. Wallace also directs the Communication and Cognition Lab at Duquesne University. She has over 14 years of experience working with people who have neurogenic communication disorders as well as conducting clinical research and teaching courses in the areas of neurogenic communication disorders and augmentative and alternative communication. Dr. Wallace regularly leads Interprofessional Education learning opportunities for Duquesne University students and mentors student research projects.
Board Member (Australia)
Linda is Professor Emeritus at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. She has published over 300 articles and chapters and has many years of clinical, academic and research experience in the area of adult aphasia. She served as an editor and author of Neurogenic Communication Disorders: A Functional Approach and Aphasia Rehabilitation: The Impairment and Its Consequences. She is a Fellow of Speech Pathology Australia. She was awarded the Elinor Wray Award by Speech Pathology Australia well as the Robin Tavistock Award for Aphasia from the Tavistock Trust for Aphasia in the UK. Interests include the ICF, aphasia pathways, and aphasia rehabilitation.
Todd Von Deak, MBA, CAE
Executive Director (Pennsylvania)
Todd 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.