Meet the 2014 ASHA Convention Co-Chairs My thoughts about a professional family tree began a few years ago when Gail Belus, who was a student of mine early in my career and is now a faculty member at Arizona State University, introduced me to some of her students as their “grandmother.” She told them that ... Features
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Features  |   August 01, 2014
Meet the 2014 ASHA Convention Co-Chairs
Author Notes
  • Jaynee Handelsman, PhD, CCC-A, is the audiology chair of the 2014 convention. She is director of pediatric audiology and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Michigan Health System. jaynee@med.umich.edu
    Jaynee Handelsman, PhD, CCC-A, is the audiology chair of the 2014 convention. She is director of pediatric audiology and clinical assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery at the University of Michigan Health System. jaynee@med.umich.edu×
  • Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the speech-language pathology chair of the 2014 convention. She is associate director of the Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and Development and professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders at East Tennessee State University. williaml@etsu.edu
    Lynn Williams, PhD, CCC-SLP, is the speech-language pathology chair of the 2014 convention. She is associate director of the Center of Excellence in Early Childhood Learning and Development and professor in the Department of Communicative Disorders at East Tennessee State University. williaml@etsu.edu×
Article Information
Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / Features
Features   |   August 01, 2014
Meet the 2014 ASHA Convention Co-Chairs
The ASHA Leader, August 2014, Vol. 19, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC3.19082014.44
The ASHA Leader, August 2014, Vol. 19, 44-45. doi:10.1044/leader.ACC3.19082014.44
Family Connections Span Generations and Professions
My thoughts about a professional family tree began a few years ago when Gail Belus, who was a student of mine early in my career and is now a faculty member at Arizona State University, introduced me to some of her students as their “grandmother.” She told them that some of the things she teaches her students came from ideas I shared with her while she was a student. I was humbled to know that my influence spanned at least a generation, and that made me curious about other professional generations.

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Gail Belus (left) introduced Jaynee Handelsman to her students as their “grandmother.”
When I was in graduate school at the University of Kansas, I had mentors and “siblings” in both speech-language pathology and audiology. Because my career goals included working with children with hearing loss, I completed coursework and clinical practica in both areas.
My primary audiology mentors were at Kansas City VA Medical Center: Rod McLennan and John Seavertson taught me about audiology and professionalism, including the fact that respect is something that must be earned. Bob Fulton instilled in me the principles of behavior theory and their application to hearing testing in children, and June Miller taught me that children with hearing loss can accomplish much with appropriate learning opportunities and support.
Two of my audiology “siblings” are Peter Ivory and Craig Champlain, both of whom likely have generations of professional offspring. I learned recently that Peter’s son is in an AuD program now.
One of the people who influenced me most in graduate school and early in my career is Leija McReynolds. As a mentor, Leija taught me about research design, treatment efficacy and critical thinking, and she helped shape my own professional vision. Not only did she provide an indirect family connection between Lynn Williams and me, but it was through her that I have Kevin Kearns and Cynthia Thompson as “siblings.”
And as part of the larger “family” of people interested in treatment efficacy research, I have had the pleasure of knowing so many others including Nancy Minghetti, Lesley Olswang and Barb Bain. My professional lineage is an example of the interconnection between audiology and speech-language pathology and of the richness we have as a discipline.
Lynn and I have been very excited about the theme for this year’s convention, and we hope to make it come to life for everyone. Personally, it has been fun to reflect on the professional connections I have had with people across the discipline and from many generations. As I’ve spoken with former students and colleagues, it’s occurred to me that we probably never know how many lives each of us has touched over the years, directly or indirectly. I hope you will come to Orlando in November to reconnect with colleagues and to experience “Science. Learning. Practice. Generations of Discovery.”
Jaynee Handelsman
Finding Your Own Family Tree
My convention co-chair, Jaynee Handelsman, and I were excited to discover that we are distantly related (second cousins once removed?) through our professional ancestry. Leija McReynolds, Jaynee’s professor and mentor at the University of Kansas, was also a lifelong colleague of Mary Elbert, who was an important mentor in my research career.

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Mary Elbert (left) was Lynn Williams’ second mentor.
ASHA conventions are like a family reunion—you can reconnect with colleagues and friends, trace your own professional ancestry, discuss professional lineages and discover new connections. You may meet some distant cousins you never knew were part of your professional family tree!
Professional family trees are part of this year’s convention theme, “Generations of Discovery,” which captures a number of meanings for our professions, our members and our future. It gives us an opportunity to reflect on the richness of our professional heritage—the significant contributions made by the researchers and clinicians who had a vision for our professions and worked tirelessly and passionately to lay the foundations on which our science, learning and practice are based.
I’ve had fun tracing my professional genealogy—the mentors who shaped my thinking and influenced my work from the beginning—and to discover the many interconnections among them. Dennis (Denny) Ruscello from West Virginia University was my first mentor. He introduced me to the then-new theory of natural phonology that revolutionized our field with the innovative notion of describing children’s sound-error patterns using phonological processes.
Investigating this theory ignited a spark that has lasted throughout my career and inspired me to look for the “order in the disorder” with children who have severe speech sound disorders. Through Denny I met my second mentor, Mary Elbert from Indiana University. Mary fueled my enthusiasm and development as a linguistic detective and taught me the value of being a “blue-collar researcher”—one who works hard and does her best—to find more effective and efficient ways to assess and treat severe speech sound disorders in children.
As I traced my professional roots, I found that Denny and Mary were professional cousins through their shared mentor, Ralph Shelton, whose influences were passed down to me, as a second-generation student, through them.
My professional family tree also includes my siblings from my PhD program at Indiana University and my cousins from the “other” university in Indiana (Purdue), whom I look forward to seeing at every ASHA reunion.
And my tree now has many leaves—my offspring from California State University Fullerton, Oklahoma State University and East Tennessee State University. I am so proud of their accomplishments in our field!
We look forward to seeing you at the 2014 ASHA reunion as we share the rich legacy of our professions and pay it forward for future generations.
Lynn Williams
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August 2014
Volume 19, Issue 8