Who’s In Your (Professional) Family Tree? We all have professional parents, grandparents and siblings who helped shape our careers. Trace your professional lineage and bring it to convention. From the President
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From the President  |   August 2014
Who’s In Your (Professional) Family Tree?
Author Notes
  • Elizabeth McCrea, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a clinical professor emerita of the Department of Speech and Language Sciences at Indiana University. She continues her work in clinical education with the externship program at Nova Southeastern University. mccreae@indiana.edu
    Elizabeth McCrea, PhD, CCC-SLP, is a clinical professor emerita of the Department of Speech and Language Sciences at Indiana University. She continues her work in clinical education with the externship program at Nova Southeastern University. mccreae@indiana.edu×
  • © 2014 American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
Article Information
Cultural & Linguistic Diversity / Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / From the President
From the President   |   August 2014
Who’s In Your (Professional) Family Tree?
The ASHA Leader, August 2014, Vol. 19, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.19082014.8
The ASHA Leader, August 2014, Vol. 19, 8-9. doi:10.1044/leader.FTP.19082014.8
In every conceivable manner, the family is the link to our past, our bridge to the future.
—Alex Haley
In my June Leader column, I wrote about the importance of community. I suggested that there were multiple communities within the whole that is ASHA and that each community has its own unique membership and even responsibility. But, even more fundamentally, communities are made up of families—and people within those families.
When ASHA began 89 years ago, the charter membership of 25 was small enough to be accommodated in small meeting rooms. Across the years and generations, it has grown to a membership of more than 173,000 professionals; it has a budget of more than $50 million, which supports its members through varied and multiple aspects of programming and advocacy; its headquarters has moved from a small house in Iowa to a multi-storied, modern green building in Rockville, Md. Importantly, it presents an annual convention that more than 11,000 members regularly attend to continue their professional development. This massive conference requires not small meeting rooms but enormous convention centers.
In the four and a half generations or so that have passed since the association began, its members have built a strong foundation of science, learning and practice. And it is the work of individual members—through their professional and volunteer contributions and achievements—that has made this all possible and moved the association, the discipline and the professions forward.
With this growth comes the challenge of maintaining the discipline’s culture and heritage, the contributions of its generations. The notion of professional communities—and, more basically, professional families—is one way to help sustain our essential and important history and values. Thinking about where we have been, and who we have encountered along the way, helps us understand (as Alex Haley suggests) who we are. More important, it informs where we might be going.
Each of us has a professional family genealogy and a professional family tree made up of those mentors with whom we have studied and trained. We have professional parents, even grandparents and siblings, all of whom contributed to the audiologist, speech-language pathologist or scientist we have become. They prepared us to build our academic, research and professional lives. For example, in my case:
  • Grandparents: Charles Van Riper, Robert West.

  • Parents: Jean L. Anderson, R. L. Milisen.

  • Aunts/uncles: Vincent Knauf, Charles Schubert, Helen G. Burr, Rita C.Naremore, Phil Connell, Mary Elbert, Aubrey Epstein, Philip R. Jones (education), Nicholas Fattu, Dennis Gouran (business/organizational behavior).

  • Siblings: too many to count but, importantly, 19 other doctoral students across four years of doctoral study and research who have all gone on to educate, train and mentor hundreds of students at all levels of study.

We also have professional neighbors—those with whom we have worked and volunteered. My own professional neighborhoods are so large they have grown into suburbs. Recalling all of these neighbors, although they may now be distant in time, is an important way of celebrating what they invested in each of us and affirming our own professional identity.
Conceptualizing educational and professional relationships in this manner may seem contrived to some, but it permits us to shepherd our history across generations and bring it with us into the future. Doing so makes our large and dynamic membership and association more personal and less abstract. ASHA has built opportunities for face-to-face and electronic engagement in communities that are typically focused on issues of work setting and/or professional practice. Building professional family trees extends those communities and helps us to discover and appreciate personal connections that we may not have known existed.
Our convention in November this year will honor science, learning and practice across generations of contributions by members of any number of professional family trees. Think about yours. Build it. Most important, come to Orlando and share and celebrate it.
As Walt Disney himself said, “A man [or woman] should never neglect his family or his business.” In our case, for three days in November, these will be one and the same. That seems to me to be the best of all possibilities.
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August 2014
Volume 19, Issue 8