ASHFoundation Celebrates 60 Years of Giving This year marks the 60th anniversary of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation). Its inspiration, however, may be dated to an event that occurred several years earlier than 1946, in 1939 to be precise, when students at the University of Iowa formed the Demosthenes Club, named for the Greek orator who, ... ASHA News
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ASHA News  |   May 01, 2006
ASHFoundation Celebrates 60 Years of Giving
Author Notes
  • Ellen Uffen, former managing editor/features, for The ASHA Leader, retired in March.
    Ellen Uffen, former managing editor/features, for The ASHA Leader, retired in March.×
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ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   May 01, 2006
ASHFoundation Celebrates 60 Years of Giving
The ASHA Leader, May 2006, Vol. 11, 1-19. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.11072006.1
The ASHA Leader, May 2006, Vol. 11, 1-19. doi:10.1044/leader.AN1.11072006.1

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This year marks the 60th anniversary of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation (ASHFoundation). Its inspiration, however, may be dated to an event that occurred several years earlier than 1946, in 1939 to be precise, when students at the University of Iowa formed the Demosthenes Club, named for the Greek orator who, legend has it, learned to overcome his stuttering by reciting poetry with pebbles in his mouth.
Demosthenes’ pebbles apparently did the trick: History tells us he went on to gain immense popularity among his countrymen for his brilliant eloquence-even today we call any impassioned discourse a “philippic” because of Demosthenes’ passionate speeches denouncing King Phillip of Macedon’s attempted conquest of Greece.
History never exists in a vacuum: Demosthenes gained his fame during the 4th century BC. Centuries later the popularity of Iowa’s Demosthenes Club spawned numerous chapters, which with the help of Iowa’s Wendell Johnson, ultimately led to the creation of the ASHFoundation.
In 1945 Johnson, a member of the Executive Council of ASHA (then the American Speech Correction Association), presented the Demosthenes Club’s proposal for a “Stuttering Research Foundation” to the Council, which thereupon created a Foundations Committee. The Club’s proposal was accepted, with the proviso that the interests of the new organization be expanded from a concern only with stuttering to a focus on all communication disorders.
Consequently, in December 1946, the Speech Correction Research Foundation was instituted as an entity within the American Speech Correction Association.
The stated purposes of the new Foundation were to support scientific research in speech correction, to support speech correction facilities, and to support professional training. And the necessary unstated purpose was to raise funds to allow it all to happen.
Two years after its founding, the Speech Correction Research Foundation, in recognition of the breadth of its mission, became the Speech Correction Foundation. It was, after all, about much more than research alone.
In 1956 there would be another name change, to the American Speech and Hearing Foundation-to bring the name in closer accord with the American Speech and Hearing Association, the future ASHA’s newest iteration. And in 1959 the ASHFoundation officers were established and their responsibilities assigned.
The Age of Kleffner and Beyond
Everything was in place during those early years, but not a lot was happening. Donations arrived and grants were awarded (the first was awarded in 1946—William Love received a grant of $75!) but not in memorable numbers.
And then in 1981 Frank R. Kleffner (ASHA’s 1970 president) became the president of the ASHFoundation and began a new and exciting era that would bring the ASHFoundation into the technological age by encouraging activity of organizations such as IBM in ASHFoundation programs, greatly increase its resources, and maintain its ties to ASHA while strengthening its own independence—none of these small feats.
Kleffner quickly launched the Founders Club—which would recognize contributors of $100–and managed to get regular visibility for the ASHFoundation in Asha magazine. He began a corporate advisory group. In a visionary move, he convinced the ASHFoundation Board to begin awarding small seed grants to new researchers in the hope of stimulating larger givers to continue supporting the work of the young scientists.
Thanks to Kleffner’s vision—and his healthy respect for the implications of marketing–much important research was permitted to continue and more people were becoming aware of the ASHFoundation and its initiatives.
Kleffner passed the presidential torch in 1985 to Ronald Goldman who had earlier served as ASHA’s vice president for planning and knew a great deal about business and finance. Goldman expanded the corporate participation—and corporate donations—that began with the recruitment to the board of John Yackel of AGS Publishing (then the American Guidance Service, Inc.)
Goldman believed that the business world had a lot to teach the foundation sector about the needs and desires of consumers, product development, and how to take the marketing campaign that Kleffner had begun to the next important level. And, as the history of the ASHFoundation attests, he was right. The involvement of business in the ASHFoundation continues to expand—to mutual advantage.
Under the leadership of Nancy Minghetti, who began in 1996 as the first speech-language pathologist to become the ASHFoundation’s executive director, and the board presidents who succeeded Goldman—Fred D. Minifie, John R. Dilworth, Tanya M. Gallagher, Noel D. Matkin, Linda V. Bowers, Nancy Swigert, and currently, Dennis Hampton—ASHFoundation programs are going stronger than ever.
The ASHFoundation has grown enormously and continues to expand in individual members and corporate supporters, as well as in the impact of its programs: in 2005, the ASHFoundation awarded $182,000 in grants, scholarships, and clinical awards; its first capital campaign, Dreams and Possibilities, begun in 1999, has currently raised nearly $2 million; and the total net assets of the ASHFoundation now stand at $5.1 million.
As for its link to ASHA, by the early 1990s the ASHFoundation had matured and was ready to assume independent fiduciary oversight and responsibility. In 1994 separate articles of incorporation were drawn up for the two organizations. They would, in the future, be related but separately run and financed, each autonomous but linked through their shared concerns and visions. (It is notable in this context that ASHA made the opening donation of $500,000 to the Dreams and Possibilities campaign.)
So from those propitious beginnings 60 years ago, the ASHFoundation emerged and prospered. The next 60 years promises continued growth leading to even greater prosperity—and increased funding—for the essential work of the creative new researchers, scholars, and clinicians who are the future of the field of communication sciences and disorders.
Note: Thank you to Russ Malone, whose book, The First 75 Years: An Oral History of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (1999; Rockville, MD: ASHA), is a treasure trove of information on the history of ASHA and of the ASHFoundation.
ASHFoundation Plans Special Native American Evening At Schools Conference

Are you attending the 2005 ASHA Schools Conference? Be sure to join your friends and the American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation for a night you won’t forget!

The traditions and icons of Native American culture will enhance your Arizona visit with an after-dinner event that’s the perfect close to your day. Experience the folklore and magic of authentic tribal rituals through the performance of a Native American dance troupe while enjoying Southwestern dessert fare. The outdoor “kiva” setting takes full advantage of dramatic mountain and desert vistas. This Native American evening of fun and fellowship and will support your profession’s future education and research programs! To learn more, visit the ASHFoundation Web site.

Tickets are $42 in advance ($52 on site, space permitting). The event is Friday, July 14, 8–10 p.m. at the Desert Kivas, Marriott Desert Ridge Resort & Spa.

Be sure to reserve your space when you register for the Schools Conference (see conference registration form for details). If you’ve already registered for the conference, it’s not too late to sign up for the ASHFoundation’s Native American Experience. Phone Ghazala Osman at 1-800-498-2071, ext. 4185.

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May 2006
Volume 11, Issue 7