Meet the New ASHA Board Members Five newly elected members of the ASHA Board of Directors will begin their three-year terms on Jan. 1, 2015. Here, the Leader offers their answers to five questions: Jaynee Handelsman, CCC-A Director of Pediatric Audiology and Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Michigan Health System “Aha” moment: Although I ... ASHA News
ASHA News  |   August 01, 2014
Meet the New ASHA Board Members
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Professional Issues & Training / ASHA News & Member Stories / ASHA News
ASHA News   |   August 01, 2014
Meet the New ASHA Board Members
The ASHA Leader, August 2014, Vol. 19, online only. doi:10.1044/
The ASHA Leader, August 2014, Vol. 19, online only. doi:10.1044/
Five newly elected members of the ASHA Board of Directors will begin their three-year terms on Jan. 1, 2015. Here, the Leader offers their answers to five questions:
  • What was your “magic moment” when you knew you had chosen the right profession?

  • What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?

  • How have your professional background and experiences shaped your vision for the position?

  • What are the most important issues facing the discipline?

  • How would you describe your leadership style?

Jaynee Handelsman, CCC-A
Director of Pediatric Audiology and Clinical Assistant Professor, University of Michigan Health System
“Aha” moment: Although I am not able to identify one “magic moment,” an experience that stands out involves a young woman with cystic fibrosis who was complaining of imbalance. When we first met several years ago, she had been reporting dizziness for more than a year, associated with each course of intravenous antibiotics. Her care team did not know what to think because she recovered shortly after stopping each treatment. I came to the waiting room to get her, and she was sitting in a wheelchair with her eyes closed, completely unable to walk independently. I knew immediately that she had a severe bilateral vestibular loss, which was confirmed via testing. I was able to explain to her and her mother why she was feeling what she was feeling, to validate her complaints and to give her suggestions about what she could do to begin the compensation process. I recently saw this young woman and her mom and they told me what a difference I had made in their lives. The young woman is a productive, active person who has been able to move forward. Making a meaningful difference in the lives of others is something I treasure about being an audiologist.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
I hope to work with other board members and the incredible national office team to improve the member experience through strategic thinking and meaningful dialogue about the issues that affect them and the professions. It is important for us to find more ways to help members feel connected to the board and the association.
How have your professional background and experiences shaped your vision for the position?
I believe that all of my professional and personal experiences have prepared me for this position on the presidential team. I have been in positions of leadership in my career and have participated in several leadership development opportunities. I have also been able to serve on many ASHA boards and committees and have grown from each. My previous role on the board (vice president for audiology practice) gave me a chance to understand how the association functions and to appreciate the complexity of the issues we face. Having that experience will help me immensely in my new role.
What are the most important issues facing the discipline?
Some of the top issues include the impact of the changes in health care on the professions, including the growing need for audiologists and speech-language pathologists to be included on the health care team; the role that interprofessional education will have on our academic training programs and certification standards; ongoing challenges in schools and our changing roles in that process; the PhD shortage in both professions; and drastic reductions in research funding.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Leading by example and helping to facilitate the success of those I lead are core values of mine. Servant leadership is a wonderful concept that I aspire to fully exemplify. I recognize the value of including team members with varying points of view, and believe that a leader’s role is to create an environment in which each person is able to actively engage in healthy debate about matters impacting the team.
Vice President for Finance
Judy Rudebusch, CCC-SLP
Education Consultant, Learning Legacy, Inc.
“Aha” moment: Benny turned 3 years old that day and was coming to school for the first time. He couldn’t walk. He couldn’t talk. He could barely sit up. He seemed more like a little human ball than a boy—all curled up into himself—in every way possible. His whole world seemed to consist of gazing at his fast-motion hands and fingers flicking in front of his face. Sometimes one hand; other times both hands—on and on. He didn’t cry. He didn’t look around. He didn’t seem to notice or care that he was with new people in a new place. His world was just those fingers flicking.
I reached over and pulled his hand down. The other hand went up with more intensity. I pulled the other hand down. Benny got very still and then looked out of his world deep into my eyes. The connection might have lasted two seconds; or it might have lasted forever. That was my moment. I knew I was in a place and a profession that was just right for me. I felt the silent power of the connection needed for communication. Fall semesters, student teaching as a second-year graduate student.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
My goal is to continue the established legacy of strong leadership in the area of finance, and to focus my attention not only on maintaining a healthy financial position for ASHA but also ensuring that allocation of financial resources is aligned with ASHA’s priorities and the strategic pathways.
How have your professional background and experiences shaped your vision for this position?
I have the experience and skills that match up well with the position of vice president for finance. During the last 20 years I have held administrative positions with responsibility for managing and coordinating large budgets across federal, state and local school district funding streams. I have managed budget shortfall, budget growth and budget surplus. I have had the opportunity to intentionally match allocation of financial resources to meet the goals of the organization. So, that defines my top priority in this position—to match how we spend money to our priorities.
What are the most important issues facing the discipline?
  1. Capacity to change.

  2. The status of health care in our country, and how audiologists and SLPs will provide quality of care in the adjusted system.

  3. Reimbursement issues and strong advocacy for a solid position in the marketplace.

  4. Training sufficient numbers of highly qualified professionals to meet the demand for our services.

  5. Quality services throughout the life span without duplicating services that others are providing.

How would you describe your leadership style?
My leadership style is best described as relational. I thrive in a teaming environment where continuous improvement, a collaborative spirit, diverse points of view and a commitment to excellence are valued.
Vice President for Government Relations and Public Policy
Joan A. Mele-McCarthy, CCC-SLP
Executive Director, The Summit School, Edgewater, Md.
“Aha” moment: Is there ever one “magic moment” when you truly know you have made the right decision? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes there are several magic moments that add up to a total that says, “This is right for me.” That first magic moment for me was a distinct moment of pride, when I was a senior in college majoring in speech pathology and audiology. Back in the day, we engaged in clinical practica as undergraduates. A group of us participated in a free speech and language screening at a kindergarten. After we had each screened a few children, our professor gathered us to debrief on whether we had any concerns about our “clients.” I shared data and observations about a youngster that supported concern for an emerging language-based learning disability, a diagnostic data set that was just emerging in our scientific and pedagogical understanding. My professor acknowledged my work by asking probing questions, complimented me and asked me to share my impressions with the director of the program. It was that day that I began to fully realize and appreciate the power of our knowledge set, the art and the science of diagnostic thinking, and the impact of planning meaningful and life-changing interventions.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
The role of vice president for government relations and public policy is multifaceted, with opportunities for accomplishments in several arenas: achieving strong visibility and influence in all federal public policy issues related to our professions; building relationships with nongovernmental agencies to promote the needs and rights of individuals with communication disorders; increasing the reach of the ASHA political action committee; and ensuring optimum state-national association relationships. The most pressing near-term public policy issues for our professions involve health care and general and special education legislation and policies. With that in mind, I hope to seek creative ways keep members informed and engaged and to actively promote ASHA’s mission to legislators, policy-makers, advocacy groups and consumers.
How have your professional background and experiences shaped your vision for the position?
My most relevant professional experience for this position is my tenure in the U.S. Department of Education as special assistant to the assistant secretary of special education and rehabilitative services. In that position, I was able to use my knowledge set for communication sciences and disorders from the standpoints of my prior work experiences in public school, university teaching, and private practice settings. I learned the inner workings of policy development and dissemination and I learned about the politics of policy-making. Through this work, I developed an understanding of the true importance of grassroots advocacy and the power of engaging with legislators and policy-makers to help guide legislative understanding and actions. It is this understanding that has helped shape my vision for this position.
What are the most important issues facing the discipline?
The most important public policy issues facing the discipline are health care legislation and implementation and the reauthorization of general and special education legislation. Integral to both issues are efforts that ensure that the services of audiologists and speech-language pathologists are fully recognized and included in legislation and policy, and that federal funding is structured in such a way as to promote access to services provided by our professions.
How would you describe your leadership style?
Leadership is an opportunity to facilitate collaborative thinking, problem-solving and innovation. I lead by collaboratively setting goals, engaging and including people, recognizing and using the talents people bring to the task(s), asking key questions, and making and implementing a plan to accomplish those goals. I also lead with humor, honesty, investment in the process and product, and introspection. I view leadership as an honorable and ethical endeavor, a perspective that guides my actions and decisions.
Vice President for Standards and Ethics in Audiology
Joseph Montano, CCC-A
Director, Hearing and Speech Center, Weill Cornell Medical College
“Aha” moment: Aural/audiologic rehabilitation has been the primary focus of my 37-year career as an audiologist. During my clinical fellowship year, I worked in a sheltered workshop for adults with developmental disabilities. I soon observed that many of the clients with Down syndrome had slight or mild conductive hearing loss. My supervisor was supportive when I asked if I could develop a therapy group that would focus on listening skills. As a result, I had my first experience with AR and the group process. It added a new dimension to the diagnostic work I had been doing and was the seed for the direction of my professional career.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
It is a great honor to be elected to the ASHA Board of Directors and have the opportunity to represent the membership on a national level. As vice president for standards and ethics in audiology, I hope to reinforce the importance of quality of care, excellence in training, and principles of practice and research within our professions. These values provide a foundation that would support our advocacy efforts for consumers, governmental regulators, and educational and health professionals who seek out, reimburse or refer for our services. Our ability to self-monitor, develop standards of practice, and maintain our education and training increase our credibility in the educational and health care arenas and support our well-deserved perception as quality professions.
How have your professional background and experiences shaped your vision for the position?
Actively participating in my profession afforded me the opportunity to meet new people, influence the direction of our fields, and grow personally. I have served on numerous ASHA committees and boards including, for example, the Board of Ethics, convention co-chair, and coordinator of Special Interest Group 7, Aural Rehabilitation and Its Instrumentation. I am also a past president of the Academy of Rehabilitative Audiology. In my home state of New York, I served on the licensure board and as president and board member of the state speech-language and hearing association. As director of the Hearing and Speech Center at Weill Cornell Medical College, I manage a department of 20 professionals in both disciplines. These experiences have helped me understand the importance of listening to all sides of issues, taught me to reflect on decisions, reinforced active participation in discussions and, finally, encouraged me to be a vocal advocate for our professions.
What are the most importance issues facing the discipline?
Quality provision of service, research and education is paramount to our professions. Issues that may threaten our ability to provide the highest level of professional care, such as encroachment, reimbursement, identity, health care reform, and diversity, are important challenges that require constant monitoring and action when necessary.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I consider myself open-minded and able to listen to all sides of an issue. As a result, I am able to formulate decisions without bias. An important component to my leadership skill has always been the ability to create an atmosphere conducive to creativity and motivation. By providing support and guidance for my peers, I have been successful in developing and implementing programs and policies where need was determined by those most intimately involved. This process allows all to take ownership of the goals and experience pride in the accomplishments. Team-building and cooperative participation have been important components to my leadership style.
Vice President for Speech-Language Pathology Practice
Sandra Laing Gillam, CCC-SLP
Professor, Emma Eccles Jones Early Childhood Education and Research Center, Utah State University
“Aha” moment: I don’t know if there was one magic moment when I knew I had chosen the right profession. Rather, there have been many times over the years that I am reminded that speech-language pathology was the right decision for me. When a parent of a child with a severe language impairment that I worked with in 1996 called me in May to tell me her son was graduating from college, I knew I had chosen the right profession. Similarly, when I received an e-mail from a student who worked with me in 2001 to tell me how much she appreciated what she learned from me, I knew I’d made the right choice.
What do you hope to accomplish in your new position?
I hope to be involved in promoting policy and strategies that make it possible for SLPs to apply and conduct evidence-based practice in their work settings. I would also like to be a part of all of the wonderful strides ASHA is taking to support professionals in gaining more recognition for the contributions they make in educational and medical settings.
How have your professional background and experiences shaped your vision for the position?
I have had the opportunity to work in schools, hospitals, and clinical and academic settings, so my vision is fairly broad. Issues related to EBP and advocacy reach across all settings and I feel strongly about what ASHA can do to help the discipline make improvements in these areas and more. I am looking forward to bringing my varied experiences to the board and to learn about what I can do to support clinicians, student, families and patients with communication disorders.
What are the most important issues facing the discipline?
An important issue is the gap between research and clinical practice. Academic institutions do a good job of defining EBP and providing students with good clinical experiences. However, students might benefit from more clinical-research opportunities so they feel competent in employing EBP when they enter the workforce. Advocacy is another important issue for our discipline, particularly in school-based settings. It’s important to continue to promote change at the federal, state and local levels to reduce paperwork and caseloads, and to oppose policies that limit or remove funding for audiology and speech-language services.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I would describe my leadership style as “participative.” I am always anxious to hear what group members have to say when making decisions and solving problems. I prefer to be positive and encouraging even when discussions are difficult or I do not agree with where things are going. Conflict is inevitable, so egos need to be checked at the door. I think good leaders realize that they cannot be expert in all things. Most important, good leaders surround themselves with people who have highly specialized knowledge that is needed for the task at hand, and then they listen to them.
1 Comment
August 1, 2014
Thomas Hallahan
Lucky Us
We are so fortunate to have such a talented and committed team of leaders starting their terms on the ASHA Board of Directors. Thank you! Tom
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August 2014
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