Team

Photo - Speech - BarnesMelethia Barnes has been a speech-language pathologist since 1991 and began working at Rady Children’s the same year. Melethia specializes in early childhood language and bilingual communication services in Spanish. She has also been active in interagency collaboration and parent education. Melethia received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Kansas and is certified in Hanen. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Photo - Speech - BondessonKelly Bondesson has been a speech-language pathologist since 1986 and has been working at Rady Children’s since 2001. Kelly received her bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science from the University of Iowa and a master’s degree in speech pathology from the University of Northern Iowa. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Joy-BrewsterJoy Brewster has been a speech pathologist since 1989 and has worked at Rady Children’s for 14 years. Her special interests include early intervention, preschool fluency and childhood speech and language. Joy received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her masters’ in speech-language pathology from the University of Virginia. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Photo - Speech - BrownBeth Brown has been a speech-language pathologist for over 3o years and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since 1987. Beth has extensive experience in diagnostics, autism, tongue thrust and speech and language disorders. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Photo - Speech - Stephanie Burgener-VaderStephanie Burgener-Vader has been a speech-language pathologist since 2009 and has worked at Rady Children’s since August 2012. Her areas of interest include early intervention, autism spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome and other genetic disorders, cerebral palsy, traumatic brain injury and apraxia of speech. She has experience providing services in private practice, public school and hospital settings. Stephanie is PROMPT-trained and certified by the Hanen Centre in the “It Takes Two to Talk” and “More Than Words” programs for parents. She is also trained in SCERTS, a specialized approach to address the needs of children with autism. Stephanie received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her master’s degree from San Diego State University. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Photo - Speech - SuggettGina Concepcion-Suggett has been a speech-language pathologist since 1997 and began working at Rady Children’s in 1999. Gina has served children and families throughout San Diego County in outpatient clinics, educational settings, in clients’ homes (through Rady Children’s HomeCare) and our Speech team. She has prior experience working in Tri-City Medical Center’s outpatient and inpatient settings and at Vencor Hospital with individuals who were ventilator-dependent. Gina has a special interest early intervention, diagnostics and early childhood language. She is certified in Hanen’s “It Takes Two to Talk” program. Gina has a bachelor’s degree in biology from UC San Diego and a master’s degree in communication disorders from San Diego State University. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA. She was presented with the Award for Continuing Education (ACE) by ASHA’s Continuing Education Board in 1999 in recognition of continued professional study. Gina has volunteered for ASHA’s S.T.E.P. (Student to Empowered Professional Mentoring Program), which matches students with practicing speech pathologists.

Photo - Speech - DabasinskasCatherine Dabasinskas has been a speech-language pathologist and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2001. She specializes in working with children with hearing loss, cochlear implants, articulation difficulties, multiple disabilities, autism and dyspraxia. Catherine uses American Sign Language and augmentative/alternative communication with many different children to enhance their communication skills. She runs the Tongue Thrust group and co-facilitates Pathways, an inclusive group for preschoolers with autism spectrum disorders. Catherine received her master’s degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences from the University of Colorado, Boulder. is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Christiana David has been a speech-language pathologist with Rady Children’s Hospital since beginning her career in 2011. Her clinical interests include early intervention, parent education, autism spectrum disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, augmentative communication, cognitive rehabilitation, aural rehabilitation and feeding. She is trained in Level 1 Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets (PROMPT) and Sequential Oral Sensory (S.O.S) approach to feeding. She also has experience incorporating Social Thinking curriculum into treatment. Christiana is conversationally fluent in American Sign Language and provides care within Rady Children’s outpatient clinic and Alexa’s PLAYC. She received her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders with a minor in psychology in 2009 and a master’s degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences in 2011 from San Diego State University. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

December-DealDecember Deal has been a speech-language pathologist since 2004 and has worked at Rady Children’s since June of 2014. Her areas of focus are dysphagia, aphasia, traumatic brain injury, articulation/phonological impairments, apraxia, autism, specific-language impairment, fluency, and alternative/augmentative communication. December is certified in VitalStim treatment for dysphagia and has training and experience with modified barium swallow studies and fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing. December earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and her master’s degree at the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee in communication sciences and disorders. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Christina Dorchinsky has been working as a speech-language pathologist since 2014 and has worked for Rady Children’s since 2017. Christina is trained in visual phonics and PECS (picture exchange communication system). She attended Southern Connecticut State University and received her bachelor’s degrees in communication disorders, elementary education/special education collaborative and Spanish, along with her master’s degree in communication disorders with a concentration in speech-language pathology. Prior to working at Rady Children’s, Christina worked at Children’s Hospital Colorado. She also has experience working with children in schools and private practice. Her special interests include bilingual language development in Spanish and ASL, aural rehabilitation, early intervention, articulation/phonology and literacy. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA. She is also a licensed teacher in Elementary Education (K-6) and Special Education (K-12).

Photo - Speech - DorfmanValerie Dorfman joined Rady Children’s in 2008 from North Shore Children’s Hospital in Salem, Mass., and has been a speech-language pathologist since 2005. Originally from Peru, Valerie is a native Spanish speaker who specializes in working with bilingual/bicultural populations. She has experience working with children with a variety of communication impairments, including those with speech and language delays, hearing loss, cochlear implants, cleft lip and palate, autism spectrum disorders, apraxia of speech, traumatic brain injuries, and Down syndrome. Valerie received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Boston University. Prior to working at Rady Children’s, she worked in the several Massachusetts public schools, Massachusetts General Hospital and Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital. Valerie is a Hanen-certified speech-language pathologist for “It Takes Two to Talk.” She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Photo - Speech - Ashley FarwickAshley Farwick has been working as a speech-language pathologist since 2009 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2012. She has specialized training and experience in working with children with autism, motor speech disorders and feeding difficulties. Ashley is trained in SCERTS (Social Communication, Emotional Regulation, Transactionals Support), PECS (Picture Exchange Communication System), PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets), and the SOS (Sequential Oral Sensory) approach to feeding. She is certified by the Hanen Program to teach the “It Takes Two To Talk” course for parents and has specialized interest in Social Thinking. Ashley is a member of Rady Children’s Feeding Team, and she facilitates or co-facilitates a number of group programs, including Feeding Group, Stepping Stones, Gateways, Mommy Daddy & Me, and First Step. Ashley received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology and Audiology from Miami University and her Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Cincinnati. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Yvette Fraire has been a speech-language pathologist since 2009. She has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since July 2014 and previously worked in home health, school and clinical settings in Dallas to provide early intervention. Yvette is a bilingual therapist (Spanish) and uses her multilingual expertise to provide treatment to children with a variety of diagnoses, including children with cochlear implants/ hearing loss, childhood apraxia of speech, autism spectrum disorders, Down syndrome, cerebral palsy, language disorders, articulation disorders and traumatic brain injury. Yvette is PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets)-trained at the Bridging Level. She has experience integrating Social Thinking principals into her treatment. She received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Texas at Dallas. She is licensed by the State of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Photo - Speech - GarrettShari Garrett has been a speech-language pathologist since 1983 and began working at Rady Children’s in 1985. She is the manager of the Speech-Language Pathology Department and specializes in the areas of voice, autism, vocal cord dysfunction, oral motor and phonology. In the treatment of voice disorders and vocal cord dysfunction, she incorporates integrative medicine. Shari received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana. She is a certified speech-language pathologist and is a current member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, the California Speech Language and Hearing Association and the San Diego Early Childhood Mental Health Leader Collaborative. Shari is Hanen certified as well as a certified healing touch practitioner. Her goal in working at Rady Children’s is to continue to implement and create innovative therapy to help children and families communicate at their highest potential.

Brielle-GoldmanBrielle Goldman has been a speech-language pathologist since 2014 and has worked at Rady Children’s since July 2015, after moving back to her hometown of San Diego from Austin, Texas. Brielle’s experience includes the evaluation and treatment of children with articulation, pragmatic, cognitive, fluency, and expressive/receptive language disorders in the school, clinic and medical setting. She also has experience working with children with autism, Down syndrome, traumatic brain injury, cerebral palsy, cleft palate, and intellectual disabilities. She has a strong background in American Sign Language and uses her knowledge and experience in these areas to address each patient’s individual needs. Brielle received her undergraduate degree in speech, language and hearing sciences from the University of Arizona and earned her master’s degree in communication sciences and disorders from the University of Texas at Austin. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA. Brielle’s goal in working at Rady Children’s is to support each child in achieving his or her individual goals in a fun, positive, family-oriented manner, while ensuring that all patients leave feeling proud and confident in their speech and language skills.

Angie Jeu began her career as a speech-language pathologist in 2017 and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since May 2018.  Her areas of interest include fluency, voice and early intervention. She is trained in the Lidcombe Program for early stuttering. Angie received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Washington. She is licensed by the State of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Photo - Speech - KalterEleanor Kalter became a speech-language pathologist in 1984 and began working at Rady Children’s in 1989. Eleanor specializes in bilingual/bicultural therapy and consultation on related issues. Her extensive background includes working in Spanish and French, as well as with other multicultural populations. Eleanor also has expertise in treating children with cleft palate and craniofacial anomalies, having served as speech pathologist on the Rady Children’s Craniofacial Services team for more than 10 years. She has volunteered service to traveling medical cleft palate teams, helping children across the border of Mexico. Eleanor has supervised graduate students at San Diego State University in speech pathology for many years. Aside from providing speech-language evaluations and therapy, Eleanor has provided parent education and child enrichment classes through Children’s Care Connection. She received her bachelor’s degree from Boston University in apeech pathology and audiology and her master’s degree from University of Minnesota, Minneapolis in speech pathology. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Therese Kanda has been a speech-language pathologist since 2013 and has worked at Rady Children’s since graduating from Northwestern University and obtaining licensure. Therese has special expertise in the area of cochlear implants and hearing loss and is working toward the Listening and Spoken Language Specialist certification. She has additional training and expertise in the areas of cleft palate and autism spectrum disorders and provides therapy in both English and Spanish. Therese is a current member of the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association. Therese’s goals in working at Rady Children’s are to help each child, no matter the special need, to better communicate and to empower parents to engage and teach their children.

stephanie-keffer-photoStephanie Keffer has been a speech-language pathologist since 2016 and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since 2016. Stephanie has interest in augmentative and alternative communication, early intervention, childhood speech and language disorders, cognitive communication disorders and treatment of medically fragile children. She received her master’s degree in communications sciences and disorders with the bilingual extension (Spanish) from Teachers College Columbia University. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Taylor Kesteloot has been a speech-language pathologist since 2015 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2017. Taylor’s special interests include early intervention, articulation/phonology, social skills and autism spectrum disorders. She is certified by the Hanen program to teach the More than Words program for parents. Taylor received her bachelor’s degree in Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona and her master’s degree in Speech-Language Pathology at San Diego State University. She is licensed by the State of California, holds a certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Photo - Speech - KramerAmanda Kramer has worked as a speech-language pathologist since 2009 and has been at Rady Children’s since beginning her career. She has expertise in the areas of voice, vocal cord dysfunction, resonance, cleft palate, and craniofacial disorders. She is trained in using PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets). Amanda is a member of the Rady Children’s Cleft Palate Team and works in other specialty clinics, including craniofacial disorders and nasoendoscopy. She also facilitates the First Step, Mommy, Daddy & Me (Spanish), Little Explorers and Hi-ways language programs. Amanda received her masters degree in speech, language and hearing sciences from San Diego State University, as well as a certificate in bilingual speech-language pathology. She is fluent in Spanish and provides services to bilingual families from around the county. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Kristen Lautenbach has been a speech-language pathologist since 2013 and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since 2017. Kristen has experience in traumatic brain injury, augmentative-alternative communication, apraxia, articulation, language disorders, autism spectrum disorder and medically complex patients. She is trained in the Social Thinking curriculum. Kristen received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from Purdue University. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

julia-leclerc-photoJulia Leclerc is an English-Spanish bilingual speech-language pathologist who has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since the beginning of her career in 2015. Her special interests include speech sound disorders, voice impairments, alternative and augmentative communication, and cognitive communication disorders. Additionally, she serves on the Rady Children’s Cleft Palate team. Julia received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Washington. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Photo - Speech - LlewellynDebbie Llewellyn became a speech-language pathologist in 1981 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 1986. Prior to working at Rady Children’s, she worked at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, where she was a member of the faculty and provided speech/language services at Oklahoma Children’s Hospital, O’Donoghue Rehabilitation Hospital and Oklahoma Memorial Hospital. She received her bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in communication disorders in 1980 and 1981 from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, Texas. In 2000, she received a second master’s degree in counseling psychology from Trinity College in Fullerton, Calif. Debbie specializes in cleft palate and craniofacial disorders, voice disorders, diagnostics, children with neurological challenges, and family relationships. She is nationally certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is licensed to practice in California.

Photo - Speech - Natasha MaxwellNatasha Maxwell has been a speech-language pathologist since 1997 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2000. Natasha has experience working with children in both educational and outpatient settings with various speech-language impairments, including dysfluency, articulation/phonology, developmental delays, autism, augmentative communication, and voice. She has expertise in the areas of diagnostics, early intervention, and early childhood language. Natasha received her master’s degree in speech-language pathology with a specialization in multicultural early childhood intervention from San Diego State University. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Kimberly Morris is a pediatric speech-language pathologist with extensive experience evaluating and treating feeding and swallowing impairments, as well as cognitive communication impairments in neonates through young adults. She is a board-certified specialist in swallowing disorders and an international board-certified lactation consultant. Kimberly joined Rady Children’s in 2018 and previously worked at AI duPont Hospital for Children in Delaware and Miller Children’s Hospital Long Beach. She is formally trained in fiberoptic endoscopic evaluations of swallowing and is a Modified Barium Swallow Impairment Profile registered clinician. She is involved in national research initiatives to optimize dysphagia outcomes for neonates with congenital heart disease and children who are tracheostomy-dependent. She also lectures across the country on these specialized topics.

Photo - Speech - Kathleen MunroeKathy Munroe joined Rady Children’s in November 2012. Previously, she worked for more than 20 years as a speech-language pathologist at Riley Children’s Hospital in Indianapolis. Kathy has extensive experience in diagnosing and treating a variety of pediatric communication disorders, with a specialization in developmental and acquired receptive and expressive language disorders secondary to autism, cerebral palsy, Down syndrome and acquired brain injury from traumatic brain injury, stroke, hypoxia and infections of the brain. She also specializes in childhood apraxia of speech, dysarthria, articulation and phonological processing disorders. Kathy is a member of the Down Syndrome Clinic at Rady Children’s.  She has been a certified brain injury specialist since 2007 and is also certified in three Hanen programs: It Takes Two To Talk, More Than Words for children with autism spectrum disorders and Target Words for Late Talkers. She has received specialized training in the PLAY Project (Play and Language for Autistic Youngsters) and the neuro-developmental treatment approach. Kathy received her bachelor’s degree in speech pathology and audiology from Purdue University and her master’s in speech pathology from Boston University. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Photo - Speech - QualmanHaven Qualman has been a speech-language pathologist since 1995 and has worked at Rady Children’s for most of her career. Haven specializes in the evaluation and treatment of feeding and swallowing disorders and brain injury. Haven received her master’s degree in communicative disorders from San Diego State University. She is licensed and certified in speech-language pathology and is a current member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and its California chapter. In 2009, she received board-recognized certification in the area of swallowing.

 

Courtney Rams has been a speech-language pathologist since 2015 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2017. Her special interests include early intervention, articulation/phonology, social skills and autism spectrum disorders. Courtney has experience working in hospitals, schools and private therapy clinics. Courtney received her bachelor’s degree in speech, language and hearing sciences and her master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Wyoming. She is licensed by the State of California, holds a certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of ASHA.

Photo - Speech - Melissa SartoriMelissa Sartori has been a speech-language pathologist since 2009 and has worked at Rady Children’s Hospital since 2011. Melissa’s areas of expertise include social skills/autism spectrum disorder and augmentative-alternative communication. She also has extensive knowledge in early intervention, childhood speech, and language development and disorders. She is a member of the Feeding Team and Cochlear Implant team. Melissa received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech-language pathology from University of the Pacific. She has previously worked in schools, outpatient clinics and hospital settings. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA and the California Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Photo - Speech - Cyndi SmithCynthia Smith has been a speech-language pathologist since 2010 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2012. She has special training in autism spectrum disorders. Prior to becoming a speech therapist, Cynthia taught children with autism spectrum disorders for more than 10 years using applied behavioral analysis. Her other areas of interest include feeding disorders, articulation and phonological disorders, motor speech disorders such as childhood apraxia of speech, and augmentative and alternative communication. Cynthia received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s degree in communication disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas. In Dallas, she worked as a speech therapist for both the public school district and a private speech clinic. She is licensed and certified in speech-language pathology and is a current member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Cynthia’s goal in working at Rady Children’s is to help children improve their speech and language skills and reach their highest potential.

Darlene Valdez SpeechDarlene Valdez has been a speech-language pathologist since 2015 and has worked at Rady Children’s since September of 2016. Darlene has special talents and passions in the areas of early intervention, receptive/expressive language disorders, articulation/phonological impairments, speech dysfluency, autism and AAC. She received her bachelor’s degree from California State University San Marcos in Spanish with a minor in linguistics and her master’s degree from New Mexico State University in communication disorders with a Spanish-English bilingual certificate. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Amanda Wacenske is our lead speech-language pathologist. She has worked in the field since 2009 and has been at Rady Children’s since beginning her career. She has expertise in the areas of voice, transgender voice, vocal cord dysfunction, resonance, cleft palate, craniofacial disorders, bilingualism and early intervention. She is trained in using PROMPT (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Muscular Phonetic Targets) and Hanen: More Than Words. Amanda is a member of the Cleft Palate team and works in other specialty clinics, including craniofacial disorders and nasoendoscopy. She has facilitated a number of group programs, including First Step and Mommy and Daddy & Me. Amanda received her master’s degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences from San Diego State University, as well as a certificate in bilingual speech-language pathology. She is fluent in Spanish and provides services to bilingual families from around the county. She is licensed by the state of California, holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a current member of the ASHA.

Developmental Specialist

Afsaneh Ezzatyar received her Master of Science in child development from San Diego State University. Afsaneh aims to provide quality education and evidence-based services to children and families experiencing challenging life circumstances through both her applied work and teacher-action research. She served as an after-school teacher for several years and used art therapy curriculum to help children with challenging behavior in that setting. She designed and implemented curriculum to enhance problem solving, critical thinking skills, social skills and emotional regulation. She is currently working to provide services to children with developmental delays and their families.