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Elson S. Floyd College of Medicine

Speech and Hearing Sciences

Alumni and Friends

These pages are intended to maintain our connection with WSU Speech and Hearing Sciences alumni, donors and friends, providing updates on what is new in the department, and to let you know about our alumni events and news.

Notable Alumni

Dr. Anna C. Diedesch (B.A. ’04) earned her doctorate of audiology (Au.D.) from Wichita State University in 2008. She completed her Au.D. externship at the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) at the Portland VA Medical Center, where she continued to work for three years as a research audiologist upon the completion of her audiology degree. While at NCRAR, she worked on several grants, one of which focused on the effects of central auditory processing disorders associated with high intensity blast exposure sustained by our nation’s Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Dr. Diedesch recently returned to work on her Ph.D. focusing on the effects of aging and hearing impairment on sound localization.

Marty Laronal (M.A. ’01) has been a speech-language pathologist for the Muckleshoot Birth to Three Program in Auburn, Washington, since graduating from WSU. In 2008–2009, she provided speech and language services to the Muckleshoot Head Start Program. Marty is most excited about incorporating Whulshootseed (the Muckleshoot language) into the Muckleshoot literacy program, as well as in her therapy plans. She contracts with the Quileute Indian Tribe to provide speech and language services to infants in their Baby Face and daycare programs and to children aged 5 to 15 years in the Quileute Tribal School. Marty has served on the board of the United Indians of All Tribes Foundation from 2006–2009.

Rachel Tapper Zijlstra (B.A. ’94, M.A. ’98) is director of clinical services with Pro-Speech in San Diego. She has 8 full-time SLP colleagues and says “we work very hard to serve the community… From summer camps for users of augmentative and alternative communication (Camp TAALCC) to our ‘BabySign’ program, in which we teach parents and babies with profound hearing loss basic signs to facilitate early communication, to our phonological awareness-based reading programs (Reading STARS), Pro-Speech keeps me very busy. I enjoy the variety of this diverse, service-oriented environment, which can be hectic, but is always rewarding.”

Christiane Dechert (M.A. ’97) has been a clinical educator at the University of Wyoming since 2002. She worked in a variety of clinical settings in Wyoming and Colorado before joining the clinical faculty in the Division of Communication Disorders. In addition to teaching clinical skills to graduate students, she has taught undergraduate classes in phonetics, diagnostics, and speech disorders. In 2008, she was president of the Wyoming Speech Language Hearing Association. She is currently serving as Wyoming’s representative to the ASHA Advisory Council. She has a strong interest in multicultural issues and international service opportunities.

Sommer Kleweno Walley (B.A. ’95, M.A. ’97) joined Harborview Medical Center (HMC) in Seattle, Washington in 1998 as a speech-language pathologist. She then applied to the Master of Healthcare Administration program at the University of Washington in 2007. As an executive program, it allowed her to continue to work as the clinical specialist for speech pathology at Harborview, while attending school in the evenings and weekends. She graduated with this degree in 2009 (while manager of rehabilitation therapy on the acute care and burn services). Shortly after graduation, she was promoted to Director of Rehabilitation Services at Harborview. She moved into an administrator role in 2013 with responsibility over inpatient and outpatient operational areas and procedural areas, along with various service lines. With her previous clinical experience and now business, finance and policy background, she continues in this role and feels that it is her job is to continue to ensure that mission populations receive the care they need. Sommer has served as the Past-President, Washington Speech-Language-Hearing Association and currently resides in Seattle, Wash.

Dr. Tim Saltuklaroglu (B.A. ’95) is an associate professor in the Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology at the University of Tennessee. Since receiving his Ph.D. in 2004, he has co-authored over 40 peer-reviewed publications on the nature and treatment of stuttering in addition to presenting his research at both national and international conferences. Dr. Saltuklaroglu is a person who stutters and entered the field of speech-language pathology to help others who stutter and learn more about the disorder. He has provided many different types of therapy for stuttering in the public school system and in university clinical settings to both children and adults who stutter.

Neil Aiello (B.A. ’88, M.A. ’92) is in private practice with his father, Dr. Frank Aiello, in Richland, Washington. They now have offices in Kennewick, Prosser, and Sunnyside, and hope soon to open another service center in northeastern Oregon. The centers offer a full range of diagnostic audiological and rehabilitative services include dispensing of hearing aids and assistive listening devices.

Sami O’Neill Cave (B.A. ’90, M.A. ’91) joined the Veterans Administration (VA) Puget Sound Health Care System in Seattle, Washington in 1993 and held positions as a staff audiologist, Chief of Audiology and Speech Pathology (while also holding an Adjunct Clinical Instructor position with the University of Washington), and as the Business Manager for Primary and Specialty Medicine. She transferred to the VA Office of Inspector General in 2010 and was the first audiologist ever hired into the Office of Healthcare Inspections. Sami currently serves as the Director for National Reviews. She has been active in VA research and has several published papers as co-investigator in the field of rehabilitative audiology. Sami currently resides near Philadelphia, PA.

Dr. Kresent O. Gurtler (M.A. ’88) earned his doctorate of audiology (Au.D.) from A.T. Still University’s Arizona School of Health Sciences in 2006. Dr. Gurtler holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and he is a fellow of the American Academy of Audiology. He was born and raised in Alaska. Currently, he is the managing member of Southern Arizona Hearing and Balance, L.L.C., in Sierra Vista, Arizona.

Brian Shute (M.A. ’86) is co-owner of Communicative Medical Clinic, Inc., one of only four nationwide service and supply companies to provide an extensive stock of communication aids for laryngectomy patients in the country. They also provide their own line of tracheostoma filters, approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

Robert Weeks (M.A. ’85) served as a speech-language pathologist with the Evergreen School District in Vancouver, Wash. after graduating with his master’s degree. In 1987, he accepted a position with Kaiser Permanente in Portland, Oregon, working in both inpatient and ambulatory care settings. He went on to work with the Developmental Assessment Clinic at Kaiser as part of a multi-disciplinary team. After 18 years in that role, he enrolled in the health care administrative certificate program at WSU Vancouver. Upon completing the program, he was selected to participate in Kaiser Permanente’s mentoring program, which led to a job offer within the organizational development department at the Portland corporate office, consulting and coaching leaders on their communication skills, emotional intelligence and leadership presence. Eventually, his career led him to become the director of learning and organizational development for the Kaiser Permanente region in Hawaii. He then elected to take a corporate office consultant role in 2009, traveling among all eight Kaiser regions. In 2016, he left the medical setting and accepted a position with The Adecco Group, a global staffing company. Robert currently serves as a performance consultant, providing leadership coaching, training and talent management/pipeline development consultation and resides in Jacksonville, Fla.

Trish (Nagel) Niehl (B.A. ’79, M.A. ’80) is system director for Franciscan Health System Therapy Services (PT, OT, and SLP) based in Tacoma, Washington. She is responsible for inpatient and outpatient therapy operations of five hospitals and five PT clinics in the south Puget Sound region.

Dr. Pat Feeney (M.A. ’79) is the Director of the VA National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the VA Medical Center in Portland, OR. He received his PhD at the University of Washington (UW). He is the past Chief of Audiology in the Department of Otolaryngology, HNS at the UW. He conducts research on the assessment of peripheral auditory function and adult hearing screening. He is a Past President of the American Academy of Audiology.

Dr. Stephen A. Fausti (B.A. ’65) directs the VA’s National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research at the Portland VA Medical Center and is a professor in the Department of Otolaryngology at Oregon Health and Science University. He gained international recognition for his pioneering research and clinical expertise in assessing high-frequency auditory sensitivity and using high-frequency testing for early identification of hearing loss caused by ototoxicity. Dr. Fausti received the Magnuson Award, the VA’s most distinguished honor for rehabilitation investigators, in 2004.


Contact Us

Nancy Fike
Director of Development