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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 worked as a research audiologist for three years focusing 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 began her Ph.D. at University of Washington and graduated with her degree from Vanderbilt University where she studied the effects hearing aid venting and compression settings on sound localization cues. Upon graduation, she took a postdoctoral position at the Oregon Health & Science University and was awarded the Hunt Postdoctoral Fellowship from the Acoustical Society of America for her work evaluating sound localization cues using modern hearing aids and settings. In 2017, Dr. Diedesch took a tenure-track position for Western Washington University’s new Doctor of Audiology program. She’s incredibly excited to be part of educating future audiologists and to continue with her binaural hearing aid research in her home state of Washington.

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.

Dr. Kostas Konstantopoulos (M.A. ‘96) was born in Athens (Greece) and completed his graduate education in the United States and the United Kingdom. He earned his doctoral degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from University College London, UK in 2004. He worked in clinical practice for over 15 years in the neurology units of many hospitals in Athens and the Institute for Neurology and Genetics in Cyprus, specializing in motor speech disorders and acquired neurogenic disorders. He joined the faculty of the European University Cyprus in 2011 as an assistant professor, specializing in motor speech disorders. He has published articles on the assessment of dysarthria using electroglottography and acoustics and he co-authored a neuroanatomy and neurophysiology textbook in 2019. As of 2020, he is associate professor and chair in the speech therapy department of the University of Peloponnese, the newest of the three state departments in Greece. He is a member of the British Neuroscience Association, the International Neuropsychological Society, the European Association of Parkinson’s Disease (E.P.D.A), and the Movement Disorders Society, and an international member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. Dr. Konstantopoulos resides in Athens, Greece with his family.

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 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 50 peer-reviewed publications on neural mechanism associated with speech perception, speech production and stuttering. He has received NIH funding for investigating sensorimotor mechanism involved in speech perceptions and how they differ in individuals who stutter. He has presented his lab’s 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 also 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) directs the Veterans Administration Office of the Inspector General (VA-OIG) National Reviews Division, responsible for evaluating VA healthcare issues system-wide. After graduating from WSU, Sami completed her clinical fellowship year at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, OR and then moved to Seattle as a staff audiologist for the VA Puget Sound Health Care System. Soon thereafter, she was promoted to chief of audiology, and in 2006 left clinical audiology and began her administrative career as the business manager for the Primary and Specialty Medicine service line at the VA Puget Sound Health Care system. In partnership with the chief of medicine, Sami directed the human resource issues, payroll, budget, credentialing and privileging, etc. for over 550 employees and 15 medicine subspecialties, including the emergency room, intensive care unit, gastroenterology, and radiation oncology. In 2013, she assumed the position of director for the newly-formed Seattle Healthcare Inspections Office and learned that she was the first audiologist ever hired into the VA-OIG. Sami assumed her current position as director of the National Reviews Division in 2016.

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 (B.A. ’84, M.A. ’86) earned his Ph.D in 2003 from Gonzaga University. He holds the clinical certificate of competence in speech-language pathology, is a board certified teacher in exceptional needs, and a licensed medical myotherapist. His areas of expertise range from forensic speech-language pathology and brain injury/post concussive syndrome to paradoxical vocal cord dysfunction, laryngectomy/artificial larynx/alaryngeal communication and dysphagia. Licensed in Washington State, California, and Colorado, Dr. Shute has provided forensic review, assessment, analysis, impact and predictive data in numerous legal cases. Outside of the clinic, Brian enjoys spending time with family, in the garden and coop, and cooking whole foods.

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.


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Nancy Fike
Director of Development