Meet the 2016 SLP of the Year-Keleigh J. Sabourin!

Growing up, Keleigh spent time talking with adults and assisting the Activity Director at a family owned Rest Home.  The experience was so positive that she received just as much joy and contentment as the residents.  Keleigh introduced "Pet Therapy" to the residents, which was a success story in itself.  Keleigh was chosen as the first place winner of her high school Science Fair competition by providing evidence that weekly pet therapy brought down the blood pressure of older adults significantly.

After earning a Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 1993, Keleigh completed her CFY in a hospital setting, working with both children and adults.  In 1994 she was hired as a substitute SLP in the Bristol-Warren Regional School District. Keleigh felt so fortunate to have so much support in her first school setting.  She will always remember her Bristol-Warren friends, who made her feel so welcome from the first day she entered the building.  Keleigh has also worked in the Cranston Public Schools and the ESY program in the Jamestown School.

For the past 18 years Keleigh has been working at the North Kingstown School District.  Currently working at the Stony Lane Elementary School, Keleigh feels so grateful to be working with such a supportive staff and talented Speech-Language Pathologists.  Keleigh as been a member of RISHA and ASHA since her graduation from URI.  Also a long-time member of the RISHA Schools Committee, Keleigh currently co-chairs the committee with a URI graduate friend, Lynn Feldman.


Meet the 2017 RISHA Scholarship Winner!

The RISHA Scholarship Committee is pleased to present our $1,000 scholarship to Kimberly Dahl. Kimberly is a graduate student at the University of Rhode Island with an expected graduation date in 2018.  She has an undergraduate background in linguistics and an impressive volunteer record in both Rhode Island and Texas, where she completed her undergraduate work in linguistics at the University of Texas. Kimberly has a special interest in adult services, including transgender voice therapy and the intersection of speech and gender identity.  We wish her much success as she continues her studies in Speech-Language Pathology!

Meet the RISHA 2015 SLP of the Year

Congratulations to Mary Boyle, the 2014-2015 Rhode Island’s SLP of the year!

The Director of Student Services in Narragansett praised Mary by stating , “Mary continues to support students, families, and colleagues through the Narragansett School District and beyond. Mary has taken the district initiative of Digital Literacy and has expanded this into her practice as a tool to support student’s generalization of skills…. Mary’s kind yet data driven approach allows for parents to see the true level of expertise she holds…. Mary has a true belief that all students can learn and as an IEP member advocates for the best interest of her students."

Another colleague wrote, “she is knowledgeable in many areas of our discipline including but not limited to working with students with autism, hearing impairments, cognitive and social communication impairments."

And yet another fellow SLP stated, "Mary is the type of person that everyone wants on their team. She is upbeat, positive, and always willing to consult her colleagues in Narragansett o therapy techniques and evaluation tools. Her depth and breadth of experience is a tremendous asset to our school system."

Meet the RISHA 2014 SLP of the Year

Ellen Moore was selected as RISHA's 2014 SLP of the year.  Ellen currently works in the Warwick School Department. She was nominated by Joanne Sturgeon a former URI student intern.  Ellen was a dental hygenist for 21 years when she decided to go back to obtain her Master's Degree in Speech/Language Pathology.  She was admitted to the URI CMD program in 1994 and received her BS in 1996 and was admitted into the graduate program in CMD at URI.  Ellen was introduced to RISHA when she was the president of URI's NSSLHA chapter.  Ellen was one of the first recipients of the Patricia Stephens Scholarship from RISHA.  After graduating from URI in 1998 Ellen worked as a substitute SLP in the Hope School District and in the Warwick School Department.  Ellen was hired in Warwick in 1999 and has worked there for the past 15 years.  Ellen has been blessed to work at the same school for her entire career.  The teachers and staff at Oakland Beach Elementary School have been very supportive of Ellen's efforts to address the communication needs of the students at the school.  Ellen feels extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with 16 other speech/language pathologists in Warwick that have been an inspiration to her.  The guidance she has received from her colleagues has made her a better SLP.

Ellen has enjoyed being involved in RISHA from the beginning of her career.  She has held the office of Recording Secretary, served as the Membership Chairperson and most recently the ASHA SEAL (State Education Advocacy Leader).  Ellen would like to thank RISHA for honoring her with this prestigious award.  Ellen will be stepping down as the ASHA SEAL as soon as a replacement can be found.  If you are interested in keeping RISHA informed about state education issues, please contact RISHA Office Manager Dora Arsenault at Ellen Connery at



It’s Not Just Speech by 2013 SLP of the Year Kathy Lake

It’s not JUST Speech
By Kathy Lake

When I realized that Alan Gravell was talking about me at the last RISHA Annual Conference in March as the recipient of the SLP of the year award, I was uncomfortable. Having been raised in a household where humility was prized and pride was disdained my discomfort made it difficult to even look around at all my smiling colleagues. From March to September, when I officially received the award, my feelings changed to being thrilled. It is a great honor to be recognized by RIDE and RISHA as the 2013 SLP of the Year.
After 37 years as a Speech/Language Pathologist I realize that I have morphed into a different kind of clinician than I was back in 1976. I learned that there is a ‘bag of tricks’ that every clinician carries. It is a bottomless bag with situation specific words, toys, games, pictures and books used artfully to elicit the best from each client. I learned that “thank you” from a family member, parent or student meant more than any gift card or even a raise. I learned that being an advocate for my clients is often more important than accomplishing a goal in therapy. But most of all I have learned that it is not JUST speech.
Over the years I have been in countless meetings where I heard the comment, “It’s just speech” when team members were considering initial evaluations, eligibility or service delivery. This phrase rankled me and I was forced to look at how this mindset came about. Team members often used this phrase to calm an upset parent minimizing the impact of the child’s delays. Some educators even added insult to injury by adding, “It’s not a real IEP, it’s just speech.” What part did I play in this?
For the sake of expediency I often remained silent. Later I realized how detrimental that silence was and started to use humor and then just plain talk to cue my team members into their inference. Soon they feared me and friends would let new members know, “Don’t say that around Kathy.” Now at the secondary level I use statistics since most of my current students were also my previous students 12 years ago.
SLPs have far reaching skills. To communicate is to be human. We enable clients to communicate optimally within various environments. What could be more important than that?
I am proud to be the RI Speech/Language Pathologist of 2013. Thank you.

Alan Gravell, Monika Bailey, Amy Exter, Deb Charzewski & Kathy Lake

Alan Gravell, Monika Bailey, Amy Exter, Deb Charzewski & Kathy Lake

RI SLP of the Year for 2013…Drumroll please….

Congratulations to Mrs. Kathy Lake, SLP in the North Smithfield School Department for being named RISHA's 2013-2014 SLP of the Year!!!!  Kathy has worked as a SLP for 36 years. She has worked in a variety of settings throughout her career.  As someone who nominated Kathy said, “In whatever setting Kathy has worked, she has demonstrated leadership skills and the highest quality of clinical skills. Her peers look to her for guidance and support which she gives willingly and without recompense. …She has been a member of RISHA and ASHA since she received her master's degree and has served on RISHA's Executive Board for over 20 years serving through the years as Recording Secretary, Corresponding Secretary, Membership Chair, CE Administrator…Kathy is an unsung hero of our profession and deserves to be recognized for her contribution to the field and as a public school speech/language pathologist.”




We have a Winner!!!


Congratulations to 2013 Scholarship winner Ms. Kristen Troy from URI!!!

Kristen is a first year graduate student in Communication Disorders. She is from Franklin MA. Kristen attended the RISHA luncheon with her mom at the Crowne Plaza on March 23 rd .

RISHA Annual Awards

RISHA awarded 4 certificates to members to recognize their efforts on behalf of the RI Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The members were recognized during the annual meeting at the conference on March 23, 2013 at the Crowne Plaza in Warwick. Awards will be made annually to members chosen for recognition in the areas of ; schools, private practice, medical and other service to the association.

The following individuals received awards for 2013.


Gail Robinson received an award for her long-term service as Conference Chairperson. Gail will be stepping down as chairperson but will continue to help make our annual conference a success. Thank you Gail! CBS Therapy received a private practice award for their ongoing generosity to RISHA. CBS has supported the scholarship fund with donations, a benefit conference. Mike Smith and Peter Erklauer have also donated their time to host executive board and annual meetings and serve as executive board members. Mike Smith will be stepping down as Scholarship Chairperson to spend more time on his company business and with his growing young family. Thank you to Mike and Peter.


Jessica Kaloustian received an award for her contribution to the association in reviving our Medical Facilities Committee. Jessica helped select medical speakers at past conferences and link the board to other professionals serving in RI medical facilities. Thank you Jessica!