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Frank R. Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award Recipients

The Frank R. Kleffner Lifetime Clinical Career Award honors an individual's exemplary contributions to clinical science and practice over a period of no less than 20 years.


Gottfred_2016_KleffnerCatherine H. Gottfred
President and Founder
Language Empowers All People
Chicago, Illinois

Catherine (Katie) Gottfred is honored for more than 30 years of dedication and significant contributions to promote effective communication for children through advocacy, research, and leadership. She is well known for founding the nonprofit organization Language Empowers All People (LEAP) to advance language, literacy, and social development for children in low-resource classrooms in inner-city Chicago. In an effort to have a wider impact and to reach more students, she developed a partnership between LEAP and Chicago schools to train teachers and parents working with students. The organization's programs provide support to families and educators throughout the social development process and provide services to allow youth to access higher education and job training, impacting tens of thousands of at-risk students and teachers in the city. Children at the highest risk for poverty and unemployment have been transformed by this program which has ultimately enriched the learning so pivotal to communication and literacy skills, and to life success. 


2015-McMicken-KleffnerBetty L. McMicken
Associate Professor Emeritus
California State University, Long Beach
Adjunct Faculty, Chapman University
Lake Forest, California

Betty McMicken is honored for more than 40 years of contributions to clinical service and clinical education in medical speech-language pathology. She initiated a model early in her career for services with stroke patients in Orange County’s acute hospitals, resulting in 30 hospital-based departments with standards that were eventually adapted statewide and in national centers. Prominent is her lifetime effort to establish and staff volunteer speech-language pathology clinical service delivery models. A committed humanitarian, she worked tirelessly to establish these services, at a time when none were available, at the American Cancer Society for Laryngectomees and for the homeless at the Los Angeles Mission/Ann Douglas Center. These contributions, combined with her ongoing initiatives in research, teaching, and training, have substantially enhanced knowledge and practice for patients, students, peers, and the discipline.


2014_Fifer_KleffnerRobert Fifer
Director of Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
Mailman Center for Child Development, Department of Pediatrics
University of Miami School of Medicine
Miami, Florida

Robert Fifer is honored for contributions to clinical service, research, and teaching that span his first work in military settings to his lifetime efforts with the pediatric population. With clinical interests in auditory evoked potentials, central auditory processing, and auditory anatomy and physiology, he has focused on early detection of hearing loss in children. He played a guiding role on the Center for Disease Control's workgroup to establish the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention – Pediatric Audiology Links to Services, a web-based link to information, resources, and national directory of facilities that offer pediatric audiology services to children who are younger than five years of age. He has lectured extensively in South America and Asia, provided volunteer service to state and multiple national organizations, and has been a tireless advocate on the legislative and regulatory front to make the connection for the impact of health care economics on clinical practice.


2013_Holland_KleffnerAudrey L. Holland
Regents' Professor Emerita of Speech and Hearing Sciences
University of Arizona
Tucson, Arizona

Audrey L. Holland, a pioneer in clinical service to individuals with neurologic disorders, is honored for innovations in practice, teaching and research that transformed intervention for children and adults. Holland led new treatment approaches, from early work on melodic intonation therapy with nonfluent aphasia, to integration of counseling, to use of avatars and digital apps. A core member of the Life Participation Approach to Aphasia movement, she helped alter the framework for intervention after stroke and developed the Communication Activities of Daily Living assessment, which changed patient evaluation approaches. She was an early champion for treatment efficacy and spearheaded the AphasiaBank, a widely used research database and clinical resource. These achievements and more, combined with her sustained mentoring, administration, service and advocacy throughout the world, reflect her holistic dedication to patient welfare.


2012 Helm Estabrooks - KleffnerNancy Helm-Estabrooks
Professor Emeritus, Western Carolina University
Professor, University of North Carolina
Asheville, North Carolina

Nancy Helm-Estabrooks, a leader in the field of aphasiology for more than 40 years, is honored for ground-breaking contributions advancing the assessment and treatment of individuals with aphasia. She is well known for co-founding the approach of Melodic Intonation Therapy and has developed seven widely-used, standardized assessment instruments. Her published books and resources have provided theoretical and practical guidance for speech-language pathologists to improve sentence production, narrative discourse, and problem solving in individuals challenged by aphasia. Recently, Helm-Estabrooks has overseen the aphasia rehabilitation of Arizona Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords, bringing national attention to the critical role speech-language pathologist play in the treatment of individuals with brain injuries that affect communication.


2011_LutermanDavid M. Luterman
Professor Emeritus, Emerson College
Director, Thayer Lindsey Family-Centered Nursery for Hearing Impaired Children
Boston, Massachusetts

David M. Luterman, a master clinician and lifetime educator, is honored for his exceptional efforts to help professionals in the discipline of communication sciences and disorders incorporate effective counseling strategies in their clinical interactions. He has dedicated his career to a greater understanding of the psychological effects and emotions associated with communication disorders. Through his counseling model and strategies, he has had remarkable influence on both audiology and speech-language pathology, a rare achievement. His seminal textbook on counseling is in its 8th edition and continues to be used by nearly every graduate program in the country to train students in both professions. He has authored numerous other texts and presented over 300 workshops nationally and internationally. Those who learn from his fundamental theories cite his profound influence on their professional lives and on their ability to empower clients and family members to cope with a disability. The ASHFoundation commends Luterman for leading our field to value counseling with clients and their families as an integral and important part of our work.


2010Kleffner-RonGoldmanRonald Goldman
Professor Emeritus, University of Alabama
Birmingham, Alabama

Ronald Goldman is honored for more than four decades of pioneering work in clinical assessment and intervention in the areas of developmental speech and auditory skills. Known as a builder of bridges among constituencies, he has been a tireless advocate for the advancement of clinical research. He was one of the first to foresee the need and then develop reliable and valid assessment procedures and remedial programs for very young children. Among the major assessment tools he has authored or co-authored, he is perhaps best known for the Goldman-Fristoe Test of Articulation. He also led others to recognize that work in oral language is inextricably linked to literacy at a time before guidelines existed on the role of the SLP in literacy activities. Understanding the impact of commercial publication on clinical practice, he insisted that the rigor of empirical evidence support the use of commercial tools. His savvy business skills brought corporate participation and funding into the ASHFoundation, thereby accelerating clinical care. The ASHFoundation commends Dr. Goldman for his visionary contributions and his unwavering commitment to improving the quality of life for children and adults worldwide.


2009Kleffner-DianeBlessDiane M. Bless
Professor Emeritus, University of Wisconsin
Madison, Wisconsin

Diane M. Bless is recognized as a pioneer, innovator, and team builder in solving some of the most complex clinical problems in the realm of voice, airway, and resonance to address the unmet needs of persons with voice disorders. She revolutionized voice and resonance assessment and treatment, developed interdisciplinary treatment models and groundbreaking application of technologies, and mentored generations of clinician-scientists.

At the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Bless co-founded the Division of Otolaryngology Voice and Swallow Clinic and played a vital role in the development of the Cleft Lip and Palate/Craniofacial team while forging partnerships with world-renowned otolaryngologists. As professor emeritus, she continues to conduct research in the Division of Otolaryngology and directs an NIH-funded program in voice research.

As an early advocate of collaboration between speech-language pathologists and otolaryngologists to provide voice care, she moved the profession from relying on perceptual assessment to applying cutting edge technology. Her visionary and innovative contributions to the assessment of laryngeal function, particularly the use of videostroboscopy for laryngeal imaging, have been of seminal importance to speech-language pathologists and laryngologists worldwide. In her efforts to provide outcomes for evidence-based treatment, she accelerated clinical standards for using newer imaging techniques and gained widespread international recognition for translational research and landmark technology applications for the assessment and management of voice disorders.


Mark S. Ylvisaker Mark S. Ylvisaker
The College of Saint Rose
Albany, New York

Mark Yilvasaker is honored for more than 30 years of pioneering work with intervention for individuals with cognitive-communication disorders. He is recognized as a "giant" in the field of brain injury rehabilitation, most notably for influencing a paradigm shift in theory and practice worldwide, in many professions, and in both pediatric and adult domains. He is known for his integration of theories and philosophies drawn from psychology and communication. His early work was considered a radical orientation to rehabilitation as it expanded the field's limiting emphasis on impairments into a broader focus on daily life and the supports and barriers relevant to individuals' quality of life. He boosted the impact through his consulting and contributions to the professional literature, including books, journal publications, and national and international presentations. Generations of professionals have internalized his philosophies that positive behavioral momentum, personal choice and control, and positive everyday routines-all of which place a person with traumatic brain injury in the center of the decision-making process-are important practices. The ASHFoundation commends Ylvisaker as a champion of survivors with brain injury and for his far-reaching humanitarian, scientific, professional, and personal contributions.


Nickola Wolf Nelson Nickola Wolf Nelson
Professor, Department of Speech Pathology and Audiology
Director of Interdisciplinary Health Studies
Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, Michigan

Nickola Wolf Nelson is recognized for her visionary leadership, clinical excellence, and passionate advocacy for students with language learning disabilities. From her early work on the relationship between oral and written language processing by children with reading problems, which led to the first study of classroom discourse, Dr. Nelson has built a strong history of participatory field research upon which to base interventions. Her pioneering work has resulted in linkages between language research and clinical practice in authentic classroom settings. Through system theory and ethnographic principles of investigation, she has explored the interactive influences of context and created innovative approaches to assessing and treating children with language disorders across listening, speaking, reading and writing skills. She also developed the writing laboratory approach to addressing children's written and oral expression. Her collective work bridges the mission of the speech-language pathologist to meet the needs of the student struggling in the classroom with collaboration for the classroom teacher and special educator. She is known nationally and internationally for translating these concepts into practical applications for working clinicians and students, also reflected through her numerous textbooks, journal publications, and clinical materials. The ASHFoundation honors Dr. Nelson for significantly altering the way speech-language pathologists assess and treat school-aged language disorders and for changing the lives of hundreds of students.


Janina K. Casper Janina K. Casper

Janina Casper is recognized for her lifetime contributions as a clinician and clinical instructor, author, mentor, and lecturer in the area of medical speech-language pathology for more than five decades. Described as an innovator and team builder by her colleagues, Casper's knowledge and skills span from diagosis to evidence-based practice with a primary focus in voice and voice disorders. She was instrumental in conceiving and developing several unique programs in the Syracuse, NY area that continue to this day: the first Laryngectomee Rehabilitation Group, a vibrant Cleft Palate/Craniofacial Center, and involvement as one of the founders of The Syracuse Voice Center and its multidisciplinary team. Her career and reputation as the consummate professional and patient advocate is further complemented by her scholarly endeavors as co-author of two textbooks for practicing clinicians, one on laryngectomy and head/neck cancer rehabilitation and another on understanding voice problems. She has shared her expertise through more than 50 peer-reviewed publications, and through presentations and symposia in the US and abroad, and has served as co-investigator of several research projects.The ASHFoundation recognizes Casper for her multiple contributions as a respected clinical researcher and leading expert in voice care who has greatly advanced the discipline.


Edward Gage Conture Edward Gage Conture

Edward G. Conture is recognized for his lasting influence on the clinical practice of speech-language pathology, especially in the area of childhood stuttering, over more than three decades. Dr. Conture's work has moved the discipline of stuttering research and practice from a strictly motor approach and philosophy to understanding moments of stuttering as a language based phenomena. His recent research has focused on the linguistic processes of children who stutter as well as on the linkage of stuttering to temperament variables such as shyness and fearfulness. A proponent of multi-disciplinary treatment, he has worked closely with clinical psychologists in order to address the various emotional aspects so often associated with the disorder of stuttering. His laboratory is his clinic; he maintains a full weekly schedule of diagnostics, parent-child stuttering groups, and several individual therapy sessions, with clinical practice grounded in current theory and research. Among his colleagues, students, and families, he is recognized as a scientist, mentor, and master clinician. Internationally, he has earned a reputation as one of the world's leading authorities on childhood stuttering, and his work is represented in hundreds of publications, media, and presentations. The Foundation recognizes Dr. Conture for his lifetime body of research and clinical expertise that have transformed identification and diagnostic procedures and profoundly altered the management protocols used with children and adults who stutter.


Barbara Williams Hodson Barbara Williams Hodson

Barbara Hodson is honored for her pioneering work in phonology, representing a major paradigm shift in how phonological disorders are assessed and treated, particularly in understanding the phonological system of children who are profoundly unintelligible. Her clinical work is based on research, and she began practicing evidenced-based intervention long before it was widely discussed in the field. Her cycles intervention approach is recognized and used internationally. This treatment allows immediate success and builds self-esteem, often lacking in children with such pervasive impairments. Dr. Hodson has produced over 50 research-based clinical articles. She is perhaps best known for co-authoring the text, Targeting Intelligible Speech , and for developing the test, Assessment of Phonological Processes , now in their second and third editions. She continues to pursue cutting edge research with recent work documenting the exact nature of some of the relationships between early phonological skills and later literacy abilities. She has also expanded her work to metaphonological assessment and intervention and is currently piloting a tool for preschool children in this area. Due to her vision, hundreds of children have become effective communicators and better readers, and generations of professionals have accelerated their knowledge and skills.


David Daly David A. Daly

David A. Daly is honored for nearly 40 years of dedicated service as a clinical researcher, practitioner, teacher, and mentor. Daly's scholarly work and unique practice approaches have profoundly enhanced the lives of individuals who stutter, their families, and professionals. His professional interest arose from his personal journey with an unremediated fluency disorder throughout his youth and adolescence. His special expertise with cluttering disorders has helped the field to define, differentially diagnose, and treat an area previously neglected. Known as an international authority in fluency disorders, Daly has published three influential books, six book chapters, and more than 40 articles, with his treatment guides for stuttering and cluttering among the most widely used protocols in the field. His strategies for difficult-to-serve populations have inspired countless clinicians, and his motivational workshop presentations throughout the world have significantly advanced the state of the art of fluency treatment in the latter half of the 20th century.


Donnell F. Johns Donnell F. Johns

Donnell F. Johns was honored posthumously for his multiple contributions to clinical research and practice over 40 years of dedicated service to individuals with communication disorders.

As a clinical service provider, clinical researcher, clinical teacher, and clinical mentor, Dr. Johns worked throughout his career to expand theory and practice. He received his doctorate in speech pathology and audiiology jointly from Florida State University and the University of Minnesota in 1968, and was a pre- and postdoctoral Fellow in Neurology at the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine. A pioneering contributor to the arena of medical speech-language pathology, Dr. Johns was best known for his expertise with surgical rehabilitation of cleft/craniofacial disorders, communication disorders related to neurogenic pathologies, wound healing-tissue regeneration research, and resident graduate medical education. His keen diagnostic skills and creative intervention strategies spanned the full age spectrum from infancy to geriatrics. His colleagues note that his contributions in the operating theater are most unique. As first assistant on more than 800 pharyngeal flap procedures, it was his direction that guided the surgeon's hand and allowed proper surgical management for patients with orofacial pathology. His numerous publications and presentations extend across medical, surgical, and dental specialities. Dr. Johns was commended for bringing a far-reaching understanding and appreciation of the importance of contributions made by speech-language pathologists and audiologists to this cross-disciplinary audience.

Dr. Johns passed away in September 2002. He was told of his being named the 2002 Kleffner Awardee shortly before his death.


Elisabeth Hemmersam Wiig Elisabeth Hemmersam Wiig

Elisabeth Wiig-scholar, educator, mentor, editor, consultant, and specialty product designer/developer-is honored for over 30 years of clinical contributions in the assessment and measurement of language disorders in children.

Dually certified in audiology and speech-language pathology, she began her career as an educator in her native Denmark and continued to share her academic talents as professor at the University of Michigan, Boston University, and Texas Christian University. She extended her services beyond the classroom by publishing seminal professional textbooks and journal articles on language assessment and intervention and by developing diagnostic assessment tools. In 1989 she retired as full-time teacher to pursue her passion for exploring new ways in which to treat children, adolescents, and adults with language-learning difficulties. Dr. Wiig is perhaps best known for designing and developing The Clinical Evaluation of Language Fundamentals (CELF, in collaboration with Semel and Secord), a tool generally considered to be among the most reliable in diagnosing language disorders in children and adolescents. Currently president of the company she established in 1995, the Knowledge Research Institute, Dr. Wiig continues to dedicate her clinical ingenuity to enhancing the knowledge base for language-learning assessment and intervention strategies.


Laura Wiber Laura Ann Wilber

Laura Ann Wilber, professor of audiology and hearing sciences at Northwestern University, is recognized for nearly 50 years of clinical service, teaching, and professional advocacy.

Among her most prestigious contributions is work with the American National Standards Institute to develop standards for acoustic impedance measures, pure tone and bone conduction audiometry, and measurements for room noise and assistive listening devices. Wilber was among the first to recognize the need for professional licensure, and her scientific publications reflected contributions to detection of hearing disorders and test construction and reliability.


Margaret Lahey Margaret Lahey

The Foundation recognized Dr. Lahey for a professional career that has been entirely devoted to advancing clinical research and practice. She began as a speech-language pathologist in the schools, followed by university clinical education programs, private practice and program consultation. Her career as a practicing clinician led to her concern over the need for knowledge that could inform clinical practice with children who had problems in learning and using language. Her contributions have substantially influenced the lives of thousands of children.

Dr. Lahey has published widely on prosody and syllable structure, syntax, lexicon, writing, psychometric considerations, family history factors, and many other areas. She is perhaps best known for the Content-Form-Use language model, introduced in the landmark 1978 Lahey and Bloom text, Language Development and Language Disorders. This approach revolutionized clinical treatment in child language and continues to be an important guide. She has attracted great admiration and respect from countless clinicians, students, and peers in academia. As one nominator eloquently remarked, her name itself has become part of everyday clinical parlance as an adjective, a common noun, and even a verb. How many language clinicians have reported that they "Lahey'd the sample and he was at Phase 6?"

The Foundation honors Dr. Lahey for setting the example for clinical thinking and for her critical role as a unifying force for bridging science and clinical practice.


Martha Sarno Martha Taylor Sarno

Viewed by her colleagues as the preeminent clinical aphasiologist in the world, the Foundation recognizes Professor Sarno for her leadership in the development of clinical practice in speech-language pathology, specifically in neurogenic communication disorders. In 1949 she affiliated with the Rusk Institute, the first rehabilitation center in the country, and was one of the first speech-language pathologists appointed to a medical school faculty.

The scope of her pioneering work is vast, but she is perhaps best known for creating the first functional communication measure (1952, Functional Communication Profile), which has been revised and continues to be used as a clinical and research instrument. Functional communication both as a basis of measurement and a treatment objective is now universal in the profession. One of the first attempts to determine the efficacy of aphasia rehabilitation was described in a paper she co-authored in 1957. Numerous clinical studies followed and, in 1997, she published the first set of data to systematically show the changes in quality of life that may be associated with therapy during the first year post stroke. Considering the healthcare demands for accountability in the last 5 years, her 50 year dedication and work in this area is considered even more visionary.

Professor Sarno pioneered the development of publications for lay use by families, and she established one of the first education and support groups for families of aphasic patients in the 1950s. Her nominators note that, even in light of measured professional successes, her greatest achievement has always been putting clients, their families, their friends and their lives first. It is perhaps this interest that led her to found the National Aphasia Association (NAA) in 1987, a national advocacy organization committed to public education and the protection and care of the aphasia community. Her impact has been felt internationally, where her publications and books have been translated into as many as 12 languages, and in Ecuador, Columbia, Mexico, Sweden and Japan, where she has set up aphasia rehabilitation programs and organized international meetings. She has been awarded a Doctor of Medicine honoris causa by the University of Goteberg School of Medicine, Sweden, an honor generally reserved for physicians who have made outstanding scientific contributions in their field.

Above all, Professor Sarno's colleagues describe her as one of the most caring, intellectual, accomplished, innovative, and dynamic individuals they know. The Foundation honors her for her deep commitment to helping individuals and to actively contributing an extensive knowledge base to the field of communication disorders.


John C. Rosenbek


Harold L. Luper


Betty Jane McWilliams


Charles I. Berlin


Vivian Sheehan


Fred H. Bess


Frederic L. Darley


Alan S. Feldman


Bruce E. Porch


Wayne Olsen


Mark Ross


Tina E. Bangs

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