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Honors of the Association

Laura Dennis

This award recognizes an individual whose contributions to the discipline of human communication sciences and disorders has been of such magnitude that her impact on the discipline and the professions of speech language pathology and audiology through clinical practice, teaching, research, administration and legislative activity are recognized throughout the professional community.  This year’s recipient is Laura G Dennis.  The Clinical Fellow Supervisor training program provided annually by her company and her achievements through NASL. Laura, in her capacity as Vice President of Clinical Services for Restore Therapy, was the driver in the development of and is a key trainer for an annual Clinical Supervisor Training event. The purpose of this annual training event is to ensure Clinical Fellow Supervisors have the skills and knowledge necessary to supervise Clinical Fellows and ensure those Clinical Fellows receive an outstanding Clinical Fellow experience with top notch training to enable them to provide comprehensive, state of the art therapy to residents of Alabama, Arkansas, Missouri and Florida in need of speech language pathology services.  
Not only does this training benefit Clinical Fellows, but it is also of great benefit to those who serve in the supervisor role. The Clinical Fellow Supervisor training is held annually in an effort to ensure that those Speech – Language Pathologists who are functioning in the roll of Clinical Fellow Supervisor remain current not only in clinical practice and direct patient care, but also in the constantly changing regulatory arena.  

Distinguished Service Award


Betty Bell

This award recognizes an individual, agency, businesses or organization that has made significant and sustained contributions to the association that have resulted in an obvious improvement/increase in the association’s ability to serve its membership.  A native of Texas, Betty Bell knew at an early age that nursing was a calling she felt deeply. After receiving her degree in nursing from the University of Texas, she left her beloved Texas behind to pursue a master’s degree in developmental nursing from the University of Florida.  Armed with her nursing degrees, Betty went to work at the Mailman Center for Child Development at the University of Miami.  While there, she grew interested in working with children with special needs and soon began post-graduate studies in the care of children with special needs at the University of Washington.  In 1970, Betty received a call from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.  UAB was interested in bringing early intervention to Birmingham through a federal grant.  She became the director of the Center for Developmental and Learning Disorders (CDLD), the program that she directed for 11 years until a loss of federal grant monies forced UAB to close the program. But even as the program closed, the need for early intervention in Birmingham continued to grow.  Betty met with several members of The Service Guild one evening in April 1984.  They asked her questions about how to structure a program, how to run it, and what kinds of services to offer.  And before they left, they asked Betty to help them establish the program.  Just six months later, The Service Guild’s Early Intervention Program opened.  Betty served five children that year in a borrowed Sunday School classroom at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood.  When more space was added, more children came, and when more children came, there was need for more space.  And in 1994, The Service Guild purchased the building in Homewood to house the growing program.  In April 2002, the facility was renamed The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs in honor of Betty’s lifelong commitment to children with special needs. 

Loretta G. Brown Award


Sandra Liddell

This award recognizes an individual who has had a long and distinguished career in the provision of services and the support of speech-language pathology and/or audiology in the schools.   Sandra Liddell is the recipient of this award this year. Sandra works at Creekview Elementary School.  Paige Kendrick, a co-worker and friend had this to say: “Sandra always puts her students first. She has remarkable success with their progress towards goals for articulation, language, and fluency. Her ability to work with children with autism and open up communication is amazing. She bridges the gap when communicating with parents. She is innovative and creates materials on her own to accommodate all children. There isn't a sound she can't correct. I'm always calling for advice and a listening ear. She supervises students even when she has large caseloads. She puts her students first and is the motto of a famous quote, "A teacher takes a hand, opens a mind and touches a heart." She has a long career that started in EI and moved into the schools, 34 years. She provides services and supports speech-language pathology in the schools. She has a distinguished career and the children love to see Mrs. Liddell!


Distinguished Clinical Achievement Award


Maggie Boyd

This award is presented to an individual who has distinguished himself in the area of clinical accomplishment.  Maggie Boyd has 24 years clinical experience as a Speech-Language Pathologist working with neonates to geriatrics and has been a board certified swallowing specialist for the past 8 years.  She has worked with patients with a wide range of neurological disorders, spinal cord impairments, and general medical diseases resulting in various speech/language/cognitive disorders and/or dysphagia. Additionally, she has extensive experience in both flexible endoscopic and fluoroscopic evaluations of oropharyngeal and esophageal dysphagia.  Maggie introduced the use of flexible endoscopy at UAB for diagnosing swallowing problems based on Susan Langmore’s FEES protocol.  She has spoken at the American Speech & Hearing Association (ASHA), Speech & Hearing Association of AL (SHAA), UAB Medical Speech Pathology Symposium, and in-house seminars provided for physician and nursing continuing education on various topics related to the afore mentioned topics.  She has provided progressive supervisory experience that includes mentoring/training seasoned SLP clinicians and graduate interns/clinical fellowship graduates in the acute-care, rehab, and sub-acute care settings at UAB to use flexible endoscopy. Most recently, Maggie has been working closely with GI doctors on the use of modified transnasal esophagoscopy (mTNE) and has completed extensive independent studies of normal /abnormal esophageal anatomy/physiology as it relates to swallow function.  She has committed to staying abreast of cutting-edge swallowing rehabilitation knowledge and sharing it with fellow colleagues. The individual who nominated her said this, “ Maggie graduated from the University of Montevallo. Maggie, a speech language pathologist and Clinical Swallowing Specialist has been at Spain Rehab for approximately 20 years.  Early in her career she was responsible for introducing FEES to UAB and they later purchased equipment to complete bedside FEES throughout the hospital.   She has been instrumental in teaching staff and numerous students how to use the equipment and to effectively evaluate and treat swallow disorders.  She continues to teach and lead the way in the field of swallowing at UAB.  She regularly shares her experience with graduate classes and students visiting UAB.   Maggie loves the work she does and always treat patients with kindness and respect.  Maggie's dedication to her profession and to her patients make her a good candidate for this award.”  


The AAC Professional Award


Sonia Cleckler

The AAC Professional Award is presented to the individual who has distinguished herself in the area of AAC through contributions of awareness and/or training in the use of AAC.  This year’s recipient is Sonia Cleckler.  Sonia is employed by Children’s Rehabilitation Service as the SLP Program Specialist.  Since she took on that role in 2013, Sonia has begun to tirelessly work on the task of device acquisition and funding for users in the state of Alabama.  As the state Medicaid reader, Sonia has made the task of funding pursuit clearer and more accessible for clinicians.  She has held trainings on funding, explaining the rationale for detailed forms, necessary wording on reports, and answering tireless questions.  She has made the process transparent-which is no small gift in a world of rules, details and regulations.  She is readily available for those both new and seasoned to the funding process and is always informed and aware of new rules and when they will be implemented.  Sonia is detail oriented, driven, and enthusiastic.  It’s not that she loves paperwork, but that she deeply cares about the people with whom she connects.  She’s an advocate for the clinicians with whom she works.  She understands that they have a tireless job and that a lengthy report is just another hurdle to jump over.  She’s an advocate for the family and user, knowing that they need the most efficient and effective device they can use and that they need the funding.  Sonia sees hurdles for the process and works with administration to solve them.  She has worked tirelessly with her SLP team at CRS to open up ATC clinics to more diagnoses.  She has worked with funding sources and DME’s to consider approving more devices at a less costly rate.  She understands the process is slow and she never stops pushing to help users, families and clinicians get what they need to be successful.  Sonia’s attention to detail, passion and thankfully humor make the process of funding and device acquisition more transparent in a world of haziness.  Her ability to make something hard much easier has been a gift to all that work in the area of AAC.

The AAC Achievement Award


Lance McLemore

This award recognizes an individual who uses AAC as their primary mode of communication and has made significant gains in communication.  Lance McLemore is this year’s recipient.  The SLPs and staff at United Ability nominated him this year.  These are the words of Meredith Hankins: Watching Lance grow as a leader in the state of Alabama as an AAC user and now as a mentor and model for AAC users nationwide, has been one of the most inspiring journeys I have ever witnessed.  Instead of allowing his verbal limitations to define his place in this world, Lance has used his brilliance with communication to open up possibilities and inspire other AAC users, families, and their providers.  Lance is currently employed by the Center for AAC and Autism.  He travels nationally as a speaker and representative for both the Center for AAC and Autism and as a representative of the AAC community personally.  Lance has a unique perspective that gives insight and hope to users, parents, and providers.  He sheds light on the feelings of users, how the gift of communication impacts those with a limited voice, and how simple adjustments to systems and access can impact the efficiency and effectiveness of communication exchanges.









Student Membership Award

The SHAA Student Membership Award is given to the program with the most student members of SHAA:

Samford University

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