Communication Disorders Foundation of Virginia


SUMMER 2016:

Forward Thinking:  If you have not met Brenda Seal before--unlikely but possible!--you’ve undoubtedly heard of her.  She is a recognized leader (ASHA Fellow, SHAV Fellow) in the professions; a sought-after presenter at SHAV conferences; a highly-accomplished clinician, instructor, researcher, and administrator.  And so it is that we on the CDF Board are ever grateful that Brenda Seal took the presidential reins when longtime CDF President, Pat Dewey, stepped down from this position in January, 2016.  Now, a year-plus later, Brenda shares in conversation with FF some of her thoughts and observations about this line of work.

FF:  To stay relevant and effective, how can professional boards, councils, and other deliberative bodies respond to the constant change that surrounds them?

Brenda: My answer, Judy, is exactly what I tell the grad students I have the pleasure to teach: We are a highly literate profession (everything we’re about in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology) that requires us to read—a client referral summary, a progress note, a diagnostic billing code, a webinar’s new title, a revised code of ethics, a new book, relevant article, new practice portal protocols. Reading expands our perspective and keeps us informed when change occurs, and hopefully, prepares us for change. It affirms our self-worth.

Reading the SHAV-A-GRAM offers a visit to the Communication Disorders Foundation of Virginia, and to your [up until now, at least] interesting interviewsJ. Nah, seriously, if we could shout to the SLPs and AUDs in the state that we’re trying to do good for and by our future professionals, I’d wear a billboard around and carry a megaphone that informs others about our mission as a group of volunteers who support achievement and honor excellence in student and colleague accomplishments; we do fundraising for student scholarships. And we work pretty hard at it.

FF:  In your view, how important is CDF’s role as the only foundation dedicated to promoting the future of speech-language pathology and audiology in VA?

Brenda:  I recently heard part of an interview with Warren Buffet on NPR or PBS explaining why he gives billions to the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and I felt slightly “pumped” to hear him say that because it’s the ONLY ONE that offers as much good to the world. We’re the ONLY ONE in Virginia, the ONLY FOUNDATION dedicated to future speech-language-hearing professionals. We want to compound our interests with greater investments in Virginia’s training programs and students. Those scholarship investments pay great dividends in graduates who make a career difference. Just think of the value added to a $100 donation that supports a scholarship in 2017 or 2018—compounded over a professional career of 30 years—Nice returns, as Warren would encourage!

FF:  How can CDF meet the challenge of attracting and keeping supporters’ attention in today’s demanding world?

Brenda: Back to reading, at least for this interview. Reading the SHAV program showcases the Annual CDF Auction that essentially turns donors’ stuff into 4 or 5 thousand dollars that we turn into scholarships every year. Reading the applications from the University programs (come on faculty and students, ask us to invest in you) enables us to identify somebody who gets a supportive check honoring two of our state heroes. Reading our webpage showcases the scores of names who make a donation to the Foundation, donations of things and money. Reading the Student Posters at the SHAV Conference’s special session dedicated to student scholarship offers many of us a huge smile as we give away another $1000 for learning! It’s powerful!

FF:  In pursuing its mission, what kinds of new ideas should the CDF Board be exploring?

Brenda: How to reach Warren Buffet? Honestly, Judy, you know that this is an ever-pressing question with the Foundation. How can we raise more money? Be more visible with the graduate students and faculty at the Universities we support? Be more visible with the SHAV members? I’ll pose the questions to everyone else: What ideas can you give us to improve our fundraising and giving? Let’s talk about it. Help us raise some new ideas.

FF:  How can readers of this column contribute ideas to the CDF Board?

Brenda: I’d say the same, by contributing—preferably money, but ideas, too. I think I shared with the Trustees at one of our CDF meetings last year that all my digging into fund-raising has repeatedly yielded the same answer: ASK. Apparently, personal donations make the biggest impact to foundations over time. And it makes sense. I know it’s not comfortable for many people to ask for money, and even less comfortable to be asked FOR money, but that’s what we do, as a Foundation, we ask people to give money so we can give to the future. I wonder if Bill and Melinda asked Warren or if he approached them first. Anyone have a contact number or email?

FF:  Thanks, Brenda, for your thought-provoking and occasionally humorous answers!  I predict that your unbridled enthusiasm will move our readers, just as Warren Buffet’s words pumped you.  And that’s good news for all of us:  CDF and the professions win. 

—Judy Rassi, Contributor

FALL 2016:

Scholarly Words
:  Every year, CDF has the great pleasure of introducing its student scholarship recipients to the donors who continue to support this important program.  2016 is no exception.  Through their insightful words below, Taylor Miller Meyer of James Madison University, the Rita Purcell-Robertson Scholarship awardee, and Megan Bell of Radford University, the David H. Narburgh Scholarship awardee, hereby substantiate their worthiness as this year’s winners.

FF:  What does receiving this scholarship mean to you?

Taylor:  I am honored to have received this scholarship.  One of the first things I did when I was writing my application was do some reading about Rita Purcell-Robertson.  By all accounts, she was an amazing woman who devoted her life not only to improving the lives of people with communication disorders but also to advocating for our profession and passing on her knowledge and experience to the next generation.  To have received a scholarship in her name is both empowering and humbling.  It makes me proud of what I have accomplished and strengthens my resolve to continue to go above and beyond to do my part to make the world a better place.

Megan:  It is such an honor to receive this scholarship from the Communication Disorders Foundation of Virginia.  I am thankful for the opportunity to apply this money towards my coursework at Radford University as I work toward my career goals as a speech-language pathologist.   This scholarship also means the chance to be recognized for my hard work thus far in my education and the belief in my ability to continue to work hard and collaborate with my peers during my career.

FF:  Of the many clinical and research advances you have learned about in your graduate education program, which ones are especially interesting to you?  How might they impact the future of our field?

Taylor:  I am interested to see what changes advances in brain imaging technology will bring to our field.  Neuroimaging has come a long way in a very short time and has the potential to significantly evolve our understanding of nearly every disorder in our scope of practice.  With greater understanding of the mechanics of a disorder come more specific and effective treatment methods.  I have a particular interest in working with military personnel who have sustained combat-related TBIs.  Blast-induced TBIs, which are now the most common form of brain injury among military personnel, are beginning to be examined in more detail as we improve our use of neuroimaging.  I hope that I can contribute to this research in order to improve treatment outcomes for these patients.

Megan:  I am currently very interested in learning about transgender voice therapy as this is a topic and community that has been gaining much attention in the last couple of years.   Focus on and research in transgender voice therapy will continue to open up possibilities for people who strive to feel most comfortable in their own skin.  In addition to transgender voice therapy, I look forward to the future of literacy research and clinical advances in hopes of providing many young individuals with the opportunity to excel and succeed in our literacy-dependent country.

FF:  It is striking that both of you have expressed special interest in areas that are directly related to nationally-discussed issues.  In your view, how can our field continue to be relevant as it seeks to address contemporary matters during the years ahead?

Taylor:  I believe the future of our field lies in interprofessionalism.  Research has shown that patient outcomes are most favorable when they are treated by an interprofessional team.  As SLPs, we have extremely specialized knowledge and work across a variety of settings and cases.  Oftentimes, our expertise is only one piece of the puzzle, and by working closely with other healthcare professionals, we have the opportunity to advance what our field can offer in terms of patient care.

Megan:  I think speech-language pathology will continue to grow in demand and be relevant as a means to provide all individuals with every opportunity for success.  I expect professionals in this field will keep up with national issues that directly affect services provided by an SLP, and research and clinical work will reflect these evolving needs.  It is an exciting time to be a part of such an exceptional and dynamic career!

FF:  Thank you for your thoughtful, enthusiastic answers.  Your analytical skill is impressive, your optimism heartening.  With persons like you at the helm, the viability of our field and the strength of its leadership are assured.  We have learned once again that the potential impact of each and every CDF scholarship is limitless.            Contact: