BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Committed to the Cause
Tom Scharstein is an entrepreneur and person who stutters from South Florida, USA. Involved in stuttering support for over 23 years, he served on the NSA Board of Directors. Adult Chapters experienced an unparalleled period of growth with his oversight. The dream of bringing together world support group leaders began to emerge. Connect. Share information. Get more done. August 2020 saw the birth of the WSN with one main concept, "Better Together."
Program Development Chair & Vice Chair
Tricia Hedinger, MS, CCC-SLP, BCS-F is a clinical associate professor at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville, TN. She is a Board Certified Specialist in Fluency Disorders and has been a support group leader since 2013. Ms. Hedinger has published multiple articles related to stuttering, presented at national & international conferences, and co-authored a book titled "Bullyblossom: A Tale of Overcoming Bullies & Embracing Stuttering to Live a Life of Achievement." She focuses on the anti-bully movement in schools and is host of the "Stutter Stories" podcast.
MARVIN WILEY JR.
Online Event Chair & Treasurer
For numerous years, Marvin Wiley Jr. struggled with his stutter, which led him to avoid social interactions. At the age of 23, he birthed a belief that he could work towards developing himself into a more confident speaker. Inspired from his college public speaking course, he became a Toastmaster in 2013. He strives to bring the stuttering world together. We are all in it together. Marvin Wiley Jr. is is the creator & host of Stutter Block Party, a virtual hangout with a mix of breakout rooms designed specifically for people who stutter. He also serves as a Regional Chapter Coordinator for the NSA. Some of Marvin's other passions are video production and golf.
GERALD MAGUIRE, MD
Chair of Research & Development
Gerald Maguire, MD (Jerry) is professor and chair in Psychiatry and Neuroscience at the University of California, Riverside School of Medicine. Dr. Maguire is a Distinguished Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association (DFAPA). He has been listed in the "Best Doctors in America every year beginning in 2008. As a PWS, Dr. Maguire set forth on his mission to become a physician to understand how best to assist the stuttering community. He served as Chair of the National Stuttering Association and Vice Chair of the International Stuttering Association. Dr. Maguire presented at numerous stuttering support organizations across the world. He amplifies the voice of his fellow persons who stutter through advocacy, research and education.
International Advocacy Chair
Nathan graduated summa cum laude with honors from UCLA in June, where he received a B.S in Biology and B.A in Political Science. He is a Junior-elect to Phi Beta Kappa and a Fulbright Scholar. Nathan is founder and CEO of Stuttering Scholarship Alliance, a non-profit organization that tackles a critical issue in the field of speech therapy regarding its lack of access to low income communities. He also serves on leadership teams for several international speech disability awareness organizations. Nathan has conducted both cell biology and public policy research at UCLA David Geffen School of Medicine and the Luskin School of Public Affairs, where he published his work in top journals. As the senior policy intern for the City of Los Angeles Department on Disability, Nathan developed transformative public policy initiatives that created jobs for the thousands of unemployed or homeless persons with disabilities in Los Angeles. Nathan aspires to a career as a physician-researcher-policymaker focusing on improving the quality of care and reducing the disparities for disabled persons in healthcare systems. He currently attends Harvard University pursuing a medical degree in addition to a Master's in Business Administration from Stanford's Graduate School of Business.
CYNTHIA DACILLO SENAGA
Awareness & Social Media Chair
Cynthia is a speech therapist from Peru. She became passionate about stuttering in 2015 when she finished a stuttering specialization. She has a master's degree in Neuroscience and Education. Cynthia works with young, teenagers and adults who stutter and their families. She has a YouTube channel where she invited people from different countries to talk about stuttering. Cynthia enjoys reading, listening, meeting and learning from stories of people who stutter!
Women & Diversity Advocacy Chair
Sigríður, originally from Iceland and currently residing in Kiruna, Northern Sweden, will be graduating with a masters in adult education in 2021. She is an avid fighter for human rights, has a fondness for languages and is interested in different cultures, views, and politics. Sigríður has served as the chair of Málbjörg, the Icelandic Stuttering Association for the last few years. In 2019 she joined the International Stuttering Association’s board of directors. Sigríður is currently involved in Swedish and transnational projects, revolving around education, awareness and accessibility for people who stutter. Sigridur has found peer to peer meetings to be at the heart of any stuttering association. She believes that providing support for peer-to-peer meetings, will help stuttering associations grow and vice versa. An open and supportive community is key.
Far East Development Chair & Secretary
Jia was born and raised in China. She has been a language teacher (English & Mandarin Chinese) who has taught in China, the UK and the USA. Jia's passion for helping others to communicate over the last 10 years has led her to become open about her own experiences of stuttering in various cultures. Jia is an active member of the NSA and has served as a regional chapter coordinator. She is the former host for StutterSocial, and was featured on StutterTalk podcast on several occasions. Jia is also a founder of a Chinese podcast and hosted online support sessions for a Chinese community. Jia is currently a graduate student in communicative science and disorders at Michigan State University.
Central & South American Development Chair
Jhoan Stiven Gallego Bermúdez, was born on September 11, 1991 in the city of Cali in the country of Colombia in South America. Graduated as a Fonoaudiólogo (Speech Language Pathologist) in 2019. Diploma in Attention and Prevention of Stuttering with the Ibero-American Association of Stuttering, trained in disorders of Fluency with the Argentine Association of Stuttering. Leader of the support group for people who stutter in Colombia called Libera Tu Speech. Founding President of the Colombian Foundation of Stuttering. Person who stutters, passionate about stuttering, recognizing it as his life mission, thus finding the why of stuttering in his life; to disseminate, guide, investigate, promote respect and inclusion towards the person who stutters and improve communication quality.
Australian Development Chair
Rich Stephens is the President and Programming Director of SAY: The Stuttering Association For The Young Australia and a person who stutters. Rich, originally from Manchester, UK, moved to Melbourne, Australia, in 2018 to help establish a community of acceptance, love, empathy, and deep-listening for young people who stutter and their families in Australia. He holds Bachelor of Science Degrees in both Mental Health Nursing and Speech Language Therapy, as well as a Master of Science Degree in Neuroimaging for Clinical and Cognitive Neuroscience.
Rich joined SAY, US, in 2015 as a volunteer bunk counsellor at Camp SAY. In subsequent years Rich became part of the Camp SAY leadership staff and he attributes his time with SAY as the single most influential factor in helping him to form a stronger, more positive and healthy relationship with his stutter.
Rich is highly passionate and motivated to create, and help others create, a world where young people and adults who stutter have the opportunity to connect with one another in safe and supportive communities where they are truly seen, heard, and loved, and where they are free to express themselves while knowing that it's OK to stutter.
African Development Chair
The passion to understand all about stammering made Emmanuel Kwaku Addo to join a national support group for Persons who Stammer (PWS) in Ghana in the year 2018. After joining one of their meetings, he realized the need to become an active advocate for PWS and to help others like himself. He has not looked back after that meeting.
He has a bachelor’s degree in medical laboratory sciences and is currently studying for a master’s degree in speech and language therapy. He aspires to be one of the leaders in stuttering research and support groups in Africa. He is the general secretary of the Ghana Stammering Association
Indian Development Chair
We are waiting to see how Aashima will change the world! Stay tuned.
Irish Development Chair
Jamie started to stutter in early childhood. He is a former National Champion in Tae Kwon Do and a proud member of the Irish Stuttering Community. Having struggled with the challenges of stuttering for almost twenty years, Jamie reached out and asked for help. Speaking powerfully now, Jamie has transformed himself and actively advocates for Stuttering and Mental Well-being Awareness. During his time working at Munster Technological University, Jamie set up the first mental health initiative for twenty-two secondary schools in the Cork community. Jamie is the author of "Access The Students Voice" and is often featured on radio and TV promoting Stuttering Awareness and Mental Wellbeing issues. Jamie has represented the Irish community all over the world and has addressed Irelands highest ranking members in the political sector on stuttering.
DR. YOSHIKAZU KIKUCHI
Japanese Development Chair
Yoshikazu Kikuchi. MD, PhD is a Japanese doctor who stutters and has been a member of a stuttering self-help group for 20 years. Dr. Kikuchi is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Otorhinolaryngology in the Graduate School of Medicine at Kyushu University in Fukuoka, Japan. He has an M.D. in magnetoencephalography of hearing in people who stutter. His interests include brain research, drug research, social anxiety disorder, employment support, anti-bullying, and parent support, etc. He will be in Southern California for 6 months starting in October 2022 to work with Dr. Gerald Maguire.
FARAH AL QAISSEH
UAE Development Chair
Farah Al Qaisseh is a mother of 3 boys, an award-winning entrepreneur, and a consulting hypnotist. Farah holds a Bachelors of Finance from Zayed University.
Farah launched Stutter UAE in 2013 to raise awareness and support people who stutter through various workshops and events. Farah was featured in a book chapter titled "Game Changers: How Women in the Arab World are Changing the Rules and Shaping the Future." She was one of the recipients of the Abu Dhabi Award, the highest civilian medal granted by the Emirates for her positive impact in the community.
In 2020, Farah partnered with Portugal and launched the iStutter Center, an online speech therapy center focusing on treatment for PWS.
Chairman of the Youth Committee
Sam Wiggins lives at home with his mom, big sister and 2 cats in the UK. He enjoys acting, modeling & sports, such as archery, cricket, darts and dodgeball. He has had a stammer since he was about 3 years old. Sam has been in and out of speech therapy over the years and learned some useful techniques such as slowing down his speech and sliding into words. However, Sam has learned that having a stammer is OKAY! Everyone is different; the world would be a boring place if everyone were the same. Sam embraced his stammer and never lets it hold him back. He wants to educate people about stammering and help other kids to find their confidence!