Ken Bleile, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a UNI professor and an ASHA Fellow.  He has received both the State of Iowa’s Regent’s Scholar Award and UNI’s Fine Arts Dean’s Award for Teaching Excellence.  Dr. Bleile served twice as Associate Editor of the American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, is the former Chair of ASHA’s International Issues Board, and is a recipient of the association’s Multicultural Board’s Diversity Champion Award.   Dr. Bleile’s recent publications include The Late Eight (2nd Edition), and The Manual of Speech Sound Disorders:  A Book for Students and Clinicians (3rd Edition).  

Carl Coelho, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a speech-language pathologist who has worked clinically and conducted research in the area of acquired brain injury for over 35 years. He has published more than 100 scholarly articles and book chapters. Coelho is currently Professor of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences at the University of Connecticut. He has been an Associate Investigator on the Vietnam Head Injury Study and currently is an Associate Investigator on the Longitudinal Study of TBI at the Defense and Veterans Brain Injury Center, Walter Reed National Military Medical Center. Coelho is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and was recently awarded Honors of the Academy of Neurologic Communication Disorders and Sciences.

Evette Edmister, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor in the Communication Sciences and Disorders department at the University of Northern Iowa. Dr. Edmister worked in Central Iowa after graduate school. After working for a period of time, Dr. Edmister returned to school for her Doctoral degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Kansas. For the last 15 years, augmentative and alternative communication and literacy have continued to be a primary focus.

Carrie Elser and her husband taught at international schools for 11 years in Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Indonesia.  She returned with her family to Iowa in 2007 and completed her MA in Educational Psychology. Having a continued love of education, or self-torture Carrie is currently pursuing her Doctorate in Curriculum and Instruction, with an emphasis on Special Education at the University of Northern Iowa. Carrie and her husband have two fantastic children who have inspired her to advocate for inclusive schools and equitable education practices for all children.  Carrie currently serves as the vice president of Iowa TASH and is on the steering committee for the Cedar Valley Collaborative Autism Team.

Kelly Farquharson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an SLP and postdoctoral researcher in the Crane Center for Early Childhood Research and Policy at Ohio State University.  Her research interests include school-aged children with phonological and language disorders, the effect of those disorders on the acquisition of literacy skills, and the cognitive underpinnings of phonological and language disorders.  Prior to pursuing a research degree, she was a school-based SLP in Pennsylvania.

Beth Fischer is a third semester graduate student of Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Northern Iowa. She has been a part of the Name That! app development team since the Spring of 2012. She has researched Semantic Feature Analysis, Phonetic Component Analysis, Aphasia, and  technology accessibility for persons with aphasia as part of the team.  Completion of her Master's degree is anticipated in the Summer of 2014.

Jennifer Walz Garrett, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an Assistant Professor of Communication Sciences and Disorders and also serves as a co-director of the Center for Disability Studies in Literacy, Language and Learning at University of Northern Iowa. Dr. Garrett received her doctoral degree at University of Cincinnati in 2007, prior to which she worked as a school speech-language pathologist. Dr. Garrett has expertise in school-aged literacy and language disorders, genetics/syndromes and counseling skills.

Carlin Hageman, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is the Head of the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Northern Iowa and the faculty advisor for the UNI NSSLHA chapter. Dr. Hageman was selected as National Advisor of the Year, the Executive Director of NSSLHA, an Iowa Regent’s Scholar, and an ASHA Fellow.


Krista Strait-Higgins, LISW, ACSW, works as the Care Services Manager for The ALS Association, Iowa Chapter. She currently serves individuals and families in Iowa coping with ALS connect to needed resources and supports, and assists in managing The ALS Association, Iowa Chapter Care Services programs. Additionally, she regularly provides educational trainings for Health Care Professionals to increase the awareness and understanding of ALS. She received her BSW from the University of Iowa in 1994 and her MSW from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in 1998. She has worked as a Hospice social worker for the majority of her career, but also has experience working with children and adults as an outpatient therapist and serving persons with disabilities in an institutional setting. In her free time. Krista enjoys gardening, cooking, and watching her children play sports.

Clifford Highnam, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an emeritus professor at the University of Northern Iowa, a certified and licensed speech-language pathologist, and a licensed Play ProjectTM practitioner. His specialty area is child language acquisition and language disorders. Dr. Highnam taught as a professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at UNI for 35 years.  Since his retirement in 2010, he founded Valley ASD Consults, which serves families of young children with ASD in Northeastern Iowa. He also serves as a Guided Independent Study instructor at UNI and teaches seminars on “relationship-based ASD intervention” for Cross Country EducationTM in continuing-education venues nationally.  He lives in Cedar Falls with his wife, Diane, also a speech-language pathologist, and a big red poodle named “Porter.”

 Lindsey R. Leacox, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a certified speech language pathologist working with Spanish-English dual language students in the Chicagoland area (2nd in Illinois). Her clinical and research interests are dynamic and evidence-based assessment, bilingual intervention, and bilingual SLP collaboration for working with culturally- and linguistically-diverse students.

Laura L. Pitts, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is a postdoctoral fellow at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago (RIC) and the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. Her research interests include lingual skill training, noninvasive cortical stimulation, functional neuroimaging of swallowing recovery, and exercise-based paradigms for the rehabilitation of neurogenic dysphagia.

Sara Stewart, CCC-SLP, is a 1987 graduate from the University of Northern Iowa. Upon graduation, she worked as a speech-language pathologist at the Speech Language Hearing Clinic in Minneapolis, Minnesota for one year. In December of 1988 she got married and began working in the Floyd County Medical Center. She is currently one of the three speech-language pathologists working in that department.



See the attached document below for a downloadable version of the speaker bios

Final 2014 ICCD Speakers.pdf226.02 KB