Faculty & Staff

Barbara Washington, Ph.Dphoto of Dr. Barbara Washington
Academic Director, Center for Communication Disorders
PhD – Vanderbilt University
MS – Vanderbilt University
BS  - Peabody College of Vanderbilt University
Dr. Barbara Washington grew up in Lexington, TN.  She taught special education in P-12 schools in Nashville, Tennessee and Charlotte, North Carolina in a variety of settings, including preschool, elementary, middle, secondary and students transitioning to post-secondary environments. She taught at Vanderbilt University and Tennessee State University before joining Murray State University in 2007 as faculty in the special education program, teaching in the moderate to severe disabilities program. Dr. Washington completed her Bachelors of Science in Special Education/Elementary Education at Peabody College in Nashville, TN. She also completed the Masters of Science and her PhD in special education at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN.

She currently serves as the Chair of the Adolescent, Career and Special Education Department and the Academic Director for the Center for Communication Disorders. Dr. Washington enjoys helping pre-service teachers and future speech-language pathologists to be effective P-12 teachers and service providers for persons with disabilities.


Stephanie Schaaf, EdD, CCC-SLP
Assistant Professor, Clinic DirectorStephanie Schaaf

EdD Murray State University
MS Murray State University
BA Murray State University
Stephanie was raised in Crestwood, Kentucky (around the Louisville area) before coming to Murray in 2001. She earned her Master's degree in Speech Language Pathology and Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders from Murray State University.  Although she didn't originally plan to make Murray her permanent residence, Murray has a way of immediately making you feel at home. Pair that with a passion for the lake and discovering all that LBL (Land Between the Lakes National Recreational Area) has to offer, she suddenly found herself captivated! She has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist in a variety of settings, including long-term care, acute rehabilitation, home health and schools. Throughout her professional experiences working with a variety of adults and children, she discovered that she truly has a passion for disorders across the lifespan. Stephanie is enthusiastic about her field and loves having the opportunity to make a positive impact on students pursuing a career in communication disorders. She believes that being an effective therapist is a delicate balance of knowledge and clinical skills which would not be possible without guidance from strong instructors, supervisors, and mentors from the very beginning of one's educational journey. Stephanie is honored to be part of a team that provides guidance and builds confidence as students grow into clinicians and find their own unique skills and interest.
Nikki Gaylord, CScD, CCC-SLPphoto of Nikki Gaylord

Assistant Professor, Clinical Supervisor

BS Southeast Missouri State University
MA Southeast Missouri State University
CScD  Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions

Nikki was born and raised in southeast Missouri and received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication Disorders from Southeast Missouri State University.  Nikki has experience in a variety of settings including skilled nursing facilities, outpatient and inpatient hospitals and public schools. Nikki was also an instructor and clinical supervisor at Southeast Missouri State University for 6 years prior to relocating to Jefferson City, Missouri where she was employed as a speech-language pathologist in an outpatient hospital setting.  Nikki received her doctoral degree in clinical science in speech-language pathology in 2019 and is excited to be a part of academia once again by becoming a Murray State Racer. Her research interests include, but are not limited to, voice disorders and exercise-induced laryngeal obstruction in athletes, and ethics in speech-language pathology. She is thrilled to be able to impart knowledge and guidance to students as well as ignite a fire for their understanding and use of evidence-based research as well as how to include research in their own practice.  When Nikki is not working, she enjoys spending time with her husband, Chad, and their dog, Ruby. She enjoys biking, camping and yoga and is excited to explore all the opportunities that Western Kentucky has to offer.

 Karen Coulter, PhD, CCC/SLP, ATPDr. Karen Coulter
Part-Time Professor

PhD University of Louisville
MS Indiana State University
BS Illinois State University
Dr. Coulter is an eclectic Midwesterner with a diverse work experience. After marrying a Hoosier from Southern Indiana she worked in the school system and an outpatient rehabilitation center before joining the University of Louisville's Pediatrics Department as well as their Autism Center. Dr. Coulter completed her PhD with U of L and chose to pursue specialization in Assistive Technology, specifically augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). During this period of time she became the full-time advocate and guardian for an individual on the Autism Spectrum, and has come to understand both sides of the proverbial consumer/provider coin. At U of L, Dr. Coulter had many rich opportunities within her multi-disciplinary workplace, such as participating in the feeding clinic, fragile X clinic, and developing her own AAC clinic. Dr. Coulter is a new addition to the Murray State faculty, and enjoys sharing her expertise with students not only in Autism and AAC, but also in diagnostics, language development, and behavioral feeding disorders. She's delighted for the opportunity to grow further in her career within the rich soil of Murray and to be able to support our students in their own professional growth.

Steven J. Branson, PhDSteve Branson
Part-Time Professor
PhD Capella University
MS Tennessee State University
BS University of Missouri
Dr. Branson grew up in the mid-west surrounded by music and sports. After completing his undergraduate work in Communication Science Disorders at the University of Missouri, he traveled south to Nashville, TN. While attending Tennessee State University to obtain a Master's Degree in Speech Pathology, and Capella University to complete a Doctorate in Healthcare Administration, Dr. Branson and his wife began expanding their family. With two daughters and a son, he and his wife continue to reside in middle Tennessee. After multiple years of working in the healthcare field as a school, clinic, private, and home health speech pathologist, as well as a university clinic director, Dr. Branson found his passion for challenging himself and others within academia. Research and teaching interests include, but are definitely not limited to, voice disorders, diagnostics, stuttering, articulation, and language disorders. Dr. Branson enjoys contributing to the success of future generations of Murray State University Speech Pathologists.
Alison Brown
Alison Brown MS, CCC-SLP
Lecturer/Clinical Supervisor

MS University of Kentucky
BA Murray State University
Alison Brown was raised in Murray. She earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from Murray State University in English Creative Writing. After spending a couple of years in Vail, Colorado, she moved to Lexington, Kentucky to earn her Master's degree in Communication Disorders from the University of Kentucky. Following graduation, she joined UK as an Assistant Professor, clinical line. She enjoyed working with a wide variety of patients at UK's Medical Center and Department of Otolaryngology as well as teaching graduate students. Several years later, Alison was able to capitalize upon both of her degrees as Director of Academic Services at Sayre School in Lexington. Identifying and treating students with reading disabilities was a natural fit and has become an area of professional interest, along with voice therapy. Alison is thrilled to return home to her alma mater and educate students to connect with patients as they improve their communication and literacy skills.
Susan Brown photoSusan Brown, MA, CCC-A
Program Director

MA University of Kansas
BGS University of Kansas
Susan Brown grew up in Kansas. After studying engineering for two years at college in Nashville, TN, Susan changed her major and returned to Kansas to study communication disorders at the University of Kansas. She decided to focus on audiology and earned her Master's Degree from the University of Kansas, Medical Center. After working for a year in the Medical Center's Audiology Clinic, Susan moved to Sydney, Australia and worked for Australian Hearing Services, providing diagnostic and rehabilitative services to people of all ages. After returning to the U.S. Susan took her audiology services on the road, traveling throughout the state of Georgia to provide assessments and rehabilitation. Susan is now the audiologist in the Murray State Speech and Hearing Clinic and also gets to teach juniors and seniors in the Communication Disorders program. She thoroughly enjoys being at Murray State University because it is a place of possibilities and opportunities.

Megan Smetana, MS, CCC-SLPMegan Murphy Smetana photograph
Clinical Supervisor/Lecturer
MS Murray State University
BA Rutgers University
Megan grew up in New Jersey and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Art History from Rutgers University. She moved to Murray with her husband in 1999. After taking the Child Language Development course at Murray State, she fell in love with the field of speech-language pathology. She began post-baccalaureate class work in 2006 and completed her Master's degree in 2010. Megan has a broad basis of clinical experience including acute inpatient rehabilitation, acute care, adult and pediatric outpatient and skilled nursing facility settings. Megan is currently a clinical supervisor for graduate students in our clinic and preschool settings and teaching undergraduate courses.
Kelly Vaughan, MS, CCC-SLP
photo of Kelly Vaughan
Clinical Supervisor/Lecturer
MS Murray State University
BS Murray State University
 Kelly Vaughan is a native of Kentucky, born and raised in Madisonville. She earned both her Bachelor's Degree in Communication Disorders (2013) and Master’s Degree in Speech Language Pathology (2015) from Murray State University.  After graduation, Kelly has spent her career working within Louisiana and Kentucky in skilled nursing facilities with older adults with disorders such as dementia, aphasia, and dysphagia. Kelly holds specialized training in Synchrony, a virtual reality sEMG biofeedback program to aid those with dysphagia. Kelly currently supervises graduate students in our university clinic and preschool setting and teaches undergraduate courses. Outside of school, Kelly enjoys watching high school and collegiate sports with her husband, Jacob, kayaking at LBL, and spending time with family and friends.
 Natalie West, MS, CCC-SLPphoto of Natalie West
Clinical Supervisor/Lecturer
MS Murray State University
BA Murray State University
Natalie is a Southern Illinois native whose family has a long history with Murray State University, so it was no surprise that she obtained her undergraduate and graduate degrees for Speech Language Pathology from MSU. After graduation, Natalie left Kentucky and started her career in the Blue Ridge Mountains in North Carolina. Over the next few years, she took advantage of travel therapy and worked in a variety of settings and states including North Carolina, Florida, Texas, Maryland, and for 9 years, Hawaii. Through her travel she was able to experience Speech Language Pathology within school-based therapy, long term care, home health, outpatient clinics, private practice therapy, and telepractice. Natalie served on the Hawaii Speech Language and Hearing Association Board as Corresponding Secretary and then as President. When Natalie isn’t working she enjoys yoga, hiking, being on KY Lake, traveling, and spending as much time as possible outdoors with her husband Kory.
Jasmine YoungJasmine E. Young, MS, CCC-SLP

MS Alabama A&M
BS Alabama A&M
Mrs. Jasmine E. (Spruill) Young is a native of Birmingham, AL. She currently resides in Murray, KY with her husband Kelvin. Jasmine received her Master's of Science degree (2004) and Bachelor of Science (2002) degrees from Alabama Agricultural and Mechanical University in Normal, AL (Huntsville, AL) where she studied Communicative Sciences and Disorders. Jasmine's clinical experience consists of speech-language disorders across the lifespan; however, specializing in dementia, aphasia, and dysphagia have been on the list of her greatest passions. In 2008, Jasmine began performing Fiberoptic Endoscopic Evaluation of Swallowing (FEES) and by 2012 was servicing 14 homes in the North Alabama Region. In the fall of 2012, Jasmine moved to Murray, KY and was able to transition into academia as an Instructor and Clinical Supervisor for the Center for Communication Disorders at Murray State University.

Wendy Briere

Wendy Briere
Academic and Clinic Administrative Assistant

BS University of Maryland, College Park
Wendy is originally from Blackstone, Massachusetts, but moved to Southern California when she was a sophomore in high school. She has lived in many states including Rhode Island, Maryland, Tennessee, Washington, Kansas and Kentucky. She has also had a wide variety of job experiences, including candle making and milking cows! She has a degree in Elementary Education but finds being behind the desk as an Administrative Assistant a better fit. She is mom to a teenage son and also to a daughter, who has 4 sons (making Wendy a grandmother!). She loves the camaraderie, experiences and educational opportunities Murray State offers.