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Barbara Washington, PhD

Barbara Washington, PhD

Academic Director
Center for Communication Disorders

3225 Alexander Hall

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

Stephanie Schaaf, EdD, CCC-SLP

Program Director, Assistant Professor, Clinical Supervisor
Center for Communication Disorders

223 Alexander Hall

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-SLP

Nikki Gaylord, CScD, CCC-SLP

Assistant Professor, Clinical Supervisor
Center for Communication Disorders

220 Alexander Hall

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

Steve Branson, PhD

Steve Branson, PhD

Adjunct Professor
Center for Communication Disorders

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, MS, CCC-SLP

Alison Brown, MS, CCC-SLP

Clinical Supervisor/Instructor
Center for Communication Disorders

233 Alexander Hall

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.

Amanda Duncan, MS, CCC-SLP

Amanda Duncan, MS, CCC-SLP

Clinical Supervisor/Instructor
Center for Communication Disorders

229 Alexander Hall

BS Murray State University MS Murray State University Amanda was raised in Murray, and is a lifelong Racer fan. She earned a Bachelor's Degree in Communication Disorders and a Master's Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Murray State University. Before returning to her alma mater to serve as a clinical supervisor and instructor, Amanda worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist within acute care, inpatient rehabilitation, skilled nursing facilities, and adult and pediatric outpatient care. Additionally, her experience gained in the public school setting managing a caseload that included children (and their families) with autism spectrum disorder, developmental delay, speech sound disorders and language disorders brings practical insight into the academic environment to help teach, guide and support future Speech-Language Pathologists. Amanda resides in Murray, and enjoys spending time at home and Kentucky Lake with her husband and two young children.

Becky Jones, MA, CCC-SLP

Becky Jones, MA, CCC-SLP

Clinical Placement Coordinator, Clinical Supervisor/Instructor
Center for Communication Disorders

228 Alexander Hall

MA The University of Memphis BA Bethel University Becky is a Tennessee native who graduated with her Bachelor's degree in English Literature from Bethel University and her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Memphis. Following graduation, Becky worked in several settings including acute care hospitals, outpatient clinics, skilled nursing facilities, and home health specializing in adult therapy services. She is certified in LSVT, MBSiMP, and VitalStim. She has a special interest in swallowing, language, and cognitive disorders. Most recently, Becky started a private practice focusing on providing teletherapy and school contracting services with students in Tennessee and Michigan. She is very excited to be apart of the faculty at Murray State University where she can train future clinicians and guide them in their clinical education. When she’s not busy doing speechy things, Becky loves spending time outside, cooking, reading, and going on adventures with her family.

Megan Smetana, MS, CCC-SLP

Megan Smetana, MS, CCC-SLP

Clinical Supervisor/Instructor
Center for Communication Disorders

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

Kelly Vaughan

Clinical Supervisor/Instructor
Center for Communication Disorders

234 Alexander Hall

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-SLP

Natalie West, MS, CCC-SLP

Clinical Supervisor/Instructor
Center for Communication Disorders

217 Alexander Hall

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.

Wendy Briere

Wendy Briere

Academic and Clinical Administrative Assistant
Center for Communication Disorders

111 Alexander Hall

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 Massachusetts, 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 both a son and a daughter, and has six grandchildren, (so far).

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