Vocal Unity International Summit Speakers:

Belinda H. began having problems with her voice in 1998. After seeing many physicians and being diagnosed with many illnesses, she was finally diagnosed with spasmodic dysphonia in 2013. Belinda is retired and the mother of 4 and Mimi of 6. She was the inspiration behind her daughter's launching of www.vocaldisorders.org -- an online social community for those with vocal disorders, their supporters, and those who provide related services.



Clark A. Rosen, MD, is Director of the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center, Chief of the Division of Laryngology and Professor of Otolaryngology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine. Dr. Rosen received his undergraduate degree from the University of California, Berkeley, and earned his medical degree at Rush Medical College in Chicago. He received his otolaryngology training at the Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland, Oregon, and completed a fellowship in Laryngology and Care of the Professional Voice at the University of Tennessee, Memphis, and the University of Tennessee Voice Institute. A board-certified Otolaryngologist and a founding member of the Laryngology Education Foundation, Dr. Rosen specializes in the care of the performing voice and the treatment of voice disorders. He is a leading physician-scientist in the area of voice disorders research and author of numerous articles in professional journals.

He has been and is a frequent co-investigator of research projects in voice disorders funded by the NIH. He teaches regularly at national and international voice conferences, and his foundational textbook Operative Techniques in Laryngology was published by Springer in 2008. In recognition of his outstanding achievements in the field of Laryngology, Dr. Rosen was the 2008 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award conferred by the American Association of Otolaryngology-Head & Neck Surgery. Dr. Rosen initiated and directs a Fellowship in Laryngology and Care of the Professional Voice at the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center.



Debra Sheridan, Founder of Faces of HNC, was diagnosed with invasive stage 4 tonsil cancer in 2006. Chemo and radiation were effective in eradicating the cancer. Effects of treatment left Debra with no voice, inability to swallow, and obstructed breathing for over a year. Over time, with swallowing therapy, surgery to place a permanent tracheostomy tube, and addition of a Passey-Muir speaking valve, she recovered audible voice and learned to swallow fairly safely. An MVA in 2008 enlarged the stoma and Debra lost her speaking voice again. It took a year of begging, pleading and searching for solutions to recover audible voice.

As Debra sought solutions that worked for her to live her life as fully as she wanted to she was amazed at the lack of availability of resources and services she needed. She first asked why no one was doing anything to sound the alarm. She then asked herself why she was not doing something to sound the alarm, and Faces of HNC was established. The name was selected with intention to show that head/neck cancer is non-discriminate and can affect men and women of all ages and walks of life.

For Debra, scar tissue continued to form and harden and, after years of multiple dilations of esophagus and airway, the tissue finally wore out and needed to be cut out and replaced with transplanted tissue from other parts of her body. In 2014 she underwent total laryngectomy and esophageal reconstruction. A TEP (tracheoesophageal voice prosthesis) was placed via a puncture between her esophagus and airway for audible voice. Scar tissue formed at the top and bottom of the esophageal reconstruction and a subsequent esophageal reconstruction was performed in 2015. The second esophageal reconstruction meant she was no longer a candidate for TEP and once healed from surgery she chose to use an electro larynx for audible voice.

Since 2006 Debra has had 5 different sounding voices. She has learned that being able to speak with others is less frustrating than not, regardless of how her voice sounds.

Professionally, Dortha Hise is the Chief Overwhelm Eliminator at Pretty Smart Virtual Services. She and her team of Overwhelm Eliminators specialize in rescuing their clients out of overwhelm by tackling to-do lists so their clients can take back their life and get back to doing what they love.

Personally, Dortha is a woman of faith and of family. In February 2013, on a journey of grief and loss that began the prior year with the unexpected death of her mother, she woke up one morning without her voice. She thought it was a simple case of laryngitis or bronchitis...it turns out, it was not simple. It took some time, several doctor visits, specialists and other non-traditional treatments to be diagnosed with a condition called Abductor Spasmodic Dysphonia. The condition is neurological in origin and there is no known cure at present. Dortha has opted not to pursue Botox injections for her voice, as it hasn't been an option that felt right for her. While her vocal disorder may prevent her from speaking "normally" by phone, she has reworked her business and lifestyle to suit her needs. She meets her team and clients via video conferencing and types while the other person talks. Dortha shares that she is grateful for this experience as it has heightened her sense of hearing and allows her to really hone in on what others are saying (or perhaps not saying).


Edie Hapner, PhD CCC-SLP  is a Professor in the Caruso Department of Otolaryngology at the University of Southern California and Director of Speech Language Pathology for the USC Voice Center. She has worked as a speech language pathologist for over 35 years clinically. Dr Hapner has served on the America Speech Language and Hearing Association (ASHA) Board of Directors as the Vice President of Planning from 2014-2016 and as the Chair of the Special Interest Group for Voice within the ASHA.

Dr Hapner has ten articles published to date on the evaluation and treatment of spasmodic dysphonia, two book chapters training speech language pathologists in working as a part of the interprofessional team treating spasmodic dysphonia, and worked on the NIH Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network on a grant entitled Diagnostic Measurement Tools for Spasmodic Dysphonia. Dr Hapner has been invited to present on spasmodic dysphonia 16 times to national and international medical meetings. She is completing the development of both a patient outcome measure and patient satisfaction questionnaire for evaluating the benefit of Botox TM injections for spasmodic dysphonia and tremor. She was also the winner of the National Spasmodic Dysphonia Travel Grant for her work on vocal effort following Botox TM injections for spasmodic dysphonia in 2014.

Elisa M. - 14-year of Elisa is from Tennessee in the United States.  She enjoys writing, drawing, sports, and spending time with family.  Since the age of 6, Elisa has had questions about vocal disorders.  Her grandmother ("MiMi") lives with Spasmodic Dysphonia.  Elisa is growing up as a positive advocate for those with voice problems and wants more people to understand that vocal disorders exist.


Jackie L. Gartner-Schmidt, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is Co-director of the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center, Director of Speech-Language Pathology-Voice Division and Associate Professor of Otolaryngology.  She holds an appointment as Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders at the University of Pittsburgh. After receiving her master’s degree in speech-language pathology, she joined the Vanderbilt Voice Center in Nashville, TN and later earned her doctorate in Hearing and Speech Sciences from the University of Maryland.  Her clinical and research focus specializes on care of the performing voice, as well as clinical effectiveness of voice therapy and psychological considerations in the assessment and management of patients with voice and breathing disorders.

Dr. Gartner-Schmidt is also a Singing Voice Specialist. She presents frequently at both national and international voice conferences.  Dr. Gartner-Schmidt is deeply committed to service to the professions of speech and language pathology and laryngology. She currently directs two of the country’s largest conferences related solely to voice and breathing therapy annually, in Las Vegas, and semi-annually, in Pittsburgh, amongst her frequent national and international speaking engagements. Dr. Gartner-Schmidt has served on various committees as director or member of planning committees for the SIG 3 (ASHA committee) and annual Fall Voice Conference charged with organizing content and speakers. Her contributions to the professions also include being a reviewer for various peer-reviewed journals. Dr. Gartner-Schmidt’s federally funded research focuses on the development and efficacy of different voice therapy programs, as well as co-author on six outcome studies related to the assessment and management of voice, singing and breathing disorders.


Judith Rough B Sp Thy, A. Mus. A (singing performance), Grad. Dip. Counselling and Communication is an experienced Speech Pathologist, who has worked in the field for over 30 years. Her experience has encompassed both the public and the private sectors and she has been involved in the training of Speech Pathology students at both Sydney University and Macquarie University. At Macquarie University, she currently lectures students in the Masters Programme, in Counselling for Speech Pathologists. She works as a clinical specialist in voice at St Vincent’s Hospital, one of Sydney’s major teaching hospitals where she is part of a multidisciplinary diagnostic Voice Clinic. She also works in private practice, working mainly with singers.

Judith is a trained classical singer, and trained in acting at the Ensemble Acting School in Sydney. She has worked as a freelance classical singer in Sydney and in Philadelphia, performing as a soloist in major works and in concert and recital. She continues to perform in the Sydney area.

Recognizing the need to address the psychological as well as the physical needs of her patients she has trained in counselling.

Judith is committed to improving the vocal health of the public, and served on the board of the Australian Voice Association for 6 years, most recently as Vice President.

Kim Lee is originally from Southington, CT and moved to Port St. Lucie, Florida in October 2001.  She is currently working at PGA of America as a Senior HR Generalist. She is married to her husband for 26 years and they have two beautiful daughters together. She has a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration and is a certified Human Resources Professional (PHR).


Dr. Kristin Soda graduated University of Queensland Medical School 1995. She has been in General Practice since 2002. She's the mother of 2 boys, ages 8 and 10. She is currently working Clifton Beach in Cairns.



Dr. Dominguez is an assistant professor in the Department of Otolaryngology. She is a Rio Grande Valley native and received her undergraduate degree from Rice University. She went on to earn her medical degree at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio before completing residency at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, VA. She returned to the UT Voice Center to complete a fellowship in Laryngology under Dr. Blake Simpson. Her academic interests include voice and swallowing disorders of adult and pediatric patients.

Dr. Lucian Sulica is Professor and Director of Weill Cornell Medicine’s Sean Parker Institute for the Voice in New York City. His practice is limited to voice disorders. He has a special interest in medical and microsurgical treatment of injuries of the vocal cord (or fold) from voice use, particularly in performers, and in neurologic voice disorders, including vocal fold paralysis and paresis, spasmodic dysphonia and tremor. Dr. Sulica has also been a leader in the development of procedures for the treatment of voice disorders in the office.

Dr. Sulica's research has been devoted to establishing clear, evidence-driven principles for the treatment of voice conditions. Dr. Sulica has published frequently cited works on the safety and utility of vocal fold injection in the awake patient, the use of botulinum toxin for voice disorders, treatment of vocal fold paralysis and a host of other topics. In all, Dr. Sulica has authored more than 80 journal articles and 30 book chapters, and two books, Vocal Fold Paralysis and Classics in Voice and Laryngology.

Dr. Sulica serves on the Council of the American Laryngological Association, the national professional organization for laryngology.





Mara Behlau, PhD is a Brazilian speech-language-pathologist. She is the director of the “Centro de Estudos da Voz” - CEV, where she coordinates the eldest specialization program in voice (the CECEV), in Brazil, a 2-year course, exclusively for SLPs, currently at its 21st group. Moreover, she coordinates the “Formação Integrada em Voz – FIV”, an open platform of one-year graduate program for all professions involved in the voice area, currently at its 4th group. She is also professor at the Graduate Program in Human Communication Disorders at UNIFESP-EPM, São Paulo, Brazil, where she supervises master and doctorate candidates. She was president of the Brazilian Society of Laryngology and Voice (SBLV), Brazilian Association of Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (SBFa) and International Association of Logopedics and Phoniatrics (IALP).

She has received the ASHA FELLOW title and the Certificate of Recognition for Outstanding Contributions in International Achievements, both in 2014. She is also affiliate professor at INSPER university, São Paulo, where she teaches communication for business – interpersonal relationships. She has been involved at The Voice Foundation for more than 30 years. She is author of many articles, chapters and textbooks in the area of voice.


Marjolein Haze is from Holland and is married and with 3 adult children. For 25 years she worked as a teacher. After several years with voice problems, she realized it was time to leave that profession. She enjoys sports and music and is an avid reader. She and her husband regularly travel to Norway.

She wanted to participate in the Vocal Unity International Summit because she thinks the effect of vocal disorders has on an individual's life depends on how you respond to it. She shared, "A victim sits at the back of the bus. When you take control over your life, you sit in front of the bus. ."


Nathan V. Welham, Ph.D., CCC-SLP, is an Associate Professor of Surgery (Division of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery) at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health in Madison, WI, USA. He completed his undergraduate, graduate, and early clinical training in speech-language pathology at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, New Zealand; followed by a Ph.D. (Communication Sciences and Disorders, Genetics minor) and clinical fellowship at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Dr. Welham specializes in the assessment and treatment of patients with organic, neurological, and functional voice disorders, resonance disorders, and upper airway disorders such as paradoxical vocal fold motion. He is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

Dr. Welham’s research program in vocal fold biology has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 2007. His group investigates a series of clinically-motivated topics, including vitamin A transport and the role of macula flavae stellate cells in vocal fold biology, vocal fold injury and repair, and vocal fold tissue engineering. Dr. Welham holds a particular interest in the application of systems biology tools to better understand the vocal fold’s biological complexity. His collaborative work spans the fields of biochemistry, cell and matrix biology, immunology, and materials science.

 Dr. Paul Jenkins works with organizations and individuals to establish and maintain habitual patterns of positive perception and focus that increase happiness, engagement, productivity, and profit. With two decades of experience as a professional psychologist and author, Dr. Paul (as he is known to clients and his laughing, learning audiences) lays out the how and the why behind the art and science of being constructive in an often-destructive environment. It is like having an owner’s manual for your brain – one you can actually read, understand, and apply. You understand your own mind and improve its functioning on purpose. Your people get an iron grip on powerful psychological principles that make an immediate difference in their personal, family, and professional lives. Dr. Paul was diagnosed with Spasmodic Dysphonia in 2001.

Peak Woo is Clinical Professor of Otolaryngology at the Icahn School of Medicine.

He is a graduate of the Boston University 6-year BA-MD program. He did his post graduate training at the University of Pennsylvania Hospital and his residency training in the Combined Boston University Tufts University Otolaryngology program. From 1983 through 1994, he was on the academic faculty at the State University of New York Upstate Medical Center. From 1994-1996 he was the vice-Chairman of the Otolaryngology department at Tufts University. In 1996, he became the Grabscheid Professor of Otolaryngology and the director of the Grabscheid Voice Center at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, Department of Otolaryngology, Head and Neck Surgery. Since 2008, he has been in clinical practice with academic appointment as clinical professor and co-director of laryngology fellowship training program at the Icahn School of Medicine.

Dr. Woo was a past president of the American Broncho-esophaglogical Association and the immediate past president of the American Laryngological Association.

His main clinical and research interests are in the medical and surgical treatment of laryngeal diseases. He has lectured extensively on diagnosis and management of voice disorders. He has participated in laryngology fellowship training of international and national fellows since 1996.

He lives in New Jersey with his wife.



Robert Palmquist has led a variety of firms in a wide range of technical areas – each time creating rapid growth by developing innovative market-pull products. He is a frequent invited speaker at workshops, conventions, radio programs and television broadcasts. Examples include live interviews conducted on NBC’s "Today Show", ABC’s "Good Morning America" program, FOX Channel's "Fox and Friends" show, and multiple editions of NPR’s "All Things Considered" radio broadcasts. His firms have been featured in numerous articles and television programs around the world, ranging from MSNBC's "Power Lunch" to the BBC's "Fast Track" and "Gadget" shows. He has given hundreds of seminar presentations and has approximately 100 papers published in peer reviewed technical journals. He is a member of the Purdue 500, Pi Tau Sigma, Phi Kappa Phi and Tau Beta Pi.



Sean Caldwell is an award-winning voice over talent serving over 100 clients each month in diverse industries around the world. His work has won awards including the National Association of Broadcasters, Promax / BDA, The Marconi award, and two Telly awards.

He attended The University of Michigan, has a degree from The Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania and a masters degree from Dallas Theological Seminary.



Tanya K. Meyer, MD joined the University of Washington faculty in 2009 and is currently an Associate Professor on Otolaryngology. She trained at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee and completed her fellowship in Laryngology at the New York Center for Voice and Swallowing Disorders. Her speciality is Neuro-laryngology, and she is an expert is diseases of the throat, voice, swallowing and airway.



Tracey Thomas, MS, CCC-SLP is a master clinician who has been practicing speech language pathology for 25 years, and has been with the University of Pittsburgh Voice Center for 19 years. Prior to specializing in the diagnosis and treatment of voice disorders, she worked in adult brain injury rehabilitation. Tracey earned both her B.S. in Speech and Hearing Science and her Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Clarion University of Pennsylvania where she was honored for academic excellence. She first discovered her passion for the science of communication while studying voice and diction in a theater program.  She currently provides therapy services at The UPMC Voice Center-Mercy, as well as with University ENT Specialists at the Cranberry, PA satellite office. She is a trained clinician in tele-voice therapy and delivers telemedicine services to the Hermitage, PA UPMC facility. Her clinical areas of interest are respiratory re-training, telemedicine, and preventive voice care. Tracey has instructed graduate level courses, spoken at national conferences, directed collegiate singers, and led children’s singing groups.

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