Office of the Tribal Liaison


Speech and Hearing Sciences Preparing Leaders for More than 25 Years

by Dr. Ella Inglebret

Billie Higheagle and colleagues
WSU grad Billie Higheagle (center), Skokomish, with her colleagues  (left) Shine Burnette, Navajo/White Mountain Apache, and (right) Haila Old Peter, Skokomish/Chehalis, at the 2011 Annual Convention of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.

One of the primary goals of the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences’ program for Native American personnel preparation is to create opportunities for students and alumni to move into leadership positions in the national professional organization, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).

Billie Higheagle (Skokomish, B.A., 1991; M.A., 1996) is currently a member of ASHA’s Native American Caucus Leadership Council and has been an active member of the Caucus since her graduation from WSU. Recently, Billie took on a leadership role in planning for the celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the Native American Caucus. She has also been active in bringing visibility to Native contributions to speech-language pathology through convention presentations and has been involved in recruiting Native students into the profession.

Additional alumni who have served in leadership positions for the Native American Caucus include Lara Reyes (Colville, B.A., 1998), Stephanie (Travis) Reynolds (Coeur d’Alene, B.A., 1994; M.A., 1999), Gari Smith (Skokomish, B.A., 1991), Cynthia Weber (Ouzinkie, B.A., 1995; M.A., 2001), and Noelle (Phillips) Miller (Inupiat, M.A., 2007).

Native graduates have also provided organizational leadership as members of ASHA’s Multicultural Issues Board (MIB). The MIB is responsible for strategic planning and for developing and monitoring policies, position statements, and technical documents that guide speech-language pathologists and audiologists in addressing issues associated with service delivery to diverse populations. WSU departmental alumni who have served on the MIB include Billie Higheagle, Gari Smith, and Allison Failing (Assiniboine Sioux, M.A., 1992).

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