NWACS is run completely on volunteer power! Scroll down to read about our lovely volunteers who make this organization possible.
If you have a question, an idea or request, simply want to connect, or want to get involved, we would love to hear from you! Send us an email.
President: Tanna Neufeld, MS, CCC-SLP
Tanna is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) consultant with a private practice in the Seattle area. Her work experience has ranged from infants to adults with significant communication challenges; however, she now works primarily in early intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Tanna joined the NWACS team out of her passion for the field of AAC and desire to further advocate for AAC users and their families. She has presented on a variety of topics related to the field of AAC and has been active in the blogging and social media arena to help professionals and families continue their quest to harness the power of AAC. Tanna is a Florida native who relocated to the Pacific Northwest in 2011 and is still finding her footing in the rain and clouds. She is the proud mother of 3 (one "real" kiddo and two of the furry persuasion!) and enjoys running, being crafty, and eating delicious food with friends and family.
Vice President: Kathy Smith, MSPA CCC-SLP/L (retired)
Kathy is a retired Speech-Language Pathologist with over 40 years in the field of Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC). While she worked with children through adults over the course of her career, her experience has been primarily with adults with complex communication needs. Kathy has been involved with NWACS almost since its inception and served as President for many years. She remains active in the field of AAC through volunteer work, mentoring, and her work on the NWACS board. She also volunteers in the English As A Second Language program at Seattle Public Library. Kathy is the proud Grammy of four grandchildren and resides in the Seattle area with her husband. She is an avid reader, loves to knit and go out for coffee!
Treasurer: Jo Ristow, MS, CCC-SLP
Jo is a Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in AAC at Seattle Children's Autism Center. She loves to help integrate visual communication systems into home, school, and life settings for families with complex communication needs, building hope, resilience, and self-advocacy for both children and parents. In her free time, she loves to read, hike, and explore her neighborhood.
Membership: Jeri Jones, MSPA CCC-SLP/L
Jeri has been a Speech-Language Pathologist since 1980. She started her career in Seattle and was an original member of the NWACS (formerly PNWNVCG) board. She moved to Tucson, AZ and worked in preschools, hospital inpatient and outpatient programs, adult day programs, as well as middle and high school settings. Jeri is now back in Seattle working at Fircrest Residential Habilitation Center. Through all the years and settings, she has always been involved in AAC. In her other life, she is a dog person with two Golden Retrievers that are so much fun! Jeri is also the proud mother of two sons, one manufacturing artificial transportable hearts and finishing up an MBA in Tucson, and the other embarking on a PhD in BioMedical Oncological research in Italy. Although they are much more talented than their mother, they are still learning how to clean windows.
Education Chairman: Mary Lee Delony, MA, CCC
Mary Lee became a Speech-Language Pathologist in 1972 and has worked in the field ever since. She currently works in the Bellevue School District and continues to enjoy working with children. She has been an active member of NWACS since almost the beginning. Mary Lee enjoys biking, hiking, swimming and generally being active. She also saves time to enjoy her passion for reading.
Technology Coordinator: Paula Furick, M.Ed., CCC-SLP, NBCT (retired)
Paula has been a Speech-Language Pathologist since 1970. Over the course of her career she also became a National Board Certified Teacher - Exceptional Needs Specialist. She has worked at all levels of public school (preschool, elementary, middle, and high school) and in states spanning the breadth of the country. Her passion has been literacy skills for non-verbal children. Paula retired two years ago from the Everett Public Schools and now spends her time in outdoor pursuits and genealogy research.
Parent Representative: Rose-Marie Gallagher, M. Ed.
Rose-Marie is our Parent Representative on the NWACS Board. She has a young adult daughter with Rett syndrome who uses all kinds of Assistive Technology, from low-tech to high! Prior to the birth of her daughter, Rose-Marie taught Special Education at the elementary school level. She has since been active in providing training and workshops on AAC and Assistive Technology to families and professionals working with students having severe communication and physical impairments. Her focus has been on literacy and inclusion for those with complex communication needs. After years of suburban life, Rose-Marie now lives in a rural county in Western Washington with her family and a variety of barnyard critters. She is an aspiring photographer, a baker of artisan breads and a tatter/knitter.
Member-at-Large: Georgia Oistad, MA, SLP (retired)
Georgia was a speech-language pathologist in the Highline School District for over 20 years working with students from 3 to 21 years of age. Until 2016, she was the NWACS Treasurer and had been for so many years we can't count them all! Since retirement, Georgia has traveled the globe painting and sketching landscapes and people. When she is not traveling, she is on the water at 5am with her rowing team. Rowing has been a part of her life for over 25 years. Georgia enjoys being a grandmother and sharing her talents with her two grandchildren.
Member-at-Large: Sandra Slaker (retired)
Sandra is certified and licensed in speech-language pathology and education and has been on the NWACS board since the 1970s. Over the course of her career, including 32 years in the Everett School District, she collaborated with colleagues to start an Assistive Technology Lending Library and Preschool/K classrooms for students with Autism, established trainings, and presented workshops covering many special needs topics. For eight years she was an Autism consultant and a special education program facilitator (called TOSA in some districts) for students, teachers, and families. Sandra is enjoying retirement by taking courses, gardening, watching movies, reading books, hiking, traveling, and laughing as often as possible!
Member-at-Large: Tessa Besagno, MS, CCC-SLP
Tessa is a Speech-Language Pathologist born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. She has worked within the Kent School District for seven years and has worked with children ages 3-12 with various communication disorders and disabilities, including many with complex communication needs. She has experience working with a variety of Augmentative-Alternative Communication (AAC) systems, both low and high tech, and believes there is nothing more powerful than connecting a child with a means of functional communication. When not working, she likes to travel, hike, read, and trial new recipes.
Web Planner: Cassandra ("Casey") Stafford, MS, CCC-SLP/L, ATP
Casey is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Assistive Technology Professional with a private practice in the Seattle area. She works primarily with children, however she also has experience with teens and adults. Casey recently signed on with the NWACS board to help with "webmaster" and social media duties; she knows just enough to almost look like she knows what she is doing. Despite having grown up in Eastern Washington where summer temps regularly reached triple digits, she now starts to wilt as the temperature creeps past the mid-70s. She enjoys reading, trying to crochet (she's got baby blankets figured out), card-making, and doting on her adorable nieces! Random bit of trivia: she was a foreign exchange student for a year between high school and college.