Our HistoryAbout WISE
Educating, Supporting & Empowering
The Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (WISE) is dedicated to educating, supporting and empowering parents of children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Our comprehensive therapy and educational programs are designed to provide opportunities for deaf and hard of hearing children to learn to listen, speak, read, and integrate fully into the hearing society.
Parent and Child Partnerships
WISE team members forge strong partnerships with the parents of students, as well as their local educators to ensure that our students are able to reach their maximum spoken language and listening potential.
Pushing for Change
WISE team members actively help our policy makers at the state and Federal government understand the unique needs and unlimited potential deaf and hard of hearing children accessing modern technology and spoken language can obtain.
One of a kind
WISE is the only organization of its kind in the state of Alabama that can provide for the least restrictive, most progressive option for infants and children who are deaf/hard of hearing.
Message from the President and Director
We would like to welcome you to the Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (WISE)! For over a decade we have offered a tuition free program where deaf and hard of hearing children have learned to listen and speak. Many children have learned their first words at WISE and are now thriving in their neighborhood schools as confident, communicative individuals. WISE is a community where strong foundations are built and children develop a love of learning that will last a lifetime. Typical peers serve as language models in our classrooms and benefit from the language and literacy intensive environment.
Through generous contributions from public and private entities, WISE has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years. We are now reaching families across the state through teletherapy and our Early Intervention program. We have integrated typical peers in our classrooms, and are now providing speech/language therapy services to children with typical hearing who are experiencing speech/language delays. We are excited about new WISE programs and the opportunities they provide for children and their families.
At WISE, our unwavering commitment to children and their families is our greatest strength. At the core of our work is knowing our students and families will be forever changed after their years at WISE. There is more work to be done, and together with our talented staff and Board of Directors, we will continue to seek opportunities to improve the lives of all children with hearing loss, as well as children with speech and language delays. We invite you to learn about WISE through exploring our Website and visiting us in person to see what makes WISE such a unique place. Our rich history, our dedicated staff, and committed Board of Directors are some of the things that make us special.
We are excited to have you join the WISE community.
The Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (WISE) is a 501 (c) (3) public, not for profit organization dedicated to educating, supporting, and empowering children who are deaf or hard of hearing, children who have speech & language delays, and children who have typical hearing & speech and their families so that wise ears become wise minds. Integrated in educational programs which include typical hearing & speaking peers and peers with speech & language delays, our comprehensive therapy provides opportunities for children who are deaf and hard of hearing to learn to listen, speak, read, and integrate fully into the hearing society.
Integrated in environments with typical hearing & speaking peers as communication models, every infant and child in Alabama who is deaf or hard of hearing or has speech & language delays will have access to the specialized resources necessary to ensure their ability to learn to listen, speak, communicate, read, and integrate fully into the hearing society.
A little about us
The WISE Team
LSL Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist
Nancy Gregg is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders from Auburn University and graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of South Alabama. Nancy completed training in Auditory-Verbal Therapy at the Listen Acoupedic Center in Denver, CO and worked for the University of Tennessee Child Development Center and the Memphis Oral School prior to joining the team at Children’s of Alabama. With more than 30 years’ experience in Auditory-Verbal practice, Nancy has extensive experience coaching and supporting families, mentoring professionals towards certification, and consulting with school systems. Nancy served as the Director of the Children’s Center for Hearing Impaired, now known as the Children’s HEAR Center and worked to establish the Cochlear Implant Team. Nancy has presented at many professional conferences. Nancy served as a founding member of the Alabama School for Hearing, now known as WISE. Nancy is a member the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), holds Certification of Clinical Competency (CCC) from ASHA. She is also a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist – Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist through The Alexander Graham Bell Association. She holds a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Nancy is dedicated to assuring that every family who desires a listening and spoken language outcome for their child has access to accurate information, access to quality services, and support from other families have chosen an LSL outcome for their child. Nancy serves as the Director of WISE.
LSL Certified Auditory-Verbal Educator
Kameron Carden is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Educator who has been serving children from birth through preschool for over a decade. She received a Bachelor of Science in Education with an emphasis in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Georgia and a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Florida. Prior to joining WISE, she served as the Program Director at The Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs. Kameron has also taught in an oral preschool program, served children and families through early intervention, and provided outreach services to deaf and hard of hearing students and their teachers in public school settings throughout the state of Alabama for the Alabama Institute for Deaf and Blind. Additionally, she serves as adjunct faculty at Trevecca Nazarene University in the School of Education. Kameron holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and a teaching certificate in Speech-Language Impairment from the Alabama State Department of Education. She is also a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist – Certified Auditory-Verbal Educator through The Alexander Graham Bell Association. Her professional interests include language development and parent coaching.
Susan Bunyard is a Listening and Spoken Language (LSL) competent Speech-Language Pathologist who has spent more than the last two decades of her career working in the public schools in north Alabama. She graduated from Baylor University with an undergraduate degree in Education/Speech and Hearing and earned her Master’s in Communication Disorders from Phillips University. She has a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and a teaching certificate in Speech-Language Impairment from the Alabama State Department of Education. Upon moving to Huntsville, Susan joined a private practice and also worked as a supervising SLP for a home health care agency. She was recruited to begin a program to provide speech, language and swallowing services for Huntsville Hospital and served as director of those services for 8 years before the demand and joys of juggling a career with her family life led to her transition to public schools. At this juncture, a parent requested that Susan attend professional development to better understand the principles of Auditory-Verbal Therapy. The training as well as providing services for that first child using LSL was a career changing move. After completing all of the AVT courses offered through Alabama Ear Institute, Susan pursued mentoring under a gifted, dedicated certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist while working with students with hearing loss in north Alabama. Susan found that many of the strategies that she was taught to help parents of children with hearing loss also worked very effectively with parents of speech and language delayed, typically hearing, preschool children. The rewards to parents and their children and the positive growth in communication skills were exceptionally rewarding for all and led Susan to the final phase of her career path. Susan decided to retire from Madison City Schools so she could play an integral role in opening a WISE Preschool as well as help public schools understand and implement the benefit of LSL services for students with hearing loss in the Huntsville/Madison/Decatur area.
Kayla Sides is a Speech-Language Pathologist with seven years of experience working with the pediatric population. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communicative Disorders, as well as her graduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from The University of Alabama. Kayla is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), holds Certification of Clinical Competency (CCC) from ASHA, and holds a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Kayla began her career by working as a school based SLP for the Tuscaloosa City Schools. In 2016 she moved back to Birmingham to pursue working with the birth to age three population through Early Intervention. Kayla has a passion for educating families about strategies to promote language development and communication. She regularly engages in professional development in the fields of Early Intervention, parent education/coaching, autism, childhood apraxia of speech, and other disabilities. She is married and has one son, Zachary. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family, cooking, and singing on her church’s worship team.
Elizabeth Mize attended the University of Alabama, where she received her Bachelor of Arts in Communicative Disorders and her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology. During graduate school, she completed her externship at WISE and gained valuable experience treating children with hearing loss while working alongside Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapists. Following graduate school, Elizabeth completed her clinical fellowship in speech-language pathology at the UAB Civitan-Sparks Clinics, a multidisciplinary clinic that serves children with a variety of neurodevelopmental disorders, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder. Elizabeth is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from ASHA, and holds a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. She has experience treating children with a variety of speech and language impairments in both school and outpatient clinic settings. Elizabeth has always been passionate about working with the pediatric population, and she is excited to return to WISE to continue serving children and their families.
Melissa Romeo is the Finance Manager for WISE. She attended the University of Alabama and received her B.S. degree from Birmingham-Southern College. She has worked in non-profit finance and marketing for over twenty years. Prior to working for WISE, formerly Alabama Ear Institute, she worked in event planning, marketing and sponsorships for McMillan Associates and City Stages Music Festival, as well as a Senior PGA tour golf tournament. She has been very active in the community for over 15 years and has served on several boards and committees. Melissa is a native of Birmingham and along with her husband, Jonathan, have two sons, Knox and Bryce.
LSL Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist
Wendy Piazza is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. She earned her undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders from Auburn University and a graduate degree in Speech/Language Pathology from the University of South Alabama. Wendy served as the director of the Children’s HEAR Center at Children’s Hospital for several years. She has extensive experience working with young children with a variety of communication delays/disorders. Wendy holds a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. She is also a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist – Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist through The Alexander Graham Bell Association.
LSL Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist
Susan Farrell is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field of Communication Disorders from the University of Southern Mississippi. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. Susan began her career screening the hearing of at-risk newborns. From there she worked in a variety of settings including university clinics, school systems, inpatient hospital care, home health care, and outpatient care at Children’s of Alabama. At Children’s, Susan rekindled her love for children with hearing loss by serving on a multidisciplinary cochlear implant team and becoming certified in Auditory-Verbal Therapy. After leaving Children’s, Susan found her home at WISE where she has worked for several years with preschoolers and their families in the development of spoken language.
Jennifer Baird is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Special Instructor. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of South Alabama and her graduate degree from the University of Southern Mississippi. She worked several years in a preschool program and has over 20 years experience in Early Intervention. Jennifer holds a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology and a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
LSL Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist
Kelli Ellis is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. She attended Auburn University, where she earned an undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders and graduate degree in Speech/Language Pathology. She has worked in early intervention, elementary/middle schools, outpatient clinics and spoken language preschool settings. She started her journey toward Auditory-Verbal Therapy as a teacher for children with hearing loss in an oral resource classroom before serving as a therapist on a cochlear implant team at Children’s of Alabama. After moving to Chattanooga, Tennessee, Kelli continued serving children with hearing concerns in an outpatient clinic setting. During her five years in Tennessee, she worked with the Early Hearing Detection and Intervention (EHDI) regional task force aimed at improving follow-up and intervention for families of children with hearing loss in the Chattanooga area. In 2019, Kelli was asked to be part of the Tennessee Department of Health Advisory Council for the Newborn Screening Follow-up Program. Kelli has presented at many conferences and schools and enjoys sharing her passion for listening and spoken language and the development of language and pre-literacy skills in young children. Kelli has over 18 years of experience in the evaluation and treatment of children with hearing loss as well as other developmental concerns. She returned to Birmingham, Alabama in June 2020 and is excited to join the team at WISE.
Natalie Orona Baldwin
LSL Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist
Natalie Orona Baldwin is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Listening and Spoken Language Certified Auditory-Verbal Therapist. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees in the field of Communication Disorders from Auburn University. Throughout her career, Natalie has helped hundreds of children and their families achieve spoken language. She has worked in a variety of settings including a multidisciplinary cochlear implant team, outpatient clinics, spoken language preschool, GA public schools and the private school setting. She has extensive knowledge in treatment of children with Hearing Loss/Cochlear Implants, Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, as well as a variety of other developmental delays. Natalie has served as an Auditory-Verbal Therapy mentor to graduate student interns, teachers of the deaf and Speech-Language Pathologists who serve hearing impaired students with cochlear implants in the school setting. She has presented at many professional conferences and enjoys advocating for families to access listening and spoken language services for their children. While working at the Children’s of Alabama Hospital, Natalie was one of the founding members of the WISE school in Birmingham, AL. Natalie works with WISE in the development and leadership of the parent advocacy group.
Jamie Stone graduated magna cum laude from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communicative Disorders, with a minor in Human Development and Family Studies. She participated in the undergraduate clinical program at Alabama where she received supervised, hands-on clinical practice in speech therapy with children. In August of 2016, Jamie joined the Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education as a classroom assistant. Her role at WISE began to expand beyond the classroom, and in 2021, Jamie accepted a new position as administrative assistant. She also serves as the volunteer coordinator for WISE. Jamie is passionate about WISE and the community it creates for families across Alabama. Jamie enjoys traveling to new places with her husband, Brett, and spending time with her family.
Helen Lee Miles
Helen Lee Miles earned her Bachelor’s of Arts in Communicative Disorders from the University of Alabama and her Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Memphis. Her love for audiology was influenced by her aunt and uncle, who are both audiologists. During graduate school, she completed her internship here in Birmingham at the UAB Civitan Sparks Clinics, which is a multidisciplinary clinic that provides services to children and adults with a variety of learning disabilities, developmental delays, or behavioral challenges. She collaborated with St. Jude’s Research Hospital during her graduate research to study speech perception in noise for bilingual children. After graduation, she moved back to the Birmingham area with her husband, Graham, and dog named Gibson. In her spare time she is often spending quality time with friends and family, enjoying a good book, or holding a paintbrush. After starting her career in an ENT setting, she is excited to return to her passion of serving children who are deaf and hard of hearing and their families.
Teacher of the Deaf and Hearing
Denise Wilkes is a teacher for the deaf and hearing with 28 years of experience. She has worked with children of all ages and is fluent in American Sign Language; she has also had training in the Auditory-Verbal approach. Denise has extensive experience in the use of assistive listening devices, providing staff training and the management of equipment for Shelby County Schools‘ Deaf Education program. She is married and has two daughters, Tamar and Olivia. Tamar is a senior at Auburn University earning a degree in nursing and Olivia is entering 7th grade at Berry Middle School. Denise and her husband, Billy, are both musicians and lead worship for their church.
Early Childhood Special Education Teacher
Valerie Guthrie is an Early Intervention Special Instructor who has worked in a number of settings with children with disabilities from birth to eighth grade. She has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Auburn University and a M.A. in Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Alabama at Birmingham. She holds a current Alabama Teachers Certificate and regularly engages in professional development in the fields of Early Intervention, Parent Education, Literacy, Autism and other disabilities. Valerie began working with students with disabilities right out of college and enjoyed tutoring reading and school readiness for a number of years. She has served in special education in public schools, private preschool programs, nonprofit organizations and with the state as a special instructor. Valerie enjoys spending time with her family, reading, gardening, hiking and being active in her church.
Early Intervention Service Coordinator
Te’Aundra Mosley graduated from the University of Alabama with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communicative Disorders minoring in Human Development and Family Studies. During undergrad, she served as a member of the National Student Speech Language Hearing Association where she increased her leadership skills and gained an extensive understanding of speech disorders and hearing loss. Te’Aundra worked at the Child Development Research Center during her time at UA as a long-term substitute teacher, increasing her love and desire to work with children. After graduation, she became certified in Teaching English as a Foreign Language (TEFL). During the last two years, Te’Aundra worked for an international education company that specializes in English language training. During her free time, she enjoys traveling, and spending time with her daughter and puppy.
Monya Peppers is a Speech-Language Pathologist with two decades of experience working with students to improve educational outcomes by building communication, academic, and social skills. She taught preschool and kindergarten in a Christian school for seven years and worked as a school based SLP in Alabama public schools for thirteen years. Monya received an undergraduate degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Montevallo and a Master of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Alabama A&M University. She currently holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and a teaching certificate in Speech-Language Impairment from the Alabama State Department of Education. Monya is passionate about building strong communication skills in all students, as an investment in our students’ futures, as well as in our community’s future. Monya loves to spend time with her family and travel to new places.
Early Intervention Service Coordinator
Heather Griffin is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Early Intervention Service Coordinator who has been serving children from birth to age three and their families in the Mobile area since 2008. She received a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Montevallo and a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology from Vanderbilt University. Heather holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language and Hearing Association and a state license from the Alabama Board of Examiners in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology. She is currently pursuing certification as a Listening and Spoken Language Specialist through the Alexander Graham Bell Association. As part of the WISE team, she can continue to provide essential early intervention services and also expand into providing Listening and Spoken Language resources to children of any age in Mobile and surrounding counties.
Early Intervention Service Coordinator
Early Intervention Developmental Specialist
Brooke Smith is an Early Intervention Special Instructor and Service Coordinator for WISE. Brooke graduated from the University of Alabama with a B.A. degree in Communicative Disorders and began serving deaf and hard of hearing children as a Speech Language Pathologist Assistant. She then earned her Master’s Degree in Special Education from Jacksonville State University while working in an oral preschool where she spent eight years teaching. Brooke has devoted her career to helping deaf and hard of hearing children learn to communicate through Spoken English and supporting families through that journey. Brooke is also a wife and mother to two boys who enjoys spending time with her family, trips to the beach and camping.
Our program is staffed by Certified Speech-Language Pathologists who are also Certified Listening and Spoken Language Specialists. They have over 80 years combined experience working with children with hearing loss and their families. Certified Speech-Language Pathologists provide classroom support in the WISE Toddler group and Preschool classrooms. They also provide individual speech therapy sessions for children with typical hearing. Trained paraprofessionals provide classroom support and assist in preparing therapy materials. Two Certified Speech-Language Pathologists volunteer in our program on a weekly basis.
Volunteers are critical to the success of WISE. Our volunteers provide assistance to the staff and children in our preschool classrooms. Volunteers help with classroom activities, snack, music, and art. Volunteers may also provide one on one instruction to children. Volunteers are asked to commit to one morning per week (9:00-11:00). Volunteers are required to complete a background check and a volunteer orientation/training session. If you would like to learn more about volunteering at WISE, please fill out the volunteer form.
Our Board of Directors
Dr. Audie Woolley
President and Chairman
Chief Pediatric Otolaryngologist
Pediatric ENT Associates
Medical Director, Cochlear Implant Program
Children’s of Alabama
Dr. Audie Woolley completed undergraduate studies at Angelo State University and attended medical school at the University of Texas Health Science Center. He completed his residency in otolaryngology head and neck surgery at Washington University-Barnes Hospital in St. Louis, Missouri. After graduating residency, he completed a fellowship in pediatric otolaryngology at St. Louis Children’s Hospital. Dr. Woolley spearheaded the cochlear implant program at Children’s of Alabama in 1995 and since its inception has performed over 700 cochlear implants. He is co-founder of the Alabama School of Hearing, recently renamed WISE (Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education). Dr. Woolley has published numerous articles and book chapters in the field of otolaryngology and is a featured speaker nationally and internationally.
SVP, CFO, Consumer Banking, Regional Banking Group
Parent of WISE Graduate
Daniel Hobbs is an Executive Vice President, Head of Corporate Finance at Regions Bank in Birmingham. He received a B.S. degree in Accounting from the University of Alabama at Birmingham and a CBA degree in Executive Banking School from Furman University. He is married to Natalie Hobbs and they have two daughters. His youngest daughter, Allie, is a cochlear implant recipient and attended WISE during her preschool years.
Executive Director of Procurement
Parent of WISE Graduate
Ron Collins originally hails from Atlanta, GA but now makes his home with his wife, Mischa, and 3 boys (Grayson, Sawyer, and Ryder) in Hoover, AL. Ron is a graduate of Auburn University as well as a retired United States Marine Corps Lieutenant Colonel. He is the Executive Director of Procurement for The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Ron has been honored to serve on the WISE Board for the past 3 years as a parent of a bi-laterally implanted child who also was fortunate enough to attend WISE during his formative years.
DMS Construction & Services
McGowin Miller is originally from Brewton, Alabama but now lives in Birmingham with his wife Celina and three kids, Jim, David, and Izzie. He is founder and President of DMS Construction & Services. McGowin enjoys playing competitive golf and will be representing the USA in the World Deaf Golf Championship this October in Hawaii.
Parent of LSL Graduate
After graduating from The University of Alabama in 1988, Leigh moved to Birmingham and worked in various positions in the healthcare field. She and her husband Joe have been married for many years and are the parents of two daughters, Caroline and Virginia. Caroline, now 24, was born with bilateral sensorineural hearing loss and has two cochlear implants. As a result of available resources and many hours of auditory verbal therapy, Caroline learned to listen and speak at an early age and enjoyed great academic success in both pre and post-secondary school. Caroline graduated from Mountain Brook High School with honors in 2014 and received a degree in journalism and Spanish from Washington & Lee University in 2018. Virginia is a rising senior at Auburn University and is a special education major.
Leigh has been a community volunteer and involved in numerous philanthropic organizations for almost 30 years. In addition to serving as a board member for WISE, she is a member of the Downtown Birmingham Sunrise Rotary Club, Community Impact board member for the United Way of Central Alabama and a board member for the YMCA of Greater Birmingham.
Leigh is passionate about advocating and addressing the challenges that exist in providing therapy needed to ensure academic success for Alabama’s children affected by hearing loss.
Mary Lauren McBride
Parent of WISE Graduate
Mary Lauren McBride is the principal and founder of Mary McBride Interiors, LLC. She received a Bachelors degree from the University of Alabama in Interior Design. She has worked professionally in both Commercial Design and Residential Design since graduating in 2004. In 2014 she founded her own ﬁrm and has continued to grow since then. In addition to running her own ﬁrm, Mary Lauren has served on numerous boards and organizations within her community over the past 16 years. She currently serves on the Board for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Greater Birmingham and the Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education. She is a mother to three girls and married to Bart E. McBride. Mary Lauren’s daughter, Vivi, attended the WISE Preschool program for several years.
Department of Communicative Disorders
University of Alabama
Marcia Hay-McCutcheon began her career as a primary school teacher and a teacher for deaf and hard of hearing children in Toronto, Ontario, Canada after obtaining a Bachelor of Arts (1986) and a Bachelor of Education (1987) at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. She and her husband, Russell, moved to Knoxville, Tennessee in 1993 where she obtained a Master of Arts degree in Audiology (1997). She worked as a clinical and research Audiologist at Riley Children’s Hospital, Indianapolis, IN from 1997 to 1999. It was in her capacity as an Audiologist that Marcia first began to work with hearing impaired children and adults who use cochlear implants. She went on to complete a PhD degree (2004) at the University of Iowa where her work examined electrophysiological and behavioral responses from adults who use cochlear implants. From 2004 to 2008 she worked at the Indiana University Medical School in the Department of Otolaryngology—Head and Neck Surgery where she conducted research that examined how cochlear implants improved speech understanding skills in both children and adults. Since 2008, she has worked as an Associate Professor and currently, Professor, at the University of Alabama in the Department of Communicative Disorders. Her work focuses on improving access and affordability of hearing healthcare for people with hearing loss in underserved Alabama communities, with help from the Hear Here Alabama mobile audiology clinic.
John Henley has been in the insurance and risk management industry since 1990 and has been a State Farm Agent in Vestavia Hills since 2010.
John is a 1985 graduate of Andalusia High School, a 1989 graduate of Mercer University with a BBA in Business Management and a 2000 graduate of Troy University with an MBA.
John is a member and past president of the Vestavia Hills Sunrise Rotary Club; a graduate and past president of Leadership Vestavia Hills; He is a member of the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce, was Chair of the VH Chamber in 2020 and 2021 and continues to serve on the Board of Directors as immediate past chair. He was elected to serve as a member of the Vestavia Hills City Council from 2012 – 2016.
John was the recipient of the Dr. Charles A. “Scotty” McCallum Leadership Award presented by the Vestavia Hills Chamber of Commerce in 2014 and 2018. John and his wife Gina were presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award presented by Leadership Vestavia Hills in 2020 and both were also recognized as the parishioners of the year by St. Elias in 2020.
John and his wife Gina have been married since 1995 and have two daughters. Katharine and Lily are both graduates of Vestavia Hills High School and the University of Mississippi. He and his family are active members of St. Elias Maronite Catholic Church.
Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services
Betsy graduated with a master’s degree in Special Education and spent the first years of her professional career as a teacher of children with multiple disabilities and advocating for their full inclusion and participation in communities throughout their lifetimes. Throughout her career, Betsy has directed various training and leadership development programs aimed at empowering people with disabilities and their families to impact policy and legislation. She has Served as Director of Partners in Policymaking of Alabama, Director of the Family Advisory Board for Civitan International Research Center, and Executive Director for the Arc of Alabama. Betsy has worked for the past 25 years for the Alabama Department of Rehabilitation Services and served as Director of Alabama’s Early Intervention System. She has led in the development a system of services and supports for infants and toddlers with disabilities and their families throughout Alabama. As a mother of a young man who had significant intellectual and multiple disabilities, she has long been an advocate for those requiring extensive, complex systems of care. She has a passion for systems change through grassroots advocacy, sharing the importance of quality early childhood programs and their impact on young children and families, and promoting the inclusion of all people with significant disabilities in education, work, play and every aspect of community life.
Beverly Hunter, Ed.S.
Alabama State Department of Education
Beverly Hunter is a retired educator who has spent her entire career working with children with disabilities. Beverly graduated from Auburn University with a B.S. in Speech Therapy and from the University of Alabama with a M.A. in Deaf Education. She began her career as an educator of deaf children at Lakeview School in the Birmingham schools and moved on to the Alabama Department of Education as the Education Specialist for Deaf, Blind and Deaf/Blind programs. In this role, Beverly provided technical assistance to local school personnel in implementing programs in special education to comply with Public Law 94-142. In 1980 Beverly joined the Department of Communicative Disorders at the University of Mississippi where she directed a program for preschool children with hearing loss and supervised graduate students in aural rehabilitation. Beverly returned to the Alabama Department of Education and provided leadership for the Department in the development of preschool services for children with disabilities. Upon her retirement from the Department, Beverly joined the Alabama Ear Institute in 2006 and organized the first classes of the School for Hearing in cooperation with Children’s Hospital staff. Beverly is very enthusiastic about the growth of WISE and the opportunities provided to families with children learning spoken language. After many years in education, her work at WISE is truly her most fulfilling.
Joe L. Leak
Vice Chairman Leak
Douglas & Morano, P.C.
Parent of LSL Graduate
Joe Leak is the managing partner of Leak, Douglas & Morano, P.C. He has practiced law in Birmingham, Alabama, since his graduation from the University of Alabama Law School in 1989. His practice focuses on corporate transactions and litigation. He is active in the community and has served on multiple charitable boards through the years. He has been married to his wife Leigh for 28 years and they have two daughters, Caroline (24) and Virginia (21). His daughter Caroline has bilateral cochlear implants, and it was her journey that led him to join the board of directors of the WISE predecessor in 2004.
Homewood City Council
Parent of WISE Graduate
Jennifer Andress is a Homewood City Councilor, and also the Marketing Director at Resolute Running Training Center. She serves on the Red Mountain Greenway Recreational Area Commission and is a member of the Board of Directors of Girls on The Run Birmingham, in addition to the WISE. Jennifer is a member of the Kiwanis Club of Homewood and Mountain Brook and spent many years as an officer serving the Bell Center for Early Intervention Programs and the Service Guild. Previously, Jennifer served as the President of the Birmingham Track Club, a non-profit with 1200 members, from 2012-2015. Jennifer and her husband Keith have two sons, John and Will, who both wear bi-lateral cochlear implants. Will was in the inaugural WISE class in 2009. The Andresses are active members at Trinity United Methodist Church in Homewood.
Tammi Dahle, Ph.D.
VP Enrollment & Student Affairs
Dean of Students
University of Montevallo
Parent of WISE Graduate
Dr. Tammi Dahle is the Vice President for Enrollment and Student Affairs at the University of Montevallo. In that role, she oversees 65 staff members in 11 University departments and is responsible for all strategic initiatives related to enrollment as well as student services and campus safety. A Birmingham native, Dr. Dahle is a graduate of the University of Montevallo and received both a Bachelors Degree of Fine Arts and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from that institution. Dr. Dahle also holds a doctoral degree from the University of Alabama in Counselor Education, which she received in 2003. Over the 20 years she has worked to help educate Alabama students at UM, Dr. Dahle has also served as Career Center Director, Counseling Center Director, Counseling and Career Center Director, and Dean of Students. Her professional involvements include American Counseling Association, Alabama Counseling Association, Alabama College Counseling Association, the Alabama Career Development Association, the Alabama Mental Health Counselors Association, the American Student Conduct Association, and the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Dr. Dahle was selected by the Birmingham Business Journal as a 2018 “Woman to Watch” and she has been involved in the Birmingham Area Consortium on Higher Education Department of Justice Grant to prevent sexual violence, the Shelby County Drug Free Coalition and the Charity League of Birmingham. Dr. Dahle is married to John Dahle of Birmingham and has two sons, Jack and Ben.
Charlie Regan, Jr.
Gorrie Regan & Associates
Charlie Regan Jr. is the President and owner of Gorrie Regan & Associates in Birmingham, Alabama. Founded in 1959, Gorrie Regan is a systems integrator tracing its origin as a time clock service company. Since that time, they have grown to offer business and building systems throughout the southeast and around country. Specializing in employee time keeping systems, parking revenue control, and security and access control systems, Gorrie Regan is an industry leader in the markets they serve. Charlie Regan Jr. attended Auburn University where he was President/Vice President of Sigma Alpha Epsilon Social Fraternity. He has recently served as President of SAE House Corporation. He and his wife, Jennifer Wynn Regan are active alumni members of the School of Liberal Arts and recently participated in a university fundraising campaign that raised over one billion dollars. He is very active in his community as he serves on the board of the Crippled Children’s Foundation, Executive Member of the Alabama Better Business Bureau, the Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (WISE) and The Monday Morning Quarterback Club. He and his wife Jennifer, have three children and are very active members of Covenant Presbyterian Church. Charlie has served his church as a Deacon and an Elder. Charlie has a wide range of interests from competitive BBQ events, gardening, and as a self-described motor head – a passion for anything with an engine from cars to motorcycles to boats to airplanes.
President and CEO of AEgis Technologies Group
Parent of 3 LSL Graduates
Steve Hill is the retired President and CEO of The AEgis Technologies Group. In this role, he provided ongoing executive direction of a $130M+ annual revenue company with 380+ employees and its subsidiary business units in 10 locations throughout the US. AEgis specializes in using modeling & simulation technology to support weapon systems development and war fighter exercise support and training. One of the company’s primary objectives is to use modeling & simulation to train our war fighters so they come home safely. The company has particular technical expertise in Directed Energy, Satellite Communications, C4ISR, Virtual Reality and Cyber Security. In late 2019, AEgis Technologies was acquired by Arlington Capital Partners of Washington, D.C. Steve and his wife, Andi, retain a financial interest in the company, which has been renamed Blue Halo, and he remains on the Board of Directors. BlueHalo has grown, primarily through acquisition, to 1,400+ employees and $475M in revenues. Steve received a BSEE from the University of Alabama in Huntsville and continued his education at Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management Executive MBA Certificate. Although Steve grew up an Army dependent in a variety of locations around the world, he considers the Huntsville area to be home. Steve and his wife, Andi, have three adult children all of which are deaf, have bilateral cochlear implants and use the Listening & Spoken Language (LSL) Communication Mode. He enjoys working out, hiking, boating/wake surfing, and spending time with his family. Steve is the Board Chair for Lincoln Village Ministry and for the International Leadership Institute and a Board Member of the UAH Foundation and Redstone Village. Steve is on the President’s Advisory Council at UAH and a member of the Parents Advisory Board for Samford University. He is also an active member of C12 – a Christian business peer advisory group. Steve and Andi volunteer or support the Cornerstone Initiative, CRU, Huntsville Botanical Gardens, His Hands Mission International, Heartlight Ministries, Huntsville Hospital Foundation, Huntsville Hospital Pediatric Therapy & Audiology Center, Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (W.I.S.E.), and Alabama Hands & Voices. Steve and Andi attend Summit Crossing Community Church.
Tom Oliver, a founding Shareholder at Carr Allison, is a trial attorney specializing in complex matters involving transportation and professional litigation. He has litigated cases in the state and federal courts of Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Tennessee, and Virginia. Tom was selected by USLAW to serve as its Chairman in 2015-2016, after serving on the Board and Executive Committee, as well as Chairman of its Transportation and Professional Liability Committees. Tom served as an adjunct professor of trial advocacy at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University in Birmingham, Alabama. He was a Trustee of the Alabama Law Foundation for over 17 years including serving as its President in 2014-2015. He has been named to the Mid-South Super Lawyers list, Top Lawyer by Corporate Counsel, is included in The Best Lawyers in America© and earned an AV-rating through Martindale-Hubbell. He was also chosen as a 2017-2018 “Top Flight Lawyer” for bMetro magazine. Tom served for more than 12 years on the Board of the Alabama Chapter of the March of Dimes, including a two-year term as Chairman. He served as President of the Auburn University Bar Association and remains active in the Alabama State Bar and American Bar Association. Tom is an instrument-rated pilot and enjoys ﬂying in his Beechcraft Bonanza. He enjoys playing golf and is an avid supporter of his alma mater: the Auburn Tigers. He has been married for over 30 years and is the proud father of a lawyer and a nurse. He recently became a grandfather for the first time!
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The Woolley Institute for Spoken-Language Education (WISE), is a 501 © not for profit organization dedicated to teaching deaf children to speak. We are a statewide, family focused program working in collaboration with Alabama’s Early Intervention System, local school systems, and private and public entities which advance the education of deaf children who use listening and spoken language.