WHO WE ARE
"We focus on the whole person, the family, and the community."
- Kristin Chmela, founder and director
Kristin Chmela treated her first client on her living room floor and recognized the need for better services for individuals who stutter. Fueled by intense passion and relentless commitment, the center has grown to be the leading clinic for stuttering in the Northwest Suburban Chicago area, servicing hundreds of clients of all ages, both locally and globally. Additionally, Chmela Communication Center offers evidence-based services for individuals with other speech and language needs.
Kristin is fortunate to closely mentor and work side by side with outstanding colleagues who also hold a special interest in the area of stuttering, value positive relationships, and employ critical thinking skills with professional integrity.
OUR CORE VALUES
We prioritize positive relationships, educating and assisting clients, families, relevant others, and society as a whole.
POWER OF THE PERSON
We create a space for individuals to be heard and choose how they wish to evolve as communicators.
We invest time understanding each person’s unique experiences and differences.
Kristin A. Chmela, M.A., CCC-SLP BCS-F
Owner and Director
Kristin spends most of her time serving clients, mentoring colleagues, and training therapists, and is internationally recognized for her clinical work. Kristin’s passion for helping children who stutter, for almost 35 years, stems in part from her experiences growing up stuttering. She is an ISHA fellow, was a member of the initial cadre of recognized fluency specialists, and served as chair of the American Board of Fluency and Fluency Disorders, spearheading the transition to certification of specialists. Earlier in her career, she collaborated extensively with the Stuttering Foundation on educational videos and is senior author of The School-Age Child Who Stutters: Working Effectively with Attitudes and Emotions. She co-authored Working With School-Age Children Who Stutter: Basic Principle Problem Solving, and has published practical therapy products. As co-founder and co-director of Camp Shout Out, Kristin develops and facilitates the Training and Therapeutic Programs. Kristin has completed two 200-hour training programs in yoga, and several mindfulness training courses. Kristin loves spending time with her family, gardening, dancing, painting, and learning.
Kristin was received Level 1 Certification from Dr. Christopher Dillard's "Growing Up Mindful" training.
Natasha Gigliotti, M.A., CCC-SLP
Natasha believes communication is one of the most essential and rewarding human functions. While servicing clients of all ages with various communication challenges, she felt a special calling for helping those with fluency disorders. After participating in Camp Shout Out for several years, Natasha moved to join Kristin at the Chmela Communication Center.
During her graduate training in Speech Language Pathology at San Diego State University, she participated in a bilingual certification program, providing her with specialized instruction and experience with multilingual populations. She provides assessment and treatment in both English and Russian, and has worked with the Spanish-speaking early intervention population. Natasha’s previous clinical experience has been in the areas of early intervention, phonological and motor speech disorders, school-age language disorders, and fluency disorders. She has worked extensively with children and adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder and various syndromes.
Natasha places great value on being a lifelong learner and regularly seeks out opportunities for professional development and collaboration with other professionals. She is eternally thankful to her professional mentors, particularly Karyn Searcy and Kristin Chmela, as well as her clients for their role in her professional growth. Natasha is grateful to have spent a year traveling the world, visiting a multitude of diverse clinics, and connecting with the global community of fellow speech-language pathologists. She has presented and facilitated professional workshops to fellow clinicians and students in universities and clinics in the United States and in Asia, is a member of the Camp Shout Out Leadership Team, and is in good standing with her professional affiliations.
Cherish Thomas, M.S., CCC-SLP
Cherish knew she wanted to be a speech-language pathologist when she was in middle school when she realized she could combine helping others with her creativity. She received her undergraduate degree in Communicative Disorders and her Masters of Science in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Her clinical experiences include early intervention, articulation/phonology, fluency, language, and autism diagnostics. For five years she worked as a speech therapist in a public-school setting servicing children ages preschool through fifth grade. During that time, she participated on the leadership team implementing a social emotional learning curriculum throughout the school district, initiated a student leadership-mentorship program, and developed kindergarten language screening standards.
Her passion in the area of fluency began in graduate school both through coursework and the clients she met. Her strong interest in fluency lead her to attend Camp Shout Out as a speech-language pathologist, where she received training under the guidance of Kristin Chmela. Since becoming a mother, Cherish enjoys working part-time at Chmela Communication Center and feels privileged to be able to continue to grow as a therapist and help individuals of all ages with fluency disorders. Cherish is in good standing with her professional affiliations, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), the Illinois Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA) and the North Suburban Speech and Language Association (NSSLA)
Meghan Schassler, M.S., CCC-SLP
Meghan was interested in becoming a speech therapist at an early age. After accompanying a family member to intensive speech therapy, she saw, first-hand, the impact that communication has on all aspects of life.
Meghan received a Master of Science Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Northwestern University. In addition to the Chmela Communication Center, Meghan also has experience working within the public school setting servicing a diverse population. Meghan’s previous clinical experiences include the areas of school-age language disorder, social communication disorder, phonology and motor speech disorder, and fluency disorder. She has attended Camp Shout Out as a graduate student and speech-language therapist. She continues to be inspired by her colleagues and the children each time she attends. Meghan actively seeks opportunities to continue to grow as a professional and enjoys learning. Meghan is in good standing with her professional affiliations, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and the Illinois Speech and Hearing Association (ISHA).
Meghan is grateful for the role that her mentors, specifically Kristin Chmela and Jordan Sadler, have played in her professional growth. She feels that her professional mentors have been instrumental in teaching her how to be a “differential thinker.”
Diane Morean, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Diane undertook a career in speech language pathology because she believes communication is fundamental to our human identity and to our core need for relationships.
Diane earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis on neuropsychology plus a Minor in Spanish at Florida Atlantic University, where she graduated summa cum laude, received the top university scholar award, and top honor’s student awards in Psychology, Language Arts, and Public Speaking. Diane earned her Ph.D. in communication disorders with certification in cognitive neuroscience at Northwestern University and worked extensively with individuals who have aphasia. She was subsequently awarded a postdoctoral fellowship to study Advanced Research in the Rehabilitation of Neurological Speech Disorders at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. During that time, she earned a Master’s degree in Clinical Investigation, secured grant funding for her research on word retrieval and cognitive deficits following chemotherapy for breast cancer, and produced an approved Continuing Education class for health care professionals. Diane is lead author of peer-reviewed journal articles on language and cognitive disorders and has articles in preparation. She has taught Neurology, Stuttering, and Research Methods to graduate students, and, Medical Speech Pathology and Phonological Disorders in Children to undergraduate students. She presently serves as an advisor on a Master’s thesis addressing cognitive and language deficits in children treated for brain tumors.
Diane is currently completing her clinical fellowship and is a member of ASHA and the American Psychological Association. She is ever grateful for the happiness in her heart derived from working at this very special place, the Chmela Communication Center!
Kyle Pelkey, M.S., CCC-SLP
Kyle decided to pursue a career as a speech-language pathologist after meeting fellow people who stutter through the Northeast Pennsylvania Chapter of the National Stuttering Association, a group he later went on to lead for three years. As someone who stutters himself, Kyle believes we can all improve our communicative abilities alongside our own unique challenges.
Kyle received a Master of Science Degree in Speech Language Pathology from Misericordia University in Dallas, Pennsylvania. At the Chmela Communication Center, Kyle provides assessment and treatment for clients of all ages with stuttering or other fluency disorders, and also serves individuals with other speech and language needs. His prior experiences include working in a pediatric outpatient clinic focusing on children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, and a variety of other special needs as well as both inpatient and outpatient clinics with adults recovering from strokes, traumatic brain injuries, and other medical conditions.
During his time at Misericordia, Kyle presented fluency research focusing on neural-imaging studies utilizing near-infrared spectroscopy at both state and national conferences. Kyle is forever grateful for the relationship with his mentors Dr. Glen Tellis, Kristin Chmela, Dr. Erik Raj, and Natasha Gigliotti as they have facilitated his evolution as a communicator and clinician. Kyle attended Camp Shout Out as a graduate student, served as a facilitator's assistant for the Virtual Camp Program in 2020, and is a co-coordinator for the Camp Shout Out Community Connections virtual program. Aside from his work as a speech-language pathologist, Kyle enjoys camping, fishing, golfing, NASCAR racing, and spending time with family and friends.
Nick Caruso, M.S., CCC-SLP
Nick decided to pursue a career in speech-language pathology after watching The King’s Speech. As a person who stutters himself, this film brought his attention to the potential impact his experience could leave on others. As he progressed through his education, he realized how unique stuttering is to every individual and was motivated to seek out a specialized way of doing this work.
Nick received a Master of Science Degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Midwestern University in Downer’s Grove Illinois. In addition to the Chmela Communication Center, Nick has experience working in an Autism center, and a multidisciplinary classroom setting. His clinical experience includes fluency disorders, phonological and articulation disorders, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Aphasia, and AAC. At Midwestern, he served as Vice President of his class, and became a voice for the program in the College of Health Sciences. Also during his graduate experience, he presented at the Illinois Speech-Language and Hearing Association State concern regarding research in the effectiveness of group therapy in Aphasia.
Nick also attended Camp Shout Out, both in person and virtually, and serves as a co-lead for Camp Shout Out Community Connections, a monthly virtual gathering experience for youth who stutter (alongside Kyle Pelky M.S., CCC-SLP). Nick presented with Dr. Erik Raj at the Czech Republic Logopedics Online Conference for International Stuttering Awareness Day, regarding the effectiveness of technology and voice games in stuttering therapy. Nick is thankful for his mentors in the area of fluency: Kimberly Hoffer, Kristin Chmela, and Erik Raj for guiding him on his path to becoming a Board-Certified Specialist, and an overall better clinician. Nick enjoys film, soccer, the Chicago Cubs, and spending time with family and friends.