Get to Know the Volunteers at the Canadian Stuttering Association!
The Canadian Stuttering Association is entirely run by our motivated, committed and compassionate volunteers. Here are a few words from our volunteers about who they are and what the Canadian Stuttering Association means to them.
Eeva's daughter, Alexandra D'Agostino, is a person who stutters and has been on the CSA board of directors and the conference planning committee for two years. Providing support for Alexandra over the years has given Eeva a deep understanding of the unique challenges faced by people who stutter. Previously Eeva has worked as a long-time volunteer on the Steering Committee of the Innovative Interfaces Inc. Users Group, an international organization with university, public, special and school libraries as members. She lives in London, Ontario.
My name is Casey Kennedy. I live in Toronto, and I’m a speech-language pathologist who stutters. I am on the Board of Directors of the CSA as the SLP Liaison. Growing up with a stutter sometimes made me feel frustrated and isolated. I felt as though no one else understood how it felt to stutter. When I first stumbled into the world of stuttering self-help support groups in 2013, it was such a life changing experience for me. That’s why I am involved with the CSA – to help connect Canadians who stutter, because I know how important it can be. I love hearing people’s stories, and sharing in our similarities and differences. I love that when I’m around other people who stutter I feel even freer to stutter to my heart’s content. Being involved in the stuttering community continues to normalize stuttering for me, which helps me in my personal journey of acceptance. Fun fact about me – I’m into genealogy (family history) and have traced back my family tree to the 1500s! Oh, and I can recite, on demand, the first 40 digits of pi. Go ahead. Ask me.
Name: Andrew Harding
I have been involved with the stuttering community since I was 20 and reluctantly took my speech therapist's advice to go a support group. That led eventually to a job with the British Stammering Association in the UK where I led the communications and media activity. After moving to Toronto in 2010 I got in touch with the Canadian Stuttering Association and found myself leading a new phase of outreach and growth. Whether you have never spoken to someone about stuttering, or find it is no long a problem for you, I encourage you to get in touch with CSA.
I got involved with CSA when I helped out with the National conference in 2007, as I had fond memories of the conferences I attended in the 1990s. I had been involved with the British Columbia association (BCAPS) when I lived out there, but moved back to Ontario in 2000. Originally I was just going to create a website for the conference. At that time, however, there was some disunity within the organization, and I thought a general organizational website could be a tool to bring people together and attract new people.
People have access to so much virtual connectivity and information, so I think one of the roles of CSA is to enable in-person engagement. That's why the conferences are, to me, the most important thing we can do. Youtube videos are great, but real-life encounters with other people who stutter are what is truly life changing.
I think it's remarkable that CSA has been around for so long purely on the dedication of volunteers.
Besides trying to understand the internet and web development in my spare time, I work as a graphic designer. I've also been known to fiddle around painting, writing, reading and doing yoga.
My name is Alexandra D’Agostino and I have stuttered since I was 7. I am an undergraduate student at Wilfrid Laurier University, working on a combined honours in Psychology and Anthropology. Music is one of my passions, (I play 7 instruments!), and I am hoping to pursue a Master’s degree in Music Therapy one day. Another passion that I have is helping people and volunteering. I have spent the past 5 years volunteering with the National Stuttering Association in the United States, where I spent 3 of those years serving on their Teen Advisory Council. When I was invited to be on the Board of Directors for the Canadian Stuttering Association I was thrilled to be able to volunteer with an association that is closer to home. Being on the Board of Directors has been such an extraordinary, and honouring experience to have the opportunity to help to revitalize the CSA from the ground up. By volunteering with the CSA and NSA, I hope to change other people’s lives the same way that the two stuttering associations did for me.
Christina lives in Victoria, BC with her fiancé and has a BA double major from the Facility of Social Sciences in Political Science and History. She now works with the British Columbia Provincial Government and plans on getting her Masters in Comparative Public Policy in September 2019. She is happy to be volunteering as the CSA Communications Coordinator and Newsletter editor, and writing articles for the web site.
I am from Toronto and currently live in Victoria, BC where I am a PhD biology student studying peatland plant community dynamics on short (neoecological) and long (paleoecological) timescales. I have been stuttering since I was a young child and felt trapped by my stutter for most of my life. Just a few years ago I was afraid, and quite unable, to answer phones and order coffee. Now, I am award-winning public speaker, and would say that, for the most part, I actually enjoy public speaking. It has taken a while to get comfortable with my speech. A key step was shifting the focus from "being fluent" to "communicating effectively". My approach to effective communication is grounded solidly in fluency techniques supplemented with mindfulness and self-compassion practices. Engaging with the stuttering community continues to be a critical part of my journey and I am very excited to be on the CSA team!
I'm a mostly retired business executive who held senior leadership roles across all sectors, largely dealing with the marketing/communications functions.
About three years ago, I determined that my business experience, coupled with my life-long stuttering journey, might be of interest and possible value to the CSA. As I have a keen interest in operational and strategic planning, I offered to facilitate and develop a strategic rethink of the CSA's core programs and services, as part of its business revitalization effort. I've been on the CSA Board ever since. It's quite wonderful to have such a remarkable opportunity to give back, and to work with my CSA colleagues in helping others deal with the rather intriguing mystery of stuttering.
Beyond the CSA, I sit on several other Boards and national committees, but always find time for my two dear granddaughters. I've also published several books of poetry and perform spoken word art and my one-man show, Infinite Sequels, throughout central Ontario.