Saying Farewell to the Role of CSA Coordinator

This article first appeared in the Fall 2009 issue of the CSA Newsletter

Shelli is a speech pathologist and a person who stutters. She became involved in the CSA to support other people who stutter by sharing her personal experiences, and to be a strong voice for people who stutter in Canada. She lives in Edmonton with her husband, Joe.

shelli teshima Shelli Teshima

Four years ago I was given an opportunity to be the national coordinator of the Canadian Stuttering Association. Upon reflection I realize that I did not know what I would be dealing with as coordinator, or what an impact the position would have on my life.

I thought I would lead a few meetings, send some emails, attend conferences and hopefully inspire others who stuttered to become involved in the CSA. Those would prove to be some of my tasks, but there were so many more duties that came my way and challenged me as a person who stutters.

When I became coordinator at the conclusion of the 2005 conference, I had spent much of the conference focussing on the conference theme “many voices, many stories.” I have listened to the voices of many CSA members over the last few years and have heard many stories. I have laughed with some of you and I have cried with some of you as we have shared stories. You have touched my life and have helped me see the positive in the most difficult of situations.
It is now time for me to step down as coordinator and move on to other challenges in my life, but I wanted to have the opportunity to thank the CSA board of directors and it members for giving me this four year opportunity. The positive experiences of the past four years have outweighed the difficulties that any leadership role typically brings with it. I hope that sharing some of these positives with you will motivate some of you to become more involved in the CSA and stuttering self-help.

I have had the opportunity to work with a wonderful and dedicated group of individuals as part of the CSA board of directors. The directors have all become my friends and I will miss the “email chats.”



I was probably the most disappointed CSA member when the 2009 conference was cancelled earlier this year. I love the conferences as an opportunity to reconnect with the CSA family and to meet new members. Conferences have given me the chance to face my fears such as public speaking and introducing myself to strangers.

Phone Calls
For those of you who know me well, you are probably thinking this is a typo – phone calls could not be a positive experience. I HATE the telephone, but as the coordinator I have had to make so many phone calls. Phone calls to members, businesses, other organizations, etc… I have dealt with anxiety when having to make calls and now feel empowered when I make a call with no sense of panic. I now make calls for the CSA and my own personal calls with limited or no anxiety.

Public speaking
I have had opportunities to speak at conferences, meetings, and educational events to promote the CSA. These opportunities have given me the confidence to not be afraid to speak at work-related events and to even give presentations unrelated to stuttering. I enjoy speaking with people now!


A leadership role often brings forth challenges as you are in daily contact with individuals all with their own ideas and opinions. I have learned that everyone’s opinion should be valued and heard. As a leader, I have had to hear many different opinions and have had to learn to accept opinions that differ from my own. Sometimes my way is not the best way!

I always thought that I was accepting of my stuttering and the stuttering of others, but my involvement in the CSA has helped me become way more accepting of it. I have learned that stuttering is not the end of the world – some of my best friends are people who stutter (PWS) and some of the coolest kids I have ever met are children who stutter. Stuttering has made me who I am and I have been given some amazing opportunities because I am a PWS.

Leadership Skills
Thanks to the CSA I have gained experience in leading meetings, taking minutes, delegating tasks, maintaining budgets and so many more skills that are invaluable for directors in all organizations. I will be able to transfer these skills to any organization that I feel I want to be involved with in the future.

As I step down as coordinator, I know that my ties with the CSA are not being severed. I know that I will be involved in the CSA for a long time in some capacity. For now, I will continue to deal with memberships – this is my chance to remind all of you to renew your membership for 2009! (you can do this on the website – ed.) and perhaps I will share my experiences as a speech-language pathologist who stutters in future newsletters.

Thank you to all of you for supporting me as the national coordinator for the last four years. It has been my pleasure to lead our organization and once again I encourage all of you to challenge yourselves and become more involved in the CSA.

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