The Stroke Comeback Center is fortunate to have dedicated, experienced and talented professionals who bring expertise and enthusiasm to all of our programs! This ensures that members will interact with personnel who have relevant background and expertise, even though our programs and activities do not constitute reimbursable professional services.
Darlene S. Williamson, M.A., CCC-SLP, Founder & Executive Director
Darlene is well-known in the field of speech-language pathology, having presented at the regional, state and national level and as the recipient of several awards for her professional contributions and her tireless advocacy for people with aphasia. She received her undergraduate education at Purdue University and completed her postgraduate education at the University of Illinois. Darlene has more than 30 years of experience in all levels of post-stroke care. She was previously the Clinic Director at The George Washington University, in Washington, DC. Her commitment to individuals with aphasia is demonstrated by serving as the President of the National Aphasia Association. She has presented in the areas of supervision, ethics, progressive dementia, and aphasia, particularly group treatment and quality outcomes, but her primary area of clinical expertise and investigation is apraxia. She has researched the efficacy of various approaches to apraxia, including the Video Assisted Speech Technology (VASTTM) approach. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her grandchildren, reading historical biographies, all sports, and walking her dog. Her favorite time at the Center is hearing the laughter of the members.
Contact Darlene at:
Connie Dupuy, Development Coordinator
Connie joined The Stroke Comeback Center in 2018. Prior to coming to the Center, Connie worked in the direct marketing field, managing direct mail implementation relative to creative, list selection, and mail delivery. She managed the day-to-day marketing needs of her clients, coordinating the completion of deliverables with internal creative teams, outside agencies, list providers, and third party processors. In her free time, Connie enjoys spending time with her family, taking her dog on long walks and relaxing with a good book. Her favorite part of the Center is the camaraderie of the members.
Contact Connie at:
Carolyn Bagdoyan, Yoga Instructor
Carolyn is a registered yoga instructor with extensive and intensive yoga therapy training; she is completing in 2018 a 1000-hour yoga therapy certification program specializing in yoga functional movement therapeutics. Carolyn is a certified Level 1 LifeForce Yoga® Practitioner (LFYP), trained to use Amy Weintraub’s yoga protocol for balancing mood and mood management, including depression and anxiety. Carolyn has assisted Weintraub in workshops and weekend trainings. Carolyn’s therapeutic yoga training also includes a certification in classical Yoga Nidra; brain and sensory foundations coursework (neurodevelopmental movement for physical, emotional, social, and learning skills;) restorative yoga; as well as Y12SR leadership training in yoga for addiction and recovery. Carolyn works with clients privately through her company Heart Tree Yoga LLC and teaches customized workshops and classes. Carolyn’s favorite part of teaching yoga is helping members discover how to read and respond compassionately to their own body’s needs so they can experience greater well-being in their overall lives.
Contact Carolyn at:
Suzanne M. Coyle, MA, CCC-SLP, Program Director
Suzanne joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2008. Prior to joining the staff of the Center she was a Senior Speech-Language Pathologist at the Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital where she worked with survivors of stroke and brain injury. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Miami University in Ohio, and a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from Georgetown University. Research interests include aphasia group treatment, clinical ethics, and quality of life after stroke. In her free time Suzanne enjoys travel, exercise, and following the Washington Nationals. Her favorite aspect of being at the Center is watching new friendships form between members.
Contact Suzanne at:
Adena Dacy, MS, CCC-SLP
Adena joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2019. She alsoworks forthe American-Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). Previously, Adena facilitated groups at the Snyder Center for Aphasia Life Enchantment (SCALE) in Baltimore, worked for the Laurent Clerc National Deaf Education Center at Gallaudet, and provided outpatient services at St. Agnes Healthcare.Adena received her undergraduate degree from James Madison University and graduate degree from University of Pittsburgh.In addition to her experience with survivors of stroke and acquired brain injury, she has special interest in working with individuals who are deaf and hard of hearing. In her free time, Adena enjoys baking, traveling, dancing, and spending time with her family, particularly at ice rinks and baseball fields. Adena is excited to return to facilitating groups, where she gets to witness the power that communication brings to life participation and the network of support that survivors and their families offer one another.
Mackenzie Fama, Ph.D., CCC-SLP
Mackenzie joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2017. She has prior experience as an inpatient speech-language pathologist at MedStar National Rehabilitation Hospital. She received her Master’s degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in neuroscience at Georgetown University, studying the experience of “inner speech” in people with aphasia. She has participated in research on group therapy for severe aphasia and on the benefits of brain stimulation as an adjunct to speech therapy for aphasia. In her free time, Mackenzie enjoys discovering new music, reading, and playing with her cats. Her favorite part of being at the Center is how much she learns about life from all of the wonderful members.
Amy C. Georgeadis, MS, CCC-SLP, Vienna Center Coordinator
Amy joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2013. Before coming to the Center, Amy was a Senior Speech-Language Pathologist at Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital where she worked with survivors of stroke and traumatic brain injury. Her special interest and research experience is in telerehabilitation, or the delivery of speech services at a distance. She also helped establish a peer mentorship program for people with aphasia. In her free time, Amy enjoys time with her family, traveling, cooking and running. Her favorite part about being at the Center is watching the inspiring members continue to improve their communication skills and enjoy life.
Contact Amy at:
Brooke Hatfield, MS, CCC-SLP, Rockville Center Coordinator
Prior to coming to the SCC, Brooke worked as a speech-language pathologist at the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Washington, D.C. with survivors of stroke and brain injury with a special interest in assistive technology, and currently works for the American-Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). She received her undergraduate degree from Miami University and graduate degree from Vanderbilt University. In her free time Brooke enjoys good stories in all of their forms, playing golf poorly, and as a proper mid-westerner, Ohio State football. Her favorite aspect of being at the Center is the daily reminder of the great things that happen when you just keep trying.
Contact Brooke at:
Laurie Jacobs, MA CCC-SLP, Leesburg Center Coordinator
Laurie joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2018. She is also on staff at Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital, where she provides therapy to survivors of stroke and traumatic brain injury. Previously, Laurie treated adults and adolescents with neurological disorders and facilitated groups at the Suburban Hospital Physical Rehabilitation Department in Bethesda, MD, the National Rehabilitation Hospital in Montrose, MD and the Loudoun Hospital Center Rehabilitation Department in Leesburg, VA. In her free time, Laurie enjoys time with her family, gardening and raising monarch butterflies. She is honored to be apart of the of magic of groups, as survivors reach out to each other, with support and understanding in their journey of recovery.
Randy Kernus, Stroke Survivor Fitness Coach
Randy is a stroke survivor and former SCC member. He had a stroke on May 19, 2011. In Randy’s words, “I am one of the lucky ones as I survived. As a result of my stroke, I have aphasia. Having this disability has not stopped me. Every day is a challenge, but we never give up!! I was always into exercise so I am thrilled to now be a stroke survivor coach. Exercise helped save me and I want to the same for others.”
Whitney L. Mislock, MA, CCC-SLP
Whitney volunteered at the Stroke Comeback Center while in graduate school in 2013 – 2014, and eventually joined the Center in 2018. Prior to coming to the Center, Whitney worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for HealthSouth Rehabilitation Hospital in an inpatient setting. Her special interests include treatment of aphasia and apraxia, family education, and quality of life following stroke. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Florida and graduate degree from The George Washington University. She enjoys spending time with her boys, baking, exercising, and falling asleep while watching the Science Channel. Her favorite aspect of working at the Center is witnessing the daily acts of strength, courage, and kindness among members.
Karen Preysnar, Yoga Instructor
Karen Preysnar is the owner and head instructor of Aspen Hill Body & Brain Yoga, which she opened in 2010. Prior to that, Karen was a financial planner in downtown Washington, DC for almost 30 years. She enjoys teaching others how to take charge of their own well-being using holistic methods that are simple and effective. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening and photography.
Contact Karen at:
Melissa S. Richman, MS, CCC-SLP, Virtual Center Coordinator
Melissa joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2006 as the Program Director. Before coming to the Center, she was a Senior Speech-Language Pathologist for the Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital where she worked primarily with survivors of stroke and brain injury. Currently, Melissa lives in the Outer Banks of NC and is leading the Virtual SCC. These virtual classes build a bridge of hope to survivors who want to be part of a community but can’t physically get to or live near a brick and mortar Center. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland and James Madison University. Research interests include group treatment of aphasia, pragmatics, left neglect and quality of life after stroke. In her free time, Melissa enjoys Zumba, playing with her dog and knitting. Her favorite aspect of being part at the Stroke Comeback Center is helping members get back to the business of living.
Contact Melissa at:
Susie Schwabacher, MA, CCC-SLP
Prior to joining the SCC, Susie worked as a speech-language pathologist at the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD, primarily with active duty service members, as well as their families and retirees. Besides stroke and brain injury, she also specializes in voice/upper airway disorders and adult stuttering. She began her speech career at Inova Mt. Vernon Hospital rehab and later had a solo pediatric speech and language practice. In her free time she’s on a mission to visit all 50 states by age 50, and enjoys being outdoors with her family and golden retriever. Her favorite aspect of being at the Center is learning interesting facts about the world from the members.
Nancy Selden, ACE Certified Personal Trainer
Nancy began developing the stroke survivor fitness program at the Stroke Comeback Center in 2013. Her company, WellPeer LLC, specializes in designing long-term fitness programs for populations that are underserved by standard fitness programs. WellPeer also provides online and video fitness resources and support. Nancy’s favorite part of working with SCC members is helping them get stronger and feel more confident.
Contact Nancy at:
Beth Z. Thompson, MS, CCC-SLP
Beth joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2015. Prior to coming to the Center, Beth has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital in both inpatient and outpatient settings. Her special interests lie in working with adults recovering from stroke and brain injury. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from James Madison University. In her free time, Beth enjoys spending time with her family and friends, reading, and yoga. Her favorite part of being at the Center is seeing how the members support and encourage each other in all aspects of their recovery.
Contact Beth at:
Kristen E. Torbert, MS, CCC-SLP
Kristen joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2019. Prior to coming to the Center, Kristen has worked as a Speech-Language Pathologist for Medstar National Rehabilitation Hospital in an inpatient setting. Her special interest lies in working with adults recovering from stroke. She received her undergraduate degree from Ohio University and graduate degree from James Madison University. In her free time, Kristen enjoys being outside with her family, reading, and dance fitness at Kazaxe. Her favorite part of being at the Center is observing the daily victories achieved by each and every member-new words, new sounds, ease of spontaneous greetings, reading and writing relevant personal information, etc. She is inspired by each member’s dedication to living and loving life as a stroke or brain trauma survivor.
Jenny Townsend, ACE Certified Personal Trainer and Group Fitness Instructor, CETI Certified Cancer Exercise Specialist
Jenny has a Master’s degree in social work and had specialized in medical social work. She has worked in hospital and nursing home/rehabilitation facilities. She became a fitness instructor after her cancer diagnosis and discovering the need for trainers who specialize in exercise for those with physical and cognitive limitations. She currently teaches classes for cancer survivors at Life With Cancer, has private clients through her LLC called Stronger Than You Think Fitness, and is now providing a fitness class at our Leesburg Center. Her belief is that everyone can benefit from exercise and she focuses on making exercise fun for everyone.