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.
Suzanne M. Coyle, MA, CCC-SLP, Executive Director
Suzanne joined the Stroke Comeback Center team in 2008. Since that time she has enjoyed working with stroke survivors at the Center while helping the organization grow to serve families throughout the Washington, DC area and beyond. Suzanne also had a lengthy career as Speech-Language Pathologist for the Medstar National Rehabilitation Network. She received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio, and a Nonprofit Management Executive Certificate from Georgetown University. Research and presentation interests include aphasia group treatment and quality of life after stroke. In her free time Suzanne enjoys travel, working out with friends, and following the Washington Nationals. Her favorite aspect of being at the Center is watching new friendships form between members.
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.
Amy C. Georgeadis, MS, CCC-SLP, Program Director
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 (MNRH) 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. During her time at MNRH, 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.
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.
Kristin Dattoria, MS, CCC-SLP
Kristin joined the Stroke Comeback Center as a virtual volunteer in September 2020. She had heard about the center prior to moving from California to Maryland and knew she wanted to work with its team and members due to its reputation for research, innovation, and people-centered approach. She has felt so welcomed by all its members and staff and is excited to join the team “officially” as one of its SLPs while she continues to lead a Spanish Conversation group each week. When she’s not working, Kristin enjoys hiking, Hawaiian and salsa dancing, and spending time with friends and family.
Laurie Jacobs, MA CCC-SLP
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.
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 experience the members’ sense of humor.
Karen Shpiece, MS, CCC-SLP
Karen joined the Stroke Comeback Center in 2022. Karen has worked in a variety of settings, including outpatient, acute care, private practice, and home health. Her specialities include aphasia, apraxia, and dysphagia. She grew up in Montana and completed her education in North Dakota. She eventually landed in Maryland, which has been home for the last 30 years. In her spare time she enjoys reading, kayaking, and crafting. She loves the support and camaraderie at The Stroke Comeback Center.
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.
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.
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.
Denise DeCarlo, Fitness Instructor
Denise is an Exercise Physiologist with 35+ years’ experience working in studios, fitness, and medically-based wellness centers. She is Yoga Alliance certified RYT 500, E-RYT-200 and holds AFAA Personal Training and Group Fitness Instructor certifications as well as an ACE Therapeutic Exercise Specialty certification that addresses the comorbidity population and pre-natal/post-natal concerns. Additionally, she is certified in Pilates, Barre Above, and Spinning. Her other interests/passions/joys include Stand Up Paddleboard, Biking, Hiking, being a forever student, and her family.
Kevin Leong, Music Therapist, MA, MT-BC
Kevin is a certified music therapist and clinical director at A Place To Be. He has been working with the Stroke Comeback Center to provide music wellness classes. He received his undergraduate and graduate degrees in music therapy from Berklee College of Music. Since then, he has worked across multiple settings with folks of varying diagnoses. He currently enjoys hiking, camping and making music in his free time. His favorite part of the SCC is the close-knit community of survivors.
Darlene S. Williamson, M.A., CCC-SLP, Stroke Comeback Center Founder
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 (VAST™) approach.
Darlene retired as the Executive Director from the Stroke Comeback Center in June of 2020. She plans to enjoy her retirement by spending time with her grandchildren, reading historical biographies, watching sports and enjoying time at the beach. She always said her favorite time at the Center was hearing the laughter of the members.