Dr. Nancy Robinson Awarded State Association’s Highest Honor in 2014

Congratulations to Dr. Nancy Robinson, who was awarded the 2014 California Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (CSHA) Honors of the Association!

Dr. Robinson has taken on countless responsibilities for CSHA activities, at both the district and the state level, with more than ten years of service. Her humility and positive attitude characterize her participation in these events. Dr. Robinson sets a tone of collaboration, but she always the one who can be counted on to follow through and get things done. Her record of service speaks for itself. Notable examples of her distinctive volunteer participation at the State level include serving as Social Chair (CSHA 2008) and Pages Chair (2006) at past CSHA Conventions. She was a Program Chair for the 2014 CSHA Convention.

At the District level, Dr. Robinson has been instrumental in increasing energy in the District 1 Board. Currently, the SFSU CD Program’s National Student Speech-Language-Hearing Association (NSSLHA) has established a strong relationship with CSHA District 1, largely through Dr. Robinson’s mentorship, leadership, and support. It is thrilling to watch this relationship blossom into a true collaboration, and note that future speech-language pathologists are being transformed by this experience. Dr. Robinson has held numerous key roles in District 1, and is currently a member of the Nominating Committee. In 2007, she received the CSHA District 1 Outstanding Achievement Award for her clinical service, teaching in communicative sciences and disorders, research and publication, administrative service, and service to CSHA.

As a Professor at SFSU in the Program in Communicative Disorders, Dr. Robinson exemplifies that teaching in a University setting is so much more than walking into a classroom and imparting information. It requires mentorship and leadership for all the “stakeholders” in a University setting. Dr. Robinson is a model for embracing the perspectives of all the stakeholders. As an associate professor at SFSU, she is the Program Coordinator for the Communicative Disorders Program. Our program has over 250 students enrolled, and Dr. Robinson tirelessly organizes and staffs course offerings, clinical trainings, registration, and enrollment for our students. She attends to student and faculty issues, and provides support whenever called upon to do so. She is also actively involved in mentoring all CD Faculty, in order for all us to be as productive as possible. Lastly, she brings together students and practitioners, such as organizing our yearly CD Program Open House, which representatives from school districts and other organizations attend to speak with and interview students as prospective Clinical Fellow candidates.

Dr. Robinson’s clinical specialty area of Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) has led to her establishment of in depth opportunities for speech-language pathology students to be exposed to AAC content, in the form of a full course and extensive clinical training dedicated to AAC. As a result, students at SFSU excel in the area of AAC, with a seamless integration between the course and the clinics that firmly establishes student knowledge and skills. Dr. Robinson has received a long-term federal training grant that provides generous financial support and specialty coursework, clinical training, and resources to students who participate, in the form of Project CLAASS: Collaborating for Language, Literacy and Augmentative Systems in Schools. Through Project CLAASS, a total of 80 future SLPs receive specialty training in the area of AAC over four years.

Dr. Robinson has established an AAC laboratory on campus, thereby providing hands-on extensions to course and clinical work that is easily accessible not only to CD students, but to students in other programs and departments at SFSU. This availability of a workspace and materials has fostered an environment of collaborations and mutual learning at SFSU.

Through Dr. Robinson, students have available to them extensive clinical training in AAC via innovative clinical practices and responsive clinical instruction. Each year, approximately 20 students complete their clinical training with a specialty in AAC, and join the profession of speech-language pathology. Members of these cohorts of students have gone on to become mentors in the clinical community, enhancing and strengthening the specialty training of all AAC-focused clinicians.

Dr. Robinson has established partnerships with the Bridge Camp, with Bay Area families who participate in the SFSU on-campus clinics, and with many other organizations such as Mission Neighborhood Head Start, that look to her for expertise and support regarding AAC. Students receiving specialty training in AAC are required to participate for one week at the yearly summer camp held by the Bridge School. This arrangement not only provides additional training opportunities for AAC students, but it also provides additional and much needed support to families and their children who use AAC.

The CD Program at SFSU has strong connections with other AAC specialists at SFSU, such as Dr. Gloria Soto, through Dr. Robinson’s passion and collaborative approach. By building such professional connections, the CD Program at SFSU is made stronger and more prominent in the professional AAC community. It is through collaborations such as these that Dr. Robinson and her colleagues organize and hold a yearly AAC conference at SFSU, entitled “AAC By the Bay,” which attracts attendees from all over the world.

Dr. Robinson has made significant contributions in the areas of research & publication in the field. Research is not just about producing articles and making presentations; it is about establishing a fertile groundwork for the support of ideas, and hands-on experiences to concretize those ideas. In 2010, along with Kathleen Sadao, Dr. Robinson published Assistive Technology for Young Children: Creating Inclusive Learning Environments. This book is a milestone publication in the world of AAC, and brings together essential aspects of AAC ranging from how to include young children in classrooms to how to bring families together through AAC. The publication is backed by extensive presentations and publications that Dr. Robinson has provided over the past decade, to local, state and national organizations, and as such, is thoroughly evidence-based and reflects authentic clinical practice.

The many collaborative relationships that Dr. Robinson has established in developing, researching, and then disseminating her specialty in AAC are brought together in her continual mentoring of CD faculty and many other colleagues besides. For example, the AAC community at San Francisco Unified School District works closely with Dr. Robinson, and many of her mentees are clinical instructors at SFSU. The different hands-on experiences guided by Dr. Robinson feed into the AAC community to the benefit of our profession, students, organization, and families. All this activity lays the groundwork for authentic research that truly answers to real needs in AAC.

Dr. Robinson’s many colleagues help inform the CD Program with regard to our Strategic Plan, which is updated each year. Dr. Robinson has spearheaded this continual revitalization of our curriculum and vision, and guided us with action steps along the way. It is through this effort that another piece of the groundwork for continued research is laid. Meaningful research cannot be carried out in a vacuum, and Dr. Robinson facilitates a tone and atmosphere — and most importantly, a shared vision — of fruitful, meaningful ideas, through our Strategic Plan.

Dr. Robinson was recently selected by her colleagues to chair the Department of Special Education (SPED) at SFSU. The Program in Communicative Disorders is but one program in this very large and complex department of seven very different programs that Dr. Robinson now administers. Dr. Robinson’s selection as the Chair of SPED reflects her colleagues’ unanimous support of her, as they have seen Dr. Robinson take on multiple leadership roles through her administrative service.

Dr. Robinson began as Coordinator of the Program in Communicative Disorders. While only one of seven programs in the Department of Special Education at SFSU, the Program in Communicative Disorders is the most intricate program, and the only one to serve undergraduates as well as graduate students. Dr. Robinson’s administrative capabilities enhanced the infrastructure of the program, as described above, resulting in increased specialty training and opportunities for our students and for the field. Most importantly, Dr. Robinson’s collaborative spirit serves as a role model for future professionals.

It is through these activities and more, that Dr. Robinson has established the groundwork for the future in AAC, and our field. Congratulations, Dr. Nancy Robinson on receiving the CSHA Honors of the Association!

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