Our 2022 Freeing Voices, Changing Lives gala held a surprise that was near and dear to our hearts: a special award recognizing our Director, Dr. Heather Grossman, for her 10 extraordinary years of leadership at AIS.
Heather's award recognized her "visionary leadership," and the theme of the evening, as well as this blog post, was the vision she has been dedicated to bringing to life through her work at AIS. As she put it, "Overcoming stuttering is not about becoming perfectly fluent. At AIS, we assert that those who overcome stuttering are those who no longer let stuttering hold them back from doing all the things they want to do. And many of these people do continue to stutter... and that is perfectly OK."
Of course, AIS is not the first place to say stuttering is perfectly OK. We're so grateful to be part of a growing movement that views stuttering as an acceptable variation in the way people talk. It feels important to recognize, though, the shift in direction we've taken over the past decade toward radical acceptance of stuttering in all its forms.
Throughout the evening, we saw example after example of people who do not let stuttering hold them back, from clients who gave moving speeches (and stuttered) to auction host Marc Winski who stars in Tiktok videos (and stutters).
And stuttering is so OK with AIS that we have grown to include three therapists who stutter, whose intelligence, passion, and understanding of stuttering enriches our entire therapy program. A highlight of the evening was seeing Emily Blunt sit down for a fireside chat with those therapists, Mark O'Malia, Chaya Goldstein, and Kristel Kubart. They shared their experiences (and stuttered), highlighting the special abilities that someone who stutters can bring to the therapy relationship.
Chaya summed up our philosophy when she described the change in speech therapy from "I'm broken and I need to be fixed" to "I am who I am, and I can be an empowered and effective communicator." As we move forward with this philosophy, we look forward to sharing that empowerment with any who seek it.
To see the full collection of photos from our gala, visit our 2022 gallery!
We were thrilled to see our message reach a wide audience with the great press coverage this year! The evening was covered in AP, Hello!, People, Shutterstock, Variety, Access Hollywood, Buzzfeed, CNN, Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Harper’s Bazaar, Page Six, The Cut, The Manchester Times, Women’s Wear Daily, and more. Thanks to Slate PR for helping our event have maximum impact by raising awareness of stuttering.
The American Institute for Stuttering is a leading non-profit organization whose primary mission is to provide universally affordable, state-of-the-art speech therapy to people of all ages who stutter, guidance to their families, and much-needed clinical training to speech professionals wishing to gain expertise in stuttering. Offices are located in New York, NY, Atlanta, GA, and Los Angeles, CA, and services are also available online. Our mission extends to advancing public and scholarly understanding of this often misunderstood disorder.