Support Personnel: Past, Present, Future

Presenter(s): Gretchen Hicks, MS, CCC-SLP, Joni Day, MCD, CCC-SLP, and Aleecia Starkey, MSP, CCC-SLP, CBIS

As speech pathologists in Arkansas continue to extend their reach and practice at the “top of their license”, there are still children and adults not being served due to a shortage in certain geographic areas. For over 20 years, support personnel have been utilized in the state of Arkansas. In 2020 ASHA launched the Speech Language Pathology Assistants Certification. This session will review the state of support personnel in AR as well as changes being recommended to the existing program in order to support ASHA’s initiative. It will also highlight new opportunities for persons interested in the profession.


Gretchen Hicks, M.S., CCC-SLP has been a speech-language pathologist for over 25 years. She received her BS from Centenary College and MS from UALR/UAMS. Gretchen is the SLP-Assistant Program Coordinator for Arkansas Board of Examiners in Speech Pathology & Audiology (ABESPA).

Joni Day, MCD, CCC-SLP completed her B.A. in Communication Disorders at Harding University in 1995 and her M.C.D. at Arkansas State University in 1996. Employment settings have included Paragould School District (kindergarten - 6th grade), Marmaduke School District (pre-school - 12th grade), and Wilbur D. Mills Education Service Cooperative (preschool age).  Joni continues to work with local outpatient clinics as time allows, serving infants through school-aged children and their families.  Joni began adjunct supervising at Harding University in 2011and joined the Harding faculty in August 2012.  She has been instrumental in the development of the SLP-A program at Harding.   

Aleecia Starkey, MSP, CCC-SLP, CBIS has over forty years of experience working in public schools, acute care hospitals, nursing homes, pediatric developmental centers, private practice, and as a consultant for the department of education in the areas of traumatic and non-traumatic brain injuries and autism spectrum disorders. She received her Master of Speech Pathology from Arkansas State University in 1977 and her Bachelor of Science in Education from Arkansas State University in 1973. She is also a Certified Brain Injury Specialist through the American Brain Injury Association. Aleecia is a past recipient of the Paula J. Gober Public School Award and was recognized as an Outstanding Alumnus in Speech-Language Pathology by Arkansas State University. She has presented extensively to speech-language professionals and educations over the last 30 years in the areas of brain-based learning, brain injury, brain development, and autism spectrum disorder. Aleecia is a past president and 2021 president of Arkansas Speech-Language-Hearing Association and continues to be an advocate for speech-language and hearing professionals and consumers. She has been married to Danny for over 45 years and is a mother and a MeMe.


Disclosure for Gretchen Hicks

Financial Relationships: None
Non-financial Relationships: None


Disclosure Joni Day

Financial Relationships: None
Non-financial Relationships: None

Disclosure for Aleecia Starkey

Financial Relationships: None
Non-financial Relationships: Yes, ArkSHA Board Member

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