Q1 President's Message

By Jordan Bowman, ISHA President

Published October 2023 in the ISHA Voice

Hello to all of you wonderful ISHA members, colleagues, and friends! I am beyond grateful for the opportunity to serve the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ISHA) as President for this fiscal year. When I was charged to write this introductory President’s message, I stopped to think about all that ISHA’s past Presidents, Board Members, and members alike have done to support me over the years. Many words and phrases came to mind, but in my experience, what most stood out to me was how ISHA has been a rich source of connection, empowerment, and advocacy. This message to you will touch on all three themes. 

When I talk about ISHA to my colleagues, family, and friends, I describe the organization’s power of connection. Back in 2014, I was wrapping up a busy day working in a skilled nursing facility (SNF) on the south side of Chicago. At that time, I was new to what many of us working in SNFs call “SNF Life.” I received a call from a colleague (now friend and ISHA Fellow), Michelle Zemsky-Dineen. She was both an ISHA member and Chair of the Medical Practice Issues Committee (MPIC). Michelle encouraged me to join ISHA by highlighting its many benefits including advocacy and educational opportunities for medical practice SLPs. She was so persuasive, I joined both ISHA and the MPIC, and then attended my first ISHA annual Convention. I was inspired by the varying backgrounds of medical practice SLPs on our committee, and I learned so much from my peers. As I became more involved and connected to other committees (Telepractice and Billing and Reimbursement), I saw the value in collaborating across disciplines and practice settings. I reflect back on how meaningful it was that a current ISHA member took a moment to reach out to me, an eager colleague, and connect me to the incredible SLPs and AuDs at ISHA. As current members, consider also making this simple, yet powerful gesture. Reach out to your eager colleagues and friends and encourage them to join ISHA today!

I have personally witnessed how ISHA Board Members, Committee Chairs, Committee Members, and Representative Council Leaders empower our membership by fostering a culture of mentorship, leadership, and clinical and professional growth. I recall my experience as a new committee member and how I was intimidated to participate in the many projects our amazing ISHA committee members achieve each quarter. Through the dynamic leadership of committee chairs and ISHA peers, I was inspired and supported to write ISHA Voice articles, present at ISHA annual Convention, and collaborate in activities for ISHA’s Student Day. All these actions promoted collaboration, education, and advocacy; all points in our current ISHA Mission Statement. Without this mentorship and guidance, I would not have felt I was “enough” to do these activities. As current ISHA leaders, consider how your voice and experience can empower other members to advocate for the profession through ISHA activities while also facilitating members achieving their personal and professional goals. Empower members to join ISHA committees and to register for the ISHA Mentorship Program or the ISHA Leadership Development Program. The opportunities for SLPs and AuDs at ISHA are endless! 

We would not be the organization we are today without advocating for our students, clients, and our profession. With the new Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) license renewal requirements, ISHA shared an educational series developed for members and Illinois SLPs and AuDs. In addition to this series and to convention 2024, expect to see more educational opportunities to support your practice and the profession. ISHA has also opened its advocacy possibilities by introducing new free student membership! Expect to see other new activities and advocacy opportunities for students at ISHA Convention 2024. ISHA has always promoted the value of interprofessional practice. You will continue to see incredible interprofessional work through ISHA’s collaborative relationships with the Speaking 4 Children Coalition, the Interstate Compact Coalition, and the Medicaid Reimbursement Coalition. You will also continue to see rich advocacy efforts on behalf of ISHA in collaboration with ISHA’s lobbyist, our Vice President of Legislative and Regulatory Affairs, the Legs and Regs Committee, and the ISHA Board. What I am very much looking forward to is our new ISHA strategic planning process scheduled this November with ASHA’s Director of State Associations for Illinois. Expect to see a new ISHA Strategic Plan in 2024 with action items to address the current needs of Illinois SLPs and AuDs. It is not a requirement to be a part of any of these specific associations or committees to be a client and member advocate. However, if any of these groups, or the powerful work they are doing sound interesting to you, please reach out and request more information and ISHA will support your participation. 

ISHA connects, empowers, advocates, and most importantly, ISHA is here to create a world where people have guaranteed access to resources for effective communication and effective swallowing. I am a proud ISHA member, and I am thrilled and honored to step into this role to serve ISHA members with so many passionate, talented, and inspiring Presidents before me. ISHA has had a profound impact on my clinical skills, personal life, and professional career since I became a member in 2014. I am forever grateful to ISHA’s volunteer members as we continue to advocate for Illinois clinicians and the SLP and AuD professions. I look forward to all that we have in store for this new fiscal year. Please never hesitate to reach out to me, Bostrom, or any of our Board Members. ISHA is here to connect, empower, and advocate on behalf of all of you!