2022 ASHA President Judy Rich brings a lifetime of experience in public schools and with ASHA, building off a commitment to education, collaboration and thoughtfulness
For Judy Rich, teamwork has been a core tenet of her career as a speech-language pathologist. From working in Texas school districts and being involved with ASHA leadership — including now as its president for 2022 — she also knows that teamwork doesn’t necessarily mean agreements are easily reached or decisions come effortlessly. In fact, the most effective form of teamwork often means embracing challenges and facilitating difficult conversations.
“Teamwork — whether through committees, workgroups, boards — is the hallmark of being involved in ASHA, and sometimes that means surfacing discussions that ultimately lead to advancing the interests and concerns of ASHA members,” she says. “ASHA has put itself on the pathway to excellence and is strongly committed to being an organization that continually seeks and acts on ways to improve.”
Judy plans to continue tackling big questions and opportunities as ASHA’s president, especially at a time when audiologists and speech-language pathologists across the country are still grappling with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. From personal experience, and hearing from others, she knows firsthand how difficult the past two years have been for so many. She says she is very proud of her peers who, with the support of ASHA resources, have navigated this period amid personal anxiety, stress and uncertainty. Looking ahead, her goal is to make sure their needs as a result of this period, such as additional support and best practices, are met across the board.
“My theme for this year is moving forward by reframing resilience,” she says. “That includes offering hope to ASHA members and equipping them with the means to continue to acquire new skill sets that convey resilience in the face of such challenges and hope to themselves as well as the clients they serve.”
While adapting to life two years into the pandemic, Judy believes ASHA members should not lose sight of the fact that they were constantly adapting and applying new lessons to their work through continual learning, which is especially reflected through their CCCs. For Judy, the CCCs represent “the starting line for doing what you love professionally” and foster professional careers marked by “powerful contributions” to the field of communication sciences and disorders.
“The value of the CCCs is more than just a part of my identity as an SLP,” she says. “It’s also my platform for standing strong professionally in order to learn new techniques and practices, and go new directions.”
From ethical standards to continued development of clinical skills to advocacy, Judy has relied on her CCCs throughout her three-decade career in education at multiple Dallas-area school districts. She held several positions, including campus speech-language pathologist, special education director, and assistant superintendent for student services. Along with her ASHA presidency, she now consults for schools — in addition to a full-time role at University of Texas-Dallas — and continues to hold public school educators close to heart. Through these experiences, she has also become a strong advocate for those in the public school system, representing and speaking for not only the educators, but also the students they serve.
“My calling has been public education, and I’ve always used that lens, and the large role that schools and educators play, to provide resources and support children’s communication skills and development.” she says.
Serving as ASHA’s president — after holding multiple national and statewide positions — is the culmination of Judy’s lifelong commitment to her field, her peers and her students. Her CCCs have played an important role for her, giving her the training and ongoing education needed to continue to provide the highest standard of care to those she works with.
“ASHA is my professional home to connect, fill back up, challenge myself, learn new things, gain new perspectives and have fun, all with people who do the same thing but experience it differently,” she says. “My CCCs are how I can expand my horizons as an SLP and continue to grow, so that I can deliver for my students, my peers and for my fellow ASHA members.”