Speaker Bios

Michelle Garcia Winner, MA, CCC-SLP

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Speaker Region: U.S., Canada, International
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A B C D E F G J K
  Consultation and/or on-site customized trainings to schools, groups, and businesses

Michelle Garcia Winner is a speech language pathologist (SLP) who specializes in the treatment of students with social cognitive deficits at the Social Thinking Center, her clinic in San Jose, California. It was her interest in autism while attending the University of California, Santa Barbara, in 1979 that became the catalyst for becoming an SLP. 


Pamela J Crooke, PhD, CCC-SLP


Speaker Region: U.S., Canada, International
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A B C E F G J K N
  School age, School related programs in public/private settings; Adults
  Consultation and/or on-site customized trainings to schools and groups


Pamela J. Crooke is the Director of Research and Clinical Operations and Senior therapist at the Social Thinking Center in San Jose, CA.

She received her B.S. and M.S. in Speech Pathology/Audiology from Idaho State University and PhD in 1996 from the University of Washington in Seattle.


Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP


Speaker Region: Midwest U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshops A B C E F H J P
  Preschool, School age, School Programs

Kari Zweber Palmer is a speech language pathologist/social cognitive therapist at her private practice, Changing Perspectives, in Excelsior, MN. She has co-authored, with Michelle Garcia Winner, Ryan Hendrix, and Nancy Tarshis The Incredible Flexible You: A Social Thinking Curriculum for the Preschool and Early Elementary Years. Additionally, Kari consults with local school districts on implementing Social Thinking into their programming.


Nancy Clements, MA, CCC-SLP

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Speaker Region: Northeast U.S./Eastern Canada
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A B C E F J 
  School age, School related programs in public/private settings


Nancy Clements is a speech language pathologist, Executive Director of Social Thinking® Boston (more info coming soon), and the director of the east coast Social Thinking Clinical Training Program. She developed an in-depth Social Thinking program, including developmentally based groups, off-site coaching and consultations, and a three-credit graduate course in partnership with Saint Michaels College.


Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC-SLP

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Speaker Region: Northeast and Eastern US
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A B C E F H J P
  Parent training, Preschool and School age
  Individual Speaker or a co-presenter with Debbie Meringolo

Nancy Tarshis is a speech-language pathologist whose prolific career includes extensive experience working with children and their parents. In 1992, she joined the professional team at the Children’s Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC) at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, where, in 1996, she was named Supervisor of Speech and Language Services. Currently, she maintains a clinical practice, seeing patients birth to 21 for diagnoses and therapeutic treatment, supervises ten speech pathologists, lectures to medical residents and psychology interns, participates in research projects, and serves as adjunct clinical instructor at Teachers College, Columbia, Hunter College, NYU, and Hofstra University. She is deeply experienced in a wide variety of treatment methodologies, including Social Thinking, and is a frequent speaker across the U.S. on its concepts and strategies.


Debbie Meringolo, MA, MS


Speaker Region: Northeast and Eastern U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A C E H J
  Preschool, Parent Training, School Age

Debbie Meringolo, a special educator and developmental specialist, is the Associate Director of the Infant/Toddler Team at the Children's Evaluation and Rehabilitation Center (CERC), at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. She is also the director of the Baby Team parent-child treatment program, and the co-director of CERC's RELATE program, providing diagnostic evaluations and treatment for children/adolescents with communication and social challenges. In this administrative and clinical role, Debbie supervises clinicians, conducts evaluations and provides treatment for children individually and in groups. Along with colleagues at CERC she also participates in a variety of research projects, examining early diagnosis of children with autistic spectrum disorders.


Renee Attaway, MS, CCC-SLP


Speaker Region: Southern U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A C E M
  School age, School related programs in public/private settings

Renee Attaway has worked as a Speech Language Pathologist since 2000.  For most of her career, she has worked at The Parish School, a private school in Houston, TX for children with language and learning differences. She is the founder and director of Social Thinking® at Parish, a program that offers social cognitive services for children from preschool to high school, a Social Thinking summer camp, parent groups, and workshops for professionals.


Beckham Linton, MA, CCC-SLP


Speaker Region: U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A C E M

Beckham Linton first discovered her passion for speech language pathology in 1985 while working as the activities director for a brain injury recovery program in Atlanta, Ga. She was responsible for helping the residents rediscover the joys of being social and as a result, quickly discovered the important relationship between language and socialization.


Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP


Speaker Region: San Francisco Bay Area
Speaker Focus: Workshop: A B C E H P
  Preschool, School Age

Ryan Hendrix is a Social Cognitive Therapist at Social Thinking Stevens Creek in San Jose and a private therapist in San Francisco. She trained and works directly with Michelle Garcia Winner and Dr. Pamela Crooke. Her diverse caseload experience includes preschool-age children through young adults with varying levels of social cognitive learning challenges.


Brett Page, Ed.S, NCSP


Speaker Region: U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A (Low Vision/Blindness)

Brett is a school psychologist with over 15 years professional experience working with students with severe vision impairments or blindness and additional disabilities across a variety of educational settings.


Nancy Cotton, PhD


Speaker Region: U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshops: Mental Health Consulting

Dr. Cotton is a Clinical Developmental Psychologist who received her Doctoral degree from Tufts University and completed Harvard Medical School internships and Post-doctoral fellowships in adult and child psychology.  She was a principal teacher and supervisor at Harvard Medical School from 1977 until she moved to Vermont in 1995.


Gretchen Schmidt-Mertes, M.Ed.

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Speaker Region: Northwest U.S./U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshop: A L
  Education Systems & Administration, Social Thinking and RTI/PBS

Gretchen Schmidt Mertes is an Educational Specialist in Autism and a well-known presenter and consultant throughout the Pacific Northwest. She has over 20 years of experience teaching both general and special education students, and currently works as a TOSA (Teacher on Special Assignment) with students' preschool through high school. Gretchen is the Autism Specialist for the Bethel School District (estimated enrollment 18,000) in Washington State, where she developed and coordinates district wide programming for students with autism and Social Thinking deficits in both special and general education. She also provides quarterly training for staff members, both classified and certified, on a variety of topics related to autism, Social Thinking, and other topics in Special Education. She graduated from Concordia College in Elementary Education in 1988 and received her M.Ed. in Special Education, summa cum laude, in 1995.


Chithra Kathiresan, B. App. Sc.

ThumbChithra Kathiresan STTSC web

Speaker Region: Singapore
Speaker Focus: Workshops: A C & Custom

Ms Chithra Kathiresan has been working 18 years as a Speech Language Therapist. She left full- time employment as Head of Speech Therapy at KK Hospital Rehabilitation Department in 2000, to care for her two children. She has been in private practice since. Currently she is Senior Speech Therapy Consultant at Kaleidoscope Therapy Centre, a private pediatric centre in Singapore. Chithra has a special interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders and disorders of relating. She is constantly exploring new tools to best meet the needs of this unique group of children.