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.

Pam has co-authored, with Michelle Garcia Winner, four award-winning books related to Social Thinking: Socially Curious and Curiously Social, You Are a Social Detective, Social Fortune or Social Fate, and their most recent book geared to adults, Social Thinking at Work: Why Should I Care? She and Winner collaborate on writing articles and blogs that appear on the Social Thinking website and in a wide array of publications.


Kari Zweber Palmer, MA, CCC-SLP


Speaker Region: Midwest U.S.
Speaker Focus: Workshops A B C E F H J K M 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 H J M
  School age, School related programs in public/private settings

Nancy Clements is a speech language pathologist and Executive Director of Social Thinking Boston®, the East Coast sister clinic to Social Thinking Stevens Creek and Social Thinking Santana Row. She brings her highly creative approach to her clinical practice, where she maintains a very active and varied caseload ranging from early social learners through adults. She is especially interested in bringing Social Thinking concepts to all learners and continuing to analyze the impact of social thinking methodologies across all tiers using a Response to Intervention (RTI) model. Nancy enjoys formulating programs from the ground up through creative strategies, systems of implementation, and models of efficacy that are data driven. Having been raised by parents who were both educators, she brings an empathic and collaborative approach to coaching teachers, administrators and specialists.


Nancy Tarshis, MA, MS, CCC-SLP


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 is the founder and director of Social Thinking® at Parish, a program at The Parish School that offers social cognitive services in the Houston, Texas. For over 5 years, her program provides group and individual therapeutic services for children from preschool to high school, an overnight social learning summer camp called Camp Social Superheroes, and a parent group.

As a Speech Language Pathologist, Renee has offered Social Thinking® groups since discovering Michelle's work in 2003. She has completed both the mentor training and internship at the Social Thinking clinics in San Jose, CA.


Beckham Linton, MA, CCC-SLP


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

Beckham Linton earned a Master of Arts degree in Speech Language Pathology at Oklahoma State University and has been working in the field for 24 years. She began her career in the area of Neurorehabilitation in the states of Oklahoma and Kansas and quickly developed a special interest in working with people facing social cognitive challenges following traumatic brain injury.


Ryan Hendrix, MS, CCC-SLP


Speaker Region: San Francisco Bay Area
Speaker Focus: Workshop: A B C E H M 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.

In addition to running groups, she actively collaborates with families and related professionals (teachers, resource specialists, psychologists, etc.) on ways to promote carryover and generalization of learning outside of the clinic setting. Ryan also helps supervise and train graduate students and clinicians in their clinical fellowship year and does ongoing mentorships within the Social Thinking Stevens Creek clinic.


Brett Page, Ed.S, NCSP


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

Brett is a school psychologist with over 17 years professional experience working with students with severe vision impairments or blindness and additional disabilities across a variety of educational settings.

Brett is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP). He received his B.A. in Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and his M.S. in Educational Psychology and Ed. S. in School Psychology from the University of Kentucky with specialization serving children with emotional-behavioral disorders.


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

Chithra has been working as an SLP in Singapore for over 20 years, upon completing her training in Australia. She has worked with adults and children with diverse needs and profiles both within hospital and community settings. She has been in private practice for the last 10 years. Chithra has a special interest in disorders of relating and communicating including Autism Spectrum Disorders.