Our Story

The Jacksonville Area Speech-Language Pathology Association (JASPA) was founded by Lisa Proper and its founding members in 1989. Lisa moved to Jacksonville in 1985 and started working at Mayo Clinic in 1986. She came from a medically progressive graduate program that led her to differential diagnosis of various conditions such as Dysarthria and Aphasia using assessments like stroboscopy, MBS, and TEP at a time Jax wasn’t yet doing clinical Dysphagia exams. Her thesis on the effects of head and neck cancer therapy for oral-pharygeal swallowing was forward thinking. 

Lisa saw a need for better adult patient care in Jacksonville and the surrounding areas. So she invited a group of well respected SLPs across all patient care and practice areas in Jax to a meeting to discuss the founding of a local Speech Pathology organization including Ceil Brooks, Fran Smith, Anna Candida, Cheryl Warner, Patti Crisp, Tim Stavropulous, and Sharon Kessler among others. Prior to the first official JASPA meeting, this group voted Lisa as president and Cheryl Warner as Treasurer in order for the association to promptly accept dues for operating funds. The founding group met several times over a year to establish needs and how to go about forming such a group. They developed the name, created a “1st year program”, collected dues, managed an honors program, and worked toward organization goals. Bylaws to govern the organization were written later to better define the procedures. The current bylaws have been revised and accepted in 2023 to honor the integrity of clearly defined processes and

The original mission of JASPA was to improve patient care through SLP education and networking. One big challenge was figuring out how to get the word out and attract diverse SLPs working in all settings to the first Social/Meeting. Before the common practice of email, Lisa and leadership personally wrote and mailed more than 200 invitations to individual SLPs and facilities. The first Social had over 60 SLPs attend to hear the introduction of JASPA’s first year program in hopes of getting more professionals to join. JASPA wanted their new monthly education programs to meet the needs of all SLPs. It was out of this vision that the monthly
education programs, that we now call continuing education, alternated between pediatric and adult topics. This is a goal JASPA still strives to achieve and expand on. Currently, JASPA aims to offer CEUs for topics that alternate between pediatric and adult care as well as between focus on school-based, medical settings (hospitals, skilled nursing facilities, rehab), home health, and private practices.

At its origins, JASPA’s priorities were for clients/patients with communication and swallowing disorders to get the most ethical, up to date, and competent care through SLP education and clinical networking. Lisa and the founding members saw that the Jax SLP community was fragmented, competitive, and lacking. They wanted SLPs to meet other local SLPs who were experts or providing state of the art care for the profession. They wanted a community that felt free to call on each other when they had questions or needed support within the field to better assess and treat their patients. It is the founding members and Lisa’s hope that the mission of providing better care for communication and swallowing disorders through SLP education continue to be a priority.

Recounted by JASPA President Emeritus: Lisa M. Proper, MS-SLP; BCNCD-A; BRSS; IAL Listed