May 1, 2013 Departments

State Spotlight: Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Established: Chartered in 1976; early meetings of speech and hearing professionals reported as early as the late 1950s.
Members: Approximately 300–400
Contact: Maureen K. Martin, president,  

How are you making a difference in your members' professional lives?

MSHA provides continuing education opportunities, a member directory and advocacy services on behalf of members. An updated website offers information on relevant local and national issues. Two MSHA representatives serve on the legislatively created Mississippi Autism Advisory Committee and have gathered input from members on their services to individuals with autism spectrum disorders. A forthcoming professionally prepared video about the role of SLPs in diverse settings throughout the state will help educate multiple constituencies about speech-language pathology.

What is the most significant challenge, unique circumstance or pressing frustration facing communication sciences and disorders professionals in your state today?

Mississippi faces considerable uncertainty, as does the rest of the country, in terms of the changing health care scene. In addition, the forthcoming bachelor's-level license for speech-language pathologists in Mississippi schools has created a need for additional training in the field, as well as preparation for the master's-level SLPs who will supervise the bachelor's-level personnel. The good news is that an increasing number of professionals are becoming involved in the association and in these very important issues.

What is your association's proudest accomplishment?

As a professional association for speech-language pathologists and audiologists, MSHA has had several major accomplishments that were noted nationally. Mississippi was a pioneer state in successfully acquiring salary supplements for master's-level speech-language pathologists who work in the schools. In addition, MSHA was at the forefront nationally in passing legislation requiring infant hearing screening.

What is a particularly memorable event in your association's history and how did it come about?

MSHA certainly got a jump on this year's legislative session. We were there to welcome the legislators as they checked in at the Capitol on Jan. 8 with a "pick-up-and-go" lunch. Arriving from all over the state, the legislators were delighted to have a substantial snack en route to their first roll call. We gave each legislator a pocket memo, leather-covered and identified with the MSHA website in gold. Our exhibit included educational materials on the professions we represent and on various communication disorders. The legislative exhibit proved to be a golden opportunity to increase the association's visibility and promote our members' work throughout the state.

MSHA has several active issues in front of the state legislature this year and we knew it would be helpful to have an opportunity to "meet and greet" as early in the session as possible. All members of the MSHA Executive Board were encouraged to participate and MSHA members were invited and asked to bring their legislators. Participation exceeded expectations and plans immediately were put into place to repeat the event on the 2014 legislative session opening day.

Do you have a particularly successful advocacy or recruitment strategy to share?

In the 2012 legislative session, with the leadership of Carolyn Higdon and others, a loan forgiveness bill was passed in the Mississippi legislature for speech-language pathologists serving in the schools.

What should every communication science and disorders professional in your state know about the association?

Mississippi boasts many professionals who serve in a multitude of ways beyond the state's borders: Sue Hale, former University of Mississippi faculty member and 2009 ASHA president; Gloria Kellum, past ASHA vice president for academic affairs; Carolyn Higdon, ASHA vice president for finance; and eight ASHA Fellows from Mississippi. Darlene Gore, 2012 MSHA president, was an invited presenter at the Council of State Association Presidents' meeting in Atlanta in November. Deirdre McGowan, MSHA executive director, is one of Mississippi's five Certified Association Executives.

Professionals in our state should know, though, that although MSHA is proud of its past, the focus is on the present and the future as reflected in our 2013 conference theme, "Together Toward Tomorrow."


Maureen K. Martin, PhD, CCC-SLP, is MSHA president.

Deirdre McGowan, is MSHA executive director.

cite as: Martin, M. K.  & McGowan, D. (2013, May 01). State Spotlight: Mississippi Speech-Language-Hearing Association. The ASHA Leader.


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