ASHA Announces Recipient of its Prestigious Public Award

Taro Alexander, Founder of SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young, to Receive Annie Award

November 12, 2019

(Rockville, MD) The American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) announced today that it will honor Taro Alexander, founder of SAY: The Stuttering Association for the Young, with its Annie Glenn Award for 2019. The award will be presented to Alexander on Friday, November 22, at the ASHA Annual Convention in Orlando.

The Annie is ASHA's most prestigious public award. Named for lifelong advocate Annie Glenn, it honors those who have made a positive impact on the lives of people with communication disorders. Mrs. Glenn, who experienced a severe stutter well into her adult years, has worked tirelessly for roughly 40 years as a champion for people with speech, language, and hearing disorders.

Alexander, a person who stutters, founded SAY in New York in 2001, bringing together young people who stutter to help them gain confidence and connect with others through the performing arts. Today, SAY offers a broad range of year-round programs, including Camp SAY summer camp, Confident Voices after-school and weekend programs, Camp SAY Across the USA day camps, speech therapy, SAY: Storytellers, and more.

According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, 3 million Americans stutter, and 5%–10% of children will stutter for some period of their lives. Most children who have a stutter outgrow it, but one quarter of them will retain their stutter into adulthood.

"I am deeply moved to receive the prestigious Annie Glenn Award," said Alexander. "Growing up as a child who stutters, I never imagined that my biggest insecurity would one day lead me to receive such a distinguished honor. Mrs. Glenn's life and work has had a powerful impact on me and continues to inspire and inform the work that we do at SAY."

Alexander grew up in Washington, D.C., where his father, Bobby Alexander, founded and ran the Living Stage Theatre Company to provide performance arts outreach to overlooked communities, including impoverished youth, senior citizens, people with substance dependencies, and women and men in prison.

After graduating from the prestigious Duke Ellington School of the Arts, Taro Alexander moved to New York to become a professional actor. Following a career that included acting in national tours of the stage shows STOMP and Lost in Yonkers and parts in the TV series Law & Order, Taro followed his late father’s footsteps by founding Our Time Theatre Company, which eventually became SAY. Ever since, through SAY, Alexander has helped young people who stutter.

This year, Alexander returned to Washington to launch SAY: DC, the organization’s first satellite office. SAY uses performing and visual arts to help children and teens who stutter bolster their confidence and self-expression by ensuring that participants always have as much time as they need to speak. The organization has been widely covered by outlets such as The Meredith Vieira Show, ABC News, CBS Sunday Morning, NBC Nightly News With Brian Williams, TODAY, and 20/20, as well as The New York Times, New York Magazine, Chicago Tribune, and The Washington Post. Also, "My Beautiful Stutter," a 2019 documentary that followed five SAY participants over the course of a year, will be shown at ASHA's November 2019 Convention.

Past recipients of the Annie Glenn award include actors James Earl Jones and Julie Andrews; former U.S. Congresswoman Gabby Giffords and her husband, retired astronaut Mark Kelly; and the former ABC Television Network series "Speechless."

An interview with Alexander is available on ASHA's podcast ASHA Voices: https://blog.asha.org/2019/10/24/asha-voices-lessons-learned-from-stuttering-struggles-and-beatboxing-sounds/.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA)
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for 204,000 members and affiliates who are audiologists; speech-language pathologists; speech, language, and hearing scientists; audiology and speech-language pathology support personnel; and students. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment, including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems, including swallowing disorders.


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