Kathe Perez '86

Kathe Perez, MA SLP '86

Kathe Perez completed her MA in speech language pathology from CU-Boulder in 1986 and began her Ph.D. work there in 1993. Since then, Kathe’s story is one of extreme fortitude, survival, and success. As Kathe begins her story she shares, “I am forever ABD [All but Doctorate]. I sustained a traumatic brain injury in June 1998 and was unable to complete this degree." On June 13, 1998, Kathe and her daughter Shannon were traveling home in the early evening from having spent the day in the Colorado mountains. They were hit from behind by a car going too fast. Her daughter escaped serious injury but what resulted for Kathe "was a traumatic brain injury and multiple other medical problems and then a gradual descent into madness and near death." But that’s far from the end of the story. Kathe "emerged out of the darkness nearly seven years later to hope, happiness and health." (from Kathe’s Blog spot)

You can read more about Kathe’s journey on her new blogspot, Out of the Darkness: A Remarkable Story http://www.katheperez.blogspot.com, a truly remarkable story and a inspirational tool for others in our field and beyond. On the blogspot Kathe shares her thoughts, experiences and selections from her book. She states, “Those close to the story will recognize the facts from the fiction, for everyone else, you can decide for yourself.” Kathe relates that she began writing due to an on off-handed suggestion by her neurologist. She wrote voraciously for over two years. Three-hundred and seventy pages later, this fictionalized autobiography was completed. If you’re just joining Kathe's blog, she suggests that it’s best to begin at the beginning by reading the entry for August 18, 2009 first. The blog posts are ordered with the most recent entry first.

Through it all, Kathe continued to build upon her distinct interest in voice therapy which was sparked in SLHS (then CDSS) classrooms. “It was a hot July that summer when I walked into Lorraine Ramig’s Voice Disorders class. Her dynamic style was an instant hit with me. She inspired and motivated me to become a voice therapist and reach beyond what I thought was possible for myself. As I was nearing the end of my Master’s program, we (my then husband and I) were moving to Philadelphia. She helped me write a letter of introduction to Robert Sataloff, MD who was then (and still is) one of the world’s most respected authorities on the human voice and its disorders. I ended working for/with Dr. Sataloff for four years, writing papers, articles and textbook chapters and working with some amazing and well known singers and actors. I had always sung and thought I’d pursue a singing career, but other things got in the way (a story for another time). So, to work with singers who had injured voices was heaven.” Kathe further developed her expertise in voice, focusing on Voice Feminization Therapy for transgender women. “I’ve just begun a manual for speech pathologists and patients. I have a series of audio CDs for the program and a YouTube channel (http://www.youtube.com/tgvoice) of the exercises, techniques and strategies of my approach.”

Other memories from grad school were shared by Kathe, “I was pregnant with my first child (Shannon) when I began graduate school. Talk about busy--holy smokes--and very little sleep with the care and tending to my baby. After Shannon was born, I’d share with my classmates all her various mild stones. The class on child phonology was perfectly timed with her speech development. I think it was Judy King who began calling her, “wonder baby” and that stuck for a very long time.” As for continuing friendships from graduate school Kathe reports, “We’ve done pretty well over the years staying connected (both personally and professionally). Patty Walton (I believe) often initiates the social get-togethers. Sherry Baum, Laura Biegner, Tina Farell, Cathy Smith, Lori Ross, Julie Artigliere and others usually show up. It been great!” Kathe’s family grew to include 2 daughters who are extremely industrious like their mother. She tells us that “Shannon finished her BA at CU-Boulder (double major) on Sociology and Women’s Studies in 2001.

Kathe now works for the Northwest Network, a non-profit which provides outreach for nonviolent resolution of conflict for the GLBT community in Seattle. Meghann is now finishing up her BA at CU-Boulder in Theater. She has an amazing voice. She’s the singer I wish I could have been. I’ve lived in Louisville, the best small town in America, since 1990. My partner, Kevin and I began a fine art sales and service business in 1997 (http://www.stmichart.com). We enjoy traveling. I run. I hike. I knit. I travel. I write. I garden.” Kathe’s professional goals at this time are “to continue with my private practice and my passion for creative writing and public speaking. I had done a fair amount of what later came to be known as 'Corporate Speech Pathology', with accent modification training for business and professional people and a program I developed called Powerful Woman-Powerful Voice. I’ll likely continue down that road for the next ten years. My company (private practice), Exceptional Voice, Inc. is located in Denver. It’s a solo practice now. In addition to a very successful 23 year career, Kathe plans to wind it down and “In my perfect world beyond my career as a speech pathologist, I’d travel, write and become fluent in Spanish.” Kathe’s voice feminization programs can be found through her Exceptional Voice website (www.exceptionalvoice.com), via http://www.voicefeminization.com and her YouTube channel at http://www.youtube.com/tgvoice.

Kathe's story is a gift to those who have struggled with brain injury and to professionals in our field--in fact to any one who has faced difficult challenges. You inpire us Kathe!