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The New York City Dysphagia Study Group (NYCDSG) is a small, unique group of medical speech-language and swallowing pathologists from the NYC metro area. The group meets once a month for a specialized conference to discuss various clinical care topics and research related to dysphagia.  

The mission of the NYCDSG is to provide dysphagia clinicians with an inter-professional forum to learn, teach, share, and collaborate to ultimately provide exceptional patient care.
 
The group was originally founded in the mid-1990s by VA SLP Latimer Kells. Original members Lonnie Burke Aresse, Andrea Leone, Keri Danzinger, Shoana Scribner, Luis Riquelme, Marta Kazandjian, Cathy Lazarus, Michelle Graham and Deborah Guida established the foundation for the group today.

The group has grown since its inception and physical attendance is typically 30-55 members per meeting. Members are both newly trained clinicians entering into the field of dysphagia and others are highly seasoned clinicians, educators and leaders in the field. NYCDSG members represent 30+ medical centers in NY tri-state area, including NY-Presbyterian, Cornell, Mount-Sinai Health System (Queens, Manhattan), Elmhurst Hospital, Bellevue Hospital, Brooklyn Hospital Center, VA NY Harbor Healthcare (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens), New York-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, NYU Langone, Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, Silver Crest Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, Montefiore Medical Center, the Visiting Nurse Service of New York, and others, as well as numerous local universities including: Columbia University, New York University, Teachers College, City University of New York, New York Medical College, Touro College, and Hofstra University. 

The group is members-only and requires physical attendance to at least three group meetings per year to sustain membership. There is no fee to attend group sessions, our only requirement is that members commit to attending at least three group meetings per year. After an extended hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic, group meetings will resume in September 2023.

NYCDSG PLANNING COMMITTEE

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Monica V. Marks
Administrator

Updated bio coming soon!

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Matthew Vespertino
Event Coordinator

Matthew is a Speech-Language Pathologist at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, Manhattan Campus. He received his Bachelor’s in SLP from SUNY New Paltz and completed his graduate training in SLP at LIU Post. He began his career at Stony Brook Southampton hospital and has since worked in many areas of medical SLP, including acute inpatient, outpatient, subacute rehab, and homecare. He works primarily with the geriatric population in both the acute inpatient and outpatient settings at the VA, diagnosing and treating a variety of communication and swallowing disorders. He provides thoughtful mentorship to SLP graduate students at the Manhattan VA. He has guest lectured on gender affirming voice care at LIU Post and has been involved with SAGE Vets, a group providing advocacy and services for LGBTQ+ elder Veterans. His clinical interests include voice rehabilitation and the assessment/treatment of dysphagia. Off the clock, Matthew enjoys interior design, yoga, and gardening.

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Stephanie Bonowicz
Membership

Stephanie Bonowicz, M.S. CCC-SLP is a Speech-Language Pathologist at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, Brooklyn Campus, since joining in 2019. She completed her graduate studies at Brooklyn College. She got her start in the field as an SLP in skilled nursing facilities for three years prior to joining the VA team. Stephanie has a passion for mentoring both current graduate students and new SLPs completing their clinical fellowships. Each semester she trains graduate students completing their externship placements and serves as a CF supervisor in the SNF setting with the goal of supporting the future of our field. In addition to working full-time at the VA, Stephanie continues to work per-diem in the SNF setting to maintain a broad clinical experience. She is a member of the Cancer Coalition at the NY Harbor focusing on improving the quality of the treatment course for head and neck cancer patients. Her clinical interests include swallowing rehabilitation for patients with head and neck cancer, voice therapy for patients with Parkinson’s Disease, and fluency training for patients who stutter. Being able to serve veterans has been a highlight of her career.

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Kelly Yam
Website and Communications
Kelly Yam, M.S. CCC-SLP is a staff Speech-Language Pathologist at the VA NY Harbor Healthcare System, Manhattan Campus. She completed her graduate training at Teachers College, Columbia University and joined the VA in 2017.  Her clinical interests include voice and swallowing rehabilitation for patients with head and neck cancer, including following total laryngectomy, as well as dysphagia management in palliative care. Kelly also has a keen interest in medical ethics, has completed graduate level coursework in bioethics, and serves as a member of the hospital Ethics Consultation Committee. In addition to her clinical work, Kelly is committed to both pursuing and contributing to high-quality training at all stages of the SLP career track. She supervises and trains speech pathology graduate students each semester, including tutorials on selected topics in medical speech pathology. She has provided guest lectures on dysphagia and medical speech pathology at various universities in the NYC area. She also served on the Dysphagia/Adult Medical Topic Committee for the New York State Speech Language Hearing Association Annual Convention for 2020 and 2021 and presented at the April 2021 convention. In November 2020, Kelly was selected as an ASHA Distinguished Early Career Professional.
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