2021 Elections

The Executive Board of AVAA is pleased to announce the opening of voting in the 2020 elections.  Voting will remain open until close of business Pacific Standard Time on Friday February 26th.  Winners will be announced at the AVAA business meeting at JDVAC on Monday, March 1.  Votes must be cast using an official VA email address.  Any votes received using a non-VA email address will not be counted.

President-Elect (3-year term)

The President-Elect will act as understudy to the President to become acquainted with the business and operation of the AVAA in preparation for assuming the duties of President. In the absence of the President, the President-Elect will assume the duties of the President. If the President, for any reason, cannot serve out a full term of office, the President-Elect will become President for the remainder of that term and also his/her regular term. In the event that the President-Elect also cannot serve out the full presidential term for any reason, the remaining officers shall cause an election for that office to take place.

Ashley Long, Au.D.

Bio:   Ashley Long, Au.D., received her B.A. from The Ohio State University and her Au.D. from Ohio University. She was an audiology trainee at the VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, at both Nashville and Murfreesboro campuses, and completed her 4th year externship at the Louis Stokes Cleveland VA Medical Center.

Upon graduation she worked as staff audiologist at the VA Southern Nevada Healthcare System in Las Vegas completing diagnostic testing and running the same day/walk-in clinic while also working as the Patient Advocate Liaison. Four years ago, she transferred closer to home to the Toledo CBOC as part of the VA Ann Arbor Healthcare System where she specializes in diagnostics and hearing aid fittings while also precepting 4th year externs and mentoring area undergraduate speech and hearing students that are considering a career in audiology. Ashley’s current project is working to streamline and improve the community care process for local providers and Veterans. Ashley is a member of the American Speech Language Hearing Association (ASHA).

Ashley lives in Toledo, OH and in her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling, and riding her Peloton bike. Ashley is an active member of the Junior League of Toledo and volunteers with Honor Flight.

Statement: “I chose a career in VA audiology to serve men and women like my grandfather, a Navy Veteran and audiology patient. All of my clinical training and entirety of my career has been in the VA system serving this nation’s Veterans. I have worked in various clinics in various locations and have enjoyed all experiences working alongside amazing VA audiologists. I wish to serve as AVAA president-elect to gain further knowledge into the organization and be a part of a leadership dedicated to uniting and collaborating with VA audiologists and advocating for them. I would like to continue to improve on the reputation of the VA healthcare system and its audiologists through patient satisfaction and quality of care.”

Jessica Preston, Au.D.

Bio:  Jessica Preston, Au.D., CCC-A is a clinical audiologist at the Connecticut Veteran’s Administration Healthcare System where she has worked since 2005.  She earned her BA from the University of Connecticut, MS from Southern Connecticut State University, and her Doctor of Audiology degree from the University of Florida.

Dr. Preston has dedicated much of her career to cochlear implants and currently serves as the lead cochlear implant audiologist at the Connecticut VA.  In this role, she is responsible for coordinating and managing care for implant recipients including helping with the development and implementation of cochlear implant telehealth services.  In addition to this work, Dr. Preston serves as the audiology liaison on the Connecticut VA Polytrauma team.  Her work on this team allows her to focus on the diagnosis and treatment of Veterans with auditory processing disorders secondary to traumatic brain injury.

Outside of the clinic, Dr. Preston shares her passion for and dedication to advancing the field of audiology.  She is an adjunct professor at Sacred Heart University where she teaches a course focused on Aural Rehabilitation.  She helps share her knowledge by serving as a peer mentor for VA audiologists that wish to specialize in cochlear.  This passion for cochlear implants and aural rehabilitation led to her authoring several peer reviewed publications in these specialty areas.  Dr. Preston has presented at many national conferences including several presentations at JDVAC.  Additionally, Jessica has a distinct place for the Special Olympics in her heart and currently serves as the Clinical Co-Director for Healthy Hearing during the CT Summer Games.

In addition to audiology, Jessica enjoys spending time with her husband, two children and her dog, Coco.

Statement:  “Over the past 15 years, I have had the privilege of working with extraordinary VA audiologists across the nation, learning from their experience and expertise. The VA’s mission has always resonated deeply with me; my dad and grandfather are both Army Veterans. Throughout my career, I have always been committed to creating a supportive and positive environment for my colleagues and now hope to do the same at the national level.

I want to be AVAA president elect to address the unique needs and concerns of VA audiologists across the nation. I look forward to sharing and exchanging ideas, contributing to the on-going advancement of our field, and advocating for our profession.

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President-Elect (3-year term)


Secretary (3-year term)

The Secretary of the AVAA will attend and record minutes at all meetings. In addition the Secretary will: maintain a historic record of the minutes that will be available to the members of the Executive Board through the AVAA website; arrange and schedule meetings for the Executive Board; develop the agenda for the meetings; continue action items on the agenda until they are resolved; manage and update the AVAA website, attend to all correspondence through AVAA email account, and record the minutes of the debriefing after each yearly program.

Tina Penman, Au.D.

Bio:  Tina Penman joined the VA McClellan Audiology Clinic in August 2020. Previously, she was at the National Center for Rehabilitative Auditory Research (NCRAR) at the VA Portland Health Care System from 2010-2020 and the Boston VA as a graduate student from 2007-2009. Tina received a BS in Behavioral Neuroscience (2006) and Clinical Doctorate in Audiology (2010) from Northeastern University. Her goal as a VA audiologist is to make sure Veterans are happy and hearing with their hearing aids. COVID-19 hobbies include playing chess and trying to cook.

Statement:  Thank you for allowing me to serve as Treasurer for the Association of VA Audiologists (AVAA) from 2012-2016. It was a rewarding experience to give back an organization that has already given so much to myself, fellow VA audiologists and researchers, and the Veteran population. I would be humbled to continue serving the organization, this time as Secretary. In 2018 I became a Registered Parliamentarian through the National Association of Parliamentarians. I also served as the Secretary for the Junior League of Portland in 2017-2018, specializing in Bylaws, Policies, and Procedures, and non-profit legal responsibilities, which compliments service on any board.

The goal of our organization is ‘to achieve and maintain the highest quality of patient care, training, and research by individual audiologists and the programs in which they are housed.’ By continued service on the board, I would help with continuity of long-term goals. My experiences in research, clinic, supervision of students, and administration of C&P examinations gives me a bird’s eye view of the VA audiology landscape. As a social media advocate, I would continue to advocate for VA audiology and promote our organization as determined appropriate- who we are, what we do, and why. Lastly, I would be humbled to continue serving an organization that is committed to serving our VA audiology family and our nation’s Veterans. Thank you for your time and consideration.”

Kaitlin Thoden, Au.D.

Bio: Kaitlin Thoden, AuD, is a clinical audiologist at the Northport VA Medical Center in New York. She currently runs the Audiology Department at the Riverhead CBOC. Kaitlin has been a VA Audiologist for almost the entirety of her career, beginning as a third year intern at the Miami VA Medical Center.

Dr. Thoden was a vital member of the team that expanded audiology services to the Riverhead CBOC as well as running the Mobile Medical Unit program. She currently conducts annual hearing screenings for the employees at the local national cemetery.

Dr. Thoden is excited for the possibility to serve as AVAA secretary, as she is a collaborative professional who enjoys sharing her ideas as well as engaging in productive discussions on how we can improve and advance VA Audiology.  Dr. Thoden has experience volunteering with VA Audiology organizations as she served as the 2020 JDVAC Social Committee Co-chair and is currently the 2021 JDVAC Social Committee chair and the JDVAC conference co-chair.

When not at work, Dr. Thoden enjoys reading and  going on hikes with her family.

Statement: “Eleven years ago I was introduced to the world of VA audiology and recognized the importance of AVAA to unite us as colleagues and friends. It is my hope to strengthen this community of audiologists and help increase member involvement. I have learned many valuable things while volunteering for JDVAC and am excited about the opportunity to serve AVAA even more, by becoming a member of the board.”

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Secretary (3-year term)

Member-at-Large (1-year term) 

The Member-at-Large of the AVAA will attend all board meetings to shares ideas, guidance, and expertise, serve on the newsletter committee and assisting with social media as requested by the board.

Michelle Gortemaker Au.D.

Bio:  Michele Gortemaker, AuD, is a Supervisory Audiologist at Cheyenne VA Health Care System in Cheyenne, WY. Michele has been a VA Audiologist for the entirety of her career, beginning as a second year intern and fourth year extern at Omaha VAMC before assuming the role of Chief of Audiology and Speech Pathology Services for Nebraska-Western Iowa Health Care System in 2012.  She and her family made the move to Cheyenne, WY in 2015 to be closer to family.  Michele has been involved in Tele-Audiology on a local and national level since 2012 and is a Master Preceptor in Tele-Audiology.  She and the team in Nebraska worked on early piloting of remote diagnostics for CVT in 2013 and 2014, and in her current position at the Cheyenne VA Healthcare System, she has built a successful Tele-Audiology program over the last five years.  In the Spring of 2020, Michele led their team of Audiologists through the final testing and validation of remote fine tuning for hearing instruments.  She has been involved with the JDVAC conference for many years presenting on Tele-Audiology panels.  She began volunteering for the conference in 2017 serving as Poster Committee Chair in 2018 and Conference Chair for the 2020 JDVAC in Illinois.

Michele is excited for the possibility to serve as Member At Large, as she is a collaborative professional who enjoys sharing her ideas, as well as engaging in productive discussions on how to improve and advance VA Audiology.

When not at work, Michele is involved in a service organization promoting education in women and stays busy chasing after a 9 year-old-daughter and 7 year-old-son.  Her family enjoys spending time in the outdoors taking part in the many adventures Wyoming has to offer.

Statement:  “Over the past 15 years, I have gained a tremendous amount of experience through the mentorship of VA Audiologists.  I started my journey with VA as a 2nd year student and have never looked back.  I believe we have an exceptional opportunity and responsibility to our nation’s veterans to provide exceptional health care through our Audiological Services.  Every day, we have the opportunity to improve quality of life and overall health of our patients in a very different way than our peers in the private sector.  I am constantly amazed by the collaboration seen across health care systems, VISNs and even across the country within VA Audiology.  When I started working in the realm of Tele-Audiology around 2012, I was very isolated in my “bubble” in the clinic focusing only on what was occurring in my location on a given day.  This experience allowed me to interact with a larger group of like-minded Audiologists and develop relationships that ultimately led to volunteering for JDVAC committees and serving as Conference Chair in 2020.  I have grown as a leader and clinician during this time period and often find myself in the role of the Mentor in recent years.  It is my desire to serve as Member at Large for AVAA to continue to contribute to the field in a meaningful way, provide guidance and collaborate with the other AVAA Board Members on topics our field is facing today as well as looking towards our future.”

Meghan Kennedy Au.D.

Bio: Dr. Meghan Kennedy is a staff Audiologist at the VA Pittsburgh Healthcare Center. She earned her Doctor of Audiology degree at the University at Buffalo and completed her externship year at the VA Pittsburgh.

During her first year at the Pittsburgh VA, she was responsible for helping to establish and create a successful CBOC based audiology clinic in Uniontown, PA.  Her work at this CBOC also allowed for further development of cochlear implant based telehealth program services to the other Pittsburgh CBOC audiology locations.  Dr. Kennedy now primarily works in  main Pittsburgh VAMC clinic specializing in the areas of vestibular testing and electrophysiology in addition to her standard clinical practice.  Dr. Kennedy is passionate about her work with Veterans and enjoys supervising students and externs working to complete their Au.D. degree.

Dr. Kennedy has volunteered with national organizations such as JDVAC where she served on the 2020 Awards Committee.  Dr. Kennedy also national experience as a research poster presenter at JDVAC and AAA. In her free time, she enjoys spending time as a newlywed with her husband, Peter.

Statement: “It is my professional goal to help create a supportive and positive environment for my fellow VA Audiologists that is reflected in our care for Veterans. This passion has inspired me to take an  active role in furthering our field in order to ensure the highest level of care for those who have served our country. As member-at-large, I look forward to serving as a liaison between our members and AVAA leadership. If allowed the opportunity to serve as your board member, I intend to apply the same work ethic, dedication, and pride to this position as I do to my work as a VA audiologist. Through my involvement with this organization and its board, I hope to help AVAA achieve our goals and foster an environment that allows for support, promotion, and growth of VA Audiologists and, as a result, greater outcomes for the Veterans we serve.”

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Member-at-Large (1-year term)