Great journeys require great guides. When you journey to become a great communicator, you need to explore with someone who understands the commitment, knows the course, and sees the possibilities. You need to work with someone who will lead you where you want to go and inspire you to go even further. That’s the kind of guide you’ll find at Speakeasy.
As full-time members of our staff, our instructors and consultants are dedicated to teaching, learning, and doing. You'll benefit from their expertise and personal coaching. And you'll benefit from the insight they've gained as they continually advance through new thresholds on their own communication journeys. Get to know the people who can help you become a more powerful communicator.
Alexander Cohen, M.A., CCC-SLP
Alex Cohen has a breathtaking array of accomplishments. He’s bilingual. English is his first language; Spanish is the language he taught himself. He worked for five years in both languages as a Speech-Language Pathologist with the Dignity Health Medical Group. He’s traveled extensively in Central and South America, and, also, in Europe and Asia. In fact, he’s lived in ten different cities and traveled to over forty countries. He holds a sky-diving license, enjoys bungee jumping, snowboarding, scuba diving, surfing and camping. He had what he calls “a four-year crash course in business” when he designed a line of fashionable leather purses which he turned into an international company requiring sales presentations, negotiations and extensive travel.
What’s even more fascinating about Alex than his accomplishments is the thinking that has led to so much creativity and risk-taking. He seeks out adventures that will keep alive a sense of wonder which he feels many adults lose if they become too analytical. In cooking, his theme is feeding the brain with nutrients that will help him work at the level he wants. And when it comes to communication, he believes that when the focus is on helping clients develop as people, everything will improve. “Challenging yourself goes beyond communication.” One of the things that appealed to him about Speakeasy is the belief that we all have the potential to be good communicators. “Coaching is about releasing that potential, not putting on a façade. It’s about authentic communication.”
Alex had an idea for creating a communication company and he had a name for it. When he Googled to see if anyone else had used the name, he discovered we had! He also discovered that our Speakeasy was very compatible with his vision. He joined us, because he wanted to be part of something bigger, he wanted to learn more and he wanted to work with a diverse group of people.
Alex holds a Master of Arts in Communication Disorders and Sciences from San Jose State University and a Bachelor of Arts in Language Studies from the University of California in Santa Cruz. He’s a licensed Speech Pathologist and holds Clinical Certification from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
Alexis Holman, M.A.,CCC-SLP
Alexis Holman discovered Speakeasy by reading the sign on our Atlanta office building. Wondering what kind of company this was, did some Internet sleuthing, and found her next job. A fully qualified speech-language pathologist, she says, “I love facilitating getting people from point A to point B – knowing that I’ve helped someone and seeing the impact of that.” She also loves meeting new people all the time. She says, “I thrive on that and never get bored.”
It’s easy to believe there’s no room for boredom in the way she lives. She’s captain of a women’s recreational league basketball team in Atlanta and works out regularly. With all that exercise she can afford her favorite indulgence – Haagen-Dazs ice cream – coffee flavor, please. But Alexis’ life is more than sports and ice cream! She loves to read works of wisdom and personal philosophy and cites books by C.S. Lewis and the memoir Tuesdays with Morrie. She fulfills her philanthropic passion for youth through service work with her sorority.
Alexis is well traveled. She enjoyed a trip through Europe with her high school French club. She’s also had some wonderful vacations in St. Martin, Anguilla, St. Barthélemy, Hawaii, Toronto, Puerto Rico and the Bahamas. Now she dreams of visiting Greece – especially Santorini because it looks so beautiful on Pinterest.
Alexis holds a Bachelor of Science in Education with a major in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from the University of Georgia and a Master of Arts in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from the University of Memphis. In ten years of experience, she has worked in private practice with pediatric and geriatric populations in homes and day cares in Charlotte, N.C., and in schools, clinics and assisted living facilities in Atlanta, GA. She’s a licensed speechlanguage pathologist in Georgia, clinically certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and is also certified in Compton’s accent modification. At Speakeasy she coaches clients on speaking style and voice.
There isn’t a halfhearted, sleepy, or disinterested bone in Collins body. He is both highly professional and deeply in earnest. He’s the sort of listener who surprises you with how much he remembers and how quickly he’s able to size up the special challenges of your particular circumstances. Collin asks probing questions and specializes in the art of coaching clients to give substantive answers.
Collin knows the world of television journalism inside and out. He’s collected some twenty-five awards for his writing, producing and on-air talent. These include the Columbia University-DuPont Award, a dozen regional Emmy awards and a National Daytime Emmy as well as awards from the American Film Festival, the Scott Newman Foundation, the National Education Association and the International Film Producers Association. He founded Dystar Television, Inc., producing documentary programs for domestic and worldwide syndication. Collin spent five years as head of the Documentary Unit for Gannett Broadcasting, producing news specials for all of the Gannett stations in the nation. Before that he was an on-air reporter for WXIA-TV, a reporter at the Hearst station in Milwaukee and reporter/anchor at the ABC affiliate in Green Bay, Wisconsin. For ten years Collin was Senior Vice-President of Production for the CWK Network, Inc, a multi-media company producing news stories, documentaries and web-based resources for more than fifty stations in the U.S.
Collin is a graduate of Case Western Reserve University. He began working as a consultant for Speakeasy in 1988 and currently delivers private coaching as well as leading a number of our core content and style programs.
David Cecere, M.S., CCC-SLP
When David summarizes his military career, you get a hint of his special brand of humor. As he puts it, “I always wanted to travel, so I joined the Marines and ended up going to the desert.” His colleagues at Speakeasy admire his four-year military experience in which he served in Iraq on two seven-month tours – one in 2005 and the other in 2007 – as Corporal of Marines with a Combat Engineer military occupational specialty.
David says his biggest passion is food. He likes to cook and when he finds a new restaurant in a new city he introduces those discoveries into his own cooking style. He learns about other cultures through eating different foods and is currently interested in Ethiopian and Indian cuisines. David also loves stand-up comedy, comedy in general, and making people laugh. He loves live music performances and is especially fond of jazz/blues/rock bars. He stays fit by lifting weights and hiking in state parks.
He spent two years doing clinical therapy in nursing homes and subacute rehabs before joining Speakeasy. Since Speakeasy is a global company, he’s thrilled by the opportunity it offers to see more of the world.
After his military career, David studied to become a speech pathologist at William Paterson University in Wayne, New Jersey where he earned two degrees: a Bachelor of Arts and a Masters of Science, both in communication disorders. He is a licensed SLP in California and New Jersey, and a member of the American Speech and Hearing Association with a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Speech Pathology.
Doris Bucher, M.Ed., M.P.S., CCC-SLP
Nearly 40 years of experience with Speakeasy clients. A widely respected voice coach, who has worked with a boxing champion and a top CNN foreign correspondent. Holder of two masters degrees. That’s Doris. If you just looked at her experience and expertise, you might be a little intimidated. This is a real pro. But once in her presence, any intimidation you might have felt melts away. Learning becomes fun. At her direction you’re not even afraid to do things that seem a little silly at first.
Perhaps the most important element in Doris’ biography is her love of the theater. As an accomplished actress and director, she has a great love and respect for “play,” and she understands how some very serious purposes can be accomplished through it. In Doris’ skillful hands, you recover some of that love of learning you had long ago. You stretch a little further. You try a little harder. You have fun. And you succeed.
She holds a Masters in Speech Pathology from Emory University and a Masters degree in Pastoral Ministry from Loyola University in New Orleans. As a Distinguished Faculty member, Doris delivers all of Speakeasy’s Style-Impact Programs and private coaching. She has been an instructor with Speakeasy for 37 years, and she is a clinically certified member of the American Speech Language and Hearing Association, a member of the Georgia Speech and Hearing Association, and of Zeta Phi Eta, a national honorary society for outstanding women in speech.
Doug’s title is Speakeasy’s Senior Vice President of Positioning Strategy. That means he insures that our communication and physical environment accurately reflect our corporate image and values. He also provides instruction, private coaching, and design and consulting services to Speakeasy’s clients on presentation content and visual support issues, and heads all design efforts delivered through our Visual Communication Group. He brings to this multi-faceted role a background in graphic, advertising, architectural and interior design, and the processes he uses in working with Speakeasy’s clients are derived from almost forty years years of experience in developing communication through all of these mediums.
To his colleagues Doug has another title: adventurer – curious about cultures and creatures, especially marine creatures. (Check out the skull of the 350-pound Loggerhead turtle in his office.) This curiosity feeds his creativity. You can depend on Doug for that unique solution, that combination of colors, textures, shapes and images that will make your concept “real.”
But Doug also knows that any visual communication must serve a clear message. So this adventurer doesn’t set off to explore the visual possibilities until he’s clear on what they need to accomplish. What’s exciting is that he takes you along, whether in workshops or private sessions, teaching you how the process works. With Doug as your guide, you feel equipped for your own exploration.
Doug received a Bachelor of Environmental Design and a Bachelor of Architecture from Auburn University. He heads our Visual Communication Group, and as a Senior Faculty member, heads our Content-Impact curriculum. He serves as Chair for our Core Curriculum Committee and has been working with Speakeasy on communication and content planning issues for almost 35 years.
Hannah Baker Hitzhusen
Hannah has an amazingly multifaceted personal history. For instance, languages… English is her mother tongue, but she speaks fluent French having lived close to Paris for three non-consecutive years as a child. To that solid language base she’s added what she describes as “halting Dutch.” Take her pursuit of a goal. When she studied art history at Rice University in Houston, she won a paid internship at the Museum of Modern Art in NYC – working with the curators of the Toulouse-Lautrec exhibit.
She spent 17 years in marketing research exploring consumer insights, and her first mentor in that field remains her model for effective facilitation. As a result, Hannah doesn’t think of herself as a teacher as much as a person who helps others make discoveries. She is fascinated with people’s behavior and motivations, and is driven to help people achieve personal mastery.
Her kids are her biggest passion. She will tell you she’s “rearing grownups.” Her family loves to bake together; ask her about challah, mango cake, or banana bread with chocolate chips. She also enjoys reading, writing, and talking on the phone—especially landlines.
Hannah anchors the faculty in Speakeasy’s Amsterdam office, teaches ‘Talk So People Listen,’ ‘Develop Your Speaking Style,’ ‘Take the First Step’ and all of our Content Impact Programs. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Art History from Rice University, Houston, and before returning to Europe was a long standing member of the American Marketing Association and of the Qualitative Research Consultants Association.
Joanne Meyer, Ph.D.
Joanne is that very fit woman playing tennis, skiing, and hiking who always has stories cooking in her head… she writes fiction for fun. You might also catch her taking her Tibetan terrier for a walk. Although she took time off from Speakeasy to finish a Ph.D. and to establish a practice in psychology, she has been an instructor with us for a total of almost 25 years.
You can expect to learn a lot from Joanne as an instructor. Her style is never pushy; she’s gentle, supportive – and tremendously effective. She has extensive experience with the workings of non-profit organizations, but much of her business savvy comes from having created and sold her own practice in speech pathology.
Joanne is a Principal Faculty member at Speakeasy and delivers almost all of our programs. She’s an ASHA certified speech pathologist, and is licensed both as a speech pathologist and as a clinical psychologist. She is a member of the American-Speech-Language-Hearing Association and of the California Speech and Hearing Association. She earned a BA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas in speech pathology and audiology, a master’s degree in speech pathology from the University of Denver, and both a Masters in psychology and a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from San Francisco’s School of Professional Psychology.
Jorge Barria, M.B.A.
Jorge loves to travel especially internationally. He’s a founding member of the Bellarmine University International Student Association and spent time in Germany studying International Business. Originally from Panama, he has lived all over the U.S. from Miami to Atlanta, from Little Rock, Arkansas to San Diego and Palm Springs, California. Working out and hiking balance his delight in eating out. Eclectic in his tastes, he expresses a fondness for pork, lamb, gummy bears and chocolate.
Speakeasy is a natural home for Jorge who is a firm believer in ongoing personal and professional development. With Jorge you know you’ve found someone with your best interests at heart. He so much enjoys helping other people improve, he says their progress makes him happy even if they become better than he is! Your gain is his gain, since he believes the best way to create success in your own life is to help other people become successful.
Jorge teaches our core three-day style program “Talk So People Listen” and holds an M.B.A. from Bellarmine University and a B.S. in Business Administration from the University of Louisville. He is a Fulbright scholar, a member of the American International Relations Club and was awarded the certificate of “Kentucky Ambassador of Good Will” for promoting multicultural understanding.
Kevin McIntyre, M.S.
Kevin is a keenly observant instructor and a man with a gift for conversation. His diverse background has given
him a wide range of experiences to draw from. He’s a retired Lieutenant Colonel (United States Air Force and
Air National Guard). He’s held many senior leadership positions in both the military and the private sector.
Before joining Speakeasy, he was Senior Consultant with Firestorm Solutions, and a National Crisis Expert and
VP of Crisis Management with Sun Trust. Kevin served as an Executive Officer with the Department of Defense
and in a leadership and training role with FEMA. As a recognized medical subject matter expert, he was appointed
to several highly visible projects including Ebola response and National Security Special Events.
Kevin and his wife Lydia have made their home in Marietta for over twenty years. They have two grown daughters
and enjoy traveling, volunteering and spending time with family and friends. Kevin loves reading books on
personal and professional development. Among his favorites are The Five Levels of Leadership by John Maxwell
and Start With Why by Simon Sinek. He enjoys sport shooting, watching the Falcons and gardening. He favors
planting azaleas and roses of different varieties and colors.
Kevin learned from his years as a senior leader the importance of communication. He says, “I’m proud of being
part of a company that helps leaders grow to communicate in a powerful way.”
Kevin holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Excelsior College and a Master of Science in Information Technology
from Trident University.
Pat Wahoske, M.A., CCC-SLP
Pat knows your voice. As a Speakeasy instructor, Pat brings 30 years of clinical experience evaluating and treating adults with communication disorders. Her clinical practice specialized in voice. She brings a sensitivity to Speakeasy that she developed as a clinician. It gives her insight into how a person can best change a behavior. And it highlights her commitment to creating a safe and comfortable environment for personal growth and experimentation.
Pat also held management roles for the past 25 years, making her intimately familiar with the demands executives face. Prior to joining Speakeasy, she served as Manager of Clinical Development and Process Improvement for the Rehabilitation Services Division at Piedmont Hospital in Atlanta. Her coaching is all about understanding the uniqueness of each individual client. Pat says, “every person has potential inside of them they have not yet tapped.” Pat brings a gift for drawing out a person’s distinct communication strengths to help them build their own individual style.
Pat serves as Speakeasy’s SVP of Faculty and Dean of Curriculum, and teaches all of our Style-Impact programs. She delivers customized programs and private coaching to C-Suite executives from major Fortune 100 companies and serves as lead faculty on our most senior open-enrollment programs. Pat holds B.S. and Master’s degrees in Speech-Language Pathology, both from the University of Minnesota, and is a licensed speech-language pathologist, certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She was a charter Board Recognized Specialist in Swallowing, has held numerous elected offices in professional associations, is a Past-President of the Minnesota Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She has served on the Executive Board of the Georgia Speech-Language-Hearing Association and is a current member of the Voice Special Interest Division, the Association for Talent Development and the National Association of Female Executives. Pat has been with Speakeasy since 2005. Prior to joining Speakeasy, she held positions as Director of Rehabilitation Division, and Manager of Clinical Development and Process Improvement in large healthcare systems. Her career has included P&L responsibility and multi-facility management.
Paula Hamilton, M.Ed., CCC-SLP
Paula takes a very active approach to life. When something interests her, she finds a way to try it. This means it’s hard to predict what she might be doing on her free time. She might be horseback riding or learning how to referee football or working as a volunteer for the Georgia Radio Service – recording magazines and book excerpts for the visually impaired. She’s quick to tell you that long walks and trying new recipes delight her as much as those yoga and spin classes, too. If you tell her about an interesting trip or hobby, watch out! She may soon be following in your footsteps. When Paula guides you, you know you have her full attention. She is on your side one hundred percent and her patience is unlimited. Her background has given her special expertise in speech and voice – she is a clinically certified speech pathologist – and has a special appreciation for the demands of the business world. She has had extensive experience in banking, telecommunications and IT.
Paula earned a Master in Communication Disorders from North Carolina Central University and a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. She spent five years as a speech pathologist in the public school system working with the secondary student population. She is a clinically certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and of the Georgia Speech and Hearing Association. She has licensure as a speech pathologist in two states – California and Georgia. She currently delivers our Style-Impact programs and heads Speakeasy’s Classroom Technology Committee.
Peter Kristensson, M.B.A.
Peter Kristensson must be the most global instructor at Speakeasy. As he says, “I’m the person who required the most miles in order to complete my training.” He had to travel first to Hong Kong, then to Atlanta, on to Dubai and finally back home to Shanghai before he was ready to lead sessions on his own. He’s lived in eight countries, is fluent in Swedish, English and French; has a good comprehension of Norwegian, Danish and Dutch; has studied Spanish and Mandarin, but says he needs a lot of work for comprehension in those two.
Peter is originally from Sweden and his wife of twenty years is from Turkey. They’ve lived in Hong Kong for almost three years, and now close to five years in Shanghai. They love the pace and quality of life there – and they wanted their two daughters to experience growing up internationally, as well. They have found the people friendly and the food amazing.
Initially, Peter joined Speakeasy in a business development role. When he went through one of Speakeasy’s style programs, he experienced his biggest “a-ha” moment in learning to increase his listener awareness. “That changes every conversation you have from that day forward.” His desire to teach was driven by his desire for self-development and by a desire “to be a part of the magic we create in the classroom.” What fuels his passion? “Seeing that each person who comes to us leaves as a better version of themselves.”
Leisure pleasures include travel with his family in Asia and Europe, watching soccer matches, movies – especially James Bond movies – and reading. “I regularly have 2-3 different books going at any time.”
Peter holds a Bachelor of Science degree with a concentration in Human Resources from The Hotel School of Cornell University in Ithaca, N.Y. and an MBA from Texas A&M-Commerce in Commerce, TX with a focus on Marketing. He’s a Beta Gamma Sigma honor society member.
Rebecca West, M.S., CCC-SLP
Rebecca West is one of the most radiant people you will ever meet. She describes herself as a lifelong learner continually striving for the best within her and she is passionate about teaching and empowering people.
Rebecca comes to Speakeasy after a decade of experience as a speech-language pathologist in a wide variety of settings, with clients ranging from three-month old babies to Holocaust survivors over ninety years of age. Her study of neurolinguistics and neuroscience has been fueled by her fascination with the human mind and its direct correlation to human potential.
Rebecca believes in family first and treasures time spent with her family. Well-traveled, she loves exploring all the world has to offer. She savors beauty in all its diverse forms – nature, art, music, literature, dance, food, the ocean, time with loved ones, a smile, a laugh. She could happily live in the Louvre for a year subsisting on Parisian pastries and Ritter Sport dark chocolate with hazelnuts … with a few green drinks thrown in for health purposes.
Rebecca holds both a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology and two Bachelor of Science degrees in Communicative Disorders and Deaf Education, as well as, Human Development. Nationally certified in speech-language pathology by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, she is licensed as an SLP in three states.
Sandra Menes-Ashe, M.S., M.Ed.
While Sandra has been with Speakeasy for almost 27 years, the special qualities she brings to our clients were already evident at the beginning of her career. After completing her graduate program at Columbia, she worked as an educator with students in Harlem. She thrived on challenge. She still does.
Sandra really thrives on the challenge of helping Speakeasy clients meet their communication goals. She listens carefully to what you want to accomplish, and she remembers. So just when your energy flags, or your commitment waivers, she steps right in — reminding you, encouraging you, or suggesting an alternate route. That’s the kind of support you’ll get from Sandra. Her Speakeasy colleagues also experience it. As one observes, “She’s consistent and determined. She shoots straight, working hard to be sure I accomplish what I’ve told her I want to do. She stays with me until I get where I need to go.”
Sandra is a Principal faculty member, delivers all of Speakeasy’s programs and has been conducting seminars and making presentations for the company since 1989. Before joining Speakeasy, Sandra served as Executive Regional Director for an international youth organization and a Project Director for the Centers for Disease Control. She received her Masters of Education in Supervision and Administration from Columbia University.
Torian Salary, PhD.
Torian Salary has over 16 years of experience in training and leadership development, as well as in marketing and public relations. He’s held roles designing, delivering and managing leadership programs for Cultura Technologies and the Georgia Department of Human Services. His dissertation for his upcoming Ph.D. is on intrinsic and extrinsic motivation in business and personal relationships.
Torian discovered his passion when he was in a singing group in high school. He found he loved being in front of people. This led him to grow as an instructor, as a youth minister who’s big on helping those less fortunate, and as a motivational speaker.
In addition to these accomplishments, Torian also managed to play football at Troy University. He was a middle linebacker for two of the four years in a row that Troy won the Conference Championship. Torian adds, “I got to hit people!”
Torian says he and his family, his wife Jasmine and their two children, soon to be three, are outdoor folks – and one of Torian’s favorite hobbies is nature photography. He’s also a fan of any kind of concert – another love that started with that high school singing group.
Torian holds a Bachelor of Arts in Broadcast Journalism and Public Relations from Troy University in Troy, Alabama and a Master or Arts in Innovative Leadership from Western International University in Phoenix, Arizona. He is currently working on his Ph.D. in Education and Organizational Leadership.
Victoria Exnicios, M.Ed.
When Victoria says she loves polo, she isn’t talking about taking a place in the stands; she’s talking about taking her place on a horse and playing the game. She says, “I like adrenaline-driven sports and the competition and I like the beauty and athleticism of the horses.” She also likes yoga and golf, a sport she’s taken up recently. She loves Laverne, a Bassett hound rescue she describes as an unflappable dog.
Clients find this high achiever a thoroughly empathetic and encouraging instructor. Before joining Speakeasy, Victoria was a consultant for the military in a psychological outreach program. For twenty years she coached lawyers in high stakes litigations, sometimes rehearsing them for as long as two years for a big trial. What drew her to Speakeasy was this observation: “Speakeasy gives people the opportunity to open doors for themselves.” She also likes helping people overcome their fear of public speaking and believes that the Speakeasy experience “can enrich their lives and open up different dimensions of their personalities – professionally and personally.”
Victoria moved to New York from New Orleans. She finds New York a vibrant epicenter and a very stimulating environment – and she also loves the Hamptons where she plays polo during the summer.
She is a graduate of Florida State University in Social Science Education and holds a Masters in Counselor Education and Mental Health Counseling from the University of New Orleans. She is based in Speakeasy’s New York City office and delivers private coaching services as well as all of Speakeasy’s Core Style-Impact Programs.