KidTalk has a staff of about 20 people. About one-third of these are masters or doctoral students, and most of the rest are full-time staff. KidTalk also regularly employs a handful of undergraduate students part-time.
Ann Kaiser, Ph.D. – Director, KidTalk Project
Ann is the Director of KidTalk and the Susan W. Gray Professor of Education and Human Development at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She serves as the principal investigator for the research and demonstration grants at KidTalk. She has published more than 160 articles and chapters on early language interventions for children with language delays and developmental disabilities, and for children at risk due to poverty. She has received numerous awards for her research and mentoring including the Harvie Branscomb Distinguished Professorship at Vanderbilt University, and the prestigious J. E. Wallace Wallin Lifetime Achievement Award of the Council for Exceptional Children. Dr. Kaiser received her PhD in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas.
Jennifer Nietfeld, M.A. – Project Director
Jen obtained an undergraduate degree in Early Childhood Education and a Masters in Developmental and Child Psychology, Behavior Analysis, both at University of Kansas. She worked with Dr. Kaiser as a parent trainer for four years, which moved her to become the director and founder of SAIL Inc, an early intervention group providing ABA to children with autism. In addition to her work with SAIL, she is the Project Director for the KidTalk ACE project, a four-site grant funded by Autism Center for Excellence. The ACE project serves minimally verbal children with Autism.
Courtney Wright, Ph.D., CCC-SLP – Project Director
Courtney graduated from the Early Childhood Special Education Doctoral program at Vanderbilt University in 2013 and has since been working as an instructor and research associate at Vanderbilt Peabody College in the Special Education Department. She is currently directing the Merck Foundation grant serving preschoolers with Down syndrome while also performing assessments and providing intervention to children on this project and other projects. Courtney is a certified Speech-Language Pathologist specializing in children 0-8 and augmentative and alternative communication.
Tatiana Peredo, Ph.D. – Project Coordinator & Investigator
Tatiana has served as an interventionist and parent trainer on several KidTalk projects. She earned her Master’s degree in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt University in 2010 and her doctorate degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2015. Tatiana enjoys working with children with Autism, children with Down syndrome, and Spanish-speaking families. She currently serves at the investigator on the R21 Spanish Grant.
Suzanne Thompson, M.Ed., BCBA – Project Coordinator
Suzanne Thompson is the Project Coordinator for our newest Institute of Educational Sciences grant for toddlers with Autism. She works both as the coordinator of this project and as an interventionist to the children and families. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders, a Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Suzanne has been with KidTalk since October 2009 and enjoys working in an environment where she is able to directly apply research to the clinic and home settings.
Madeline Hinson, B.S. – Research Coordinator
Madeline Hinson is currently the Project Coordinator for all of the KidTalk programs and performs various duties across all projects. She received her Bachelor’s degree from Middle Tennessee State University with a concentration in liberal studies and psychology.
Kimberly McCulla, B.S. – Research Coordinator
Kim received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and English from Lipscomb University in 2008. She became acquainted with the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center during her senior practicum experience, where she assisted at the Kennedy Center and TRIAD, working with projects to study Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) detection and intervention. She has worked for Vanderbilt KidTalk for the past four years as a data analyst and coordinator, working with children who have language delays and ASD.
Ashlynn Campagna, M.S., CCC-SLP – Assessor
Ashlynn is a licensed speech-language pathologist who obtained her Master’s degree in Communication Disorders from Auburn University. Prior to moving to Nashville, she worked for several years within a pediatric private practice in Boston, MA primarily working with early intervention and children with autism spectrum disorders. Ashlynn joined KidTalk to pursue her passion for research and working with children with autism. She currently works as an assessor for KidTalk serving children with autism spectrum disorders.
Mary Rodgers, M.S., BCBA – Research Analyst
Mary received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga in May 2015. During her time there she completed practicum hours at the Moccasin Bend Mental Health Institute serving adults in the long-term care unit and at the Johnson Mental Health Center serving children with emotional disturbances. In December 2016 she graduated with her M.S. in Psychology from Lipscomb University, then returned to complete her graduate certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis by August 2018. Originally an intern, Mary is now a full-time Research Analyst for KidTalk and plans to one day complete her Ph.D. in Psychological Sciences.
Lauren Ray, B.S. – Research Analyst
Lauren began working as a Research Analyst on the KidTalk ACE project for minimally verbal children with Autism after graduating in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of Tennessee, Chattanooga. Prior experience before joining the KidTalk team was gained through multiple internships and volunteer work with children who have intellectual disabilities, including autism. Lauren’s extensive involvement with children has developed a stronger interest in this field, and she plans to continue pursuing Special Education at the graduate level.