About Us

Meet the Team

Laurie Johnson - MA, CCC-SLP 

Laurie is the founder of Center for Speech, Language, and Learning. Laurie received a Masters degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1999. She practiced in public education for six years, working with 3-21 year old students, before entering the private sector. Laurie has particular interest in autism, Asperger’s Syndrome, stuttering, and learning disabilities. She has received advanced training in the SCERTS model of assessment for autism, ILAUGH model for social cognitive deficits (Michelle Garcia Winner), as well as attending extensive workshops in additional autism and fluency research. Her operational philosophy is assessment drives intervention and therefore believes in thorough investigation prior to designing an individual intervention plan. She also believes that intervention must be functional and transformational in a child’s life.

Alaina Kelley - MA, CCC-SLP

Alaina received her master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from the University of Minnesota - Twin Cities in 2009, after receiving her bachelor's degree in Linguistics from Macalester College. She is a current member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and a participant in the Reggio-Inspired Network of Minnesota.

Alaina's style of speech-language therapy grows out of a deep respect for each child as a competent person and a member of a family, classroom, and community. If you observe her in a therapy session, you will see her closely observing the child to hypothesize what the child is ready to learn; developing a relationship with the child that strives to support his or her growth as a self-motivated learner; and documenting the learning process in order to give the child and his or her family another way of seeing the child's competence.

Her style of speech-language therapy is strongly informed by the Reggio Emilia educational philosophy that views children, parents, and teachers as co-researchers who are collaborating to learn from each other, as well as by the SCERTS Model, a model for assessment and therapy of children with autism that uses observation to understand a child's social communication, emotional regulation, and transactional supports. She draws inspiration from therapeutic processes across a range of disciplines, especially the writings of Richard Bromfield, Anat Baniel, Jesper Juul, Patty Wipfler (Hand in Hand), Lawrence Cohen, Brene Brown, The Wakanheza Project, Michelle Garcia Winner, and Stanley Greenspan.

Alaina has expertise and experience seeing clients with a wide range of communication challenges, in the areas of expressive and receptive language, autism, speech-sound production, fluency, and cleft palate. She particularly specializes in communication growth for children who:

  • Are minimally verbal or nonverbal
  • Use echolalic speech (repeating or "scripting"), and / or
  • Are growing up in bilingual or multilingual families

As a student, she completed the Bilingual-Multicultural Emphasis Program Certificate and traveled to Mexico to study cross-cultural approaches to special education. Alaina is able to offer speech and language services specific to multilingual and multicultural families, with a focus on supporting the development and maintenance of both / all languages the family uses. She has a professional working proficiency in Spanish, which allows her to communicate with Spanish-speaking parents and children, and provide some basic speech and language services in Spanish.

Papers and Presentations: 

  • Kelley, A. & Kohnert, K. (2011). Is there a cognate advantage for typically developing Spanish-speaking English-language learners? Language, Speech, and Hearing Services in Schools, 43, 191-204. 
  • Kelley, A. & Kohnert, K. (November, 2009). Cognate advantage in vocabulary performance of typically developing bilingual children. Paper presented at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, New Orleans. 

Hannah Julien - MA, CCC-SLP

Hannah is currently a PhD student at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities, where she also earned her master's degree.She is around CSLL, Inc. as she is available, to work with clients and partner with clinicians in team-based decision making. Hannah earned her bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, MN. Her primary clinical and research interests are related to dosage (e.g., amount) of intervention for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Hannah is also interested in cultural orientation toward disability. Hannah completed the Bilingual-Multicultural Emphasis Program as part of her master’s degree, and spent a summer in Mexico studying bilingualism and cross cultural approaches to special education. Hannah likes thinking about the best ways clinicians can partner with parents, particularly to implement routines-based intervention. Outside of the world of speech and language therapy, Hannah enjoys running, cycling, and spending time with her husband and their dog. When she finishes her PhD, she hopes to find a balance between clinical practice and work as a university instructor.

 Selected Papers and Presentations:

Julien, H. M.,Finestack, L., Munson, B., & Bishop, S. (2013, November).Discriminating clinical groups based on nonword repetition accuracy.Poster presentation at the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association Convention, Chicago, IL.

 Julien, H. M.,& Munson, B. (2012).Modifying speech to children based on their perceived phonetic accuracy.Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 55,1836-1849.

 Andrea Howard - COTA/L

Andrea has an Associate Degree from Anoka Technical College and has been a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant since spring of 2008. Andrea has worked with children and young adults with disabilities for 15+ years. She has been a nanny for children with special needs and has also worked as a personal car attendant before attending school as a COTA. She has particular experience working with diagnoses of Down Syndrome, Autism and developmental delays. Andrea has been trained in the SCERTS Model, ILS and Handwriting Without Tears. She has a strong focus working on handwriting skills, gross motor strength and coordination, activities of daily living and executive functioning skills. Andrea strives to develop a relationship with each child that will help build independence, confidence and success.

Andrea lives in Inver Grove Heights, MN, with her husband, Brian, and son, Landon. She enjoys exploring life as a new mom, baking, crafting, and spending time with family and friends. Andrea can usually be found with a good cup of coffee nearby.

Rachael LeVahn - COTA/L 

Rachael graduated from Anoka Technical College in May of 2013 with an  Associate of Applied Science Degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant.  From her early years, Rachael has always enjoyed interacting with children.  She previously worked as a personal care attendant providing services to a variety of children with special needs and collaborated with families to best meet the needs of the children. 

As a student, Rachael gained experience in both pediatric and adult out patient settings.  Working in the pediatric occupational therapy field fulfills her passion of utilizing playful engagement to help children meet the demands of their daily life with success. 

In her free time, Rachael enjoys spending time outdoors, photography, games, drinking coffee and engulfing herself in a good book, and being with friends and family.

Alexandra Kuch - MA, CCC-SLP

Alex received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in speech-language pathology at the University of Minnesota- Twin Cities. As a graduate student and as a clinician, she gained experience in a variety of pediatric settings, including schools and outpatient clinics. Alex has a passion for helping children of all abilities, with a particular interest in autism spectrum disorders.

Alex’s clinical approach is best described as one that addresses individualized functional communication needs, and focuses on developing skills that will improve everyday life for each child. Her clinical approach draws particular inspiration from the works of Barry Prizant and Michelle Garcia Winner. Alex enjoys developing strong connections with each of her clients in a fun, playful environment.

Outside of speech-language pathology, Alex loves attending live music shows, travelling, and spending time with family and friends. You can usually find her engrossed in a good book of any genre!

Anne Nelesen - MS, CCC-SLP

Anne received her Master’s Degree in Communication Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire in 1999 after receiving her Bachelor’s in Speech-Language Pathology from Marquette University. Over the past 17 years Anne has worked with both pediatric and adult populations across a variety of environments including schools, skilled nursing facilities and outpatient centers. Anne has a special focus in the area of Augmentative / Alternative Communication with an interest in mounting of communication systems and considerations due to access limitations.

Anne joined the CSLL team in 2016 after working for 8 years with the MN/ND/SD Chapter of the ALS Association and three years with a state-funded grant program in Minnesota called Technology for HOME. Her philosophy is that therapy should be fun and goal-focused. Anne continually consults with families of the children she serves to ensure parents and caregivers are a part of the child’s goal creation and their progress in and out the clinic.

Anne is married and has four children, two of whom have special needs. Being both a provider and a parent of kids needing extra assistance has made her acutely aware of the needs of families that she works with.

Erica Needham - MA, CCC-SLP

Erica graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in 2014, after receiving her bachelor's degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Western Michigan University.

Erica joined the CSLL team in 2016. Erica aims to provide each individual with the necessary tools, confidence, and individualized support in order to fulfill that individual's goals, to become lifelong learners, and to realize his/her full potential. Erica has experience working with adults in a skilled nursing facility and with children in school settings. Erica has a special interest in pragmatic language treatment and the frameworks created by Michelle Garcia Winner, autism spectrum disorders, literacy-based intervention, and multicultural/multilingual considerations.

In her spare time, Erica enjoys reading, participating in yoga and Pilates, biking, and spending time with family and friends.

Jenna Elliot - MOTR/L

Jenna received both her Master’s of Science in Occupational Therapy and Bachelor of Arts in Health Sciences from The College of Saint Scholastica in Duluth, Minnesota. She has gained clinical experience at an inpatient rehabilitative setting as well as at a pediatric outpatient setting that provides services to a high population of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Jenna always had a passion for helping children learn, grow, and reach their full potential. Prior to obtaining her occupational therapy degree, Jenna worked as a toddler, preschool, and school age teacher at a childcare center and nannied for a family of three children. 

In her free time, Jenna enjoys traveling, being on the lake and outdoors, fishing, playing tennis, and spending time with family and friends.

Laura Klug - COTA/L

Laura graduated in 2015 from Anoka Technical College with her Associate of Applied Science Degree as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Since she graduated she has worked at Transitional care units, and as a pediatric OTA for children with Autism.

As a child she grew up with four siblings. She spent hours across the street helping the neighbors take care of their children with disabilities and playing with neighborhood friends and her cousins. In high school she worked many jobs including: A Direct support professional in group homes, personal care assistant, nanny, and a server in a Senior and Assisted living facility serving the elderly.

Laura loves coming to work and coming up with creative and new ways to engage children in tasks and activities to increase their understanding of this big world and to help them build skills to thrive as the unique individuals they are. Laura is creative and fun-loving and lives to make this world a brighter better place.

When Laura is not at work, it is likely that she is spending time with her close friends, family or “Future Hubby”- John Michael. She likes to explore the outdoors, long board and drink coffee.

Erin Kearn - COTA/L

Erin has a Bachelor's degree from Moorhead State University in Biology with a health emphasis and a psychology minor.  She also received her Associate of Applied Science Degree from Anoka Technical College as a Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant. Erin has a strong background in inpatient physical rehab.  Erin has always had a passion for working with children.  Growing up she worked in her church's nursery, was a Sunday school teacher for preschool - kindergarten, and nannied for a family of five throughout college.  Erin is open-minded and fueled with excitement to help each child reach their full potential.  Erin strives to make every child comfortable, independent, and successful in their everyday lives.

Erin currently resides in Oakdale.  Erin is newly engaged to Jake and they are planning to be married in fall of 2018.  Erin enjoys spending time with friends and family, shopping, playing hockey and fishing in her free time.

Rylee Wagner - MA, CFY-SLP

Rylee received her Master's degree in Speech-Language Pathology in May of 2017 from the University of Northern Iowa, where she also completed her undergraduate degree in May of 2015.As a college student, Rylee worked for the YWCA of Black Hawk County for a before and after school program and full summer program for pre-school and elementary aged children.  The YWCA gave her an opportunity to work with children from various socioeconomic backgrounds and various disabilities.  Through her clinical experiences, Rylee gained experiences working with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Down Syndrome, developmental delays, and other genetic disorders.  She has a strong interest in kids with ASD, AAC devices, and advocating for children to communicate in any way they can.

Rylee is originally from Blue Earth, MN, home of the Jolly Green Giant! In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, running, drinking coffee, attending concerts, and dreaming about the day she will own a pet Corgi.

Cheryl Cooney - Office Manager

Cheryl joined our team in July 2012. She attended Central Lakes College for Administration and comes to us with over 15+ years of business office experience and expertise. Cheryl keeps the CSLL staff organized, upbeat and moving at the speed of light! Cheryl is responsible for the smooth operation of the day to day business of the company and makes it possible for us to function so efficiently. Cheryl works with all our families at CSLL and does whatever she can to make schedules synchronize and ensure appointments run smoothly.  She is always available to answer questions regarding insurance coverage and finances.

Cheryl lives in Andover, MN with her two children and spouse, Jake. She has a son and a daughter who are always on the go. Cheryl enjoys camping, fishing, taking pictures, attending car shows with Jake's '50 Chevy and spending time with family and friends.

 Kallie Grams - Administrative Assistant

Kallie is currently a senior at St. Catherine University, in St. Paul.  She is majoring in Occupational Therapy and minoring in Spanish. Kallie has lots of experience with children through babysitting, being a nanny, and teaching swimming lessons. Combining her passion for helping children and her curiosity in occupational therapy, Kallie aspires to become an occupational therapist who incorporates psychological and emotional well-being as well as physical needs to help improve the daily lives of children and their families.

Kallie performs general office duties and contributes creativity, organization and a delightful energy. She is the smiling face you are greeted with when you come through our front door and the happy voice on the other end of your phone call to CSLL.

Kallie is from New Prague, Minnesota, currently living in St. Paul for school. When she is not in class or at work she enjoys swimming, reading, traveling and photography.





"Thanks for all the work with Maddison. Her progress since coming to your clinic is impressive. Under your guidance she has made great strides and Bruce and I really appreciate you and your staff."




Oakdale Clinic


fax: 651-739-2302
phone: 651-739-2300


phone: 651-739-2300 

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