Speech Language Pathologists
Cynthia Core, Ph.D, CCC-SLP – Dr. Cynthia Core is a Speech Language Pathologist with over 16 years experience providing services to infants, toddlers, preschoolers and school age children. She specializes in working with children who have hearing loss, expressive and receptive language delays, articulation challenges, as well as dual language learners. Cynthia provides services to children within the early intervention program and she co-leads our therapist teaming group.
Cynthia is also an Associate Professor of Speech, Language and Hearing Sciences at George Washington University in Washington DC where she focuses her research on speech and language development in bilingual children, children with cochlear implants, and children with speech and language needs.
Andrea Burns, MS, CCC-SLP
Andrea received her Master of Science degree in Speech Pathology from James Madison University and has been practicing as a Pediatric Speech Language Pathologist over the past 20 years within various settings. She has a passion for and extensive experience working with children who have feeding and swallowing needs and works closely with other team members including our Dietitian to provide comprehensive care to families. Andrea is also skilled at working with children who have expressive/receptive delays, articulation challenges, stuttering as well as apraxia and she has received training in PROMPT.
Currently, Andrea provides services to children within the early intervention program within Arlington and Alexandria City.
Kathi Shute, MS, CCC-SLP – Kathi obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in communication disorders from Appalachian State University in Boone, NC and her Master of Science in speech language pathology from Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. She has been a practicing speech language pathologist since 2003. Kathi has extensive experience in the area of fluency/stuttering and has presented at local, state and national conferences on the subject, as well as teaching a graduate level course in stuttering. In addition to fluency, she works with pediatric and adolescent clients with a variety of speech and language diagnoses including expressive/receptive language delay, articulation disorders, pragmatic language differences and executive functioning difficulties. Kathi has worked as a graduate school clinic supervisor and has provided mentorship and supervision to recent speech language pathology graduates and externship students in the outpatient clinic setting. Her clinical experience also includes program development and coordination, training, administration and management. Kathi serves children in our clinic-based program as the Lead Speech Language Pathologist.
In her personal time, Kathi enjoys camping and music festivals, paddle boarding, skiing and snow shoeing.
Elizabeth Tiddy, MS, CCC-SLP – Elizabeth received her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Appalachian State University and holds a Virginia State License and the Certificate of Clinical Competence issued by the American Speech-Language Hearing Association. She has worked with children aged 3 months to 18 years old representing a variety of communication disorders, including articulation, phonology, childhood apraxia of speech, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, developmental disorders, receptive and expressive language delays, feeding and swallowing disorders, and pragmatic language disorders. Elizabeth has clinical interest in Alternative and Augmentative Communication (AAC) and supporting children in need of alternative forms of communication. She also has a passion for addressing feeding and swallowing disorders in addition to working with children who have overall expressive and receptive language difficulties. Elizabeth loves to work with children and their families using a play-based therapy model to help children achieve their communication goals and she believes in the importance of inclusivity and collaboration to best help children succeed.
In her free time, Elizabeth enjoys reading, finding the best coffee shops, and exploring DC with her dog, Stevie. She can’t wait to help your child better communicate with the world around them!
Mercedes Zettlemoyer, MS, CCC-SLP – Mercedes earned her Bachelor’s degrees in Speech Pathology and Audiology and Psychology from the University of Virginia and Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Teachers College, Columbia University. She is an ASHA Certified Speech Language Pathologist and holds state licenses in Virginia and New York, as well as is a Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT) Certified Clinician. Prior to returning to Virginia and joining the PPTS team, Mercedes worked with pediatric and adult populations across the lifespan across a variety of settings in New York, including charter and private schools, a Head Start preschool program, and an outpatient rehabilitation clinic. She has experience working with pediatric clients with a variety of communication disorders, including articulation, phonology, receptive and expressive language, pragmatic language, fluency, phonological awareness, literacy, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC). Mercedes is passionate about providing culturally and linguistically appropriate services that are individualized to her clients’ strengths and needs and collaborating with families on interdisciplinary teams to help her clients and their families reach their goals.
In her spare time, Mercedes enjoys reading, playing the violin and piano, and spending time with family and friends.
Rachel Kaczmarczyk, MS, CCC-SLP – Rachel earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from West Virginia University and her Master’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. She is an ASHA-certified therapist and is currently licensed to practice within the Commonwealth of Virginia. Rachel has worked with a large range of children aged 2-18 years with a variety of diagnoses and disorders, including articulation, phonology, childhood apraxia of speech, Central Auditory Processing Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Down Syndrome, developmental disorders, receptive and expressive language delays, voice disorders, and pragmatic language disorders. Rachel specializes in providing fun, functional therapy to help children meet their communication needs across their daily life.
In her spare time, Rachel enjoys reading the latest best seller, hiking both in nature and around town, and finding the best bakeries in the area.
Amanda Kelley, MS, OTR/L, ATP – Amanda received her Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Shenandoah University and has been practicing as a Pediatric Occupational Therapist for over 20 years. She has worked in a variety of settings including outpatient, schools and early intervention and has a passion for working with the birth to 3 population. She has extensive experience working with children who have feeding and swallowing challenges and she also holds a certification in Assistive Technology. At PPTS, Amanda provides services to children within our early intervention program and co-leads our therapist teaming group.
Christine LaPorte, MOT, OTR/L – Christine grew up in Texas and received her Bachelor of Science degree in Health and Exercise Science with a minor in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma. She returned to Texas to receive her Master of Occupational Therapy from the University of Texas Medical Branch. She works with children in the outpatient program at PPTS and specializes in helping children develop their Activities of Daily Living (self-care) skills.
Before moving to Virginia and joining the PPTS team, Christine worked at a bilingual outpatient pediatric therapy clinic in Oklahoma City. She worked primarily with Spanish-speaking children and low income families, where she gained experience with feeding therapy, infant development, sensory integration therapy, handwriting, and ADLs.
Besides working with children, Christine is passionate about exercising, walking, reading, cooking, volunteering at her church, doing puzzles, and watching movies with her husband.
Jiselle Velazquez, MS, OTR/L – Jiselle received a Bachelor of Science in psychology from Old Dominion University in Norfolk, VA and a Masters of Science in occupational therapy from Tufts University in 2012. Over the last 9 years, Jiselle has been dedicated to providing quality care to children and families. She has worked with children varying in diagnosis and within in a variety of settings such mental health, schools, and community based outpatient settings. Jiselle is trained in the SOS approach to feeding, and the Greenspan Floortime Approach. She believes in treating the whole child and making therapy fun and engaging! Jiselle also enjoys being a part of a collaborative team, and working with families to support and aide in the functional development of children.
Jen Leonard, PT, DPT – A native Virginian, Jen has been helping children and their families achieve their physical therapy goals since graduating from New York Medical College with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy in 2011. Jen’s experience spans a variety of settings including early intervention, inpatient rehabilitation, and hospital-based rehabilitation as well as private practice outpatient settings. Recognizing that child engagement is key to success, she endeavors to provide creative (and fun!) services through developmental play-based therapy, neuromuscular re-education, neurodevelopmental treatment, proprioceptive neuromuscular facilitation, and kinesio taping. Jen has a special interest in aquatic therapy and orthotic/equipment management and enjoys supporting the mission of the Virginia Hospital Center Medical Brigade by providing public and community health education to other therapists in Honduras. She values student education and holds advanced credentials as a clinical instructor through the American Physical Therapy Association. Jen serves children in PPTS’ Outpatient program as the Lead Physical Therapist.
Sarah Strong, PT, DPT – Sarah received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Biology and Dance from Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, PA and her Doctorate in Physical Therapy from Shenandoah University. Her passion for supporting children and their families grew as a result of her previous roles as a dance and swim instructor, education paraprofessional, and as a volunteer camp counselor for the Muscular Dystrophy Association. Completion of the Certificate in Early Intervention from the Georgetown University School of Continuing Studies informs Sarah’s approach to serving families as a member of the PPTS team. Sarah values identifying each child’s strengths and personal goals when developing an individualized plan of care and working collaboratively with families to achieve those goals.
Additionally, Sarah has clinical experience in home health, early intervention, and outpatient pediatric settings. She has a special interest in aquatic therapy and especially appreciates promoting opportunities for children to participate in the activities that they love.
In her spare time, she enjoys expanding her knowledge and supporting the professional growth of fellow clinicians through leadership roles and engagement within the American Physical Therapy Association Academy of Pediatric Physical Therapy. Sarah appreciates the privilege to serve children and their families as a physical therapist working in the outpatient program at PPTS.
Renee McGrew, RD – Renee is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who has been serving children, teenagers and adults in Alexandria, VA since 2014. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Food, Nutrition and Exercise Science from Florida State University and completed her Dietetic Internship with Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL. Renee is a second-career Dietitian who has always focused on working with children. She served as a Speech Language Therapist in Osceola County Public Schools in central Florida for several years prior to making her transition to dietetics. Renee has a passion for serving children and families especially in the areas of feeding dynamics, growth concerns, allergies and intolerances.
Tahanee Karim, MBA – Tahanee joined Premier Pediatric Therapy Source in June of 2019 as the practice’s Operations Coordinator. She is a visionary and dynamic leader with a proven track record of success and over 15 years of experience within the areas of Team Management, Operations, Sales and Marketing within major corporate environments and small business organizations. Tahanee received her Bachelor’s of Science Degree in the area of Management and Human Capital while living in California. In 2009 she moved to Virginia and went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. Tahanee is an ambassador for businesses and has a passion for helping them achieve excellence through her passion for organizational excellence, work flow efficiency and company compliance. Tahanee is excited to bring her talents to Premier Pediatric Therapy Source to help the practice grow to new heights in its compliance and overall operations so that our families and providers are reassured of receiving an exceptional experience.
In her spare time Tahanee enjoys relaxation, traveling and spending time with family and friends.
Mary Casilio – Mary was born and raised in Pennsylvania where she received her undergraduate Bachelors of Science in Rehabilitation and Human Services from the Pennsylvania State University. She joined PPTS in November 2020 as the practice’s Care Coordinator and believes in helping families experience a smooth and enjoyable process throughout their therapy experience. Mary has worked in outpatient pediatrics as an assistant manager since 2016 and brings a depth of experience in front desk operations and office management.
Outside of work Mary loves spending time with her horse, hiking with her dogs and husband, and making woodworking crafts.