Meet Our Team
We Celebrate the Unique Learning Style of Every Child
Mandy Jasnoff, MS, CCC-SLP
Mandy Jasnoff is an highly experienced pediatric speech-language pathologist, as well as the director and a lead instructor at CST Academy. Mandy completed her undergraduate studies in speech-language pathology at Syracuse University and her graduate studies in speech-language pathology at Boston University.
As the director of CST Academy, she worked with Karen George, MS, CCC-SLP, to develop the model of the therapeutic preschool program. She analyzed multiple approaches to determine the most effective methods for optimizing developmental gains.
As a lead teacher, Mandy works to develop individualized plans that target the individual goals of every child in the classroom. Her expertise in speech-language pathology allows her to incorporate strategies for improving communication.
Mandy has years of experience leading multidisciplinary teams, supervising clinical fellows, and working in multiple clinical settings. She has gained expertise in treating children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), incorporating the Floortime approach, providing feeding therapy, building early language, treating apraxia, using augmentative and alternative communication (AAC), and more.
Ali Pettit, MS, CCC-SLP
Ali Pettit is a pediatric speech-language pathologist and lead instructor at CST Academy. As a Michigan native, Ali received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Central Michigan University in speech-language pathology. During her time at Central Michigan University, she was a Division-I softball player.
As a lead instructor in CST Academy, Ali works to meet the individual learning goals of every child by facilitating multi-sensory activities in every class. This dynamic structure allows children to make incredible progress in multiple areas of development.
Ali also has expertise in helping parents navigate Individualized Education Program (IEPs) and providing strategies for transitioning from CST Academy to a kindergarten program. In order to help children achieve their goals, she believes in the importance of educating parents to help empower and support their children.
Ali has extensive experience working with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), communication disorders, and other developmental delays. Ali loves having the opportunity to see young children grow, change, and succeed at CST Academy.
Emily Liston, MS, CCC-SLP
Emily Liston is a pediatric speech-language pathologist and lead instructor at CST Academy. Emily grew up in Mt. Greenwood, Illinois and attended the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign for her Bachelor’s degree. She then went on to pursue her Master’s degree at Saint Xavier University in Chicago.
At CST Academy, she incorporates a wide range of multidisciplinary strategies to help every child achieve their individual goals.
Emily works closely with parents in the program to provide therapeutic strategies to reinforce lessons at CST Academy. She has expertise in guiding parents through the IEP process as well.
As a lead instructor at CST Academy, she consistently collaborates with her team of assistant teachers and behavior therapists, as well as fellow speech-language pathologists, occupational therapists, and behavior analysts. Emily’s goal is to be an advocate for every child.
Carli Weiler, MS, CCC-SLP
Carli Weiler is a speech-language pathologist and lead instructor at CST Academy. Carli, a native of Oak Lawn, Illinois, earned a full scholarship to Michigan State University as a Division-I volleyball player.
After earning her Bachelor’s degree, she went on to pursue her Master’s degree in speech-language pathology from St. Ambrose University, where she discovered her passion for working with children.
As a lead instructor at CST Academy, Carli carefully plans each lesson to target critical developmental skills. She also collaborates with a team of occupational therapists, ABA therapists, and fellow speech-language pathologists to create a multidisciplinary approach to learning.
Carli loves teaching at CST Academy because she treasures the opportunity to be a part of each child’s treatment process and help them work toward achieving their goals. What she enjoys most is creating bonds with children and their families.
Karen George, MS, CCC-SLP
Karen George is a pediatric speech-language pathologist and the founder of both Chicago Speech Therapy and CST Academy. Karen received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in speech-language pathology from Marquette University.
She is the author of several books such as A Parent’s Guide to Speech and Language Milestones, A Parent’s Guide to Articulation, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Delay, A Parent’s Guide to Stuttering Therapy, A Parent’s Guide to Speech Sounds Development, and A Parent’s Guide to Pediatric Feeding Therapy.
She is often asked to speak and has addressed audiences at top children’s hospitals and prestigious graduate speech programs. CST Academy is highly referred by many Chicago-area pediatricians and parents of children in our program.
Shelly Sears, MS, OTR
Shelly Sears is a lead pediatric occupational therapist at CST Academy. She has extensive experience working with a range of different populations, including (but not limited to) autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing disorder, and trauma.
Shelly is a Michigan native and earned both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees at Western Michigan University. After graduating from Western Michigan University, Shelly moved to Chicago to begin her career as a pediatric occupational therapist. She is committed to meeting the unique needs and learning styles of all children by developing individualized treatment plans and collaborating with the multidisciplinary team at CST Academy.
Shelly is passionate about helping other teachers incorporate occupational therapy strategies in their daily classroom routines, in order to fit the unique needs of every child. She also specializes in designing state-of-the-art sensory gyms that help children develop sensory processing skills.
Shelly has also co-authored educational resources about pediatric occupational therapy for parents including Discover the Wonderful World of Pediatric Occupational Therapy.
Jennifer Gunn Herndon, BS
Jennifer Gunn-Herndon is a Chicago-based special education teacher and aspiring Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). With extensive experience working with children in a variety of academic settings, she is a lead teacher at CST Academy.
Jennifer earned her Bachelor’s degree in Education from the University of Dayton and is currently pursuing her Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) with a BCBA certification at Ball State University.
Prior to joining the team at CST Academy, Jennifer led special education programs at both private and public schools throughout the Chicago area. With expertise in ABA, Jennifer helps children increase positive behaviors, reduce challenging behaviors, and make great developmental gains in CST Academy.
Sarah Zaas, MS, OTR/L
Sarah Zaas is a Chicago-based occupational therapist who specializes in working with pediatric populations in the school, home, clinic, and medical settings. Before moving to Chicago to begin her career in the field, Sarah earned her Bachelor’s degree from Ohio State University and her Master’s degree from Washington University in St. Louis.
Sarah has extensive experience working with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing disorder, fine and gross motor skill delays, and more. As an occupational therapist on a multidisciplinary team, Sarah enjoys the opportunity to regularly collaborate with a team of speech therapists, behavior analysts, ABA therapists, and feeding therapists.
Amanda Cortese, MS, OTR/L
Amanda Cortese is a Chicago-based occupational therapist who specializes in pediatric services. Before moving to the city, Amanda earned her Bachelor’s degree with high distinction from Indiana University. She then went on to pursue her Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Indiana University. In her years of pediatric experience, Amanda has worked with children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), sensory processing disorder (SPD), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), cerebral palsy, coordination disorders, fine and gross motor delays, executive functioning deficits, and more.
To provide the most comprehensive level of care for her clients, Amanda regularly collaborates with speech, feeding, and ABA therapists. Amanda loves being an OT because occupational therapy is based on facilitating a person’s participation in all the things that are important to them, whatever that may be. She gets to make a difference in the daily lives of all of her clients.
Justine Boudreau, M.Ed.
Justine Boudreau is a passionate behavior therapist and kindergarten teacher who graduated with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Special Education from Michigan State University. Following her graduate studies, Justine gained ample experience creating and implementing individualized education programs for children within Chicago Public Schools. Her passion for working with the pediatric population, equipped alongside her tenacity and warm personality, allows Justine to help children with special needs make exceptional gains.
Vicki Rayser, M.Ed.
Vicki Rayser is a special education teacher with years of experience working with children from early childhood through second grade. She has worked extensively with planning curriculums, developing Individualized Education Programs, and providing support for students with varying disabilities. Vicki earned her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Central Florida and Master’s degree in Education from Loyola University Chicago. She is currently working toward her Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certification.
Ally Brewster-Kowalski, B.S.
Ally Brewster-Kowalski graduated with her Bachelor’s in Special Education and Early Childhood Special Education and earned her Learning Behavior Specialist I endorsement. She began teaching a blended special education preschool in the suburbs of Chicago. Ally then moved on to teaching an extensive instructional special education classroom, catering to grades Kindergarten through 3rd grade. Ally has a decade of experience working with children and young adults ranging from ages 1 to 21 years old.