Idaho State University, Baylor University
AWIS member since 2022
“Take care of yourself, because you can’t take care of other people if you don’t.”
What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?
I have had the honor to Chair the Board of Directors for Stamily, an international non-profit organization for people who stutter and their allies. A good leader must actively listen and learn their team. I talk to each person on the board differently based on knowing them and what makes them tick.
What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?
From the beginning of my life, as a 27 week preemie in 1983, most things have not come easy. I believe my most important career milestone was my first full-time faculty appointment at the age of 30 after only practicing for 4 years, which really jump-started my career.
What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?
I wish to finish my PhD and continue in academia. I am a wife, a mother to two young children, own a private speech therapy practice in the Denver area, a high school girls cross country coach, and live with chronic lung disease. Sometimes I get very sick; coping can be tough but I do it.
Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.
I am a second-year PhD student and have been in collegiate academia for almost ten years. in the fall of 2023, I will have the honor of employment with a local university and new graduate program in my field, with a mission of serving student groups who are marginalized. I am thrilled.
How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?
AWIS has connected me with women in the sciences that have the same interests I do. I have found togetherness and empowerment that helps push me–a disabled woman in the sciences–to keep going and advocate for what’s just. I am a new writer for AWIS Magazine and enjoy it very much.
What is your favorite word?
How do you define it?
Identity is a construct we develop within our own lived experiences that bring us internal value and is representative of our truths. People can have multiple identities.
How has this word influenced or inspired your career?
As a practitioner, you could be the most knowledgeable clinician but if you don’t recognize a person’s Nature of Change and Identities, you can really traumatize them. When a client walks into your clinic room, if you miss their why, you may miss everything they are needing and they may never return.
How does AWIS impact your career journey?
AWIS encourages me to push a little harder, advocate a little more, and be the best version of myself as a disabled woman in the sciences.
What are you currently reading or listening to?
Michelle Obama’s most recent book, The Light We Carry. She narrates her own audio books and it’s an amazing listen.
What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?
A colleague years ago told me, “take care of yourself because you can’t take care of other people if you don’t.” It seems like such simple advice, but as a young professional who thrived from putting others first, I have to frequently still remind myself of this.
Steff Lebsack is a Speech-Language Pathologist, high school cross country coach, and experiences chronic lung disease. Steff is a PhD student and adjunct faculty at Baylor University and Florida Atlantic University. She is an expert in the treatment of stuttering and most of the people in her life stutter, including herself. She’s guest lectured nationally and internationally, with recent research focus on autonomy and stuttering in children. Steff lives in Denver, CO with her husband and two children.
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