Skip to content


Dr. Diana Blakeney-Billings, AuD., CCC-A 

Photo of Dr. Diana Blakeney-Billings, AuD., CCC-SLP

Dr. Diana Blakeney-Billings has cultivated an illustrious career spanning over 34 years as a seasoned Audiologist. A proud native of Oxford, MS, she is an alumna of the University of Mississippi, having earned both her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science degrees. Her academic journey further culminated in the attainment of a Doctor of Philosophy from Liberty University and a Doctor of Audiology from A.T. Still University in Mesa, Arizona. She is certified by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association and holds licensure as an Audiologist from ABESPA in Alabama and Tennessee.

Having initially contributed to the medical field within Otolaryngology and Neuro-otology Practices, Dr. Blakeney-Billings later transitioned her expertise to academia, joining Alabama A&M University in 2017. Throughout her distinguished career, she has established hearing aid centers, a cochlear implant center, and owned a mobile hearing aid practice.

Currently serving as the Program Coordinator for the Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders and holding the position of Assistant Professor at Alabama A&M University in Normal, Dr. Billings brings extensive proficiency in electrophysiology testing, vestibular and balance function testing, diagnostic audiology, cerumen management, hearing aids, tinnitus, cochlear implants, and aural rehabilitation.

Dr. Blakeney-Billings' commitment extends beyond clinical and academic realms, manifesting in her dedicated mentorship of students and a fervent passion for effecting positive change in both their lives and her profession. She imparts her wealth of knowledge through the instruction of undergraduate and graduate level courses in audiology, aural rehabilitation, anatomy and physiology of the speech mechanism, corporate communication, and speech and hearing science.

Her research pursuits delve into critical areas such as hearing loss and co-morbidities, hearing conservation, tinnitus, and rare audiological case histories. Dr. Blakeney-Billings actively engages with the academic community as a member of the 2023-2024 Tech Alliance CIDDL group, a scholarship reviewer for ASHA, and a contributor to the Teaching and Learning in Communication Sciences & Disorders (TLCSD) journal. Furthermore, her expertise has been disseminated at various levels, with presentations at local, state, and international conferences showcasing her commitment to advancing the field of Audiology.

Dr. Karen Brown

Photo of Karen BrownKaren E. Brown, PhD, has been a speech-language pathologist for over 20 years. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and she is a licensed SLP in Alabama, Tennessee, and Georgia. She is a certified endoscopist and endoscopy trainer for fiberoptic endoscopic evaluation of swallowing (FEES). Dr. Brown earned her PhD in Speech-Language Pathology from Vanderbilt University. During her career, she has provided services in speech, language, voice, and swallowing in acute care and sub-acute care hospitals, rehabilitation facilities, long-term care facilities, and outpatient and university clinics. Before becoming a speech pathologist, she was a high school teacher and coach. After graduating from Vanderbilt, Dr. Brown was an assistant professor at Eastern Kentucky University, where she taught anatomy and physiology, neuroanatomy, dysphagia, language disorders, research methods, and articulation and phonological disorders. In addition, she coordinated the placement of students in medical externships, supervised in the university clinic, and directed student thesis research. More recently, employed by SA Swallowing Services (SASS), Dr. Brown provided endoscopic swallowing evaluations in Tennessee and north Georgia. She travelled extensively with the SASS Education Team to teach endoscopy and dysphagia analysis to speech-language pathologists across the country and in locations as distant as Alaska, Hawaii, Canada, and Saudi Arabia. Dr. Brown is happy to have relocated to Huntsville, Alabama, her hometown.

Dalaina Horton

Photo of Dalaina Horton Dalaina Horton is a Clinical Supervisor/Instructor in the Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) Department.  Mrs. Horton received her formal undergraduate education form Alabama A&M University as well as her Master of Education in Speech Language Pathology. She was employed as a Speech Language Pathologist for 24 years in Huntsville City Schools, two years in Franklin County Tennessee, and seven years at the Lurleen B. Wallace Developmental Center in Decatur, Alabama. Mrs. Horton has also worked “PRN” (as needed) for Restore Therapy Services.  She has served children from three years of age to young adults as well as adults in the geriatric population. 

Mrs. Horton received her Certificate of Clinical Competence in January of 2002. She was recently awarded the ACE Award from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). The ACE Award is formal recognition of professionals who have demonstrated their lifelong learning by earning 70 contact hours of professional development in the vast areas of Communicative Sciences and Disorders. She is currently licensed by the Alabama Board of Examiners for Speech Pathology and Audiology (ABESPA) and has been a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated for over 30 years.

Mrs. Horton resides in Madison, Alabama with her husband, Eric.  They are the proud parents of three sons, Savoy, Alex, and Benjamin; one Daughter-In-Love, Demetria, and the grandparents of one Grand Daughter, Kylee. 

Ms. Katherine “LeAnn” Knopf

Photo of Katherine “Leann” KnopfKatherine “Leann” Knopf graduated with her B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Georgia, and with her M.S. in Speech Language Pathology from the University of South Alabama. She holds the Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech Language Hearing Association and is a licensed Speech Language Pathologist in Alabama. Ms. Knopf comes to Alabama A&M University with extensive clinical skills in adult neurological rehabilitation. Her clinical experience spans the acute inpatient, long-term acute care, inpatient rehabilitation and adult outpatient settings. She served as Neuro Program co-chair at her previous Inpatient Rehabilitation Hospital, where she founded an Aphasia Support Group and established the hospital’s Brain Injury Program and successful DSC Certification. 

Ms. Knopf has a passion for education, mentoring numerous graduate students as a clinical supervisor. Her goals as a clinical instructor are to instill a foundation of knowledge, competence and passion for continuous learning in order for students to become compassionate and capable clinicians. Her specializations included Aphasia, Cognitive-Communication Disorders, and Dysphagia.

Ms. Esther Phillips Embden, MA, CCC/SLP/L

Photo of Mrs. Esther Phillips- Ross, MA, CCC/SLP/LMs. Esther Phillips-Embden, is Assistant Professor in Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) and serves as the Director of Clinical Education for the CSD Program. Ms. Phillips-Embden received her formal undergraduate education from Andrews University in Berrien Springs, Michigan (BA in English); and graduate education from the Ohio State University, in Speech and Hearing Sciences (MA). Ms. Phillips-Embden has worked in varying scopes of practice in the area of speech-language pathology for over 25 years and has interests in the areas of literacy and cognitive linguistic impairments that affect communication in children and adults—respectfully. She has participated in literacy research in conjunction with the University of Florida in Gainesville, to develop a computerized reading evaluation for pre-school children. Ms. Philips-Embden has also conducted research in the area of student professionalism and ethics. Ms. Phillips-Embden has presented at the state and national levels on supervision practices in CSD and student professional/ethical behavior. In addition to directing the onsite CSD Clinic, Ms. Phillips-Embden serves on a number of committees (i.e. Faculty Senate Executive Committee, Faculty Development Committee, Faculty Mentoring Committee, and others) at AAMU where she believes a voice needs to be heard and a difference made.

Dr. Hope C. Reed

Photo of Dr. Hope C. Reed

Dr. Hope C. Reed is a Fellow of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and Professor of Communicative Sciences and Disorders (CSD) at Alabama A & M University (AAMU). She joined the faculty in 2002. She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses that include craniofacial anomalies, fluency disorders, counseling, language development, articulation and phonological disorders, language intervention, methods and materials for school-based SLPs, survey of communication disorders, and senior seminar. She also has experience teaching speech and language assessment, computers in CSD, voice disorders, language disorders in children, speech and language problems of the aged, and graduate seminar.

Dr. Reed earned her doctorate in speech-language pathology from Nova Southeastern University and her master’s degree in speech-language pathology and bachelor’s degree in special education/speech-language pathology from AAMU. Her clinical experience encompasses the public schools, private sector, home health care, Head Start, and university settings. She has worked in the field of speech-language pathology for 25 years.

Dr. Reed is a Certified Orofacial Myologist® and established the world’s first university-based clinic for children and adults with orofacial myofunctional disorders. Her research encompassing counseling students and patients with communication and swallowing disorders and their caregivers, orofacial myofunctional disorders, health literacy, e-learning fatigue, and student preparation in CSD has culminated in journal publications and a book. She is frequently invited to present at international, regional, state, and local conferences on the topics of counseling, orofacial myofunctional disorders, child language, and PRAXIS passage. She also creates Web-based continuing education courses for publication.

Dr. Reed is on the Editorial Review Board for the International Journal of Orofacial Myology and Myofunctional Therapy: The Official Journal of the International Association of Orofacial Myology.  She established and is Chair of the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the International Association of Orofacial Myology (IAOM). She served on the Speech and Hearing Association of Alabama’s (SHAA’s) Executive Board for 7 years, and in 2008, she received its Distinguished Service Award. In 2013, SHAA selected Dr. Reed to receive its Outstanding Clinical Achievement Award. She was honored at the 2013 American Speech-Language-Hearing Foundation's Annual Founders Breakfast, in Chicago, as a nominee for the Louis M. DiCarlo Award for Recent Clinical Achievement. In addition, she has received numerous certificates of appreciation and commendations for her service to the profession. She has earned the Award for Continuing Education (ACE) from ASHA on multiple occasions.

Dr. Reed holds certification/licensure from the IAOM, ASHA, the Alabama Board of Examiners for Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology (ABESPA), and the Alabama State Department of Education.

Dr. Carol Stephens Deakin

Photo of Dr. Carol DeakinCarol Stephens Deakin is a part-time Associate Professor in the Communicative Sciences and Disorders Program at Alabama A&M University, Normal, Alabama. Previously, Dr. Deakin served the program for 17 years before retiring full-time in 2020.

Dr. Deakin earned the Doctor of Philosophy degree in Communication Disorders and Sciences from Southern University at Carbondale, Illinois. During her career, Dr. Deakin has provided administrative, managerial, and therapeutic services across the life span in both the public and private sectors.

Dr. Brigitta Walker

Photo of Dr. Brigitta WalkerDr. Walker is an ASHA certified speech-language pathologist who currently serves at Alabama A& M University as an adjunct instructor. She is also employed full-time as Assistant Professor and Capstone Faculty for Speech Pathology Doctoral Capstone Students at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions, Provo, UT. She has presented at local and state conferences on dysphagia, voice, cognitive communication, and oncology rehabilitation and she is currently a peer reviewer for the Journal of the National Black Association for Speech-Language and Hearing (JNBASLH). Additionally, she has served has content expert and committee chair on various capstone projects for RMU doctoral students. Dr. Walker has worked in multiple areas of rehabilitation over the course of her career including inpatient rehabilitation, acute care, long-term care, home health care, and outpatient rehabilitation. She has provided evaluation and treatment services in multidisciplinary environments to individuals with neurological disorders, head and neck cancer, cognitive communication disorders, language, voice, fluency and swallowing disorders. Dr. Walker independently performs complex patient-care tasks and is certified in Lee Silverman Voice Treatment (LSVT), VitalStim Therapy and SPEAK OUT! Therapy for Parkinson’s disease. She is independent and proficient in performing modified barium swallow studies (MBSS) and fiberoptic endoscopic swallowing evaluations (FEES) and is Vital Stim Certified