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Meet The Team

OUR MISSION

At Embark, we are committed to helping our clients with a blend of compassion and playfulness.  We are dedicated to fostering the communication skills of children, ensuring they have the tools to express themselves with confidence and joy. Our team is committed to nurturing the unique potential of every child, creating a supportive environment where they can flourish!
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Speech Therapist

MAUREEN OFIARA

Founder

M.S., CCC-SLP

My name is Maureen Ofiara and I am the owner of Embark Speech and Language Therapy! I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed within the state of Illinois. I have both a bachelor's degree and master's degree from Eastern Illinois University. I have provided speech and language therapy services to children ages 18 months through 8th grade.  I absolutely love working with kids.  It never gets old to see the look on their face (and mine!) when they say a sound correctly for the first time after working so hard towards it. The confidence inside them increases immediately.  I am also a huge lover for early intervention and/or late talkers. I love being on the floor and working through play with a child. I use a multi-modal approach of repetitive language modeling, gestures, sign language, and pictures throughout the session. It is so exciting to see a child grow using this technique!

​I currently specialize in evaluating and treating children with expressive and receptive language delays, late talkers, articulation/phonology disorders, and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). Before opening Embark Speech Therapy, I worked for the Chicago Public Schools for five years. In addition, I worked for Early Intervention through the state of Illinois. I have worked in schools and provided services all over the city of Chicago.  I stay current with best practice by participating in professional development courses, reviewing current research, and collaborating with fellow speech-language pathologists.  I am certified in the "50 First Words" course by Laura Brown.

Summer Coffee
Niece
Chicago Dog

In my free time, I like to try new restaurants in the city and spend time with my dog Brody! I also enjoy getting out of the city sometimes and heading to a more tranquil area called Diamond Lake in Cassopolis, Michigan.  I was fortunate to help welcome my first niece (and god child!) into the world in December of 2022.  I also recently got married in October of 2023 in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico to my husband, Michael! It has been amazing to experience these fun life moments with all my client's families.  

Speech Therapist
Speech Therapist and Baby

I love the field of speech pathology and enjoy seeing the growth of my students. Social language and executive functions have always been a passion of mine! I work with a variety of professionals in the schools and collaboration is a key component of a successful therapy outcome. I attend professional development opportunities on a consistent basis and have attended the ISHA conference every year (even as a student volunteer with EIU!). I want to bring my experience working with articulation, receptive/expressive language, autism, and fluency to Embark! In my free time, I like to stay busy! I enjoy meeting up with friends, hanging with my niece, and trying new restaurants.

MARGARET XENAKIS

M.S., CCC-SLP

I am so excited to be joining the team at Embark Speech and Language Therapy. I am a member of both the Illinois Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ISHA) and the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA). I am licensed with the state of Illinois and currently work full-time for a public school district with the elementary and middle school populations in the western suburbs. I have both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from Eastern Illinois University. 

Speech Therapist

I have provided speech and language therapy services to children ages 18 months through 8th grade. I received the honor of presenting on the Students with Autism Transitional Education Program at the 2016 American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) annual convention. 

 

I have a true passion for the profession of speech-language pathology. My father, sister and cousin are all speech-language pathologists! 

Fun Facts: I love to stay active by running and hiking! I am a huge dog lover and love walking my golden retriever puppy!

Speech Therapist

MARY BETH XENAKIS

M.S., CCC-SLP

 

My name is Mary Beth Xenakis! I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and licensed within the state of Illinois.  I attended Eastern Illinois University. I have earned a Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders and Sciences with a minor in Spanish and Psychology in May of 2015. My graduation for my Masters of Science in Communication Disorders and Sciences was May 2017. 

ANNALISE DIVITO

M.S., CCC-SLP

My name is Annalise DiVito! I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) and currently hold licensure in the state of Illinois. I received my undergraduate degree at Michigan State University and completed my masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Elmhurst University!

 

I enjoy working with a range of age groups that present with all diagnosis and disorders. I have an increased interest and enjoy furthering my education in feeding disorders, speech sound production, and fluency.

 

I am trained in the SOS Feeding Approach in addition to completing courses from the Get Permission Approach. In my free time I enjoy reading, working out, and spending time with friends and family! I am excited to share my experience with Embark and continue my growth as a speech language pathologist!

Speech Therapist

ALEXANDRA SMYTH

M.S., CCC-SLP

My name is Alexandra Smyth! I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) and currently hold licensure in the state of Illinois. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Speech and Hearing Science at the University of Iowa and completed my Masters in Speech, Language, and Learning at Northwestern University.

 

I have enjoyed working with children ages 1-15 in the outpatient and school settings, while treating a variety of diagnoses including but not limited to expressive-receptive language disorders, articulation disorders, late talkers, autism spectrum disorder (ASD), ADHD, and down syndrome. I also have an interest in feeding/swallowing disorders and AAC use. I love working with children and their families to create fun and novel opportunities to communicate by utilizing a child-centered approach to support a natural and positive learning environment. 

 

I am excited to join the Embark team of SLP’s and continue to learn and grow as an SLP while also sharing my knowledge. In my free time, I enjoy running on the lake, trying new restaurants in the city, traveling, and spending time with family and friends.

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ELLIE GATZ

M.S., CCC-SLP

My name is Ellie Gatz! I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) and currently hold licensure in the state of Illinois. I received my undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and completed my Master’s in Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Northern Iowa in May 2022.

I specialize in early language, augmentative-alternative communication (AAC), feeding and autism spectrum disorder (ASD). My approach is client-centered and play-based. I prioritize developing strong relationships with children and families in order to increase motivation and facilitate positive therapy outcomes. I believe treatment should be individualized, collaborative in nature to involve the whole family, and fun!  

 

I am excited to bring my experiences to the Embark team. In my free time, I enjoy cheering on the Fighting Illini and exploring the city. 

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My name is Madeline Manske. I am a certified member of the American Speech-Language- Hearing Association (ASHA) and currently hold licensure in the state of Illinois. I obtained my Bachelor of Arts in psychology and minor in sociology from the Miami University in Oxford, Ohio and a Master of Science in Communicative Disorders from Rush University in Chicago. 

 

I have enjoyed working with children ages 0-18 in the hospital and outpatient settings. I am experienced with treating a variety of diagnosis including but not limited to expressive and receptive language disorders and delays, late talkers, and feeding/swallowing disorders! I love this field and can’t wait to build relationships with my future clients while making an impact on the patient's and their family's lives. 

 

I recently got engaged so in my free time you can find me wedding planning for our June 2025 wedding! 

MADELINE MANSKE

M.S., CCC-SLP

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Embark Speech and Language Therapy