Our Staff


Barbara Kiernan, PhD

Barbara is the Director of the Child Language Center and on the faculty of the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences at The University of Arizona. She was awarded the PhD from The University of Arizona in 1993 and a Post-Doctoral Fellowship during 1993-1994. Dr. Kiernan has extensive experience with children learning first and second languages, in both the United States and in Venezuela. Her area of research, program development, and teaching focuses on language learning and development of children with impaired language skills. She coordinated the Temp Early Reading First program in Tucson in collaboration with ASU and was the Project Director of Talking Matters, a 4-year Language Consultation Strategy funded by First Things First.

Karen Rost Zakerwski

Karen is the Program Director at Wings On Words Program. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Development and a Master’s in Preschool Special Education. Prior to working at Wings on Words, she worked for eleven years as a teacher for the Head Start program and ten years as the director of preschool special education programs for the Marana School District. She has been at Wings On Words since l998 and worked for three years as a summer camp teacher for the Child Language Center prior to that. Karen is a member of the Tucson Association for the Education of Young Children, the local chapter of the National Association for the Education of Young Children.


Lea Cuzner, M.S., CCC-SLP

Lea is a Clinical Instructor and Speech Language Pathologist at Wings on Words. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Communication Disorders and Speech Sciences. She then went on to receiver her Master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona. Lea speaks French and Spanish as well as English. She has traveled and worked as a trainer of Speech Language Pathologists and Deaf Educators in Ecuador and also as a Speech Language Pathologist in Mali. Lea’s experience in speech therapy continued in the Sunnyside School District, at University Medical Center and in a special needs preschool in Marana.

Kimberly Smejkal, M.S., CCC-SLP

Kimberly is a Speech-Language Pathologist at Wings on Words. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree from St. Xavier University in Chicago, IL and her Master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Marquette University in Milwaukee, WI. Kimberly has worked in public schools, a pediatric and adult rehabilitation center, and also in early intervention


Candy Kennelly – HUMMINGBIRDS

Candy is an Instructional Specialist at Wings on Words and is the lead teacher in the Hummingbird room. Prior to working at Wings on Words, she worked in the Navajo schools and A.C.E.S. preschool. Candy has also been very involved in boy and girl scouting and youth groups in the community.


Michelle Piihl – OWLS

Kyli Washburn


Marina McCormick – QUAILS

Naomi Drew


Amy Greif – DOVES

Gretchen Ellwood


Brittany Newland – ROADRUNNERS