What communicating is all about

About the Connections team

Connections Speech Language Pathology was founded in 2000 by Melissa Bartel, CCC-SLP, who saw the need for better access to speech therapy services in Whatcom County.

Having worked in both school and hospital settings, Melissa had the desire to manage her own clinic where she could truly meet the needs of children and their families. She began as a solo practitioner, and her clinic has steadily grown to include several SLPs and assistants.

Today, Connections SLP provides outstanding services to children in our clinic as well as local preschools and childcare facilities who contract with us to provide services on site.


Owner & Founder
Melissa earned her bachelor's degree from the State University of New York at Geneseo in 1990 and her Master's degree from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1992. She first worked as an SLP at Children's Hospital in Buffalo before relocating to the Pacific Northwest.

She worked for educational service districts (ESD's) in Salem and Coos Bay, Oregon and then moved to the Children's Neurodevelopmental Program at St. Joseph's Hospital here in Bellingham. After working in such a variety of settings, Melissa founded her own private practice, Connections SLP, in 2000.

She loves working with all types of kids and has a heart for the community at large with a real passion for helping kids find services and make progress, whatever their need or diagnosis.


Jana is a Washington native and has been lucky enough to have lived in the Cascade Mountains as well as the beautiful Coast of Washington on the Long Beach peninsula. She also spent 15 years in the Lakes country of Minnesota, where she really came to appreciate the Midwest lifestyle! (Minnesota nice is a real thing!)

Prior to coming to work at Connections, she owned and operated a specialty coffee business in Minnesota, and then was able to spend a few years at home with their newly adopted son KJ, who came to them from Haiti in 2010.

She is enjoying her work here at Connections as a project coordinator and has welcomed the challenge of new tasks.

She has been married to Jon since 1985 and is mom to four and “Nana” to three!

Free time for her and her family is typically spent outside whenever possible; either biking, camping or back country skiing and hiking. She also loves to cook and learn new recipes, especially ethnic dishes. A self-described risk taker, her “bucket list” includes bungee jumping and skydiving, which she hopes to accomplish soon.


Julie calls Helena, Montana her hometown and studied at Pacific Lutheran University, where she received her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She went on to receive her Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from WWU. Julie has a long standing love of working with children and the experience to back it up!

Before coming to Connections, Julie worked at Peninsula Lutheran Day School teaching Pre-Kindergarten, and also taught Kindergarten and 2nd grade at Providence Christian School in Gig Harbor. Finally she worked at Sylvan Learning Center from 2002 to 2012. She joined the Connections team in the winter of 2011 and enjoys working with all ages and types of kids.

Julie is married to Mark, has a son named Elijah, and a cat named Checkers. Being a fan of the great outdoors, she loves hiking, camping, reading, sports, traveling and skiing! Her favorite places are Glacier National Park in her home state of Montana and Whistler, B.C. She is a huge fan of brownies!


Holly is from Mansfield, TX, a suburb in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. She completed her Bachelors at the University of Texas as Austin in 2016 and her Masters in Communication Disorders at the University of Texas at Dallas in 2018.

Holly fell in love with the Pacific Northwest during her undergraduate years and made it her mission to move to Washington once finishing her master's degree. Holly's favorite populations to work with and areas of interest are preschool speech and language and feeding disorders.  In her free time, Holly loves to thrift and antique, do arts and crafts such as cross stitching and embroidery,  roller skate, read and attend concerts.


Barbara is the youngest of three siblings and grew up in Walla Walla, WA. She graduated with her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders from Western Washington University and attended Eastern Washington University for her Master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders.

Before attending graduate school, Barbara worked as a volunteer speech therapy assistant for several families with kids with autism. Barbara’s favorite population to work with is preschool through school-aged kids.

Barbara hails us from Mount Vernon, WA and lives with her husband, Ken and their two girls. Barbara loves Italian food, coffee and collects mermaids. In her spare time she enjoys traveling to the Oregon Coast and spending time with friends and family. She also likes rubber stamping, water aerobics, reading, and watching movies.


Amy grew up in San Antonio, Texas. She graduated with a Bachelors in Elementary Education with a minor in Art. She taught for 2 years in the middle school setting before getting married to an officer in the USAF and moving to Mississippi. While in Mississippi she perused her first masters degree in Curriculum and Instruction from Mississippi State University.

She took the next 15 years off to raise her two children as her husband’s military career took them from Texas to Oregon to Puerto Rico and finally to Oklahoma. Shortly after arriving in Oklahoma she pursued her second masters degree in Speech Language Pathology from the University of Central Oklahoma. Her husband's career took them out of Oklahoma where she had worked in a Pediatric Clinic setting for 2 years to Spokane, Washington where she worked in Home Health Birth to 3 program.

Happily for us, she found herself moving once again to the Bellingham where she has worked for Connections SLP since October 2015. She loves working with children, training her dog Piper for Rally Events, cross stitching, making stained glass art works, going for boat rides with her husband and watching tv.


Seely grew up in Redmond, WA and received her undergraduate and graduate degrees from Western Washington University in Speech-Language Pathology with a Linguistics minor. She has experience as a peer tutor in the special education department, as well as a camp counselor at Camp Kiwanis; a summer camp for physically disabled children of all ages.

Seely’s areas of interest include kindergarten and early elementary language treatment and the diagnostic evaluation process of all speech-language disorders.

She currently lives in Bellingham, WA with her long-time boyfriend and their sweet cat, Finnegan. Seely enjoys reading fantasy novels, creating and coloring mandalas, playing video games, taking road trips, and snuggling with her kitty.

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Interested in being part of the Connections Team? We are always looking for new talent to help us make a difference in the community. Send us a resume and fill out an application letting us know what your skills are!