Who We Are

Happy Kids Huddle

Connections Speech and 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.


Connections SLP is a pediatric clinic serving children birth through age 21. Missy began as a solo practitioner, and her clinic has steadily grown to include several SLPs and assistants, as well as a Physical Therapist. Melissa saw the benefit of adding PT to her clinic, which would allow her to be able to provide more well-rounded therapy services. Feeding and physical issues are often connected and it can be very helpful to be seen for both services. 

Today, Connections provides outstanding services to children in our clinic, as well as local childcares and preschools who contract with us to provide services on site. Providing both in person and online services, we treat a range of disabilities including speech/language impairment, processing delays, developmental disabilities, autism, genetic syndromes, hearing loss, sensory integration, as well as oral motor and physical issues. We feel strongly about serving not just the child but the family.

Meet Our Team


Melissa Bartel, MS, CCC-SLP

Melissa, or "Missy" as the kids call her, was born in NY.  After getting married, she and her husband moved west, first to Oregon and then up to Bellingham.  She has two grown sons.  Missy loves to craft when she's not seeing kids or doing paperwork and "boss stuff".

Cozy Winter

Julie Brovak, MA, CCC-SLP

Hi! My name is Julie Brovak. I have been working at Connections SLP since I graduated
from Western Washington University in 2011 with a master’s degree in Communication
Sciences and Disorders. I enjoy working with all kinds of clients and learning from them
as well.


My husband and I have two wonderful boys, ages 6 and 3, who keep us busy
and fill us with wonder. I am a mountain girl at heart. My favorite places are Glacier
National Park and Whistler. In my free time, I like to read, bake, hike, cross country ski,
and I am just getting into mountain biking. And whenever I get the chance, I love to go
to Disneyland.


Amy Simpson, MS, CCC-SLP

Amy started working at Connections in September 2015 when her and her family moved to Ferndale WA. She worked in person at Connections until May of 2021 when her husband and her moved back to Texas to be closer to their families. She took a short break before coming back to work via telehealth as she waited for her licensure to work in Washington while living in Texas. She has a Bachelors degree in Elementary Ed from Texas Tech University, a Masters degree from Mississippi State University in Curriculum and Instruction, and a Masters in Speech Language Pathology from University of Central Oklahoma.


Amy has two grown children, a wonderful husband, a 3 year old Sheltie named Finnegan and 2 cats Harley and Skylar. When she is not working she enjoys gardening, making Stain-glass art, doing Cross-stitch projects, puzzles, going to the lake or beach and snuggling with her dog and cats.

Forest Scene

Elizabeth Deboo, PT

Elizabeth Deboo, MSPT has worked as a Physical Therapist for 28 years specializing in pediatrics in Bellingham since 1997. Elizabeth works with infants addressing tethered oral issues affecting feeding, gross motor function, developmental milestones acquisition, and tissue tightness affecting structural issues throughout the body. 


Elizabeth’s background in the Osteopathic Manual Therapy (craniosacral therapy, visceral mobilization, and generalized soft tissue mobilization), combined with years of Neuromuscular pediatric PT experience offer a unique and effective perspective in the evaluation and treatment of infant pediatric disorders and challenges.

Sewing Equipments

Aubrey Shelsta, MS, CCC-SLP

Aubrey has been a Speech-language Pathologist since 2009 after graduating from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She worked in early intervention in Colorado before relocating to the Pacific Northwest to be closer to family. She took a sabbatical from Speech and Language to stay home with her own four children for a few years before starting with Connections Speech and Language in 2021. She is passionate about early intervention, speech-sound disorders, childhood apraxia of speech, phonological awareness and supporting families in any way she can. 


When not in the clinic, Aubrey can be found homeschooling her free-spirited children, reading in the garden, watching birds, knitting gnomes, quilting and always learning something new.

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Dallas Lorio, MA, CCC-SLP

Dallas graduated from WWU with a M.A. in Speech Language Pathology in 2021. Prior to returning to Western, she was a certified Montessori Early Education teacher for 15 years, where she developed a passion for language development and social communication. She has special interests in stuttering, neurodiversity affirming care for autism, and early language development. She loves being able to support children in becoming more confident and capable communicators, and her goal is for therapy sessions to be efficient, positive, and fun!


Dallas was born and raised in Whatcom County,  but she spent time in California, Alaska, and the Dominican Republic before returning to Washington with her husband, Adam. The outdoors is where she is happiest, usually gardening, hiking, or beach walking, but reading a good book comes a close second. She has two teen children who are usually delightful and occasionally exasperating, and who share her love of being outside and reading past bedtime. 


Laura Greene, Billing Manager

Laura has been with Connections for just over three years. Her goal is to always have the insurance companies pay the maximum amount, while working to save our families as much as possible. Her tenacious nature makes her well suited for this work. She is also happy to help the families navigate the complex world of insurance.

Laura has lived in Whatcom County since 1979. In 1978 she took a summer job working on a fishing boat out of Blaine Harbor. She was only here a few days when she decided this was home. After the summer was over she went back to Maryland packed up everything and moved here.

She raised her children in Ferndale on an old farmstead that she bought in 1986. Currently she shares her home with two of her grown children and her longtime partner Sam. Sam and Laura are very passionate about beekeeping, and spend most of their spare time tending to their 4 hives.

Spinner Dolphins

Taylor Moncrieff, Admin Assistant

Taylor has been our Administrative Assistant since mid-April of this year. After getting a degree in Early Childhood Education and teaching Preschool for 6 years, she felt ready for a new adventure where she could gain new skills and experience in a different role. Her love for organization and problem-solving makes her a wonderful fit for this position.

Taylor was born and raised in the PNW, but has a heart for travel. She enjoys exploring new places and diving into their culture. She has spent a year living in Florida, and has also lived abroad as a nanny in Italy. When Taylor is not supporting the SLPs at the office, she likes to spend time with her partner, friends and family, thrift, and roller skate. Taylor loves music, embroidery, yoga, the ocean and all things blue!