TAA Leadership

Beth Humphrey, TAA President

Dr. Beth Humphrey is a native Tennessean and earned her Doctorate in Audiology from UT-Knoxville. After completing her residency at East Tennessee Children’s Hospital, she joined the clinical faculty in the UT Health Science Center Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology in Knoxville in 2005. In addition to diagnostic audiology and amplification, her clinical specialties and research interests include cochlear implants and auditory rehabilitation. She is an active member and volunteer with ASHA and the Knoxville Hearing Loss Association. She also served on the TAASLP Foundation Board for 6 years.

Christine Brown, Past President

Christine Brown, Au.D., CCC-A/FAAA received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Disorders from Northwestern University in 2005 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Vanderbilt University in 2009. She has been employed as a cochlear implant audiologist at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center in Nashville, TN since 2016. Prior to joining the team at the Vanderbilt Bill Wilkerson Center, Dr. Brown was the director of cochlear implants at Children’s National Health System in Washington, D.C. She has also held positions in industry, as an adjunct professor, and as a pediatric audiologist at a non-profit clinic for children with special needs. Dr. Brown joined TAA after relocating back to Tennessee and is currently a member of TAA, TAASLP, AAA, ASHA, and the ACIA. She currently serves on the American Academy of Audiology’s coding and reimbursement committee and is actively involved in advocacy as one of Tennessee’s State Chapter Champions for the American Cochlear Implant Alliance. Within the state of Tennessee, Dr. Brown also serves on the board of directors for Tennessee Hands and Voices and has been actively working with TAA to plan and implement advocacy and legislative initiatives pertinent to the field of audiology.  She is excited about the possibility of serving the audiologists of Tennessee as the President-Elect of TAA.


Melissa Riess, President-Elect

Dr. Riess obtained her doctorate of audiology from University of Florida. She has worked at a university as a clinical educator prior to opening her private practice in Orlando, Florida. In private practice, she completed audiological evaluations, hearing aid fittings and verification, cochlear implant evaluations and mappings, auditory processing evaluations, and supervision of audiology externs. She has published articles on reimbursement issues and strategies for providing cochlear implant services in a private practice. Currently she works at Vanderbilt University Medical Center on the adult and pediatric teams providing diagnostic services.

Saravanan Elangovan, Vice President

Dr. Elangovan received his Master’s in Science in Speech and Hearing from the All India Institute of Speech and Hearing and his Ph.D in Audiology from East Carolina University. He joined the University of TN Health Sciences Center Audiology program in 2023. Prior to that he was with the Audiology program at East TN State University for 18 years. His research interests include understanding mechanisms that underly and influence speech and auditory processing in specialized listeners (musicians, bilingual speakers) and atypical listeners (adults with diabetes, concussion).
His clinical interests are in the areas of auditory processing, cochlear implants and neonatal/infant auditory diagnostics. He has served in the TAASLPA Foundation, ASHA and AAA. He is excited to be a part of TAA and looks forward to advocating for audiology and audiologists in the state of TN. Saravanan enjoys hiking, biking, grilling and travelling with his family.

Laura Gifford, TAA Vice President- Elect

Dr. Gifford is a native of Middle Tennessee, and she lives with her dog, Murphy, in Nashville. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree at Middle Tennessee State University, her Master’s Degree from Vanderbilt University, and her Doctoral Degree from Salus University. She has been actively involved on the TAASLP and TAA boards since “God was a child”. She has worked in private practices and on the manufacturing side since 1996. Currently, Laura works in Goodlettsville at Audiology and Hearing Health. In her spare time, she enjoys working in branding and social media, listening to (or singing) live music, and entertaining friends and family with exploits of her travel.


Stephanie Yaras, Treasurer/Secretary

Dr. Yaras is an Audiologist on the Cochlear Implant Team and Educational Hearing Services Team at the Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She received her master’s in Audiology through Rush University and her doctoral in Audiology through Salus University. Her primary focus is pediatric cochlear implantation, serving children and families before and after implantation. In addition, she serves as an educational Audiologist for the Mama Lere Hearing School in Nashville, TN as well as another local school district. Her clinical interests include expanded cochlear implant candidacy criteria, working with children that have developmental delays and difficult to program cases. She enjoys mentoring Audiology externs and graduate students while working at Vanderbilt.


Micayla Sayers, Member-At-Large

Dr. Sayers graduated with her Doctorate of Audiology from the University of Tennessee Health Science Center in Knoxville. She worked at a local private practice for several years before trying her hand at the industry side of hearing healthcare. In July 2022, Dr. Sayers joined the clinical faculty at the UT Health Science Center Department of Audiology and Speech Pathology in Knoxville. Her primary specialty area includes providing evaluation and treatment to the pediatric population through both diagnostic Auditory Brainstem Response (ABR) measures and behavioral sound booth testing. In addition, Dr. Sayers focuses on testing and counseling for Central Auditory Processing Disorder (CAPD). She has been a member of TAA for many years and is excited to get more involved!

Lee Cottrell, Advocacy Liaison

Dr. Cottrell obtained his Doctorate in Audiology from the University of Tennessee in 2011. Dr. Cottrell earned his Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association in 2011. He has been a fellow in the American Academy of Audiology since 2017. Dr. Cottrell chairs the American Academy of Audiology Federal and State Relations Committee. He previously served as adjunct faculty with Lincoln Memorial University DeBusk College of Osteopathic Medicine. As a clinical audiologist Dr. Cottrell provides comprehensive audiologic services for adult and pediatric patients including diagnostic testing, amplification, and vestibular testing for balance disorders. Dr. Cottrell is the current Director of Audiology Services for Farragut ENT & Allergy and the Balance and Hearing Institute in Knoxville. His favorite hobby is reading adventure books with his five children at home.

Tiffany Ahlberg, Private Practice Liaison

Dr. Ahlberg has been a private practice audiologist since 2015. She previously worked in an ENT office for 14 years prior to private practice. She is married to Donny Ahlberg who also works in the practice. She has two children, Braden and Kara. She completed her Bachelor and Master’s Degree at the University of TN, Knoxville and her Doctorate degree at the University of Florida. She completed her externship at the Shea Ear Clinic in Memphis, TN.
She is a member of the American Academy of Audiology, Tennessee Academy of Audiology, American Academy of Doctor’s of Audiology and The American Academy of Speech-Language Hearing Association. She holds a certificate in clinical competence (CCC-A) from the American Academy of Speech Language Hearing Association since 2000. She is currently the Tennessee Academy of Audiology private practice representative. She is certified by the American Academy of Audiology in Tinnitus. She is also a cochlear implant audiologist.
She enjoys working with babies, children, and adults. She has grown the practice to include 3 audiologists. Together, the team offers almost all aspects of audiology in the practice.