Tinita Kearney, PhD, CCC-SLP


Dr. Tinita Ortega Kearney is a pediatric speech-language pathologist, a renowned author, and an exceptional public speaker. Her expertise lies in working with neurodivergent and culturally and linguistically diverse students, making her a sought-after specialist in her field. Dr. Kearney earned her Doctorate of Philosophy degree in speech-language pathology from Howard University, Washington, DC. Dr. Kearney has over a decade of experience in both non-public and public school settings and is the owner and operator of a thriving speech/language therapy private practice, where she has helped countless individuals achieve their communication goals. Dr. Kearney is a member of several prestigious professional organizations and honor societies, and she currently serves on both local and state professional boards, including the Maryland Board of Audiologists, Hearing Aid Dispensers, Speech-Language Pathologists, and Music Therapists, for which she serves as Vice Chair. Her dedicated service to the Board has been acknowledged by the state of Maryland, which presented her with a Distinguished Service Award for nearly a decade of service.

As a mentor and researcher, Dr. Kearney has served as an adjunct professor, published research articles, and presented at numerous professional conferences, earning recognition and accolades from her peers. Her commitment to lifelong learning has been recognized by the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, which awarded her the Award for Continuing Education. Dr. Kearney’s passion for advocating for those in the autism community led her to become an Autism Speaks Volunteer Advocacy Ambassador for the state of Maryland. She has also authored an award-winning lift-the-flap board book series, “Lola Koala’s Travel Adventures,” designed to help young children develop fundamental speech/language skills in a fun and interactive way. Her innovative approach has empowered families and caregivers to help their children overcome communication challenges and reach their full potential.

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Q&A with Tinita Kearney

What is your desired transformation(s) from this alternative journey?

To master the art of inspiring and teaching educators, parents, future clinicians, and students themselves to implement tools and practices that will set our children up for communication and academic success!

What has been your biggest struggle with building a private practice? How did you overcome this?

Funding the start-up costs of printing a lift-the-flap board book (overcome via a crowdfunding campaign), learning how to package my programs so the people who hold the pursestrings would understand the importance and care enough to say yes (overcome via a business bootcamp course)

What made you want to start your own SLP private practice?

I think like many of my sisters and brothers, In the speech path profession, working in a school every single day, five days a week can quickly burn you out if you are in a district that has a large number of kiddos like mine. And so my caseloads watching them balloon every year, which is not fun, right?

It was taking the natural gift and the love and joy that I had and really diminishing that year after year after year. And so I decided, okay. Can’t keep this up. I still want to do what I love and I need to rediscover why I love it. So let’s just take a break from schools and just do it at my pace, pick the clientele, and do that, from a practice standpoint,

What would you say it takes for somebody to, build up their own SLP practice and be successful?

It takes a lot. I can only speak to my personal experience. For me, it really took just a lot of front-end research and I got a lot of assistance, a huge amount of support actually from an organization that I’ve joined, for speech pathologists specifically who have private practices that is a great way to tap into your colleagues all across the nation, who are in private practice to share the struggles you have and get some tips, avoid some pitfalls from them as well. That’s been just a lifesaver. Don’t ask me what the name is now.

How did you get a book published?

Outside of writing the thing, which is just a very tricky thing, especially when you’re trying to write a rhyming book that makes sense. In my case, it made most sense to me to do a self-published route. But there are a lot of options you have when your book is a regular standard paperback or hard copy book. Print Ninja was the company I went with. And, how do I cover this without pulling from my own personal savings? an answer to that pain point was To, do crowdfunding. I also did a Kickstarter campaign and researched what to do before starting it. It was fully funded, and I exceeded my goal which allowed me truly to get this project off the ground. At this point, I’m just trying to continue to get the word out, which is a third pain point because I’m a speech pathologist, not a marketing expert, trying to balance what’s important to me versus social media posts and things to keep the book and interest alive. It is still a struggle, but building up a team to take that pain point away from me.

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