Chairman of the AIS Board of Directors Sander Flaum was featured in the September 21 article “Speech Therapy for Stutterers” in the Wall Street Journal. Sander talks about helping people receive speech therapy and the role that his mother played as he grew up with stuttering. Here is the full text of the article:
Speech Therapy for Stutterers
by Pia Catton, Wall Street Journal
When Sander Flaum was growing up in Brooklyn, he had a stutter that seemed insurmountable. Today, he is a marketing consultant and adjunct professor at Fordham University who speaks smoothly and fluently.
But the change in his speech didn’t come until he was in his 30s. After hearing about successes taking place at the Hollins Communications Research Institute in Roanoke, Va., he took a three-week leave of absence from his job, enrolled in the course and got the stutter under control.
Now he is making the same opportunity available for others. In 2009, he founded the Rose Flaum Foundation, named for his mother, to enable students to attend speech therapy programs at Hollins and the American Institute for Stuttering.
With a budget of $100,000, he grants up to $4,000 in tuition to those in need. So far, he has relied on funds raised from one major donor: himself. “Right now, I am just doing it myself. I decided to die broke,” he said.
Though fund-raising may not be an obstacle, information is. “The real challenge is that not enough families, spouses or schools know about these organizations,” he said, adding that recipients are typically referred to him from various institutions.
In his youth, Mr. Flaum attended the National Hospital for Speech Disorders, but wasn’t able to find a program, even through the public school, that could help. “My mom scraped together what she could. Back then, it was about learning to live with your stutter,” said Mr. Flaum.
For this New Yorker, however, living with it was not the way forward. “Coming up in corporate life, you’re not going to get the job if you can’t get your name out. Many stutterers go into IT or engineering, where they don’t have to talk a lot. Very few are crazy like me and go into marketing,” he said.
Mr. Flaum attended Ohio University for undergraduate study and then earned an MBA from Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. Before founding Flaum Partners in 2004, he led strategic sales and marketing efforts in the pharmaceutical and biotech industries. He founded and is chairman of the Fordham Leadership Forum, which provides MBA students with lectures by top names in business.
And no matter how busy he may be, he devotes his morning to speech exercises. “If you want to remain fluent, you have to work on it every day. I work on it at 6 a.m. in the gym, talking along with the television,” he said.
As someone who knows how difficult a stutter can be, Mr. Flaum is also tenacious in his giving: “This has been my life. I want to help as many people as possible.”