CSUN Distinguished Alumni Awards 2014: Diane Manzella





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Published on Apr 29, 2014

Diane Stiles Manzella M.A. '72 (Speech Communication) is a pioneer in the fields of audiology and speech pathology.

A speech pathologist and audiologist for more than 40 years, Diane began practicing as a school therapist in Maryland where, in 1965, she helped to develop the first program of its kind, mainstreaming into regular classroom settings children with significant hearing loss. That pilot program in Prince George's County, Md. still exists today.

In the late 1960s, she worked as an audiologist at Glendale Adventist Hospital while earning her master's degree at then-San Fernando Valley State College. Professor Philip Reid, chair of the Department of Speech Communication, recognized Diane's skill and acumen, and upon the completion of her degree, asked her to teach and work with him in developing an audiology major. The program was established during her tenure as a member of the department from 1972 to 1976.

After being accepted into the doctoral program at UCLA's School of Education in 1977, she set up several local hospital audiology testing programs, including LA New Hospital and Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. In addition, she taught continuing education classes in speech and audiology for obtaining state licensure and published research in the area of aural rehabilitation.

In 1980, while writing her doctoral dissertation, she and former CSUN colleague and friend, Dr. Julie Gardner M.A. '67 (Speech Communication) started a company originally focused on treating children with speech and language disorders in private schools.

When her children started college, Diane left the business for a short time to take a position with InSpeech, Inc., as regional director of speech services for California. She returned to private practice with Julie and the partners expanded their services to include acute rehabilitation hospitals and nursing homes. Diane not only believed they could compete successfully with national companies, she believed that therapy companies can be successfully run on the basis of positive therapy outcomes, not profit.

The pioneering practice of Gardner Manzella, Inc. quickly grew to provide rehabilitation services in 12 states with more than 350 employees. Their primary challenge was finding enough qualified therapists to meet the exploding personnel demands. They found their solution by turning to their alma mater, CSUN, which produces some of the best and brightest speech pathologists in the country. Diane and Julie co-authored a textbook on teaching phonics that continues to be in use today.

In 2011, as a result of Julie's untimely death, Diane reconnected with CSUN, when she established the Dr. Julie O. Gardner Language Speech and Hearing Center Fund. The Gardner Award is presented to a graduate student in Communicative Disorders who demonstrates a financial need and has a desire to go into private practice in speech pathology. Diane serves and advises Dean Sylvia Alva as a member of the College of Health and Human Development Dean's Circle.

Diane and her husband of 50 years, Anthony, a retired Los Angeles County prosecutor, are enjoying retirement, spending time on their sailboat. Diane is an avid cross-country skier and alpine skis with her three grandchildren. Family and friends say Diane has not forgotten her humble beginnings in Nutley, N.J., where she was abandoned by her parents and raised by distant cousins. In a story about her life, published in 2013 in the book, What We Have Learned: Letters to our Children and Grandchildren, Diane advised: "To love and be loved is life itself. And to have that, is everything."


Diane Manzella Acceptance Speech:

Filmed by: Richard Chambers, Hailey Graves, Joseph Monterroso
Visual Effects by: Jonathan Wong
Edited by: Richard Chambers
Music by: The Music Bed (licensed with permission)
Produced by: CSUN University Advancement Marketing & Communications

© 2014 California State University, Northridge

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