We had the good fortune of connecting with Lesley Pech and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lesley, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I knew there was a demand in Denver for Speech-Language Pathologists with a specialty in Dyslexia. Literacy rates in our country are staggeringly poor and students who fail to learn to read face a life of struggle, often with greatly diminished educational and work options. First and foremost, I wanted to serve these families and support these kids. I really wanted to work in a setting in which I had autonomy, so I took a leap and decided to build my own practice.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
Starting my own practice required additional training, a fairly significant financial outlay, and overcoming any lingering feelings of imposter syndrome that so many women experience. Strong mentorship was key, as was the support of my family. I had the opportunity to lay the groundwork ahead of launching, which allowed me to focus exclusively on therapy provision once I began, rather than logistics. Speech-Language Pathology is a vast field that covers an enormous number of treatment areas and spans from newborns to geriatrics. I wished to provide specialized niche care to students and adults with dyslexia and language-learning disabilities and keeping my focus narrowed allowed me to build my competence and confidence within this narrow scope. I was drawn to this field with an existing interest in dyslexia, having experienced these challenges personally with family members and felt deep compassion for those contending with learning disabilities. I had witnessed first-hand the frustration and deep self-esteem impacts that come with literacy and language difficulties. A benefit of working for myself was that I could construct a schedule that allowed me to build in planning and research time to discern the best approaches, tailored to an individual client’s learning abilities and interests. By working on a private pay basis, I freed myself from the constraints imposed by medical insurance that restrict eligibility for service based on the severity of need and imposed caps on duration and intensity of therapy.
Since Covid struck last year, I have been providing therapy via telepractice and have discovered that it is an excellent mode for serving my older students and has facilitated greater ability to assist students in underserved rural and mountain areas. This has also aided students whose parents work full-time with transportation difficulties. Initially, I was gravely concerned about how to best support my younger students, but I have realized that having parents sit beside their child and learn alongside them, has resulted in these parents gaining the confidence to better support their child’s literacy challenges, and improved home practice between appointments. Regardless of when I return to an in-person clinic model again, I will continue to utilize online therapy for the benefit of those who are thriving with this option. Evaluations are typically still conducted best in person and I have worked to provide this option safely during the pandemic.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There is so much to show off in our great state. I typically ski every week and would undoubtedly wish to share the mountains with any visiting guests. My home base is Winter Park but time spent skiing in Vail is usually included in the season. In the summer, I enjoy waterskiing and boating on Lake Granby and would always integrate time up there with any visiting friends and family. I enjoy dining out in Denver especially in locally owned, smaller restaurants; my favorites would be Spuntino in the Highlands neighborhood, Daughter in Lo Hi, and Colore on Broadway. The Denver Botanical gardens especially the summer concert series would be a highlight, and almost any Red Rocks show.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I returned to college and graduate school as an immigrant who had never studied in the United States, and as an older student with teenage children. Several of my college professors were especially supportive of my situation, particularly Dr. Jessica Rossi-Katz and Dr. Jean Lundy at Metropolitan State University of Denver. After I graduated, I worked to become the lead Speech Pathologist at O.T. Plus, Inc. where I spent several years working with adults with acquired brain injuries. I was feeling the emotional toll of spending every day providing patients with strategies to cope with profound loss and often grief. My former University of Colorado graduate school professor, Dr. Anne Whitney encouraged me to consider working with a different patient population. She knew there was a great deal of need for skilled providers to serve those with dyslexia and language challenges in Colorado. Her incredible knowledge in both literacy and language disability is nationally revered. Annie filled my bookshelves with a truck-load of learning materials and mapped out a course of additional study to support this pivot towards my goal of opening a practice focused on assessing and treating students with dyslexia and language challenges. In addition, she offered to overlook my reports and consult on clients to provide additional mentorship in the early stages of my new practice. At every local and national conference that we attended, she would usher me over to the most renowned experts in the field and generously introduce me as “one of her girls”. I know her dedication to her students is widespread and I am incredibly grateful to be a recipient of her wisdom.