Profile: Donna Ott


Donna Ott has seen the Robbins Speech, Language, and Hearing Center grow exponentially over the 20 years that she has been an administrative assistant. When she started at the center, it was located in the basement of 168 Beacon Street.

Since moving to 216 Tremont Street in 1997, the Robbins Center’s client base has tripled and the program continues to grow to meet the community’s diverse needs. Needs might include services for deafness, stuttering, speech intelligibility, recovery of communication skills due to stroke or brain injury, and others. Clients of all ages, infants through the elderly, seek these services. The center’s newest programs serve clients from the transgender community with voice concerns and undergraduate students with social-language issues.

Ott is the “face of the clinic” and interacts with clients and their families, Emerson community members, and outside professionals. She supports the director of clinical programs and 11 clinical staff members with the daily operations of the Robbins Center, which entails client scheduling and monthly billing, budget monitoring, ordering materials and supplies, records management, and ensuring compliance with ASHA and HIPAA regulations.

Ott also schedules speech and language services for the Emerson community, including an accent modification program for international students and employees and annual free hearing screenings. In addition, she prepares a monthly report of the preschool and hearing screenings that clinical staff and graduate clinicians provide to schoolchildren in the Greater Boston area.

Ott loves working with the center’s clients; she also loves working with her colleagues. Many have worked at the center at least as long as she has, so she considers them “a family.” She is also a member of the Emerson Administrative Collaborative and enjoys sharing ideas with her counterparts.

Ott grew up in Dorchester, Massachusetts, and began her career as an administrative assistant at a sports medicine practice. She then enrolled in a communication disorders program at Salem State University, transferring to Emerson’s communication disorders program a year later. She worked full time at the Robbins Center while finishing her degree part time and graduated in 1999. She later obtained a certificate in human resources from Quincy College.

Ott has many interesting hobbies that keep her busy outside of the office. She enjoys ballroom dancing and was an instructor until she sustained a knee injury. She is also a licensed realtor and enjoys visiting historic homes. She and her husband, John, own a historic home in Weymouth, Massachusetts. It’s a “fixer-upper” so they always have a project in progress. They were told that the barn on their property may have been part of the Underground Railroad. She and John also like to hike on the weekends, and they enjoy the company of their two Maine Coon rescue cats, Emmie and Evan, who are siblings.

Nancy Howell (Creative Services)