October 18, 2022
This week’s rising star is Vanessa Anderson-Smith, speech therapist and CEO of the Anderson-Smith Therapy Institute.
Surname: Vanessa Anderson Smith
What brought you to Sioux Falls?
I attended Augustana University for my undergraduate education. I liked the idea of a small college in a larger city. Sioux Falls has always had so much to offer from entertainment and dining, and there’s always something to partake in!
What keeps you in Sioux Falls?
Sioux Falls has the feel of a small town but with the amenities of a big city. There’s always a new restaurant or brewery to visit, and it seems like there’s a new concert announcement every week. From family/household needs to our growing business needs, it’s easy to find who or what you need as everyone is well connected.
What made you decide to start a business and what is your experience with it?
I always say, “It was never the plan!” My private practice was very random and something that has evolved faster than I could have ever imagined. In 2013 I worked for a nationwide contractor in care facilities in the region and was very satisfied with my job. However, the industry and the company I worked for were starting to change very quickly, so in a split second I made the decision to quit my “steady full-time” job with benefits and go back to work with the population I’ve always loved: Birth to age 5 .
My goal as a speech therapist was simple: to help babies learn to eat and speak. So that’s what I decided to do. In 2013, I began working part-time in a school district, caring for children privately and part-time through the government’s early childhood education program. Before I knew it, word of my work got around and the rest is history. The practice I stumbled into with my office in my kitchen has grown into a busy private practice with two locations and 20 staff. Demand has never fallen, it has only grown exponentially.
I believe it is my personal responsibility to ensure that no child who needs help goes without it. To meet local needs, we began offering occupational therapy, reading/dyslexia tutoring, and speech and nutritional therapy. We offer face-to-face and teletherapy services, although our specialized services require families to drive up to six hours one-way.
How did you come into contact with your industry?
My industry is very small, even nationally. Being a millennial that I am, I felt like I found my tribe when I discovered Facebook groups for private practice owners and speech therapists! My activity on social media caught the attention of a company I was training with, TalkTools, and they recognized my passion for speech and nutrition therapy. I’m now a TalkTools Instructor and have created webinars and courses that I teach to other SLPs around the world. I have also presented at various dental associations, state congresses and associations and other educational platforms.
Describe your company in three words.
Links. Integrity. Expertise.
What could surprise someone when they learn about you?
I’m an identical twin! My sister is used to being approached by families in the supermarket thinking it’s me and I’m used to people thinking I’m the banker in Canton. Fear not, our days of pranking colleagues, friends, and even husbands are behind us!
What’s your favorite way to give back to your community?
ASTI is a proud sponsor of various local organizations such as the New Directions Down Syndrome Association and the Huntington’s Disease Society of America. I serve on the board of directors of the South Dakota Speech Language and Hearing Association, where I can advocate for other SLPs and audiologists. We love to support the continued growth in our industry by welcoming local college and graduate students for internships and internships.
What store would you like to see in Sioux Falls that isn’t there now?
Trader Joe’s of course!
If you had $1 million to start another business, what kind of business would it be?
I joke that if I ever get bored and stop expanding my practice, I will open a standalone 3D/4D ultrasound clinic. I know that expectant mothers and families would like to take a closer look at their baby. I have a 4 year old and a 4 month old and would have liked to have had a few extra ultrasounds to see my babies. Pregnancy can feel long and boring at times, but there was nothing more exciting than catching a glimpse of our baby during those appointments!