Kimberly Rorabaugh Abeyta, Au.D.
Director of Audiology / Doctor of Audiology
Hearing Resource Center
A Division of Ear, Nose & Throat and Facial Plastic Surgery Center
Dr. Abeyta, originally from Pennsylvania, received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communication science and disorders from University of Pittsburgh in 2007 and her master’s and doctoral degrees in audiology from University of Pittsburgh in 2010 and 2011. She completed her clinical residency at VA Pittsburgh Healthcare System in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 2011 specializing in adult hearing aids, aural rehabilitation and cochlear implants. Immediately after graduating with her Doctorate in Audiology, Dr. Abeyta moved to Newport Beach, California where she specialized in vestibular (balance) diagnostic testing, vestibular (balance) rehabilitation therapy, tinnitus treatment and fitting extended-wear hearing devices. In 2012, Dr. Abeyta joined our practice here at Hearing Resource Center and Ear, Nose & Throat and Facial Plastic Surgery Center and was appointed to Director of Audiology in 2014. Dr. Abeyta is certified by the American Board of Audiology (ABA). She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Audiology (F-AAA), a Fellow of the Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) and a member of the American Tinnitus Association (ATA). Dr. Abeyta currently specializes in adult hearing aids and the counseling and treatment of tinnitus, though she holds special interest in vestibular assessment and rehabilitation.
In her spare time, Dr. Abeyta enjoys spending time with her family and traveling.
Nina Buckley-Ess, Au.D., CCC-A
Asst. Director of Audiology/Audiology Fellow Coordinator
Dr. Buckley-Ess, originally from Virginia, received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Radford University in 2011 and her Doctor of Audiology degree from Salus University’s George S. Osborne College of Audiology in 2016. Dr. Buckley-Ess completed her fourth-year fellowship at the University of Virginia-Health Systems. She joined the team at Hearing Resource Center in June 2016.
Dr. Buckley-Ess is also our audiology fellow program coordinator, who helps in the hiring and precepting of fourth-year audiology students. In January 2022, she was promoted to assistant director of audiology.
Dr. Buckley-Ess stays active with the American Academy of Audiology, is a member of Salus University Alumni Board Association and holds the American Board of Audiology certification. She also holds her CCC-A with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association.
In her spare time, Dr. Buckley-Ess likes to travel, especially to Georgia to see her nieces. She also enjoys spending quality time with family and friends.
Taylor Bakal, Au.D.,
Doctor of Audiology
Dr. Bakal, originally from Lancaster, Pennsylvania, received her Bachelor of Arts in Speech-Language Hearing Sciences from Temple University in 2017 and her Doctor of Audiology from the University of Maryland, College Park in 2021. Dr. Bakal completed her fourth-year audiology fellowship at Washington DC VA Medical Center, where she received extensive training in adult diagnostics, hearing aids, cochlear implants, vestibular assessment and electrophysiology. Prior to joining the Hearing Resource Center and Ear, Nose & Throat and Facial Plastic Surgery Center in 2022, Dr. Bakal worked as a clinical audiologist at a private practice and within the Virginia public school system as an educational audiologist.
Dr. Bakal has special interests in aural rehabilitation and cochlear implants. While in graduate school, she worked in a cochlear implant research laboratory and published her own research on a technology to improve outcomes for implanted patients. Dr. Bakal provides patient-centered care to ensure that each patient has hearing technology and strategies that work for their lifestyle. Dr. Bakal is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), where she holds a Certificate of Clinical Competency in Audiology (CCC-A).
In her spare time, Dr. Bakal enjoys cooking, exploring local wineries, rock climbing and spending time with her fiancé and their families.
Emily Willoughby, Au.D., CCC-A
Doctor of Audiology
Dr. Willoughby (pronounced willow-bee), originally from New Jersey, received her Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from James Madison University in 2015 and her Doctorate of Audiology from Northern Illinois University in 2023. Dr. Willoughby completed her fourth-year externship at South Florida ENT Associates, where she specialized in vestibular (balance) diagnostics and electrophysiology. She also gained valuable experience in tinnitus and amplification devices, such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, earlens, and bonebridge.
Dr. Willoughby is enthusiastic about educating her patients and their families, and prioritizes collaborating across disciplines to provide the best care. She is also passionate about helping to make appointments as comfortable as possible. Dr. Willoughby is a member of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA), where she holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence in Audiology (CCC-A).
In her spare time, Dr. Willoughby enjoys baking, crafting, roller skating, and doing nerdy things like Dungeons and Dragons.
Michelle is originally from the Roanoke, Virginia, area. She received her Bachelor of Science in Computational and Systems Neuroscience from Virginia Tech. She is currently finishing her last year of a four-year doctoral program in clinical audiology at James Madison University. As part of this program, Michelle is completing a one-year audiology fellowship at the Ear, Nose, and Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center of Fredericksburg and Hearing Research Center. She will specialize in audiological diagnostics, including vestibular and electrophysiology testing; fitting and rehabilitation of adult and pediatric hearing aids; and tinnitus treatment. Michelle previously interned at a university clinic, two hospital-affiliated audiology/ENT clinics and the Virginia School for the Deaf and the Blind (VSDB). Michelle also actively served on JMU’s chapter of the Student Academy of Audiology (SAA) as a member and as treasurer. Her audiological interests include electrophysiology, especially with pediatric patients, and educational audiology.
In her spare time, Michelle enjoys reading, crocheting, knitting and learning new things to fulfill her life goal of being a “Jeopardy!” contestant.
Kassy L. Hickman
Kassy is originally from Glenville, West Virginia. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Communication Studies from West Virginia University. She is currently completing her final year of her four-year doctoral program in clinical audiology at Ohio University and has obtained a certificate in Veterans Health. As a part of completing her doctoral program, Kassy will be working as an Audiology Fellow at the Ear, Nose, and Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center of Fredericksburg and Hearing Resource Center. She will be specializing in audiological diagnostics including vestibular and electrophysiology, fitting and rehabilitation of adult and pediatric hearing aids, and tinnitus treatment. Kassy has previously interned at Ohio University’s campus clinic, two private practices, two outpatient ENT clinics, and has been doing newborn hearing screenings for two years at OhioHealth O’Bleness Hospital. Her special interests include fitting adult and pediatric hearing aids and cochlear implants, evaluating auditory processing disorders, and conducting newborn hearing screenings.
In her spare time, Kassy enjoys crocheting, roller skating, taking her cat for a walk, and spending time with her loved ones.
Alexandra is originally from Syracuse, New York. She received her Bachelor of Science in biomedical sciences from Nazareth College. She is currently finishing her last year of a four-year doctoral program in audiology at UNC-Chapel Hill. Alexandra is completing her final year as an audiology fellow at the Ear, Nose, and Throat & Facial Plastic Surgery Center of Fredericksburg and Hearing Resource Center. She will specialize in audiological diagnostics, including vestibular and electrophysiology testing; fitting and rehabilitation of adult and pediatric hearing aids; and tinnitus treatment. Alexandra previously interned at a university clinic, several hospital-affiliated audiology/ENT clinics, a private audiology practice, and Wake County Public Schools. Alexandra also completed a Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Other Related Disabilities (LEND) training and certification. Her special interests include pediatric audiology and vestibular diagnostics.
In her spare time, Alexandra enjoys baking, reading, traveling, and spending time with her husband and two cats.