Board of Directors
- Nancy Hennessy, Vice President
Nancy Hennessy, literacy consultant and past president of the International Dyslexia
Association is an experienced educator. While in public schools, she provided leadership in the
development of professional learning systems and innovative programming for special needs
students. Nancy has and continues to design and deliver keynotes, as well as workshops and
courses, related to reading proficiency. She is a former Lead Trainer of Wilson Language Systems & National Trainer for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). Nancy co-authored Module 6 of LETRS, Digging for Meaning: Teaching Text Comprehension (2 nd edition) with Louisa Moats. Her chapter, Working with Word Meaning: Vocabulary Instruction, is in the fourth edition of Multisensory Teaching of Basic Skills. More recently, she authored the book, A Blueprint for Reading Comprehension Instruction: Helping Students Make Meaning from Text. Nancy has served on multiple boards including the National Joint Commission on Learning Disabilities (NJCLD). In 2011, Nancy received the International Dyslexia Association’s Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award and was the recipient of NCIDA’s June Lyday Orton Award in 2012. She believes that all children have the right to learn how to read and that educators have the responsibility to learn how to teach them.
- Laura Daniels
Laura Daniels has taught elementary school for sixteen years. She has enjoyed teaching second, third and fourth grades and serving as a Reading Interventionist. Laura’s passion for helping all children learn to read led her to be trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach. Laura has served as a private tutor for elementary aged children.
- Callie Luker
Callie is an elementary special education teacher with licensure in both General and Adaptive Special Education. She has taught learners of all ages in the NC Public Schools for 16 years. Callie is an active member of the Council for the Exceptional Children and has delivered multiple workshops. While employed by the Edenton Chowan Public Schools, she was recognized as a Teacher of Excellence and named Teacher of the Year. She was also recognized as Mattamuskeet Elementary Teacher of the Year in 2019 while serving as a Special Education Teacher. Callie is passionate about empowering administrators and teachers and believes in the importance of using a multisensory approach when teaching reading. She also believes that every person given the right strategy on a consistent basis can learn to read. Above all Callie believes that learning to read should be fun and accessible to all.
- Jennifer Pence
My name is Jennifer Pence and I am a wife and a mother of five. I have worked in a daycare setting, a preschool, have homeschooled and I currently sub wherever needed in the private school my children attend. I became passionate about dyslexia following my now 14 yr old daughters diagnosis when she was in fourth grade. I want to learn every way I can to help her navigate to the best of her abilities and I want advocate and educate not only for my daughter but for others when entering journey of dyslexia.
- Nikki Whitley
Nikki Whitley received her B.A. in Elementary Education at Elon University. She has taught in public and private school settings. Nikki taught at The Hill School of Wilmington for seven years and is level 2 IMSLEC certified. She currently works in Wilmington as a tutor and consultant with families of children with learning differences. She enjoys educating parents and teachers on implementing best practices and helping them establish achievable goals for their children. She advocates for and seeks to find answers for families navigating the world of dyslexia and other learning differences.
- Nikki Snow
Nikki has a passion for promoting the understanding of the best practices in education that support the needs of all learners, but specifically those learners with dyslexia. In her 17 years in education, Nikki has worked as a literacy coach, reading specialist and classroom teacher and currently teaches at the Hill School of Wilmington where she is also the Tutoring Program Coordinator.
- Courtney Hurlbutt
Courtney Hurlbutt received her B.A. in Child Study (Birth-6th Grade in General Education and Special Education) at St. Joseph’s College. She has worked for New Hanover County Schools for the past 16 years as a Special Education Teacher, district Special Education Liaison and her current position of Special Education Reading Curriculum Specialist. She currently just renewed her National Board Teacher Certification in 2022. She is a Reading Research to Classroom Practice Instructor, trained in Orton Gillingham as well as a Dyslexia Delegate. As a lifelong learner, she enjoys sharing her passion and expertise in reading as she provides professional development and coaching to teachers in her district.
- Wendy Goings
- Laura Britt-Treasurer
Laura –UNCP Graduate 1987 and 2008. I have my BS in Special Education and a Masters as a Literacy Specialist, both from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. From January 2010 – September 2016 served as Instructional Strategies and Literacy Consultant for NCDPI in Exceptional Children’s department for the Sandhill’s region. Previously, I was an EC Resource teacher for 12 years and an EC Program Specialist for Scotland County Schools. I am a National Board Certified Teacher since 2001 and renewed in 2010. I serve as a NB mentor to current candidates and renewals. I have been an NCSIP-Reading Research to Classroom Practice (Reading Foundations) Instructor since 2003. . I am a certified trainer/coach for Keys to Literacy: Comprehension Routine (K-12) by Joan Sedita. I retired from NC in 2016, but currently work in SC as a Reading Coach at Bennettsville Intermediate School. I also continue to provide RRtCP (Reading Foundations) on a contractual basis to districts in NC.
- Dr. Gretchen Robinson
Gretchen G. Robinson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor of Special Education in the Department of Educational Leadership & Specialties (ELS) at the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. She serves as Interim Chair of the departments of Teacher Education and ELS, and Program Director of the Master of School Administration Program. She received her B.S. in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from UNCG, her M.S. in Communication Sciences & Disorders from WCU, and her Ph.D. in Special Education from UNCG. She has over 20 years of experience working in higher education and in the public schools. Her research interests include multitier systems of support, culturally responsive practices, equity education, and language and literacy practices for students who are at-risk or who have disabilities. She has published articles, presented workshops locally and internationally on evidence-based teaching strategies in reading, and has disseminated research at national and regional conferences.
- Lynne Loeser, Secretary
Lynne Loeser graduated from the University of Kentucky with a B.S. in Elementary and Special Education and a Master’s Degree from the University of Louisville in Learning and Behavior Disorders. She is a National Board Certified teacher (Exceptional Needs Specialist). Lynne has worked in public education for over forty years in various capacities including special education teacher, compliance and monitoring, educational diagnostician, mentor to beginning teachers, instructional coach, and professional development instructor. In 2019, she retired from the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction as the statewide consultant for Specific Learning Disabilities and ADHD where she led statewide efforts on specially designed instruction and progress monitoring, dyslexia and revisions of state policy for the evaluation and identification of Specific Learning Disabilities. She currently works for Lexia Learning where she is a Professional Learning Facilitator for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS). She is passionate about ensuring teachers have access to the scientific evidence base to deliver effective reading instruction for all and that students with disabilities receive the necessary specially designed instruction that closes achievement gaps.
- Aimee Gandee
Aimee Gandee holds her B.A. in Special Education and M.Ed. in Early Childhood Education both earned from the University of Florida. She has taught in public and private schools, in both general education and special education settings. In her current role as Director of Educational Outreach and Wilson® Credentialed Trainer at Noble Academy in Greensboro, NC she supports teachers in their instruction of students with Dyslexia and provides training in The Wilson Reading System®nationally. She is passionate about working with children with special needs and their families She brings 24 years of experience as an educator and parent in the special needs community to NCIDA.
- Kolleen Sullivan
Darci earned her BA from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, NY and her Specialist Degree in School Psychology from Winthrop University. After graduating from Winthrop, she worked in a variety of schools within the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools, not only as a School Psychologist, but also as a School Counselor for 7+ years. Currently, and for the last 10+ years, she has provided educational advocacy and consulting for Southeast Psych. Through her own professional and personal experiences (raising 2 daughters, one with a diagnosed learning disability), Darci helps to simplify the Special Education and 504 processes for parents, while advocating for their children’s rights. In addition, she assists current Charlotte families and those relocating to the Charlotte area, with finding schools that fit their child’s educational/learning needs. Darci is an NCIDA board member as well as a committee chair.
- Kyla Crews
As the reading specialist for my school, I believe that it is part of my role to consistently obtain/expand on any knowledge as it relates to literacy/language instruction. This supports my instruction/interventions for my students as well supports the knowledge I deliver to other educators. I believe becoming a candidate for board membership will deepen my knowledge on dyslexia. This will then help me in spreading awareness, educating, and supporting teachers, colleagues, and students.
- Trina O’ Connor
Trina O’Connor received both her B.A. in Elementary Education and her M.Ed. in Reading Education from UNC Charlotte. Trina has worked in public, private, and independent schools in Ohio and North Carolina for over 20 years. Currently, Trina is the Lower School Division Head at the Fletcher School in Charlotte. Trina’s passion for educating and supporting diverse learners stems from personal experiences watching family members struggle with learning to read, write, and spell. She saw their struggles and wanted to be someone who could make a difference in the lives of those type of learners.
- Debbie Broxterman
Debbie Broxterman has taught children with special needs in Early Childhood classrooms for 13 years and provided language awareness workshops for teachers during that time. She became an Associate Member of the Orton Gillingham Academy in 2019 and works as a tutor and consultant for families of children who are struggling with reading. She currently teaches at The Fletcher School and is passionate about helping every child reach their full potential.
- Chandler McIntyre
Chandler McIntyre received her BA in English from Columbia College, Columbia, SC. She has tutored within public schools and privately over the past 8 years and is an Associate Level Orton-Gillingham Academy Member. Currently she teaches elementary school language tutorial classes, which are Orton-Gillingham based, at The Fletcher School in Charlotte, NC. She also worked as a tutor with the Augustine Literacy Project in Charlotte, NC. She believes deeply in the Orton-Gillingham Approach to Literacy and the positive impact it has on both students and families.
- Beth Soja
Beth Soja lives in Charlotte and is an attorney with the Raleigh-based law firm Stevens Martin Vaughn & Tadych, PLLC. She received her B.A. in English from Georgetown University and her J.D. from UNC-Chapel Hill. While Beth focuses much of her law practice on media and open government matters, she is passionate about the right of all children — especially those with learning differences — to receive a free and appropriate public education. In addition to serving on the boards of directors for both NCIDA and Decoding Dyslexia North Carolina, she volunteers her time as a pro bono attorney with the education section of the Council for Children’s Rights in Charlotte. She enjoys advocating for both individual students with dyslexia and for real structural change within our school systems.
- Laura Freeman
After graduating from NC State, Laura Freeman worked for 13 years as a corporate banker. She discovered the Orton-Gillingham approach while serving as a volunteer tutor with Augustine Literacy Project. As a result, she switched her career to education in 2011. She became certified as an Orton-Gillingham Academy (OGA) Associate in 2016 and is currently in a practicum pursuing the next level of certification through OGA. Laura is a private literacy coach and advocate for children of all ages. She lives in her hometown of Charlotte. Laura is a founding board member of The Reading League North Carolina and serves as its Vice President.
- Shirley Cook
Shirley Cook received her B.A. in psychology at the University of South Carolina, a Masters’ degree from Queens’ University, and is a Classroom and Associate Member of the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. She taught in the classroom setting for 18 years and is currently working one on one with students with learning differences. She enjoys building strong relationships with her students and their parents, as well as seeing the students’ hard work positively benefit their school work and confidence. She believes that everyone can learn and learning can be and should be fun!
- Alyssa Wood
Sara Gray Horne received her BA in Elementary Education and MEd. in Special Education from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She is an Instructor of Therapy (Level 4, IMSLEC) and a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist (CERI). Sara Gray has had many roles at Hill Learning Center over the course of nearly four decades including teacher, level coordinator, Director of Studies, and trainer/project manager and currently Directory or Literacy and LD Professional Learning. Sara Gray is passionate about mentoring teachers who are working with struggling readers.
Nancy Coffman has proudly served students with dyslexia and related disorders for over 30 years. She first taught middle school students at the Shelton School in Dallas, Texas, and then transitioned to delivering certificate level instruction in Structured Literacy to teachers across the country. Though recently retired, Nancy continues to consult and provide training in Structured Literacy techniques. Nancy has served as a board member for the International Dyslexia Association, as president of ALTA and of the Alliance board, and as a board member of IMSLEC. She is currently the President of the IDA North Carolina Branch. She is a Certified Academic Language therapist (CALT) and Qualified Instructor (QI). Nancy is the proud parent, sister, daughter, and potentially grandmother of individuals with dyslexia. These individuals ignited her passion for serving students who learn differently. Nancy lives in Asheville, North Carolina.
- Candi Sellars, President
Candi Sellers received her undergraduate in Elementary Education and Master’s degree in Special Education: Mild to Moderate Disabilities. She has taught in public, private, and homeschool settings. Candi is an Accredited Training Fellow with OGA, CALT-QI with ALTA, SLDS with CERI, and North Carolina licensed teacher. She currently trains individuals in the Orton-Gillingham Approach, tutors individuals with learning differences, and consults with educators and families. Candi enjoys working with learners of all ages, providing support to families through their journey, and creating resources that can be easily implemented to support the success of students. As a lifelong learner herself, serving with NCIDA allows her to grow, lead, and spread awareness.
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