Board of Directors
Pat Sekel, Ph.D., CALT, QI, CDT/IDA
Dr. Pat Sekel is a speech pathologist, academic language therapist, educator, avid reader, and life-long learner. She recently moved to the Daytona Beach area from Austin, TX, where she retired as the Section 504/Dyslexia Director with a local school district and Graduate Reading Professor at Concordia University. Since moving to Florida, she has been tutoring students and continues working with parents and school districts nationwide. As a lifetime member [and Orton Oak] of The International Dyslexia Association, Pat is committed to the organization and its mission. Nationally, she has served as Chair of the National Nominating Committee, Secretary of Branch Council, and facilitated several years of the Public School Administrators’ Symposium at The IDA annual conferences. Currently, Pat is a reviewer of proposals for annual IDA conferences, and has been a team member and Chair for The IDA’s national accreditation of training centers and universities. She also continues to be an invited speaker at local, state, and national conferences.
At a local and state level, Pat has served on the Austin Area Branch of IDA as board member and President for three terms. She worked on the Governor’s Committee [George W. Bush] revamping the instruction and competency testing of pre-service teachers in the area of written language, worked within her professional organizations to see the passage of the Texas State Dyslexia law and the state licensing of Dyslexia Therapists. She also served as a Master Trainer for the Texas First Grade Reading Initiative and reader of literacy grant proposals statewide. While completing her doctorate in Reading at The University of Texas at Austin, she was Executive Director of the Scottish Rite Learning Center, where she led the teacher training to national accreditation through ALTA and IMSLEC. She also enjoyed serving as Head of School for Rawson-Saunders School for Dyslexic Children where she established a teacher training center. During her career, Pat has been a national board member and Secretary of the Academic Language Therapy Association, and currently serves on the Council of Educators for Students with Disabilities [CESD] national board. She authored The New Herman Method, and has served as editor for numerous scholarly publications. Dr. Sekel was honored to be one of the Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling [LETRS] elite national trainers.
At home, Pat enjoys relaxing with her three dogs [the “grrls”], exploring Florida with her husband of over 40 years, tutoring students, and being reunited with her childhood best friend. She is excited about the pending Florida state dyslexia law, working with other dedicated professionals, and looks forward to the next chapter of life in the Sunshine State.
Mandy Horton Walker
Mandy Horton Walker serves as the Instructional Coach for ESE for the Martin County School District, tutors students privately, provides SIM professional development and facilitates the PDA-DRI online course for teachers who are seeking the Florida Reading Endorsement. She graduated from Florida Atlantic University, where she earned a Master’s Degree in Exceptional Student Education-Varying Exceptionalities. Subsequently, she has taught students from Kindergarten through twelfth grade, as well as adults in Florida.
In addition to several areas of certification and endorsement, Mandy has earned the Wilson Language System Level II Certificate, the University of Kansas, Center for Research on Learning Strategic Instruction Model Learning Strategies and Content Enhancement Routine Professional Developer (KU-CRL: SIM LS & CER) Certificates, and is a Certified Dyslexia Therapist by the International Dyslexia (CDT/IDA).
Mandy is passionate about her calling to serve reading strategies to learners, parents, and colleagues. She believes that every age and every stage of learning is the best and describes her students, whether public or private, as learners with dynamic learning profiles and great gifts. Her website is www.love2readtutoring.com where one can see that she specializes in serving learners with dyslexia and other language-based reading differences.
On a personal note, Mandy, who has two grown children, and her husband, Reed, are delighted to have four grandchildren who bring joy and excitement to everyone. Mandy also enjoys reading, sewing, gardening, floral arrangements, walking, and visiting with family and friends.
Frank McKeown is passionate about helping children with dyslexia and their families. He earned a B.A. from Florida State University in English, an M.A. from Carnegie Mellon University in English, and an M.A. from American University in anthropology, with an emphasis in linguistics. He is a member of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators at the Associate level. In addition to private tutoring, Frank has served as the director of two privately owned learning centers, and a non-profit learning center for children with learning differences and developmental delays in Palm Beach Gardens.
Through his private practice in Tallahassee, he provides reading, writing and mathematics instruction to students with learning differences. In July 2016, Frank became the founding Director of the newly opened Center for Learning at Maclay School, a private, independent college preparatory school in Tallahassee which is committed to meeting the needs of all learners. The Center provides a classroom supports, a separate skills-based program, tutorial instruction, consultation with parents and classroom teachers, review of records or assessments, and coordination with other service providers.
When he is not working, Frank enjoys gardening and vacationing with his family.
Dr. Grizel Arencibia graduated from Florida International University summa cum laude in Education, earned her Master of Science in Reading Education from Barry University, and her Doctoral Degree in Education from Nova Southeastern University.
Dr. Arencibia began her career as a classroom teacher and reading specialist. She was the Director of Program Development and Innovation for Take Stock in Children, a non-profit organization in Florida that provides opportunities for students to improve their lives through education. In her role, she directed the development and implementation of program standards and materials for enhanced state-wide student/mentor grade specific curriculum and college transition. With a broad scope of knowledge and experience, she founded her own private practice specializing in remediating reading difficulties and language-related learning challenges. As an independent educational consultant, she assisted students with their preparation and successful transition into colleges and universities. Currently, she is the Middle School Division Director at McGlannan School, an accredited, research-based private school that remediates academics impacted by dyslexia and related language-based learning difficulties through an evidence-based, structured, multi-sensory instructional approach.
Dr. Judith Cohen is currently is the Director, Office of Clinical Experiences, College of Education, Florida International University (FIU), Miami, Florida. She is an active faculty member in the College of Education, Dept. of Teaching & Learning, Special Education Program where she teaches the course: Literacy in Special Education. Judith holds a position of advisory board member with FLIDA. Previously she was a classroom teacher and clinician at the McGlannan School for 20+ years, Educational consultant and author for Wright Group / McGraw-Hill and was in private practice where she conducted evaluations and remediation of students with learning difficulties. She is an accomplished author and has presented at numerous conferences and professional development workshops, both locally and nationally. Selected Publications:
- Cohen, E. J., & Brady, M. P. (2011). Acquisition and generalization of word decoding in students with reading disabilities using vowel pattern analysis and children’s literature. Education and Treatment of Children, 34, (1), 81-113.
- Cheyney, W.J., & Cohen, E. J. (2007). The Wright Skills Program: Grades PreK – 3. Chicago, IL: Wright Group / McGraw-Hill.
- Cohen, E. J. (2002). Fast Track Reading, Phonics Component. Chicago, IL: Wright Group / McGraw-Hill.
- Cheyney, W. J., & Cohen, E. J. (1999). Focus on phonics: Assessment and instruction. Bothell, WA: The Wright Group.
Despite being diagnosed with Dyslexia, Auditory Processing Disorder and Attention Deficit Disorder as a child, Gannon Hunt has become an experienced interior designer and accredited staging professional working with nationally renowned institutions like Christie’s Auction House in New York, Architectural Digest and Veranda Magazine. Hunt, a native Texan who has lived in North Florida/South Georgia for the past 16 years with her son, Beau, has also earned her Masters Degree in Social Work from Florida State University, Bachelor’s in Art History from Sweet Briar College in Virginia and graduated from the Brooks School in Andover, MA.
Hunt’s passion for educating the community about Dyslexia stems from her own experience with the stigma attached to learning challenges before educational programs were readily available to children like her. She often felt ‘stupid’ and was told she was just being ‘lazy.’ Like many children growing up with Dyslexia, she learned to manipulate the system by using her intelligence to get by and realized that when she studied she would get straight C’s and when she didn’t study still got straight C’s. Her lack of support with her learning challenges began to take its toll and she started to ‘hate school.’ Hunt’s personal experience, and that of her son’s struggle with Dyslexia, fuels her passion to ensure that no child ever has to feel the way she did growing up. Her son has become the poster child for embracing his learning challenges and although he must work twice as hard as other students, he makes all A’s and B’s. Hunt currently serves on the Board of Directors of Boys Town North Florida and volunteers at the Maclay School. In her free time, you will find Hunt traveling with family and friends, cheering her son at the ballpark, competing at World Food and BBQ Championships with her boyfriend or spending time outdoors hunting and fishing.
Dale King as President of Educational Solutions, LLC, provides diagnostic evaluations, academic remediation, advocacy, and support to individuals with learning challenges. She works with students ranging from Preschool through High School – and adults – in all areas involving academic and educational performance. She also provides consultation services to private and public schools. Dale specializes in reading challenges (including dyslexia, reading recognition, fluency, and reading comprehension), math, language development, and writing skills. She is a former Bureau Chief with the New York State Education Department’s Office of Special Education Services with oversight for the education of 160,000 students with disabilities in 1,500 schools (Pre-K -12) in New York City. She served as the Principal of private schools for students with Learning and Behavior Disabilities, Special Education administrator for public schools, and Senior Learning Diagnostic Specialist for Long Island Jewish Hospital. Dale received her Master’s Degree in Learning and Behavior Disabilities from Queens College in New York and then earned an Ed.M. in Special Education Administration from Teachers College, Columbia University. In addition, she completed advanced studies in the Neuropsychology of Reading at Columbia University. She is currently a Board member for the Florida Branches of the International Dyslexia Association and the Learning Disabilities Association. She has written many instructional-based articles with both professionals and parents in mind, and has presented numerous workshops on the diagnosis and remediation of dyslexia, other reading related issues, and learning disabilities. Dale provides appropriate evidence-based interventions, including Orton-Gillingham, that change the lives of students and their families in powerful ways. Her unique highly structured approaches to the remediation of dyslexia and other learning challenges continue to help students become successful and motivated learners.
Dr. Kirstina Ordetx holds a doctorate in Counseling Psychology with a concentration in pediatric neurology. Dr. Ordetx is an educational specialist with over 25 years of clinical experience, research, and consultation. She is a Certified Nutrition and Wellness Consultant, Executive Functions Coach, and a registered Licensed Mental Health Intern. She is a certified Orton-Gillingham trainer and has published two books that compile her research and practice in Theory of Mind. She has served on accreditation committees for the Florida Council of Independent Schools, is a university adjunct professor in developmental and child psychology, and presents at various national and international conferences. Dr. Ordetx owns a private academy in Lakewood Ranch, Florida specializing in the multi-sensory education of students who have language and learning-based differences. She is Executive Director of the Therapy and Reading Center of Lakewood Ranch, a multi-disciplinary, pediatric therapy clinic.
Carole Repensek began her career in dyslexia in New Jersey almost by accident. Graduating with a BS in Elementary Education in 1970 at a time when there were no jobs available, she was offered a job and training in a school for children with dyslexia. She immediately developed a passion for teaching reading to students with reading differences and embarked on a lifelong journey which continues today. She obtained a MS degree in Special Education from Hunter College, and later, an Ed.D. degree in Educational Leadership from Nova Southeastern University.
Moving to Miami in 1976, she joined the staff of McGlannan School, a clinical school for students with dyslexia. She became the Assistant Director spending almost 30 years there. In 2008, Carole moved to Scheck Hillel Community School where she developed the Nativ program for students with dyslexia. She also taught graduate classes in reading and dyslexia. Presently, Carole is the Director of Academic Advancement at Riviera Preparatory School in Miami.
In addition to being a member of the Florida International Dyslexia Association board, she was also president of the branch as well as regional representative on the National IDA Branch Council Board. She has also been a board member, vice president for programming and president of the Association of Independent Schools of Florida for almost thirty years. Education has clearly been Carole’s life work and joy.
Sandi Soper, recipient of the Sylvia Richardson Award, received her M.S.E. in Special Education from the University of Wisconsin. Her work included serving as a Specific Learning Disabilities Program Specialist for the School Board of Sarasota County, Florida, and as an adjunct professor of Special Education at the University of South Florida where she taught Clinical Education, Assessment, Foundations, and Perspectives in Learning and Behavior Disorders courses.
Sandi is a National Strategic Instruction Model (SIM) Professional Developer for the University of Kansas-Center for Research on Learning, and she serves on the State of Florida SIM Advisory Committee.
Sandi has served as the Vice President of the International Dyslexia Association, as well as the President of the Florida Branch of the IDA. She has chaired numerous IDA and FLIDA committees and has served on the Executive Committee of the IDA Branch Council.
Currently, Sandi serves as a private educational consultant for Strategic Consulting SS, LLC, in Sarasota.
Tanya Vickers, MA, CCC-SLP
Tanya Vickers is an experienced Speech-Language Pathologist (SLP) who has been advocating for children and adults as a practicing clinician for more than 20 years. Tanya is a specialist in Assistive Technology and found her passion working with individuals who were minimally or nonverbal. While using Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) with children who were discovering the power of communication, Tanya began utilizing Assistive Technology to assist these students to read and write. Tanya then developed an eagerness to use Assistive Technology with all students who were struggling readers and writers in general education classes, as well as special education classes, to give them ways to access academic text and help them become lifelong learners. Tanya was instrumental in encouraging fellow educators to utilize the concept of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), which includes use of Assistive Technology, to create classrooms which allowed students to learn, and demonstrate their knowledge, based on their own learning profile.
Tanya is grateful for the professional mentors she has collaborated with and is fortunate to have worked with an amazing network of professionals, while working in dynamically different roles, in the education field. She has practiced as an SLP in multiple school districts in West Virginia and Florida. Tanya has also served as an Exceptional Student Education Program Specialist in Martin County leading more than 50 therapists and managing the programs of Speech/Language Therapy, Assistive Technology, Deaf/Hard of Hearing, Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy. Currently, Tanya is a Client Development Manager for Cobb Pediatric Therapy Services. She supports school districts in Florida, Georgia, and Alabama by fulfilling their staffing needs for Speech/Language Therapy, Occupational Therapy, Physical Therapy, and Psychology.
A West Virginia native, Tanya graduated from Marshall University in Huntington, WV with her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Communication Disorders. Tanya is a member of the American Speech-Language Hearing Association (ASHA) and is a five-time ASHA ACE award recipient.
Tanya has lived in Florida for 12 years. She loves the beach and enjoys “living the Florida lifestyle” with her husband and two teenage children.
Don Compton, PhD
Dr. Don Compton is Professor of Psychology at Florida State University/Florida Center for Reading Research. He was formerly Professor and Chair of Special Education and a John F. Kennedy Center Investigator at Peabody College, Vanderbilt University. He earned a Ph.D. from Northwestern University’s School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, with a specialization in learning disabilities. While working on his Ph.D., and for several years after its completion, he was employed as a learning disabilities resource teacher in Skokie, Illinois. Compton then worked for four years as an assistant professor in the department of Curriculum and Instruction at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville. He then accepted a NICHD post-doctoral research fellowship at the Institute for Behavior Genetics, University of Colorado. From there he accepted a position at Vanderbilt University that he held until the spring of 2015. He then accepted his current position with the Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida Sate University. Compton is experienced in designing, managing, analyzing, and disseminating data from cross-sectional and longitudinal studies as well as randomized control studies. His research involves modeling individual differences in the development of children’s reading skills and the identification and treatment of children with reading disabilities. Compton has served as PI and Co-PI on multiple NICHD and IES studies using randomized controlled trials to evaluate academic interventions for children with learning difficulties. He has over 75 peer-review publications and is on the editorial boards of the Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Scientific Studies of Reading, and Exceptional Children. Compton is the past President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading and currently serves as associate-editor of Scientific Study of Reading.
Rep. Gayle Harrell was elected to the Florida House of Representatives in 2000. She was re-elected 3 times and served until 2008 when she was termed out. She was subsequently elected again in 2010, 2012 and 2014.
With over 16 years of service in the Florida House of Representatives, Rep. Harrell is a leader in setting policy for the State of Florida. She is currently Chair of Children’s, Families & Seniors Subcommittee, and is a sitting member of the Health & Human Services Committee, Health Care Appropriations Subcommittee, Judiciary Committee and the Criminal Justice Subcommittee. She has also served as Chair of the Health and Human Services Access Sub Committee, the Healthcare Quality Committee, Healthcare General Committee, and the Healthcare Standards Subcommittee.
Gayle Harrell also has over 28 years of experience in healthcare. She is President and CEO of Health IT Strategies, LLC and has worked as a Healthcare Administrator, managing the Ob-Gyn. practice of Dr. James E. Harrell and founder of the Breast Imaging Center, a mammography center specializing in preventive care for women.
In addition, Harrell is a nationally recognized leader in Health Information Technology and was appointed by U.S. House of Representatives Speaker John Boehner to the national Health Information Technology Policy Committee as established under ARRA 2009 (Stimulus Bill). As a part of the Policy Committee she also was appointed to serve on the Health Information Exchange Work Group and the Privacy and Security Tiger Team. In addition, she was one of four legislators nationally to serve on the National Governor’s Association State Alliance for e-Health. She also serves on the Health Information Management Systems Society (HIMSS) Healthcare Reform Committee.
Harrell has won numerous awards for her legislative service. Among her many awards she has received the Legislator of the Year by the Florida Medical Association, the Legislative Leadership Award by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, the Legislative Award by the Florida Children’s Forum, an “A” Ranking by the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Friend of Free Enterprise Award by the Associated Builders and Contractors, the Legislative Achievement Award by Keep Florida Beautiful, and the Distinguished Legislator Award by the Florida Police Benevolent Association.
Harrell has been married to Dr. James Harrell for 50 years, has four children and eight grandchildren, and is an active member of the First Presbyterian Church in Stuart.
Dr. Holly Lane is an associate professor of special education and director of the School of Special Education, School Psychology, and Early Childhood Studies. She also coordinates the doctoral program in special education and directs the University of Florida Literacy Initiative. Her research focuses on literacy intervention and prevention of reading difficulties through effective early literacy instruction and teacher education. She has conducted studies of tutoring interventions, increasing access to books in the homes of children from low-income families, and teacher knowledge of literacy. She has worked on projects to study reading intervention in juvenile correctional facilities and to develop professional development materials for teachers. Dr. Lane has also been the principal investigator of two doctoral training projects focused on preparing scholars in literacy intervention research.
Edward Taylor, PhD
Dr. Edward C. Taylor is a licensed psychologist and has been in private practice in Jacksonville, Florida for thirty years. He received his PhD from the University of Florida.
He has held faculty appointments in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of Kansas School of Medicine and in the Department of Pediatrics of the University of Florida Medical School. His clinical practice integrates psychological and education services into cohesive interventions for students and families affected by learning difficulties.
In addition to his clinical practice, Dr. Taylor provides educational interventions to students through The Learning Specialists, Inc. The teaching staff of The Learning Specialists utilize research based educational interventions to address challenges with fundamental academic skills in reading, math, and writing in younger students. They teach strategic learning, problem solving, time/task management, and test taking skills to older students.
Dr. Taylor serves on the Board of Directors of the International Dyslexia Association. He is a member of the American Psychological Association.
Dr. Eric Tridas is the Medical Director of the Tridas Center for Child Development and the State Medical Director for Pediatric Health Choice-Prescribed Pediatric Extended Care Facilities (PPEC). He is a Developmental Pediatrician who specializes in the diagnosis and management of neurodevelopmental conditions including ADHD, learning differences, dyslexia, autism spectrum disorders, intellectual disabilities and other developmental and behavioral problems.
He is Clinical Associate Professor in Pediatrics at the University of South Florida, Morsani College of Medicine, a member of the National Joint Committee on Learning disabilities (NJCLD) and Immediate Past President of the International Dyslexia Association. Dr. Tridas is also Dr. Tridas is a founder and partner of Tridas, LLC, a software company that developed the Tridas eWriter, an application for web based structured interviews of caregivers and teachers that generates a customized evaluation report and provides hundreds of specific recommendations.
Dr. Tridas has resided in the Tampa Bay area since 1982. He completed his fellowship in Ambulatory Pediatrics with emphasis on Developmental Disabilities at the Children’s Hospital Medical Center in Boston. During that time he held an appointment as a Teaching Fellow at Harvard University. Dr. Tridas completed his residency in Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital of Buffalo. He graduated from the University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine in 1977.
Dr. Tridas lectures nationally and internationally on topics such as dyslexia, learning disorders, ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, executive functions and other behavioral and developmental pediatrics related subjects.
Dr. Tridas edited a book for parents titled From ABC to ADHD: What Every Parent Should Know About Dyslexia and Attention Problems.
Joyce Warner, Ed.D.
Dr. Joyce V. W. Warner holds a doctorate from the University of Pennsylvania with a specialization in reading, a Masters in Curriculum Development from Monmouth University and Bachelors in English from Syracuse University. Currently, an associate professor of literacy, she joined the Reading and Literacy Studies Faculty in the Barry University Adrian Dominican School of Education in 2003. Prior to that, from 2001 through 2003, she was Regional Coordinator for the Florida Literacy and Reading Excellence (FLaRE) Center at the University of Central Florida, a program which provided professional development and support for literacy in K-12 public schools throughout the state of Florida. She has taught Reading Practicum, Remedial Reading, and Language Arts graduate degree and certification courses at Florida Atlantic University, where she also was a supervisor of developing teachers, and Wayne State University in Michigan. In addition to her university background, Joyce has 30 + years of K-12 classroom teaching, professional development and whole school literacy program implementation experience. She is expert in Orton Gillingham practices and procedures and holds the trainer or trainer certificate from the Michigan Dyslexia Institute.She and her husband live in Delray Beach, Florida. They have two grown children.
Liz Woody Remington
Elizabeth Woody Remington is one of the three original founders of the Learning Alliance. She has a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Delaware and a Masters in Special Ed-Learning Disabilities from American University and is on the Board of Directors for the International Dyslexia Association. She lives in Vero Beach, Florida, and is the mother of two boys who have struggled with LD issues.
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