Carmen O’Connor serves as the President of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. She has her degrees from Rollin’s College and is trained in Wilson, Orton Gillingham, and Lindamood-Bell. She has been a tutor and educational consultant for the last 27 years, currently serving White, Warren, and Putnam counties.
Shara Shaffer serves as the Senior Executive Vice President of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. She has her Masters of Science in Speech and Language Pathology and is a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist. Shara is a parent of a child with dyslexia and works as a service provider for students with dyslexia and other related language based learning disorders.
Michele Richter serves as the Recording Secretary of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. She has her Bachelor’s in Early Elementary Education from Texas A&M and her Master’s in Administration and Supervision from Lipscomb University. Michele currently teaches special education for language arts, English and math in Williamson County. She has taught students with learning differences, including dyslexia, for 22 years and is a mother of a child with dyslexia.
Lorie Richardson serves as the Membership Secretary of the Tennessee Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. She has her Bachelor’s of Business of Administration from Belmont University and a Master’s in Christian Education from Asbury Theological and a Master’s of Arts in Technology from Belmont University. Lorie is a special education teacher in Bedford County and teaches struggling readers, including those with Dyslexia.
Martie Wood serves as an advisor to the board, representing Knox County. She has her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville. Martie is an independent Academic Language Therapist, offering one to one academic therapy for over twenty years in the Knoxville Area. Martie is the 2019 co-recipient of the Massey-Sexton Excellence Award.
Rosemary Williams serves as an advisor to the board, representing Shelby County. She is the founder and director of the Simultaneous Multisensory Language Arts Institute and former founder and president of the East Tennessee Orton Dyslexia Society. Rosemary is the 2019 co-recipient of the Massey-Sexton Excellence Award.
Zoi Traga Philippakos serves as an at-large Board Director. She earned her Ph.D. in Literacy and her Bachelor’s and Master’s in Reading. As a professor at the University of Tennessee, Zoi conducts research in reading and writing processes with an interest in writing strategy instruction, self-regulation, and motivation. She also serves on the Knox County Dyslexia Advisory Board.
Wendy O’Neal serves as the Vice President of Service Area 1, representing Jefferson County. She has her Ed.S. in Educational Leadership, her Master’s and Bachelor’s in Special Education. Wendy is a Highly Qualified Reading Intervention Teacher with certifications in English Language Learners and as TEAM evaluator. She is a parent of a child with dyslexia.
Merrie Robin McReynolds serves as a Director of Service Area 1, representing Sullivan County. She has her Bachelor’s in Chemical Engineering from Tennessee Tech. She is a parent of a child with dyslexia and has spent the last several years learning best practices in dyslexia education and advocating for the learning needs and well-being of kids in northeast Tennessee.
Nina Moore serves as a Director of Service Area 1, Nina Moore lives in Russellville, TN. Her education includes a B.S. in Elementary Education from Carson-Newman University, a M.S. in Curriculum and Instruction from the University of Tennessee, and an Ed. S. in Educational Leadership from Lincoln Memorial University. Nina has taught for twenty-six years in the public schools as a first, third, and fourth grade teacher. She has also served as an instructional coach and intervention teacher for grades K-5.
Having a son with dyslexia, Nina has studied best practices in teaching reading in order to support him as well as the children she teaches. Nina looks forward to continuing to be an advocate for students with dyslexia as well as advocating for professional development of best practice for teachers of reading instruction.
Denise Holmes serves as the Vice President of Service Area 2, representing Knox County. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in psychology from the College of Charleston. Denise provides one on one academic therapy and intervention services for students with dyslexia.
Mike Matvy serves as a Director of Service Area 2, representing Knox County. He has Bachelor’s in Education, Master’s in Guidance and Counseling, and Ed.S. in school psychology. Mike retired from public education in 2010 and currently shares his talent and expertise in assistive technology services and app development specifically for individuals with dyslexia.
Amanda Bell Madson serves as a Director of Service Area 2, representing Knox County. She earned two Bachelors degrees from the University of Tennessee at Knoxville and her Master’s in Divinity from Emory University. Amanda works as a hospice chaplain and provides spiritual care to patients and families in the Tennova Healthcare system. She is also an advocate for relationship building to increase awareness and opportunity for students with dyslexia and their families. Amanda is a parent of a child with dyslexia.
Lori Galbraith serves as Director of Service Area 2 representing Loudon County. She is a Certified Dyslexia Practitioner with experience working with struggling readers and ELL students. She works in private practice and serves Loudon, West Knox, Blount, Anderson and Cumberland counties. She is the co-founder of an inner city K-12th grade tutoring program in Knox County established in 2009. As a Phi Beta Kappa English graduate from the University of Tennessee with additional M.Ed. coursework in Elementary Education at Lincoln Memorial University, she has enjoyed structured literacy tutoring for 10+ years. She is passionate about education as the path to change and counts it a true blessing to serve East Tennessee kids who are looking to improve their success in school and life.
Lori Arnett serves as the Vice President of Service Area 3, representing Coffee County. She has her Bachelor’s in Speech Science and her Master’s in Education. Lori owns and operates the Middle Tennessee Reading Center in Tullahoma and is Wilson and CERI/IDA certified. She is a lifelong learner and passionate about teaching individuals who struggle with learning to read.
Allison McAvoy serves as a Director of Service Area 3, representing Hamilton County. She has her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in special education and teaching from the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. Allison is a certified Wilson dyslexia therapist and trainer and co-owner of a reading center in Chattanooga. In addition to her role as a board member of TN-IDA, Allison is a member of the Tennessee Board of Education Dyslexia Advisory Council.
Jennifer Murdock serves as a Director of Service Area 3, Jennifer Murdock was born in Tennessee and attended Middle Tennessee State University. She studied child development and family studies. Since that time, Jenifer has worked with Tennessee Early Intervention System (TEIS) and has also taught child development and family education classes at the high school level. Jennifer and her husband are the parents of two children and live in Fayetteville, TN. Having a child with dyslexia, Jennifer is passionate about knowing how to best support her own child as well as helping other families find the necessary resources for teaching children with dyslexia. One of her contributions has been starting a local dyslexia support
group. She has also focused on helping bring more awareness about dyslexia to her community.
4a- North Central
Jean Hutchinson serves as the Vice President of Service Area 4a, representing Davidson County. She has her Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from the University of Alabama, her Master’s in Learning Disabilities and Behavior Disorders from George Peabody College, and her certificate of Dyslexic Studies from Middle Tennessee State University. Jean works as the learning specialist in the lower school at University School of Nashville.
Lynne Walker serves as a Director of Service Area 4a, representing Sumner and Davidson County. She has her Bachelor’s from Baylor University and her Master’s in Educational Counseling from the University of Memphis. Lynne works as a teacher trainer in Structured Literacy and is a parent, teacher, and Certified Academic Language Therapist (C.A.L.T.) for students with dyslexia.
Melinda Hirschmann serves as a Director of Service Area 4a, representing Wilson and Rutherford Counties. She has her Ed.D. from Lipscomb University and her Master’s in Special Education from Tennessee State University. Melinda works as the Assistant Director for Educational Services and School Outreach for the Middle Tennessee State University Center for the Study & Treatment of Dyslexia. She provides literacy education to pre-service and in-service teachers and is a certified academic language practitioner and tutor.
Sandy Parus serves as a Director of Service Area 4a, representing Rutherfod County. She has her Bachelor’s in Journalism and Marketing for Lewis University and her Masters’ as a Reading Specialist from Olivet Nazarene University and Teaching English Language Learners from the American College of Education. Sandy is currently a reading specialist working as a dyslexia tutor in her own private practice. After working in public school for several years, Sandy has devoted her career to ensuring that students with dyslexia had access to high quality services and education to reach their fullest potential.
Jennifer Fleming serves as the Vice President of Service Area 4b, representing Maury County. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Education, her Master’s degree in Administration and Supervision and is a Certified Academic Language Therapist. She is also IDA and CERI Certified as a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist. Jennifer is the parent of a child with dyslexia.
Ashley Edwards serves as a Director of Service Area 4b, representing Williamson county. She earned her Master’s in Reading Education from Averett University. and her Bachelor’s from Tennessee Wesleyan University. Ashley currently works as the Assistant to the Executive Director for the Tennessee Council on Developmental Disabilities. Previously, she taught middle school reading in public and private schools in Middle Tennessee, focusing primarily on students with individualized learning needs.
Cindy Loftin serves as a Director of Service Area 4b, representing Williamson County. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education/Reading Specialty at University of Tennessee Martin. Her training includes the Lindamood Bell program of cognitive-sensory intervention, and Orton Gillingham training with 19 years of experience teaching dyslexics students to see their potential. Cindy is the owner and director of Tennessee Dyslexia Centers using a structured literacy approach to teach students with dyslexia and cognitive skill difficulty.
Wendy Boehm serves as a Director of Service Area 4b, representing Williamson and Davidson County. She earned her Master’s in Special Education from the Peabody College of Education at Vanderbilt University. Wendy is an elementary special education teacher and is passionate about teaching and meeting the needs of her students.
Pam DeMato serves as the Vice President of Service Area 5, representing Shelby County. She has her Bachelor’s of Science in Early Childhood Education from Southern Connecticut State University and her Master’s of Education from Christian Brothers University. She is a mom to two sons with dyslexia and is an Adult Literacy Coordinator for Collierville Literacy Council.
Gay Landaiche serves as a Director of Service Area 5, representing Shelby County. She has her Master’s in Curriculum and Instruction from Louisiana State University. Gay currently leads the community outreach as the Director of the Erika Center at Bodine School.
Ann Prascher serves as a Director of Service Area 5, representing Shelby County. She has her Bachelors from Rhode’s College, her Master’s from the University of Memphis and her reading endorsement from Christian Brother’s University. Ann is a learning specialist at Christ Methodist Day school and provides private tutoring to students with dyslexia.
Nichi Hickerson serves as a Director of Service Area 5, Nichi Hickerson is a long-time resident of Trenton, Tennessee, and she works as a reading specialist in the neighboring district in Bradford, TN. She and her husband, who is a
school board member for the Trenton Special School District, are active supporters of the two school districts in which they work. Nichi has a Master’s Degree in Education with a Reading Specialist Endorsement. She has taught kindergarten, third grade, and Title I in an RTI classroom. Nichi ‘s passion for teaching children to read began as a teenager when she worked in an after school program and later when she worked as an assistant in a special education classroom. These experiences led her to obtaining a degree in education
Service Area 1 – Tri-Cities
Wendy O’Neal, Vice President
Merrie Robin McReynolds, Director
Nina Moore, Director
Service Area 2 – Smoky Mountain
Denise Holmes, Vice President
Amanda Bell Madson, Director
Mike Matvy, Director
Service Area 3 – Southeast
Lori Arnett, Vice President
Allison McAvoy, Director
Jennifer Murdock, Director
Service Area 4a – North Central
Jean Hutchinson, Vice President
Nancy Duggin, Director
Melinda Hirschmann, Director
Lynn Walker, Director
Service Area 4b
Jennifer Fleming, Vice President
Ashley Edwards, Director
Cindi Loftin, Director
Service Area 5
Pam Demato, Vice President
Gay Landaiche, Director
Ann Prascher, Director
Nichi Hickerson, Director
Member at large:
Zoi Traga Philippakos
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