President’s Message for July 2015

I’m honored and humbled to begin my presidency of the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD) for the 2015-2016 year.  My tenure follows the remarkable paths designed by the impressive leaders who have directed our professional organization for the past several years – Michael Gerber, Paul Riccomini, Janette Lingner, Erica Lembke, and David Chard.

We are at a critical time in the field of special education as educational policies and key legislative actions are taking place in the areas of teacher evaluation and approaches to serving students with learning disabilities. The latest bill Congress is debating references training on and the use of “multi-tiered systems of support,” defined somewhat differently than how “response to intervention” has been characterized in the past. MTSS is defined currently as “a comprehensive continuum of evidence-based, system-wide practices to support a rapid response to academic and behavioral needs, with frequent data-based monitoring for instructional decision-making.” In Washington there is also much discussion on evaluating teachers and teacher preparation programs. The bills under discussion include language about training teachers and other school personnel in instructing students with disabilities. This year, in addition to policy and teacher preparation issues, we will focus on matters related to membership and what that means to our constituency. We plan on working collaboratively with CEC and other professional organizations to keep our members updated on what your membership means and how we can provide you with critical materials related to evidence-based practices, current legislative issues, and other topical concerns that are important to our field. We want to hear your voices as we represent you during these critical times.

Our fall board meeting will be in Las Vegas, Nevada September 30—October 2 in collaboration with the Council for Learning Disabilities. We know this conference will offer us a way to increase membership and collaborate with our partner CLD. In addition to our fall meeting we plan to continue our focus on making our website user-friendly and to increase our visibility and impact on topics of importance to its members. And, of course, we look forward to seeing all of you this spring at the annual CEC convention in St. Louis. Information on both conferences will be sent to our membership—please plan to attend!

Our mission at DLD is to:

  • To promote the education and general welfare of persons with learning disabilities.
  • To provide a forum for discussion of issues facing the field of learning disabilities.
  • To encourage interaction among the many disciplinary groups whose research and service efforts affect persons with learning disabilities.
  • To foster research regarding the varied disabilities subsumed in the term “learning disabilities” and promote dissemination of research findings.
  • To advocate exemplary professional training practices to insure the highest quality of services in the field of learning disabilities.
  • To promote exemplary diagnostic and teaching practices in a context of tolerance for new and divergent ideas.

To reach keep with the mission, this year I plan to:

  • Increase our visibility by giving presentations at conferences and thus increasing our membership
  • Collaborate with partners who serve students with learning disabilities, such as CLD.
  • Improve the access to resources available on our website,; and
  • Develop new products such as “how-to guides” to disseminate information and other books and materials relevant to our membership.

I would like to thank David Chard for his exceptional, unresolved and forward-thinking leadership as President of DLD in 2014-2015. I would also like to thank everyone, including Erica Lembke (after four years in the presidential succession), Natalie Olinghouse (former chair of the Membership Committee), and Miriam Ortiz who have served on the Board for their excellent service to DLD. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to work with such dedicated and committed colleagues. In addition, Diane Haagar and Christine Espine, the editors of LDRP will be completing their tenure and we cannot thank them enough for their six years of service to DLD. We welcome Linda Mason as the new editor, and we are excited as she begins her tenure as editor. We also welcome Stephanie Al Otaiba as DLD’s newly elected vice president. Welcome to Alexandra (Alex) Miller, who will serve as student representative for this year. I also want to give special thanks to Michael Faggella-Luby, who joined the board part way through this past year and will be continuing as chair of the Membership Committee for the next two years. Thanks, too, to Sarah Watt, who joined Mira Cole Williams on the editorial team for New Times for DLD. Finally, I would like to acknowledge the numerous contributions of our ongoing Executive Director “par excellence,” John Lloyd.

I look forward to working with all of you to improving the outcomes for students with LD. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I may be of assistance in any way. My email address is

President’s Message Archive

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