President’s Message 2023

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Dear DLD Members,

As we approach the end of another academic year, I am grateful for the opportunity to write
this message and reflect upon the work of the Division for Learning Disabilities (DLD). For those
I have yet to meet – hello! My name is Jess Toste and I am thrilled to be serving you as the
incoming DLD President. I am currently an Associate Professor in the Department of Special
Education at The University of Texas at Austin, where I also hold research affiliations with the
Meadows Center for Preventing Educational Risk and the Texas Center for Equity Promotion. I
began in the field as an elementary special education teacher and reading specialist, and my
scholarly career has been committed to investigating methods to intensify reading intervention
for students with learning disabilities. I have had the pleasure of serving the Council for
Exceptional Children in various capacities and am excited to take on this leadership role.

In fall 2022, our Board of Directors engage in a two-day strategic planning retreat. From that
work, we workshopped and developed a 2023-2028 Strategic Plan. As part of DLD’s Mission to
promote effective practices that improve the learning and wellbeing of individuals with learning
disabilities, we set four main goals that represent priorities for our Division over the next five

  1. Establish DLD as the leading organization for resources to inform effective practices for
    individuals with LD.
  2. Intentionally embed diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility within DLD’s work.
  3. Increase communication and engagement with members.
  4. Maintain and enhance internal systems to ensure longevity of DLD as an organization.

We look forward to launching the DLD Strategic Plan and sharing it with our members. It will
serve as a guide for our ongoing work in service of high-quality research and practice in the field
of learning disabilities.

There has been much to celebrate over the past year, but I would be remiss not to acknowledge
that this has also been a year of significant challenge – especially for those who work in schools
and the students they serve. Beyond the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our school
systems have been grappling with concerns related to staffing shortages, school safety,
inclusive and diverse curriculum, and targeted attacks on public education. These challenges
place additional strain on the learning and wellbeing of all students, but especially on the
provision of services and supports for students with disabilities. These challenges demand that
DLD continues to evolve to ensure that we are providing resources that are timely, relevant,
and impactful to our members. This has been a part of our strategic planning process and will
continue to be an important point of conversation moving forward.

If you don’t already, please follow DLD on Facebook and Twitter (@TeachingLD). We have a
fabulous social media committee that has been working hard to increase our presence and
share more information directly with members. I look forward to working with our dedicated
Board to develop and share new resources – and I can’t wait to connect with you all at next
year’s CEC Convention in San Antonio, TX. In the meantime, please do not hesitate to reach out
if you have any questions or suggestions.

I hope you are all able to find time over the summer months to take care of yourselves and get
rejuvenated for the fall!

Jessica Toste, PhD
President, Division for Learning Disabilities, Council for Exceptional Children
The University of Texas at Austin