IDA Oregon Board of Directors & Advisory Council

IDA Oregon ♦ Board of Directors 

Danielle Thompson

Danielle Thompson – President

Danielle’s journey into dyslexia began when people she cared about found out they were dyslexic and she realized she needed to learn more.  The more she learned of the science of dyslexia and the science of reading, the more she began to understand why many of her high school students continued to struggle with reading, writing, and spelling despite their best efforts over the years.  A public high school teacher for over 20 years, and a dyslexia screener and tutor, Danielle joined the Board of Directors of IDA-Oregon Branch out of a desire to improve the life of the next struggling student in her classroom, as well as all students and adults with dyslexia, and to share best practices with the educators, parents, and professionals who want to learn more.

Jared Blank – Vice President

In January 2018 I ran the World Marathon Challenge (7 marathons on 7 continents in 7 days) to raise awareness and $50,000 for the International Dyslexia Foundation. Why? Because at the age of five I was diagnosed with Dyslexia and Sensory Processing Disorder, and with the support of my incredible family and community, I beat the odds.  I graduated from USC and then went on to earn two Masters degrees.  I kept this part of my life secret for a very long time, afraid that the stigma of a Learning Challenge would alter how people saw me and the opportunities that I’d have.  Now, I’m sharing my story and your support means the world to me; dyslexia is not a limiting factor, it’s a superpower.  For more information, let’s talk!



Dr. Jim Snyder – Treasurer

Jim Snyder has spent the last 16 years in the education field as a marketer and researcher working with educators around the world.  He has a BA in physics and mathematics from Kenyon College, an MS in Physics from the University of Oklahoma and an MBA from Portland State University.  He earned an Ed.D. in 2010 from George Fox University and his dissertation was on the use of audio in computerized adaptive assessments.  In August 2013 he joined Quality Matters working to market quality assurance in online education to Higher Ed and K12 institutions.  His focus is on expanding Quality Matters presence in K-16 education space.  In addition, since 2003, Dr. Snyder has been the director of the NW Education Cluster (collection of more than three dozen Portland area companies networking to learn about each other’s businesses, discover synergies, and explore the potential of the education/training industry as an economic driver for Portland and its metro area).  Jim is married with 2 kids (17 and 15) and enjoys running and playing soccer in his free time.


Andrew Peterson – Secretary

Andrew Peterson moved from NYC to Portland in 2014.  He grew up in the Midwest and earned his B.A. in Spanish, International Relations, and Latin American Studies at UW-Madison.  He later earned his M.S. Ed in Childhood Education from Hunter College in Manhattan.  Andrew taught 4th grade in the NYC area, was Director of Education at an elite test-prep company in NYC, and founded NW Budding Scholars in 2014.  He is trained in the NOW! Foundations for Speech, Language, Reading, and Spelling, a multi-sensory program designed to increase phonological awareness and processing which improves reading and spelling.  He is an avid reader of the latest research in the field of dyslexia, and empowers students intellectually and emotionally by teaching them how dyslexia “works”.  Andrew currently lives in Vancouver, WA with his wife and son, and counts Cannon Beach as his favorite Oregon getaway.

Michele Barnett – Director

Michele is driven to help families and schools understand both the advantages and challenges that dyslexia creates, and to implement practical plans that empower dyslexic students to excel.  Michele is Certified as a Dyslexia Screener and Consultant, Dyslexia Advocate and  Certified Barton Tutor.  Michele is a Decoding Dyslexia Ambassador and the Co-Founder of the Lake Oswego Parent Dyslexia Community.  Michele’s background includes over 20 years in consultative sales and client management in the healthcare industry. She holds an MBA from St. Mary’s College, a B.A. from Cornell University with a major in Psychology.

Kate Franken – Director

Kate Franken, MAT, started her professional life as an adolescent counselor, but soon learned that helping students with literacy issues brought out her love of both teaching and language.  She began her training in Orton-Gillingham with Dorothy Whitehead in 1994, and has been supporting students with dyslexia and their families, teachers, and communities ever since.   She is now a Special Education teacher in the Parkrose District, and is certified by IDA as a Dyslexia Therapist and AOGPE as a Certified Orton-Gillingham Practitioner and Educator.  A Colorado native, Kate has lived in southeast Portland since 1985, raising two (currently) teenage sons and, over the years, a small herd of dogs and cats.  She feeds birds, and is learning at a remedial pace to identify them.  Kate is always curious, and appreciates good books, good friends, good food (cooking less than eating), a good laugh, and living in this fine community in the Pacific Northwest.

Larissa Whalen Garfias (PA-C) – Director

I became interested in dyslexia when my 5th-grade son was diagnosed in 2017. I realized that I knew very little about dyslexia despite working in primary care. Through that experience, I learned first-hand the challenges that face children, parents, and educators when identifying and supporting kids with dyslexia. I also began to see how the secondary consequences of reading disabilities such as dyslexia were affecting my patients. Working at Virginia Garcia with families served in the Federally Qualified Health Center, I immediately saw the need to advocate within my organization for sweeping changes to better identify children with reading disabilities and promote dyslexia awareness among my colleagues. I believe that we as a medical system could do far better in identifying dyslexia, advocating for individual and system-wide change, and letting our patients know that they are not alone – just as we have done for autism, ADHD, substance use and depression. It is a failure on our part to treat a 15-year-old boy who is failing school for depression and suicidal ideation when we could have intervened at age 6 or 7 to identify dyslexia and provide the support he needed. As part of this effort, we are partnering with members of the IDA-Oregon Branch to create low-literacy Spanish language materials – materials that are severely lacking throughout the country.

Tanya Haas – Director

Tanya Haas is a graduate of University of California, Davis (BS) and University of Tennessee, Knoxville (MS) and has had the privilege of living and traveling around the world for both work and pleasure.  As a proud mother of 2 boys with dyslexia provided first hand experience of living and navigating the world (and public school) with learning differences.  For the last 25 years Portland, Oregon has been home and Tanya’s mission is to help, educate and support the next family that finds themselves on the same dyslexia journey.

Kara Hanna – Director

Kara Hanna received both her Bachelor of Science and Master’s degrees in Physical Therapy from the University of North Dakota.  Kara is passionate about education, both in her own life and in the lives of her family members. Having homeschooled her 5 children, she realized the need for dyslexia intervention as part of education. Kara is a Certified Screener and Consultant for Dyslexia as well as a Certified Barton Tutor at the Master’s Level.  As a physical therapist, Kara brings the unique skill set of a therapeutic perspective to her evaluations and tutoring.  In her free time, Kara enjoys spending time with her family, staying active, traveling, and gardening–especially with roses.

Rachel Hansen – Director

Rachel Hansen is a graduate of the University of Oregon and obtained a MAT at Pacific University with a focus on Secondary Education. She took a hiatus from teaching to raise her three children, and became an avid volunteer in schools and youth ministry. During this time Rachel became a passionate advocate for students with dyslexia and ADHD. She has first-hand experience with the diversity of learning differences from her experiences with her own 3 children, two of whom have dyslexia and/or ADHD. Rachel is passionate about advocating for dyslexia-related issues by educating parents and teachers about dyslexia and real life application for students.  She currently teaches Art and Biology at Edison High School.  Outside of teaching and dyslexia advocacy, Rachel loves traveling, playing and coaching soccer, running, hiking, reading, doing art projects, and watching and rooting for the Oregon Ducks during football season!

Lynn Lamping – Director

Lynn became interested in learning about dyslexia when one of her four children struggled to learn to read, write, and memorize math facts. She discovered a genetic marker for dyslexia in her family history. Over the next decade, Lynn learned effective methods to help her child learn how to read, write, spell, and achieve success in math. She is a licensed K-12 Special Education Teacher in the state of Oregon. Lynn earned her Fellow Level with the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) in November 2018, and her Structured Literacy/Dyslexia Specialist with the International Dyslexia Association. Lynn is the director and trainer for the Oregon Dyslexia Institute. She spends her time training Oregon teachers how to recognized dyslexia, understand the foundational skills of the English language, and how to intensify instruction to meet the needs of struggling readers, including dyslexia, in compliance with the Oregon State Approved Dyslexia Training.

Shelbe Park – Director

Shelbe Park is a native Portlander and now lives in Vancouver Washington with her husband, daughter and son.   She became active in the Oregon branch of IDA 13  years ago when her daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia.  Shelbe has served as a  Board of Director , Vice-President and two terms as President.  Her daughter is now a successful college student and Shelbe contributes that to the support she received from IDA.  Shelbe is a full time tutor for students with Dyslexia and believes that it is important to teach students with dyslexia to advocate for themselves.  She is in awe of the amazing students she has met and mentored.

 Katie Vincent – Director

Katie Vincent, Ed.D is a native Oregonian and a long time educator in the Portland area. Having held positions as a teacher, in administration, and as a higher education faculty member, Katie is committed to making certain that educators have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to ensure that each of their students has the literacy skills required for success.  Katie currently serves as Associate Faculty at Prescott College, Prescott AZ and Adjunct Faculty at Warner Pacific University, Portland OR.


IDA Oregon ♦ Advisory Council

Anita L. Archer, PH.D.

Anita L. Archer, PhD, is an educational consultant to school districts on explicit instruction, the design and delivery of instruction, behavior management, and literacy instruction. She has taught elementary and middle school students and is the recipient of 10 awards honoring her excellence in teaching and contributions to the field of education. Dr. Archer has served on the faculties of San Diego State University, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Oregon in Eugene. She is nationally known for her professional development activities, having presented in every state over the course of her 40-year career. Dr. Archer is coauthor, with Dr. Mary Gleason, of numerous curriculum materials addressing reading, writing, and study skills.  Raised in the Pacific Northwest, Anita’s primary home is in Portland, Oregon where she enjoys entertaining friends, attending symphony and opera performances, and practicing her cello (She is a beginner.) 

Dr. Irvin M Brown

Irvin was born and raised in the Pelican State of Louisiana. He is one of 7 siblings. At the age of 17, he enlisted in the United States Navy. After serving aboard the U.S.S. New Orleans, LPH-11in San Diego, California, he was reassigned to the beautiful Pacific Northwest at Naval Station Everett, Washington. There, he served alongside the Judge Advocate General as a paralegal (NCO/E5Aviation Warfare Specialist) until he earned an honorable discharge to pursue the field of education.

With encouragement from family and friends, he took a teaching position in Oregon. While teaching, he decided to advance his education by completing an M.Ed. at Lewis & Clark College. Continuing his passion to serve, he mentors students within K12 and colleges, works with non-profit businesses (i.e., HOLLA, NAACP, Human Rights Commission, Younglife),volunteers with community organizations and boards, and campaigns for local political offices.

Unwavering in the call of equity and leading the next generation, he served students, staff, and families as an assistant principal and policy advising for a state agency. He is excited to partner with teams, firms, and agencies to bring organizational change for marginalized populations and creating safe, inclusive learning cultures for all employees and student learners. As the first African American to earn a doctorate from the University of Portland, I believe my research on examining the intersectionality of race, microaggressions, and resiliency for students of Color places me uniquely qualified to give voice to those students and families who struggle with dyslexia and other learning differences.

We all are aware of the ongoing unrest and uprising in our country – including right herein the City of Roses. The curtain has been pulled back and we now see with greater clarity the impact of historical, structural, and systemic forms of racism. That impact – especially within the Black community – is clearly understood with feelings of hurt, pain, justified anger, and rage. I firmly believe we are compelled as a community that recognizes this movement and calls us towards a collective response of solidarity and to do better.

As a disabled-Veteran and someone with a learning difference, I believe we are better together. Because true growth only occurs through struggle, empathy, and intentionality. Authentic transformation begins on the inside first. What I know for sure is that we will be better and stronger together if we unify as one and create space at the table for all voices.

Julie Esparza Brown, EdD

Dr. Julie Esparza Brown is a professor in the Department of Special Education at Portland State University.  Her research interests focus broadly on the intersection of bilingual and special education. Currently, she is Principal Investigator of a four-year model demonstration grant through the Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Programs to investigate culturally and linguistically responsive literacy interventions with an MTSS framework for English learner students at-risk for or with disabilities. She has also been principal investigator on three federal personnel preparation grants to prepare bilingual teachers in general and special education.  Dr. Brown recently completed a four-year term as a school board member of the largest district in Oregon. She regularly consults locally and nationally on equity, distinguishing between language difference and disability for English learner students and culturally and linguistically responsive multi-tiered systems of support. Her current co-authored book, Supporting English Learners in the Classroom: Distinguishing Language Acquisition from Learning Disabilities (Haas & Brown, 2019) is available through Teachers College Press. 

Christy Perel Coss

I am a dyslexic, a mother of a child with dyslexia and another child who “hates” math, and a practicing pediatrician.  I homeschooled my kids for 7 years which I really enjoyed.  I am lucky that we found a wonderful tutor to help my son and that we were able to provide the assistance he needs.  However, dyslexia doesn’t only affect those with resources.  ALL children have the right to learn to read, write and do math.  These basic skills open doors for children to have successful and fulfilling lives.  We have a responsibility to teach kids how they learn.

Pete Denman

Pete Denman is a past Director and currently Senior User Experience, User interface, Graphic Design researcher developing exploratory prototypes in “Labs” at Intel Corp, where he guides ideas through the design process, working with developers, engineers, and ethnographic researchers to create future technologies. Skilled at Design Research, Interaction Design, Visual Design and known for his work in the health field as well as for his innovative data-visualization techniques. Pete has a passion for connecting the areas of disabilities and learning/education with technology.  Pete holds 6 patents, has written numerous technical papers, has spoken around the world on topics including disabilities, dyslexia, interaction / user experience design, he has been featured in books and movies and has been awarded for his work. He is best known for his work he did with Stephen Hawking.

Rabbi Tzvi Fischer  

Rabbi Tzvi Fischer has been teaching the Multi-Sensory קריאה כתיבה course for a decade and lectures on the West coast, where he lives, on educational topics and reading techniques.  His research on the latest methods for Hebrew reading and Dyslexia research constantly add to the course. Rabbi Fischer is currently Portland Kollel Instructor, Multi-Sensory Course.  The Multi-Sensory קריאה כתיבה course is a research based training for educators who want to ensure that each and every student can learn to read and write Hebrew.   

Todd “Hammer” Semmes

Todd “Hammer” Semmes has worked in safety and stunt rigging, production management, and assistant directing on countless productions for over 20 years. From his extensive background in the film industry, Hammer easily transitioned into his current career as co-owner and operator of Spydercam.  Growing up dyslexic led Hammer to the creation of Spydercam. His abilities to “think outside the box” and on different spatial levels, makes him an essential part of such productions as Game of Thrones (Season 7 and 8), Dumbo, Mission Impossible Fallout, and over 90 other features!  Hammer credits the way his brain works for these unique talents. Hammer will share his educational story and how he became an entrepreneur in the film industry (not to mention the winner of both an Oscar and Emmy).  Hammer has worked on many well known movie & TV productions including, Game of Thrones, Spiderman, Avengers, Mission Impossible, Life of Pi, Jurassic World, etc

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