Rally Speakers

Guinevere Eden is a Professor in the Department of Pediatrics and Director of the Center for the Study of Learning (CSL) at Georgetown University. Her research focuses on the brain bases of developmental dyslexia. Dr. Eden’s work is supported by the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. She has served on the editorial boards of the Annals of Dyslexia, Dyslexia, Brain and Language, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience and Human Brain Mapping (Associate Editor).

Dr. Eden has served as president of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), and IDA induced her into their Hall of Honor and named her a Norman Geschwind Memorial Lecturer. Dr. Eden provided testimony on dyslexia at full committee hearings by (i) the U.S. House of Representatives’ Committee on Science, Space, and Technology in 2014; and (ii) by the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions in 2016.

Stephen Yearout has spent his career in Information Technology, mostly as a consultant running his own business. He is a husband, father to three amazing boys and he's dyslexic. Stephen began advocating for his own children, one is dyslexic and ADD, another was late identified as dyslexic. This has opened the door for him to educate himself on all learning differences in order to better represent his children. As that journey began Stephen quickly realized the need to educate others on dyslexia. Through his own struggles and first hand experience of how the school system failed him, Stephen has been inspired! He has made it his mission to help parents, children, teachers and legislators understand how and why we need to do better with education and intervention for our children.

 Rachel Chambers Dreiling is a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner who over the years has cared for and treated children through nearly all aspects of illness and health and is currently working in an Emergency Department in Dallas, Texas.  She is a wife, the proud mother of two wonderful children who have learning disabilities, and a member of the Special Education Continuing Advisory Committee for the state of Texas. Growing up Rachel watched family members struggle to learn to read and write, and she realized when trying to get educational services for her own children that not much had changed over the last 30 years. This stoked a fire within her to help others become better informed about the importance of early intervention for learning disabled children. 

Dr. Tracy Johnson is the Founding President and CEO of Vessels of Hope, a non-profit organization that helps individuals with learning disabilities. Her hometown is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. She is also an Adjunct Professor at Harcum College and an Enrollment Counselor at Eastern University. She has received an Associate’s degree in Liberal Studies with a minor in Women’s Studies from Harcum College; a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology with a minor Human Resource Management from Cabrini University; a Master’s Degree in Multicultural Education from Eastern University; and a Doctorate degree in Ministry Science from the Accelerated School of Christian Ministry International, Inc.

Kathy Stratton is the mother of two young adult children. After spending years advocating for her son who struggled with dyslexia, she joined forces with other parents to help found the Decoding Dyslexia movement. She remains an active participant in the movement, assisting with legislative initiatives, and sharing her knowledge about dyslexia with parents and professionals. She is also a member of the NJ Association for Gifted Children where she served as a trustee. 

 

Professionally, Dr. Stratton is a licensed psychologist and a certified school psychologist.  She is a member of the National Center for Learning Disabilities Professional Advisory Board. Employed as a psychologist in Rider University’s Counseling Services Department, she also maintains a part-time private practice in Princeton, NJ. 

Sonja Banks, Chief Executive Officer International Dyslexia Association

Sonja has over 25 years of experience in nonprofit administration with a diverse background in organizational leadership, capacity building and human relations. She is coming to us with a background of running a national organization with a similar branch structure, where she ran an annual conference and developed a national certification program, which she built from the ground up, making her the perfect fit for IDA.

Hudson Lewer is a high school sophomore and a cast member of SuperD!ville’s Super d! Show, a short-form narrative YouTube series about the everyday lives of kids with learning and attention issues. He has been an active advocate for dyslexia awareness since early elementary school speaking out with Decoding Dyslexia NJ in Trenton and in Washington DC. Hudson has a passion for animals and will start an internship with The Philadelphia Zoo’s ZooCrew this summer.

Noah Kane graduated from a public high school in Northern Virginia in June 2019 and has been an active Decoding Dyslexia Virginia Youth advocate since elementary school.   Some of Noah's advocacy work includes speaking to local and state leaders on dyslexia issues and was one of two student to speak at the 40th anniversary of IDEA hosted by the White House in 2016. Noah will attend Northern Virginia Community college in the fall.

Senator Chris Van Hollen is committed to fighting every day to ensure that the state of Maryland and the country lives up to their full promise of equal rights, equal justice, and equal opportunity. He believes that every child deserves the opportunity to pursue their dreams and benefit from a quality education, and that anyone willing to work hard should be able to find a good job. That's why his top priorities include creating more and better jobs, strengthening small businesses, and increasing educational and job training opportunities for individuals of all ages and in every community.

Amy Siracusano, MS Ed., is a Literacy Integration Specialist in Maryland.  Amy has been in public education for more than 20 years as a classroom teacher, Learning Specialist, Title I teacher, and administrator.  She has taught teacher prep at the university level and in-service courses on reading instruction.  She has presented at numerous state and national conferences.  In her current position she focuses on instructional coaching, curriculum writing, and professional development to improve reading instruction in grades K to 5.  She was co-chair of the Maryland State Department of Education literacy work group, which recommended revisions to the four required reading courses for teacher certification.  Amy was a member of the Governor's Dyslexia Task Force, which spearheaded drafting the Ready to Read Act that will now require screening for all kindergarteners in Maryland.  She is also a board member for The Reading League working to advance evidence in practice.

Congressman Bruce Westerman  is a Hot Springs native currently serving his third term as representative from the Fourth District of Arkansas, having first been elected in 2014. Westerman serves on the Committee on Natural Resources and the Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, where he is Ranking Member of the Water Resources and Environment Subcommittee. Westerman also serves on the Minority Whip Team under the leadership of House Minority Whip Steve Scalise.  He is currently serving as the Co-Chair, with Congresswoman Julia Brownley, of the Bi-Partisan Congressional Dyslexia Caucus.

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