Board of Directors
Angeleisha Wilson Hood, President and AL Branch Charter Member
Our family’s crash course in dyslexia started in November of 1999, when our then second grader son Alex was diagnosed as severely dyslexic. That explained father John’s issues through the years, and daughter Kate tested as one point over the dyslexia line. I created a dyslexia support group in North Alabama in 2000, and In 2002, I gathered experts and parents across the state to start a steering committee to create an Alabama Branch of the IDA. April 2003 saw our dream come true!
Gina Englund, Vice President
Married for 42 years to Bruce. We have 2 married daughters with wonderful husbands, 1 Son who is a U.S. Marine and 7 talented grandchildren. While teaching first grade in the public school system, I became painfully aware of the need for a specialty school for our dyslexic learners. These students have so much potential and were being underserved by the school system and by the curriculum I was required to use. These students learn at a different pace and in different ways so they should be taught with varied methods. They are ‘out-of-the-box’ thinkers and should be challenged differently. At this point, Bright Beginnings Academy was formed. Through the International Dyslexia Association – Alabama branch our goal is to educate our community on the importance of differentiated instruction for our dyslexic learners. Bright dyslexic students should have equal opportunities for education by trained instructors who understand their uniqueness and their individual gifts they bring to the world.
Denise Gibbs, Secretary and AL Branch Charter Member
Denise is the Director of the Alabama Scottish Rite Foundation Philanthropy. She is a Fellow of the American Speech Language Hearing Association and retired as a Professor in the Department of Communication Science and Disorders at the University of Montevallo where she also served as the Director of the Speech and Hearing Center. Denise and her husband of 50 years, Steve have a total of six children including three grandchildren whom they adopted as infants and who are now teenagers. Denise has homeschooled Cameron, Jordan, and Morgan since their early elementary grades. Denise is a charter member of the IDA Alabama Branch and served as its first president.
Stephen Hannum, Treasurer
Sonya Yates, Immediate Past President
Crystal Strickland, CALT – Lauderdale County Schools 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
I worked as a reporter and anchor at our local TV station before having my daughters. After taking time off to stay home with my children, I decided to change courses and started subbing at my daughters’ elementary school. This led to a passion for working with students with special needs. While working as a K-6 aide in special education, I was always puzzled by the ability of many of our students to listen to a story and accurately and thoroughly answer questions, yet they struggled substantially to read or write. Dyslexia was something we were not able to discuss at the time in public schools and was a mystery to me. The amazing teacher I worked with convinced me to go with her to AOGPE Associate level training. Later, while working for the Dyslexia Center in Florence, I decided to pursue a Master’s degree
in Dyslexia Therapy from Mississippi College. The training I received from these institutions has
been invaluable, but the greatest reward is what I continue to learn from each of my students.
They are all unique, creative, passionate children with dreams of their own. My goal is to help
them gain the self-confidence and tenacity to chase after those dreams.
Keri Coleman, Teacher – Dyslexia therapist in training in Mobile 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
I began my journey with dyslexia in 2013 when my nephew and son were both diagnosed with dyslexia. As I researched and learned about dyslexia, I realized how many students I had taught over the years who were also probably dyslexic. I began to advocate with my school and district administration for a structured, MTSS based intervention program to address the needs of all students, but these students specifically. In the fall of 2013 I left the classroom and we began the program. Working for the needs of these amazing students has become my passion and my privilege.
Jill Emmertsson, Parent/Advocate in Mobile 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
Dyslexia is nothing new to my family – it has spanned generations. From successful firefighters, mechanics, musicians, painters, farmers, all color my cherished family history of dyslexics. Experiencing dyslexia with family members led me to get my B.S. in Neuroscience. When my child was diagnosed, I knew the sooner the intervention the better the outcome would be for my child. My heart-break came when I was able to give my child the intervention necessary but other parents of dyslexics were unable to access the same services. My advocacy has led me to help other parents understand their child, and their right to learn to read.
Dorothy Strong, CALT – Madison Co Schools 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
Lucy McGowin, CALT – retired 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term two)
Lucy graduated from the University of Alabama with a master’s in special education. After teaching in a multi-handicapped classroom for 13 years, her education path changed. She took the two-year Multisensory Structured Language Education course (Shelton’s Take Flight) offered by the State Board of Education. Though not having any training in Learning Disabilities, she felt at home and energized by her new learning. She became a CALT, Certified Academic Language Therapist, after finishing the course in 2013. On completion of the Take Flight course, the learning disability teacher and Lucy were able to swap classrooms. Lucy was able to continue her journey for eight more years before retiring in 2020. She now tutors children and still gets to see the success that students with dyslexia can have when given the appropriate program and strategies to understand our written language. Lucy grew up in Birmingham, married Jim McGowin and moved to his hometown, Greenville Alabama. She worked in the public school system for 17 years. She and Jim have three children and 9 grandchildren.
Susan Shelnutt, Barton Certified Tutor, 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
Susan was born in Atlanta, GA, and earned a bachelor’s degree from Auburn University, and a master’s degree in Education from Oglethorpe University. She taught in both public and private schools for 19 years, and after attending an intensive IMSE dyslexia course, she decided to leave the classroom to become a tutor for students with dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities. She is a certified Barton tutor and is the Program Coordinator at Read Write Montgomery. Susan is married to Bill, and they are the proud parents of 13-year-old twins, Annie and Will. In her free time, she can be found cheering on her son and daughter at Trinity Presbyterian School, and for her Auburn Tigers.
Genny Fain, 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
Jennifer Arent, 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
Lauren Norris, 1/1/23-12/31/25 (term one)
Arthur Green, CALT – Fairfield City Schools) 1/1/2021-12/31/2023 (term one)
Paula Williams, AL Branch Charter Member CC/SLP Diagnostician Private Practice 1/1/2022-12/31/2024 (term one)
Paula Williams was part of the original Alabama IDA Board of Directors with two terms of service, and we are delighted to have her on our current Board of Directors, too! Paula believes the good work of IDA’s Alabama Branch is a natural extension of her career of assessing and providing interventions to students who have dyslexia. She shares that providing support to students and their families in any capacity is a work of heart. She is passionate about doing everything possible to help dyslexic students and their families, and is overjoyed to have another opportunity to work with other IDA Alabama Branch board members to create and execute plans of action on their behalf. Paula believes that the best is yet to come in Alabama for the #1in5 with dyslexia, and we do, too!
Christa Sims, CALT – Scottsboro City Schools 1/1/2022-12/31/2024 (term 2)
Joan Plumlee, Dyslexia Tutor Private Practice 1/1/2022-12/31/2024 (term 2)
Hettie Johnson, CCC/SLP 1/1/2022-12/31/2024 (term 2)
Marcia Ramsey, AL Branch Charter Member
Fellow AOGPE 1/1/2022-12/31/2024 (term 3)
Like many other parents, dyslexia entered my life after being blindsided
by my son’s diagnosis. I knew little about dyslexia and quickly found
that teachers didn’t either, so after some research, I attended an
Orton-Gillingham multisensory language training in Atlanta so I could
teach my son how to read. That first, fateful step launched me into the
world of dyslexia and led directly to an unexpected career as dyslexia
advocate, therapist, teacher trainer, and founder of Greengate School,
Alabama’s first school for dyslexic students. One lesson that dyslexia
has taught me: Never underestimate the determination and stamina of
parents battling for the rights of their children.