Alliance for Accreditation and Certification

Alliance Leadership — 2019-2020

Executive Committee

Jana Curry-Dobbs

Jana Curry-Dobbs, M.Ed., LDT, CALT, QI

Position: President

Jana is the Online Coordinator for the Learning Therapy Program at Southern Methodist University. She received her M.Ed. from Texas A&M at Commerce in Secondary and Higher Education. She has 30 years of classroom experience in public schools. With a background in Speech Therapy and Psychology, she brings knowledge of these two areas to the field of Dyslexia Teacher training. Janna received her Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) training in 1977 from Aylett R. Cox and Margaret T. Smith. She is a Qualified Instructor for Learning Therapist training as well as Dyslexia Teacher Level training. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA) and The Alliance for Accreditation and Certification of Dyslexia Specialists. She also served as the president of ALTA from 2016-2018. She is a co-author of the Multisensory Teaching Approach to Reading and Spelling and has presented at various conferences and workshops.

Paul Tortolani

Paul Tortolani, Ph.D.

Position: President-Elect

Paul is the Vice President of Education at Wilson Language Training. He joined Wilson in 2008 after many years in higher education, government, and business. He has a B.A. and an M.A. in Political Science from the University of Connecticut, and an MPA and Ph.D. in Public Administration from New York University. As an Alliance Board member, Paul serves on the Corporate Development and Planning Committees and is currently President-elect of the Alliance.

Chris Bedenbaugh

Chris Bedenbaugh, M.Ed., LDT, CALT-QI

Position: Vice President of Special Projects

Chris is the Director of Outreach and Training at June Shelton School and Evaluation Center in Dallas, Texas. She is also the Director of Shelton's Academic Language Approach (SALA). Chris has been with Shelton School for 14 years and an educator for 32 years. She is an adjunct professor at Dallas Baptist University. On the Alliance Board, she is Vice President of Special Projects. Chris graduated from the University of Florida with a B.A. in Elementary Education and a M. A. E. with a specialization in reading.

Beth McClure

Beth McClure, M.Ed.,F/AOGPE

Position: Treasurer

Beth is a Fellow and the President of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE). Beth has been a member of the AOGPE since 1994. She is a Reading and Writing Specialist as well as the Principal of the charter school she founded. She is the Treasurer of the Alliance, and she sits on the Finance and Exam Committees. She has a Master of Education in Learning and Language Disabilities and a Master of Education in Administration.

Susan Louchen

Susan Louchen, M.S., CALT

Position: Secretary

Susan is the Academic Language Therapy Association Vice President of Public Relations. A Certified Academic Language Therapist in private practice since 2014, she is a past President of the ALTA Virginia Chapter, and serves on several national committees. Susan is the Alliance Executive Committee Secretary, and member of the Special Projects, Alliance Review, and Website committees. A licensed teacher with a Master of Science from Virginia Commonwealth University, Susan received her IMSLEC accredited therapist training from the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center, and post-graduate certificate in K-12 Special Education/Specific Learning Disabilities from Old Dominion University.

Board of Directors

Karen Avrit

Karen Avrit, M.Ed., LDT, CALT, QI

Karen is the Director of Dyslexia Education at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children in Dallas, Texas. She is also the lead author of Take Flight: A Comprehensive Intervention for Students with Dyslexia. Karen has been with Scottish Rite Hospital for 25 years. Prior to working at Scottish Rite, she was a public-school teacher. On the Alliance Board, Karen represents the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council. Karen graduated from the University of Texas at Tyler with a B.S. in Elementary Education and from Texas A&M Commerce with a M.Ed. in Special Education. Karen is a Certified Academic Language Therapist as well as a Qualified Instructor.

Jean Colner


Jean is the Director of the nonprofit IMSLEC accredited Children's Dyslexia Center in Dublin, Ohio, and President of the Academic Language Therapy Association for the 2018-2020 term. She became a Certified member of AOGPE in 2002 ,and was certified by the Academic Language Therapy Association in 2006 as a Certified Academic Language Therapist, as well as an Instructor of Certified Academic Language Practitioners. She has trained 18 cohorts of Practitioner level teachers and tutors, as well as supervisors and trainer interns. Jean has served on the Ohio Department of Education's Third Grade Reading Guarantee work group, and was a member of the writing team for the Ohio Reading Competencies which inform teacher preparation courses of study in universities, identifies dyslexia as one of the diverse learning factors affecting some students, and includes the National Reading Panel five essential components for evidence-based reading instruction. In 2014 Jean received IMSLEC Innovator Therapist of the Year award. Jean serves the Alliance Board committees of Ethical Standards & Practice, Nominating, and Finance.

Sheila Costello

Sheila Costello, M.S., F/AOGPE

Sheila is an Accredited Training Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE). Sheila served on the Board of the Academy from 2004 -2018 and as the President from 2015-2018. Sheila did her Orton-Gillingham training at The Carroll School in Massachusetts and worked there from 1997-2004, becoming Director of the Garside Institute for Teacher Training in 2003. After relocating to South Carolina in 2004 she taught at Trident Academy, and as Director of the Language Enrichment and Development department she tutored, administered the tutorial and outreach programs and trained teachers at the AOGPE Associate and Certified levels. Sheila retired from Trident in 2015 and in 2018 became the Founding Fellow of The Orton-Gillingham Center of Charleston. As an Alliance board member, Sheila is on the Bylaws and Alliance Review committees. Sheila received her B.Sc from the University of Surrey U.K. and her M.S degree in Clinical Chemistry from Northeastern University.

Rosalie Davis

Rosalie Davis, M.Ed., F/AOGPE

Rosalie is the former Associate Head of School and Director of Teacher Training for The Schenck School, in Atlanta, Georgia. She retired from The Schenck School the end of June 2018, after 28 years with the school. She is currently the owner and principal consultant for OG Therapists, Inc., consulting with schools, and training and supervising teachers in the Orton-Gillingham Approach. Rosalie is a former President of the Board of Trustees for The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, (AOGPE) and is an Accredited Training Fellow. She is a member of the Alliance Board and also serves on the Professional Learning Advisory Board for Boon Philanthropy. Rosalie received her B. S. and M.Ed degrees from The University of Georgia in Learning Disabilities.

Lynne Fitzhugh

Lynne Fitzhugh, Ph.D., LDT, CALT-QI

Lynne is President-Elect of the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA). Lynne has been an ALTA member since 1993 and has served in various roles on the ALTA board since 2006. Currently, Lynne sits on the Alliance's Bylaws, Special Projects/Conference and Exam Committees. Lynne graduated from Southern Methodist University (SMU) with a Ph.D. in Psychology. She completed her CALT training through SMU's Learning Therapy Department and her Qualified Instructor training through the Luke Waites Center for Dyslexia at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital.

Deanna Fogarty

Deanna Fogarty, M.Ed., W.C.T., W.D.T.

Deanna is the Senior Director of Intensive Intervention Literacy Initiatives and a member of the Fidelity Team at Wilson Language Training (WLT). Deanna completed her Wilson Reading System Practitioner and Therapist Level Certifications and has been a Wilson Credentialed Trainer since 1998. She has experience in a variety of educational settings as a regular education teacher including working with high-risk students and multi-age instruction in grades three through six. Deanna taught in public and private school settings in Georgia and Massachusetts and has taught many struggling readers and students with dyslexia in private practice throughout the years. On the Alliance Board, Deanna sits on the Exam Committee. Deanna received a B.A. in Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst and a M.Ed. in Elementary Education from Worcester State University, Worcester, MA.

Mary Janet McCafferty

Mary Janet McCafferty, J.D.

Mary-Janet is the Senior Vice President of Operations & General Counsel of Wilson Language Training. She joined Wilson in 2006 as corporate counsel after many years in private real estate and corporate law practice. Mary-Janet has a B.S. in Engineering from University of Massachusetts-Lowell and her Juris Doctorate from University of Maine School of Law. She is also certified as a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner. As an Alliance Board member, Mary-Janet serves on the Bylaws/Ethical Standards and Practices Committee.

Diane Milner

Diane Milner, Ph.D., F/AOGPE

Diane is a Fellow and board member of the AOGPE. She is the founder of the Key School at Carolina Day and the Director of the Key Learning Center which is accredited by the AOGPE and IMSLEC. She has her Doctorate degree in Educational Leadership and her master's degree in Special Education. She is a former board member and past president of NCIDA.

Kay Peterson

Kay Peterson, M.S, CALT-QI

Kay is the past president of the Alliance. Kay has been a member of the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA) since 1987 and has served as a president of ALTA. She currently serves as president of International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC). On the Alliance board, she serves on the Finance Committee. Kay is on the Professional Learning Board for Boon Philanthropy. She is CEO/Director of LEAD/Literacy Education & Academic Development, Inc., and Program Director of the Master of Education in Dyslexia Therapy at Mississippi College. Kay graduated from Texas Tech University with a B.S. in Child Development and from Amberton University with an M.S. in Business Administration and Human Resources.

Jeanine L. Phillips

Jeanine L. Phillips, MSEd, CALT-QI


Joyce Pickering

Joyce Pickering, Hum.D, LDT, CALT-QI, SLP/CCC, AMS/EC

Joyce is a 40-year Montessorian, speech and hearing pathologist, and learning disabilities specialist who has devoted her life to addressing the needs of students with learning differences. Joyce is Executive Director Emerita of Shelton School & Evaluation Center in Dallas, Texas, the world's largest independent school for intelligent children with learning differences. Joyce is a founding member of IMSLEC and was president of the board for eight years. Since that time, she has served on the Accreditation Committee and has done numerous on-site visits. She currently serves as a Vice President for Long Term Planning of ALTA. She is one of the ALTA representatives to the Alliance. ALTA awarded Joyce the 2019 Luke Waites ALTA Award of Service.

Alicia Sartori

Alicia Sartori, M.P.A.

Alicia is the Executive Director of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE). Alicia has been with AOGPE for ten years directing the operations of the Academy from the main office in Amenia, N.Y. Prior to working with AOGPE, she spent 20 years in management positions in the nonprofit sector. On the Alliance Board, she sits on the Website and Corporate Development and Planning Committees. Alicia graduated from Manhattanville College with a B.A. in Management and from New York University with an M.P.A in Nonprofit Management.

Nanci King Shepardson

Nanci King Shepardson, M.S.Ed., Ed.S., W.D.P.

Nanci is the Senior Educational Technologist and a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner (W.D.P.) at Wilson Language Training (WLT). Prior to joining WLT in 2017, she was an administrator, educational and assistive technology specialist, a reading specialist, consultant/public speaker, and a classroom teacher at a variety of independent and public schools in the Northeast. On the Alliance Board, Nanci chairs the Website Committee and sits on the Ethical Standards and Practices Committee. Nanci graduated from Wheelock College in Boston with a B.S. in Infant/Toddler Development and Preschool/ Kindergarten Curriculum and from Simmons University in Boston with a M.S.Ed. in Language and Literacy and an Ed.S. in Assistive Technology.

Connie Steigerwald

Connie Steigerwald, M.Ed., W.D.T, W.C.T.

Connie Steigerwald, M.Ed., W.D.T., W.C.T., is the Director of Partner Development and Literacy Advisor at Wilson Language Training. Connie has been with Wilson Language Training for ten years. Prior to working at Wilson, she worked as a special educator, literacy coach, Wilson in-district trainer, and as a Literacy Consultant for the NC Department of Public Instruction/Exceptional Children Division. A Wilson® Credentialed Trainer since 2004, Connie currently works with administrators in the Southeast and supports the work of Wilson® Accredited Partners throughout the country. On the Alliance Board, she sits on the Conference Committee. Connie graduated from UNC-Greensboro with a B.S. in Communication Disorders and from NC State Univ. with an M.Ed. in Special Education.

Nancy Cushen White

Nancy Cushen White, Ed.D., CALT-QI


Advisory Committee

Jana Jones, M.Ed., LDT, CALT, QI

Marilyn Mathis, M.Ed., CALT, QI

Barbara Wilson, M.Ed.