by Pat Latham, Past LDA President
As a Past President of LDA, I have had the opportunity to be involved over the years and would like to briefly reflect on the state of LDA in 2017. LDA’s Mission Statement is as follows: “LDA’s mission is to create opportunities for success for all individuals affected by learning disabilities and to reduce the incidence of learning disabilities in future generations.” I believe LDA has been effective in carrying out its mission and, over the years, has worked hard to increase its effectiveness. Overall, LDA is well positioned in 2017 to continue moving forward successfully in furtherance of its mission.
LDA continues to strive to increase membership and visibility, and LDA has had the same challenges in its efforts as other membership organizations. What is true is that LDA reaches more people than ever before, due to its website, legislative activities, outstanding annual conference, healthy children project, partnering with other disability organizations, and strong Board and committee structure.
LDA’s website, LDAAmerica.org, is well organized and geared toward the needs of individuals affected by learning disabilities. LDA committee members and staff put in countless hours to keep the website up to date.
LDA’s Public Policy Committee takes the lead in monitoring legislative developments and providing input as appropriate. Further, LDA contracts with Myrna Mandlawitz to serve as Public Policy Director and provide services to LDA in this area. Myrna, an attorney with a background in education, has done an outstanding job for LDA over many years. She has written a number of books on special education law and is a frequent presenter at LDA’s annual conferences. Myrna’ s relationships with other organizations often are a plus for LDA and assist in the communication and collaboration process.
Under the leadership of LDA’s Executive Director, Mary-Clare Reynolds, and with the assistance of the Conference and Program Committees, LDA puts on an outstanding annual conference. The 2017 Conference was in Baltimore, Maryland, and the 2018 Conference will be in Atlanta, Georgia, February 21-24.
In addition, LDA, with the Education Committee taking the lead, will be working with state affiliates to put on two affiliate workshops (pilot projects) during 2017, one in Nashua, New Hampshire, and the other in Dallas, Texas. Funding for this project was provided by the Learning Disabilities Foundation of America. Information about these workshops will be available on LDA’s website: LDAAmerica.org.
Healthy Children Project
Under the leadership of Maureen Swanson, LDA’s Healthy Children Project continues its work to prevent learning disabilities in future generations. Specifically the Project seeks to prevent exposure to toxic chemicals and to raise awareness about these chemicals. This important work is funded primarily by the John Merck Fund.
Partnering with Other Organizations
LDA partners with other organizations to serve individuals affected by learning disabilities. For example, LDA is a founding partner in Understood and has partnered with the National Center on Learning Disabilities (NCLD) on joint projects. Information about Understood is available at understood.org. Organizations with similar missions can accomplish so much more by acting together than by standing alone.
Board and Committees
LDA has a strong working Board. New people bringing new ideas join the Board and/or committees each year. At the same time, LDA is fortunate that a number of experienced Board and committee members are willing to continue to contribute their time and talents. This balance of experienced and new members assures both continuity and new approaches to addressing issues.
In conclusion, LDA seems well positioned to further its mission in an organized and effective manner, including its partnering with other disability organizations to maximize the effectiveness of the organizations overall.
Pat Latham, JD, is a Past President of LDA of America, an Attorney, and Arbitrator, Washington, DC.