LDA Conference in Anaheim Sparkled at the Disneyland® Resort

by Linda Modenbach, Conference Chair



Sunny California, Disneyland® excitement and a dynamic program describes LDA’s 51st Annual International Conference.  Attendees were eager to soak up new information as well as the beautiful sunshine and great surroundings at the Disneyland Resort in Anaheim February 19-22, 2014.

The Program Committee together with the Conference Committee worked diligently to develop a program that was responsive to the needs of parents, teachers and other professionals.  Planning and developing a dynamic conference is a yearlong process.

The conference was kicked off with a member reception Tuesday evening.  It was a great time to visit friends, network, and relax before a busy week.

The opening session featured Dr. Catherine Collier from Ferndale, Washington. Her presentation title, Cultural Diversity and Students with LD:  Addressing Difference and Disability in Cultural and Linguistic Contexts captured the essence of her speech. Following the general session the grand opening of the Exhibit Hall took place. The Exhibit Hall held many special features including the Bookstore, the Silent Auction, LDA Membership Booth, a variety of exhibits and the AT Solutions Lab.  LDA is so appreciative of their exhibitors.

A special event Toxic Chemicals, Nutrition and Child Development presented by Irva Hertz-Picciotto, M.P.H., Ph.D., University of California, Davis, was held Wednesday night. This event was generously funded by the John Merck Fund.

Thursday’s keynote focused on technology with the keynote address What’s an LD and How Can I Get One?  Reframing Technology for Persons with Learning Disabilities presented by Marshall Raskind, Ph.D. Thursday’s Adult Luncheon featured John Zickefoose, known as Mr. Z.  Mr. Z related how he overcame his learning disability in reading, late in life. After overcoming his reading disability with the help of Corona Public Library’s literacy tutors, he became an advocate for struggling youth and adults in our society drawing upon his own experiences in learning how to read and succeed in life. During the luncheon the Harry Sylvester Award was presented to Rob Crawford.  This award is given each year by LDA to an adult with learning disabilities who has overcome the disability to become an advocate for individuals with learning disabilities. The Assembly of Delegates was held Thursday afternoon. Highlights of the Assembly included the election of officers and the announcement of the Affiliate Accolades Awards.

Friday’s general session opened with the presentation of the Sam Kirk Educator of the Year Award.  The award was presented to a Maryland LDA representative on behalf of Bonnie Massimino by Dr. Jackie Kirk-Martinez, great-niece of Dr. Samuel A. Kirk. The recipient of the award must be an educator who has made outstanding contributions to the education of persons with learning disabilities. Dr. Kirk-Martinez made many comparisons of Bonnie’s focus with those of Dr. Kirk. The keynote address Universal Design: How Do Students with Learning Disabilities Benefit? was given by Sheryl Burgstahler, Ph.D., University of Washington, Seattle.

The annual awards banquet was preceded by a cocktail hour that allowed attendees to mingle and relax prior to the banquet.  President Pat Latham recognized outgoing board members Linda Modenbach, Connie Parr, and Ann Whitten. She also recognized outgoing Professional Advisory Board Members Dr. EunMi Cho, Dr. Steven Gilbert, and Dr. Robert Isherwood.

Connie Parr presented the Pioneer Award to Dr. Doris Johnson on behalf of LDA of America.  The President’s Award was presented to Linda Modenbach.  John Rodrigues shared how he used his dyslexia strengths to get admitted to Harvard University, during his banquet speech.  He shared that he felt that it was essential to focus on what the person can do versus what the person can’t do. He stated that his success is based on doing what people tell him is impossible.

The banquet concluded with the presentation of the gavel to incoming LDA President, Nancie Payne

The Program Committee under the leadership of Mark Griffin and BJ Wiemer developed a program that included keynote sessions addressing contemporary issues, but also sessions that addressed topics such as academic strategies, disability documentation, social skills, parenting, mental health issues, assessment, public policy, substance abuse, multicultural issues, technology, and related disorders.

Conference General Chair was Linda Modenbach, assisted by Connie Parr, Assistant General Chair. Arline Krieger, Pam Hamilton, Judy McKinley and Suzanne Barker led the host state affiliate support. A big Thank You goes to all of the California volunteers who hosted sessions, provided decorations, hosted the State Presidents’ reception and answered questions.

The LDA Office Staff headed by Executive Director, Mary-Clare Reynolds made the conference run smoothly.  Other staff members on site were Andrea Turkheimer and Jayme Vertullo.  LDA is so thankful for their hard work and dedication.

What a wonderful week we had in learning and networking. Join us in Chicago next year as LDA continues its service of Advocating, Educating and Supporting.  â— 

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