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Nancie Payne, LDA President
Nancie Payne, LDA President

Over the past few years, the Learning Disabilities Association of America has questioned and analyzed its role in the learning disabilities arena.  To say the least, we are surrounded by many national and state organizations that are engaged in various levels of direct and indirect services.  However, there is one thing that clearly separates LDA from other organizations; that is its grassroots, shoes on the ground approach.  Over our past 52 years of existence LDA has devoted enormous time, talent and tools to ALL who have learning disabilities as well as those who support them.  We frequently refer to the phrase “across the lifespan.”  Our organization takes that statement very seriously as evidenced by our committees – early childhood, adult topics, education, mental health/juvenile justice, public policy, and advocacy.  In all we have 18 active committees which are staffed by numerous volunteers from across the United States. 

I recently had the opportunity to participate in a partnership meeting of Understood.  Each partner was asked to update the group on activities and ventures they had in the works.  As I listened to the updates, I realized that LDA is a significant partner within the group of the 15 partners. 

Parents want the best for their children. We do, too. For the first time ever, 15 nonprofit organizations have joined forces to support parents of the one in five children with learning and attention issues throughout their journey… (Understood Mission, retrieved 7/2/2015,

While all the partners have a strong focus on learning and attention conditions, each has their niche – and so does LDA.  LDA’s niche lays in its ability to consistently enhance the quality of life for all individuals with learning disabilities, their families, and those who support them.  This is accomplished by encouraging effective identification and intervention, fostering research in best practices and protecting their rights under the law.  Our organization achieves these elements through awareness, advocacy, empowerment, education, service and the collaborative efforts of hundreds of passionate, dedicated volunteers. 

These efforts and activities began 52 years ago by a group of parents who saw a need and had a unified passion to ensure that all individuals with learning disabilities, young or old, had access to the most important elements of life.  These parents, teachers, counselors, friends, researchers, and individuals with learning disabilities are the lifeblood of our organization.  No other organization has such a vast network of people, all who have infinite focus on the mission of LDA. 

Where do we go from here?  What can you do in your community or state/local affiliate?  Renew your passion about ensuring that those with learning disabilities have the best opportunities for success.

  • Take responsibility – you are in charge, totally responsible for the pathway you create.
  • Tell the stories – every day hundreds of individuals with learning disabilities are succeeding because of your efforts.
  • Volunteer for one activity or event – don’t overload yourself, just do one thing and do it well.
  • Find your passion – be it community awareness, advocacy, early childhood or other areas.
  • Recruit new volunteers to help you – people want to be invited to participate or join an organization, especially one where your passion shines through.
  • Make no excuses – know that you have the power to make things happen.



Nancie Payne, Ph.D., in addition to being a former secondary reading teacher, has served LDA of America in various capacities including the Executive Board and Treasurer, Board of Directors, Professional Advisory Board, Adult Topics Committee Chairperson, Program Committee Chairperson and Co-Chairperson. She has significant experience serving on Washington state and Northwest regional boards. She is currently CEO/President of Payne & Associates, Inc. assisting children and adults with non-apparent disabilities and providing professional development throughout the United States and Canada.
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