Award Recipients

The Samuel Torrey Orton Award 

The Samuel Torrey Orton Award is The International Dyslexia Association’s highest honor. The Award recognizes a person or persons or who have:

  • Made a vital contribution to our scientific understanding of dyslexia, or
  • Significantly enhanced and advanced our capacity to successfully intervene and assist people with dyslexia, or
  • Expanded national and international awareness of dyslexia, or
  • Demonstrated unusual competence and dedication in service to people with dyslexia


2017… Maureen Lovett

2016… Albert Galaburda

2015… Virginia W. Berninger

2014… Kate Cain

2013… Louisa Moats

2012… Sally & Bennett Shaywitz

2011… Maryanne Wolf

2010… Marilyn Jager Adams

2009… Susan Brady & Hollis Scarborough

2008… Hugh W. Catts

2007… Uta Frith

2006… Joseph Torgesen

2005… Margaret Snowling

2004… Martha Bridge Denckla

2003… Jack M. Fletcher

2002… Bruce F. Pennington

2001… Gordon F. Sherman & Disability Rights Advocates

2000… G. Reid Lyon

1999… Howard G. Gardner

1998… Priscilla L. Vail

1997… C. Wilson Anderson, Jr.

1996… Jeanne S. Chall

1995… Jeanette Jansky

1994… Rosa Hagin

1993… Lucia R. Karnes

1992… Sylvia O. Richardson

1991… Dorothy B. Whitehead & Carolyn and Carl Kline

1990… Diana H. King

1989… Regina Cicci

1988… William Ellis & Isabelle Liberman

1987… Lucius Waites & Alice Gardside

1986… Che Kan Leong & John Bigelow

1985… Alice Koontz & Norman Geschwind-(posthumously)

1984… Robert G. Hall

1983… Eleanor T. Hall

1982… Drake D. Duane

1981… Arthur Benton

1980… Helene Durbrow & Leon Eisenberg

1979… J. Roswell Gallagher

1978… Paula D. Rome

1977… Aylett R. Cox

1976… Roger E. Saunders

1975… Richard Masland

1974… Macdonald Critchley

1973… Sally Child

1972… Beth Slingerland

1971… Margaret Byrd Rawson

1970… Lloyd J. Thompson

1969… June Lyday Orton

1968… Katrina deHirsh

1967… Edwin Cole

1966… Lauretta Bender


The Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award

The Margaret Byrd Rawson Award recognizes the work of an individual to advance the mission of The International Dyslexia Association (IDA).   The Award shall be given to a member of IDA whose work on behalf of IDA embodies Margaret Rawson’s:

  • Compassion,
  • Leadership,
  • Commitment to excellence,
  • Fervent advocacy for people with dyslexia,
  • And whose work is nationally recognized as furthering the mission of IDA


2017… Eric Tridas

2016… Lenox Reed

2015… Karen E. Dakin

2014… Charles W. Haynes

2013… Diana Hanbury King

2012… G. Emerson & Georgette Dickman

2011… Nancy Hennessy

2010… Joyce Pickering

2009… Arlene W. Sonday

2008… Judith R. Birsh

2007… Nancy Cushen White

2006… C. K. Leong

2005… Betty S. Levinson

2004… Roger E. Saunders

2003… Martha W. Renner

2002… Jean S. Osman

2001… Betty Sheffield

2000… Marcia K. Henry

1999… Sylvia O. Richardson

1998… Margaret Byrd Rawson


The Remy Johnston Certificate of Merit

This recognition program was established to honor the memory of Remy Johnston, a student with dyslexia whose promising life was tragically cut short in February 1989, a few months prior to graduating from Wooster College.

Remy Johnston was a special person to his family and friends and to the staff and members of The Orton Dyslexia Society (now IDA). His mother, Joyce Johnston was the first person hired here and she retired in 2000 after 29 years of dedicated service.  Read Remy Johnston’s paper about dyslexia and how it affected his life. 

The Remy Johnston Certificate of Merit recognizes students with dyslexia who:

  • Are worthy role models
  • Refuse to use their learning difference as an excuse
  • Strive for excellence
  • Enrich their community


2017…Olivia Amante

2016… Aidan Colvin

2015…Will Marsh

2014… Tyler Lentz

2013… Thomas Hircock

2012… Selene Jones

2011… Alex Malchow

2010… Jessica Dupiche

2009… Jennifer Smith & Jessica Byington

2008… Michael Guggenheim

2007… Anthony Levenson

2006… Dean Abbey

2001… Julia Bowsher, Michelle Carroll, Jeffrey R. Drake, Jeffrey Gurwin, Caroline (Carly) Russell  


The Pinnacle Award

The Pinnacle Award was created to recognize an individual who has faced reading challenges, has made significant achievements in his or her field, is leading a successful life, and is a role model for others with learning differences. The Award is given annually; more than one person may receive this recognition in any given year; and the honoree does not have to be a member of the Association. The award is presented at the IDA’s Annual Reading, Literacy & Learning Conference each fall.


2017… Malcolm Mitchell, Professional Football Player, Author, Founder of Read with Malcolm

2016… Patrick Whaley, Entrepreneur, Founder & CEO of Titin Inc.

2015… Scoot McNairy, Actor, Producer

2014… Cameron Herold, Author

2013… Blake Charlton, Successful Novelist and Medical Resident

2012… Phillip Shultz,  Pulitzer Prize winning Poet, Founder/ Director of the Writer’s Studio
One of American poetry’s longtime masters of the art

2011… Steve Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer of New England Wood Pellet LLC

2010… Danny Aiello, III, Director, Producer, Stuntman

2009… Colin Poole, Artist 
“Old world with a contemporary edge.”

2008… Stephen J. Cannell, Writer and Producer
An Emmy award-winning writer, producer, and Chairman of Cannell Studios

2007… Hunt Lowry, Producer
An extremely successful movie producer

2006… The Honorable Kendrick B. Meek, United States Politician

2005… David Boies, Attorney, Boies, Schilling & Flexner, LLP

2004… Barbara Corcoran, CEO and Chair, The Corcoran Group

2003… Bruce Jenner,  Olympic Decathlon Champion

2002… P. Buckley Moss, Internationally Acclaimed Artist


The IDA Presidential Award of Excellence

IDA created this award in 2013 to honor an individual who, through their profession, tirelessly aims to improve the lives of those with dyslexia. This award is given in recognition of excellence in service to individuals with dyslexia, their families, and the greater community. The award is presented at the IDA’s Annual Reading, Literacy & Learning Conference each fall.  


Alice Thomas, Founder & CEO of the Center for Development & Learning
Alice Thomas is the founder, president and CEO of the Center for Development and Learning (CDL), a nonprofit organization, and has served in this position for 20 years. Alice’s work is guided by her steadfast belief that all children, regardless of how they look, where they come from or how they learn, can and will achieve school success when provided with highly effective teachers and positive, supportive learning environments. In addition to executive duties, she facilitates professional learning for school administrators, teachers, related specialists and parents. She previously served as a teacher, counselor and intervention specialist and an instructor of university coursework. Alice is the coauthor of the Learning Profiles: Differentiated Instruction for Diverse Learners professional learning curriculum and the Right from Birth parent/caregiver training curriculum, and is the editor of CDL’s online library ( She is the creator and director of the annual evidence-based Plain Talk about Reading Institute.  

Gavin Newsom, Lieutenant Governor of California
Gavin Newsom was diagnosed with dyslexia at the age of 5, but did not find out his learning disability until the fifth grade. In school, Newsom labored to read, spell and work with numbers, but of all the difficulties he endured, reading aloud was the most humiliating. But because he was expected to attend college, he began to take summer classes and some remedial training. Newsom attended Santa Clara University on a partial baseball scholarship. In college, he found a passion in politics after declaring a Political Science major. After graduating and starting his own business San Francisco, Newsom was appointed to the city’s Parking and Traffic Commission. He then became a member of the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and went on to be elected as the youngest Mayor of San Francisco. Newsom was elected Lieutenant Governor in 2010. Newsom has been a political visionary on issues of equality, the environment, homelessness and health care. Policies he has initiated and implemented have been duplicated in cities across the nation. Despite being dyslexic, Newsom is also an avid reader and has authored “Citizenville,” exploring the intersection of democracy and technology in this ever-connected world.  

Tincy Miller, Texas Board of Education
Geraldine (Tincy) Miller is a Texas hero and leader for high quality, evidence-based education for all children. She has served on the Texas State Board of Education for twenty-eight years, four of which she was Chairperson. Most importantly, Ms. Miller led the initiative for the first state dyslexia law in the nation passed in 1986. This law specified the identification and remediation guidelines for dyslexia. The Dyslexia Handbook was also created for the state of Texas, and Ms. Miller has ensured that it is updated on a regular basis to include the most current science on teaching reading. She also championed the dyslexia licensure law in Texas, which was implemented in 2009. The dyslexia licensure law ensures highly qualified and well-prepared educators with credentials to provide intervention for dyslexia. The Texas dyslexia laws for identification, remediation and licensure have served other states and countries as a model. Under Ms. Miller’s leadership, Texas has included a structured literacy approach in the state standards since 1997. She has been instrumental in updating the English language arts standards this year and in previous years. Ms. Miller is a graduate of Southern Methodist University and an Academic Language Therapist. She worked at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital in the reading laboratory under the direction of the late Dr. Lucius Waites. Ms. Miller is a Texas legend and the International Dyslexia Association recognizes her expertise, leadership, and dedication to making sure that every child can read, including those with dyslexia and related disorders.

Rick Fiery (co-recipient), co-founder of InventiveLabs
Rick Fiery is the co-founder of InventiveLabs, a research lab and business incubator that helps people with learning differences find their passions and create new businesses in an all-accepting environment. Rick has a passion for helping young adults with learning differences find alternative paths to success and believes with the right environment and support; people with learning differences can achieve substantial success. Prior to InventiveLabs, Rick was the CEO of several startup companies that he created and cultivated before strategically selling them. One of his software companies grew to have subsidiaries in six countries with products that sold in over 60 countries. He also ran the finance department for a large multinational software company generating over $330 million before departing to take on yet another startup. Rick has a Bachelors and Masters in civil engineering from the University of Virginia and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business.

Tom Bergeron (co-recipient), co-founder of InventiveLabs
Tom Bergeron is the co-founder of InventiveLabs, a business incubator focused on college-aged adults with dyslexia and/or ADHD. The Lab runs a hands-on program fostering creativity, and teaching the business skills needed to develop products and start businesses. Tom shares his knowledge of product development, sales, and marketing acquired at numerous start-up companies that focused on launching innovative products. He has seen the highs and lows of the entrepreneurial world, which taught him to enjoy the journey as much as the reward. He believes the challenges he experienced in school taught him the value of perseverance that is so critical to the entrepreneurial spirit. Through his experiences, Tom noticed the best entrepreneurs were often individuals who think and learn differently. He is now committed to helping a new generation of entrepreneurs create new products and services. Tom has a Bachelor of Science in electrical engineering from the University of Massachusetts Lowell.

Martin McKay,
CTO and founder of TextHelp
Martin McKay is CTO and founder of Texthelp, where he directs the R&D program. His product development is built around Universal Design for Learning. His goal is to deliver simple, effective educational technology to help people with literacy. Martin has served on the Assistive Technology Industry Association board, and the NIMAS board focusing on simple technology to help with reading and writing.

More recently Martin has been exploring big data solutions to helping first and second language learners accelerate their learning. His products are being used by millions of students worldwide. He has also filed patents related to accessible EBook creation, accelerated writing technologies, and web sites that read themselves aloud.