By Jennifer Topple, Chair, Branch Council Executive Committee and
IDA Board Member
I’m happy to report that the excitement and sense of shared purpose continues to be a driving force for the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). At IDA’s 2015 Annual Conference in Dallas, we launched TeamQuest, IDA’s new fundraiser in partnership with the Rock’n’Roll Marathon Series. This initiative promises to help fund the very important initiation of the IDA Certification Exam and the training required to support it, along with many other important goals for the organization.
To show their enthusiastic support for these fundraising events, 21 Branch Presidents joined Tom Strewler, Karent Huppertz, and me onstage at the Thursday keynote at the Conference. Having so many branch leaders join us on stage gave me goose bumps!
IDA Launches Branch Excellence Awards and Branch-Board Dialogue
Another exciting new addition to the IDA Annual Conference was the introduction of the Branch Excellence Awards. These awards were established to recognize the outstanding achievements and dedicated efforts of IDA Branches across the U.S. and Canada. This year’s awards focused on Branch innovations and impact in the areas of Programs/Community Outreach, Fundraising, and Marketing and Communications. Award recipients were selected by a committee made up of Branch Presidents and Branch Council Chair. Awards were presented at the general sessions at the Conference. Congratulations to the Houston, Georgia, Kentucky, Rocky Mountain, and Southern California Tri-Counties Branches for their excellent work!
We also started a more formal open dialogue between Branch Presidents and the IDA Board at the fall meeting this year. This proved to be an invaluable time for a discussion about IDA’s priorities and initiatives, including opportunities and challenges from both the “boots on the ground” and “big picture” perspectives. We hope to make these discussions an ongoing part of our commitment to grow the partnership as organizational leaders, with the ultimate goal being to impact the lives of the individuals and families affected by dyslexia.
Kenya Global Partner Opens Door for Partnerships
As many of you may be aware, it has been customary to invite a Global Partner to the IDA Board meeting to share the amazing work that is being done around the world. This year, Phyllis Munyi, from Dyslexia Organization in Kenya, graciously agreed to join us at the Branch Council meeting as well. Phyllis’ story was a familiar one to us all, and she left our meeting with not only the support of our Branch leaders, but the potential for ongoing partnerships with branches. We are looking at a continued interface between Branch leaders in the U.S. and Canada and our Global Partners, and we are in discussions about the possibility of inviting some of our Global Partners to the spring meeting.
We Thank Our Speakers and Remy Johnston Award Winner
The Branch Council Executive Committee sponsored our second Speakers Showcase fundraiser, which gives branches and like-minded organizations the opportunity to bid on an excellent group of speakers. The bidding ended on November 14th and resulted in net proceeds in excess of $17,000.00. Thank you to Ann Bain, Ken Campbell, Elaine Cheesman, Nancy Coffman, Carol Connor, Sr. Mary Gilchrist Cottrill, Carolyn Cowen, Emerson Dickman, Guinevere Eden, Margie Gillis, Elsa Cardenas-Hagan, Charley Haynes, Nancy Hennessy, Harvey Hubbell V, Sucheta Kamath, Deborah Lynam, Vicki Krmac, Hal Malchow, Monica Gordon Pershey, Sally Pistilli, Joan Sedita, Rebecca Tolson, Eric Tridas, Sharon Vaughn, Julie Washington, Mary Wennersten, Nancy Cushen White, Barbara Wilson, Dave Winters, Christopher Woodin, and Marilyn Zecher for the very generous donation of your time and talents. I would also like to offer a special thanks to Jim Carter, Richard Bradford, and Nancy Redding for your hard work on the 2015 fundraiser. The funds generated will continue to help decrease the annual Branch assessment and fund scholarships for Branch attendance at the spring meeting.
Finally, I would like to thank Will Marsh, our Remy Johnston award recipient, for sharing his personal journey with Branch Council this year. It is because of inspiring individuals, such as Will, that we all put in countless hours to increase awareness and provide training to assist those affected by dyslexia. I’m so honored to join all of you in this mission!
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Jennifer Topple, M.S., CCC/SLP, Chair of IDA’s Branch Council Executive Committee, is the Director of Assistive Technology at The Howard School, a K-12 school for students with language-based learning differences in Atlanta, Georgia. For over fourteen years, she has been a speech-language pathologist in both hospital and school settings with a focus on language-learning disabilities and assistive technology. Jennifer has presented and held workshops on the topic of assistive technology both locally and internationally and is a past president of the Georgia Branch of IDA. She holds an M.S. in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of New Mexico and a B.A. in Public Relations from Auburn University.
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