We Are on the Road to Realizing Our Destiny

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Summer 2016

By Jennifer ToppleJenniferTopple

I returned from this year’s Branch Council spring meeting with a renewed sense of purpose.

Just last year, we’d met Rick Smith, our new CEO, who had introduced us to the concept of destiny-driven leadership. At our first meeting, Rick had challenged us to be impatient in the identification and realization of our destiny. In the one short year since we met Rick, we have worked together to create a Destiny Team, which is composed of branch presidents, IDA board members, and representatives from the home office, to identify the critical areas of focus for the organization. The culmination of that work was the IDA Destiny Report that was distributed this past fall.

Day One Highlights

The main focus of the 2016 spring meeting was to make our work together measurable, so that we can hold our organization and each other accountable to meet our goals.

The weekend kicked off with an inspiring TeamQuest Spring Event Celebration emceed by Maria Makenna and live tweeted to our national community. Jane Cooper, president of the Oregon branch, shared the story of Sierra Gulick, one of her students with dyslexia. Sierra challenged her mother, Nicole, to participate in the San Diego half marathon to raise funds and dyslexia awareness for TeamQuest. Nicole willingly accepted the challenge because as she said, “If Sierra can work so hard and push herself to read every day, I can certainly push myself to train for a half marathon!” To show support for her mom, Sierra created a video in which she courageously shared her story and pronounced “Together We Can Do This!”

Day Two Highlights

The focus for the next day was the Destiny Metrics that we are designing together to hold ourselves accountable.

Tom Strewler, President of the Upper-Midwest Branch and Chair of the Destiny Metrics taskforce, led a review of the survey data. The group was charged with prioritizing and refining the metrics and setting SMART goals. The results were gathered and will be used to further refine the Metrics with the goal of having them approved by the IDA Board for implementation in FY 2017.

Additional topics included optional consolidation of Branch websites, hosted by the home office, an update on The Center for Effective Reading Instruction, and legislative updates from Massachusetts and South Carolina. The Branch Council also gave input on the locations for the next TeamQuest venues. The final activity of the weekend was a networking group activity led by Janet Thibeau, Massachusetts President, which generated a lot of excitement and interesting ideas.

Looking Forward

Now, more than ever, I look forward to the collaboration we have with this amazing group of leaders. Things will only get better, as we continue to work together …until everyone can read!

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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