2020 TCB Board of Directors:
Front row: Elaine Offstein, President; Caylin Wade, President-Elect; Regina Richards, Treasurer.
Middle row: Karin Westerling; Sharon Landers; Karen Lerner; Haya Sakadijian; Sally Kabbara; Christine Denison, Secretary.
Back row: Cathy Johnson, Amber Bechard; Marianne Cintron.
Board of Directors – Officers
Educational Therapist, Offstein Educational Therapy
Teaching has been my passion all of my life. As a professional, I have always worked in the field of special education. I believe every child has the capacity to learn and thrive and the right to receive the appropriate instruction to meet their unique learning style. I am a member of IDA because I believe in the vision of IDA to promote and support research in dyslexia and other language learning differences and the development of appropriate educational models that allow children with learning disabilities to thrive.
Parent of dyslexics
I have three children. My first and last child have dyslexia that was genetically passed down from my husband. I has served on the board for about 6 years. I enjoy being on the board to spread the word about what dyslexia really is. It is still so misunderstood in the general population and especially in our elementary and high schools. I have been active in my children’s schools making sure they get the correct remediation and accommodations for dyslexia. Our Tri-Counties Branch hosts many outreach events in our communities. I love being part of something that truly makes a difference in families lives.
I am an adult with dyslexia and I also attend Moreno Valley College. I am grateful to be a part of the Tri-Counties Branch of the International Dyslexia Association and I look forward to helping spread good information about dyslexia.
Regina G. Richards, MA is former Director of Richards Educational Therapy Center (RET Center) & Big Springs School. The school specializes in multidisciplinary programs for language learning disabilities, especially dyslexia and dysgraphia. Regina graduated from the University of Michigan with a Master’s in Education. She established the RET Center in 1975, providing educational therapy and diagnostic services, and opened Big Springs School in 1980. Regina teaches regularly at the University of California Extension Program in Riverside. She has authored a variety of journal articles and books on reading, dyslexia, dysgraphia, and visual development, including The Source for Dyslexia and Dysgraphia, The Source for Learning and Memory, Eli, The Boy Who Hated To Write, The Writing Dilemma, VSA-2 (Visual Skills Appraisal), and CVA-2 (Classroom Visual Activities). She is active in her local IDA branch, having been President several times. She enjoys presenting workshops and keynotes. Regina is the parent of an adult son who has struggled with dyslexia and dysgraphia all his life. He is currently very successful in business, working with computers. She’s enjoyed many different roles with this branch and hopes to continue to do so. She feels it is so important to share the wide range of very valid and professional information that exists to help children and adult who struggle with reading and writing. The wonderful feedback received from folks who attend our events is so heartwarming! As a branch we have helped so many different people. She states, “I’m delighted to be a part of this powerful organization!”
Parent of a dyslexic
I am a special education assistant at Riverside Unified School District.
My son has Dyslexia. In 2013, I came across a video seminar by the Inland Empire branch of IDA (renamed as Tri-Counties Branch). It really opened my eyes. I recognized many of the signs and traits of dyslexia as my son’s. My son was diagnosed in 2015. Since then, I have gotten involved with the Tri-Counties Board of the IDA so that I may learn more to help my son and to help others understand what dyslexia is and how to get help.
Board of Directors – Members-at-Large
I worked as a school psychologist for nearly two decades. In that role, I evolved as a voice for the children and families I served. This led me to hold leadership positions at the local and state levels through the California Association of School Psychology and through PENT (Positive Environment Network of Trainers) of the Southern California Diagnostic Center. I completed a post-graduate program and held a diplomate in school neuropsychology. This along, with a focus on improving bilingual assessments, allowed me to help others improve their services by holding workshops for colleagues, speech therapists and special education teachers on bilingual assessments, behavioral supports and neuropsychological assessments. Currently, I am in my most important and challenging position, that of a parent of a dyslexic child. I am committed to learn, and in turn help others, ameliorate the challenges and embrace the good qualities that accompany Dyslexia. I have found the Southern California Tri-Counties Branch of IDA to be a place of knowledge, understanding, assistance and leadership to help individuals and families that face this challenge. I am honored and grateful for the opportunity to participate on the board and continue my mission as a voice for children.
Dr. Amber Bechard is an Associate Professor of Education and Chair of the Special Education Program in LaFetra College of Education at the University f La Verne. She also serves as the Associate Director of Literacy and Outreach for the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness. She is the lead faculty on a team developing an Orton Gillingham based curriculum to train teachers in structured literacy for supporting students with dyslexia. The ULV program seeks to become the first IMSLEC accredited teacher training program in California.
Dr. Marianne Cintron first realized a call to work with at-risk students when she started teaching Special Education in 2001. She holds two Masters Degrees and worked as an Educational Therapist for several years. She founded Alpha Learning Center back in 2005 and was a Supplemental Education Service (SES) provider in at-risk schools. “I feel we lose many first and second year college students to the restaurants and supermarkets and wanted to train them to work with struggling students, and pay them.”
She also is passionate to train college students to work with these at-risk students, drawing them into education, and providing that first job experience. For her Doctoral research Dr. Cintron trained interns who provided a 12-week afterschool reading intervention coupled with music. All the students made significant gains.
Dr. Cintron discusses many individual cases and her resources in A Message of Hope, Hope Music Enhances Reading for Dyslexic Students. While she is passionate about using music and a specific teaching method for parents or therapists, she is a teacher trainer/consultant for the state approved S.P.I.R.E. reading curriculum. She founded Step by Step Dyslexia Solutions, a nonprofit charitable organization, where she trains college interns with SPIRE to work with elementary aged dyslexic children. As a new IDA Board Member, she enjoys empowering parents by imparting knowledge about dyslexia thorough IDA conferences, Step by Step Events, her book, and recent radio interviews.
Cathy Johnson is a Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist and is certified by the Center for Effective Reading Instruction as a Structured Literacy Teacher. Cathy became interested in dyslexia when her daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in kindergarten. She went on to open the Johnson Academy of Therapeutic Learning in San Juan Capistrano which is a school that specializes in offering evidence-based reading interventions as well as small class sizes for children with various learning disabilities. Cathy is also the director of the Speech, Language and Learning Center in San Juan Capistrano. Cathy works with numerous school districts in providing independent expert evaluations. Cathy is trained in numerous evidence-based reading interventions. She recently became an adjunct professor at the University of La Verne and will be teaching future teachers how to teach reading. It is an honor to serve on the board In order to continue to promote the awareness of dyslexia.
Sally is the mother of a dyslexic teenager, and advocating for his education continues to be a challenge with every grade level. The resources, tools, and encouragement IDA provides has lessened the frustration common with parenting and advocating, as well as the preparation for the IEP, 504, and evaluations processes that are constant with dyslexic students. Sally is active with PTA/Booster Club activities/events and shares her knowledge with parents and teachers.
Having a number of family members who are dyslexic and have other learning challenges has made me interested in becoming more involved in education and advocacy. I hope that I can use my experience and skills to help this organization achieve its objectives.
I am a long-term government professional, serving most recently as the first female city manager for the City of Carson. I have previously served in other CA cities, as well as New York and New Jersey. I am a credentialed City Manager and attended the Harvard Kennedy School Senior Executives in State and Local Government Program. I received my JD from Albany Law School in New York and am admitted to the NYS Bar and the Bar of the Supreme Court.
Karen received an undergraduate degree and master’s degree in dance education, worked as a modern dancer on the east coast, and then as a teacher at both UC Irvine and Chapman University in their dance departments. Karen then received a teaching credential and an administration credential at UC Irvine and a special education credential from Chapman University to focus on educating students with language differences. She worked at The Prentice School for 21 years, 9 as a junior high school teacher and 12 as their principal. Recently, she completed an educational therapy certification from UC Riverside and is working to become an ET/P. She currently works part-time at the UC Irvine Child Development School and The College Blueprint, both in case management.
I think that the IDA has the potential to not only support parents and students, but to also educate teachers who are tasked with teaching students with literacy deficits and do not find relevant and consistent support in their school districts or at their school sites. Having worked in a school with the mission of educating students with specific language differences and being trained in a scientifically validated approach to this teaching, I have seen the power of addressing dyslexia and related learning difficulties when teachers are armed with strategic training and supervision.
Parent of child with dyslexia
As a parent of a bright child with dyslexia, I support IDA in its mission to advance dyslexia awareness, education, and best treatment practices. In particular, my interest is forming parent communities of support where we can share knowledge and resources, and become empowered advocates for our children. I started the Dyslexia Parent Support Group of South Orange County, which is sponsored by our IDA chapter and DDCA (Decoding Dyslexia). So far, we’ve connected over 140 parents in our group.
Karin recently retired from a four decade career teaching science to middle schoolers, high school students, and undergraduates. Her experience taught her that neurologically, linguistically, and culturally diverse students can master and enjoy learning when they have access to the curriculum. Karin supports the IDA mission to strengthen the learning abilities of all individuals in order to achieve their potential.
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