Board of Directors


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Sarah Irvine Belson, Ph.D.
President

Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson serves as the Director of the Master of Arts in Special Education program and as the principal investigator in the Institute for Innovation in Education at American University. Her research explores educational opportunity for children with disabilities and teacher education policy.  Her focus is on applied interventions for children at risk in two major areas, including special education technology and teacher education policy and practice. Dr. Belson’s experience as a K12 special educator and her focus on interventions to educational outcomes for children with disabilities and reduce cognitive load in children with specific learning disabilities is a cornerstone of her research and teaching.  Dr. Belson earned her BA, MAE, and PhD from Arizona State University and has worked in schools, school systems, industry, and higher education for more than 30 years.


Janique Parrott Gaffney, M.A.
 Vice President – Membership

Janique Parrott Gaffney has spent most of her professional career teaching in schools that serve students from disenfranchised communities. She strongly believes that learning to read and write is a human right, for without these skills, individuals cannot fully participate in society. Currently, she teaches 7th and 8th grade English in a self-contained setting in South East D.C., in a school where there is no comprehensive plan to support dyslexic students. She is pursuing her credential in academic language therapy through ASDEC so that she can explicitly teach students the foundational language skills they lack.

Committed to raising awareness about dyslexia, appropriate interventions, and accommodations, especially in schools that serve students in disenfranchised communities, she leads presentations and workshops for parents and teachers in the D.C. area. Janique attended Bryn Mawr College and received her Master of Arts Degree in Secondary English Education from Brown University. She lives in Upper Marlboro, Maryland.


Tara Sarathy, J.D.
Vice President – Programs

Tara Sarathy has spent her career as a government lawyer, in law school administration, and in community-based nonprofits.  Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in special education: learning disabilities at American University and a field placement in a DCPS elementary school. Through her first-hand experience as a parent, she became an advocate for evidence-aligned reading instruction and intervention for all children and a prevention-based approach that focuses on early identification for children at risk for dyslexia. Tara received her A.B. in History from Brown University, was a Coro Fellow in Public Affairs, and received a J.D. from the University of Michigan Law School. She is a member of Decoding Dyslexia-Washington, D.C. and The Reading League-Washington, D.C. Tara lives in Washington, D.C. with her husband, two children, and too many pets to name. 


Kathy Orr Pomerenk
Secretary

Kathy Orr Pomerenk is a retired MCPS special education and reading teacher with certifications in early childhood education, special education, and elementary education. Kathy earned a B.A. from Cornell University, an M.A. from Georgetown University, and an M.A. in Teaching from American University. She is IMSE-trained in the Orton-Gillingham approach, which is the foundation for her reading intervention tutoring practice with children in primary grades with suspected or diagnosed dyslexia. Prior to her teaching career, she worked in a variety of non-profit organizations where she earned the highest professional credential in the association field, Certified Association Executive. She has served in board leadership roles for Cornell University and Georgetown University, as well as civic and religious organizations, foundations, and PTA’s. She lives in Bethesda. MD.


Jeanett Tang-Yonemoto
Treasurer

Jeanett Tang-Yonemoto has over two decades of experience in finance at Bankers Trust/Deutsche Bank and Fannie Mae. She subsequently founded her own consulting business specializing in counterparty risks. Jeanett has held leadership positions on the boards and executive committees of independent schools’ parent associations and the board of a neighborhood non-profit, where she served as treasurer, co-chair of speaker conferences, and special event chair.

Jeanett holds MBA/MA joint degrees from The Wharton School and Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. She received a B.S. in Foreign Service from Georgetown University. She lives in Washington, D.C.

 


Directors:

Bekah Atkinson, B.S., Health Sciences & Leadership Studies

Jennifer Betts, Ed.M., Curriculum Teaching and Learning Environments

Kate DeVito Cohen, J.D.

Lindsey Dogali, Ph.D., Clinical Psychology

Latesha Durkins, Ed.D. candidate, Education Policy & Leadership

Jennifer Engel Fisher, M.S., Special Education

Susan Jaffe, Ed.D., Special Education

Nicole Joseph, J.D.

Shenise Miller, Ed.D. candidate, Education Policy & Leadership

Terence Stewart, Ed.D. candidate, Education Policy & Leadership


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