Board of Directors

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Sarah Irvine Belson, Ph.D.

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. 


Amy Vanden Boogart, Ph.D.

Dr. Amy Vanden Boogart is the Director of Curriculum and Product Development for Really Great Reading, where she writes and manages the development of materials for beginning and struggling readers. She also has leadership experience at the central office level of a charter school network. She has worked as a reading and language arts curriculum designer and assessment writer, and she is a certified and experienced elementary teacher. In addition, as an adjunct professor, Amy teaches reading/literacy and educational statistics courses at George Washington University, where she recently earned her doctorate in Curriculum & Instruction.

Her research interests include upper elementary teacher knowledge and practice for teaching reading (particularly to struggling readers), the use of iPads and other emerging technologies for reading and writing instruction, professional development for teachers of reading, and multi-sensory reading instruction. Amy lives in Alexandria, VA.

FreedmanAllan Freedman, M.B.A.

Allan Freedman is an energetic and accomplished association professional with more than twenty years’ experience in nonprofit management. Since 2013, he has held the positions of Executive Vice President of the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy, a credentialing agency.  Prior to that, he held several executive management positions in national trade associations. Allan holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Management from the University of Maryland and a Master’s of Business degree in Finance from Johns Hopkins University.

Allan is a trainer and former board member of 40 Plus of Greater Washington, DC, a community resource for economic empowerment. He also leads the Decoding Dyslexia movement in Montgomery County, Maryland. Allan lives in Bethesda, MD.


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

Nicole Joseph, J.D.

Annie Murphy Karabell, M.A., English

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

Kathy Orr Pomerenk, M.A., M.A.T., Elementary Education

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

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