Board of Directors

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Sarah Irvine Belson, Ph.D.


Dr. Sarah Irvine Belson serves as the Executive Director of the Institute for Innovation in Education (IIE) and is a Professor of Special Education and Early Literacy Intervention Leadership in the School of Education (SOE) at American University in Washington, DC. Dr. Belson earned her BA, MAE, and PhD from Arizona State University (ASU) and has worked in schools, school systems, industry, and higher education for over 30 years. Dr. Belson has supervised ECE, Elementary, and Secondary special education pre-service and in-service teachers in Arizona, and DC Public, Public Charter, and Independent Schools. Her current research explores educational opportunity for children with disabilities and teacher education policy in special education and teacher wellbeing. She also served or is serving as PI for a number of sponsored research projects, including funding from the US Department of Education, National Science Foundation, and DC’s Office of the State Superintendent of Education. Dr. Belson’s experience as a K12 special educator and her focus on interventions to increase educational equity and opportunity for children with disabilities is a cornerstone of her research and teaching.

Janique Parrott Gaffney, M.A.

Vice President

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.

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


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,  M.B.A., M.A


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.



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

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

Susan Danker, M.S., Communication Sciences & Disorders, CCC-SLP

Kate DeVito Cohen, J.D.

Latesha Durkins, Ed.D. Education Policy & Leadership

Kelly Edwards Fox, M.S. Ed., Language & Literacy

Jennifer Engel Fisher, M.S., Special Education

Grace Giampietro, M.Ed., Special Education

Susan Jaffe, Ed.D., Special Education

Nicole Joseph, J.D.

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

Tara Sarathy, J.D., M.A., Special Education

Charmelle Smith, M.Ed., Special Education

Terence Stewart, Ed.D. Education Policy & Leadership

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