Board of Directors

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Board of Directors


Lisa Harrah, M.S.

Lisa A. Harrah – A native of the Richmond area, Lisa received her undergraduate degree in Social Work from Virginia Commonwealth University and a master of science in Special Education from Longwood University.  She is a licensed teacher in the state of Virginia with an endorsement in Learning Disabilities K-12.  She is also a Wilson Language System certified instructor.

Lisa owns a specialized instruction business, All About Words, where she implements individualized, multi-sensory instruction in reading and writing to students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.  Prior to opening her business, Lisa was the Reading Resource Teacher at Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Hanover County where she taught language skills to students with dyslexia and learning disabilities in multiple settings. While with Hanover, she also coordinated reading services for students with learning disabilities within her school, as well as with other Reading Resource Teachers across the County.

Prior to 2006, Lisa served as a Head Start Family Services Coordinator with Hanover County Schools. During her time as a Social Worker, Lisa worked with children and adults with all types of disabilities for Hanover Community Services Board, Chesterfield Community Services Board, and The United Way.  Of all of her positions within the community, Lisa has found her passion teaching and advocating for those individuals with dyslexia.

angelaAngela Taylor

Vice President

Angela Taylor received a degree in Chemistry from Rutgers University.  She worked for Ortho Biotech before becoming alternate route certified through the critical needs program.  She is a licensed teacher in Virginia and South Carolina and is National Board Certified in Early Adolescence Science. She has worked with public and private school students from levels 5 through 12. She has worked with children with learning differences throughout her 20 years of teaching. She has been an upper school science teacher at The New Community School in Richmond, Virginia for 17 years.  Prior to moving to Richmond, she taught in South Carolina.  She is a South Carolina Master Naturalist and volunteers with Chesapeake Bay Foundation. Angela loves to share her passion for science with her students and feels it is a great subject to teach to students with learning differences because it is hands-on and can build on their strengths and help them find their passion.

Rachel Tew


Dr. Zenia Burnett


Dr. Zenia Burnett is currently a state education leader in Virginia, and has held various school-based and district-wide positions in mid-sized and large urban and suburban school divisions, including a State Operated Program. While her capacity has been vast, primarily the scope of her work has been dedicated to developing and leading instructional programming for students with disabilities and coaching for teacher effectiveness and leadership. Dr. Burnett received her doctorate in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from Virginia Tech, where she also served as an adjunct professor. Her current work in higher education includes curriculum design and preparation for graduate level teacher education programs at Averett University. Dr. Burnett is enthusiastic about the meaningful work with VBIDA to help advance the agenda for people with dyslexia and the committed professionals that teach them!

Mary Murray Stowe, M.Ed.


Mary Murray Stowe, M.Ed. works with teachers, administrators, instructional coaches, directors and coordinators of Special Education through the Training and Technical Assistance Center at the College of William and the Virginia Department of Education as an educational specialist, and with William & Mary as an adjunct professor.  Currently, Mary serves as the Virginia Coordinator of Specialized Reading Instruction.  Mary is certified as a SIM™ Certified Learning Strategy Professional Developer, and Certified Local LETRS Classic Trainer and LETRS Third Edition Facilitator.

Mary Angel-Ayers


Marcia Collins


Dwana Cooper


Dwana Cooper has 28 years in education (25 in Newport News Public Schools), and has lead at school and division levels. Her school leadership experiences have included serving as Freshman Transition Lead Teacher, Special Education Lead Teacher, Youth Development Team Leader, Project LEAP Team Leader and I’m Determined Team Leader. At the district level, she served as the Transition Coordinator and currently serves as an Instructional Supervisor for grades k-12. In this role, she trains special education teachers in literacy practices as a Certified Wilson Language Instructor and District Facilitator for Wilson Just Words Reading Program Supervisor and provides instructional support for special education teachers and instructional assistants through professional development workshops and site-based instructional opportunities. Her previous experience as a Trainer and Scorer for the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards through Pearson has also helped her to recognize and understand quality teaching standards. Dwana feels strongly about shaping the minds of young people. She enjoys the love of her family and dog, the fellowship of friends, shopping and laughing, and living life to the fullest.


dukeMegan Duke


Megan Duke received her undergraduate degree from The University of North Carolina at Wilmington and Masters in Special Education from The College of William and Mary. Megan Is licensed by the Commonwealth of Virginia as a Special Educator, Learning Disabilities, K-12.  She began teaching at Chesapeake Bay Academy in Virginia Beach and is currently a Teacher for Virginia Beach City Public Schools.  She works as the special education committee chairperson and department chair for her school.  She has been on various committees throughout the city for continued improvement in the area of special education in the public school system.  She loves teaching her students with varying disabilities including dyslexia and educating families about school and community resources.

Beth Gunter


Dr. Christine Herbert


Lorraine M. Hightower


As an Educational Advocate, Lorraine Hightower works with all stakeholders to create a positive relationship that ensures the best possible outcome for the child. Lorraine assists families at every stage of the special education process and remains dedicated to her mission ~ to ensure that the 1 in 5 children with dyslexia have the supports and services they need to be successful!

She is a recognized advocate with proven success, supporting children of all ages in both public and private school settings. Through personal outreach, she continues to inform and influence local education leaders, legislators and community members on best practices for children with specific learning disabilities. She has been instrumental in affecting change both locally and statewide to include providing teachers with specialized reading instruction and helping pass four state laws that benefit students with dyslexia and the staff who work with them.

Lorraine is a trained Mediator and a Certified Dyslexia Advocate. She holds a B.S. degree from the University of South Carolina, is a state leader for Decoding Dyslexia Virginia and serves on the Virginia Branch International Dyslexia Association Board. In 2016, she was selected as the state “Child Advocate of the Year” by the Virginia Parent Teachers Association. She has received national recognition for her work in improving the health and welfare of all children. Her advocacy and consulting business is based out of Lansdowne, Virginia with a focus on serving children in Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Frederick and Fauquier counties.

Elizabeth Joseph



Traci Paden


Joy Payret


Joy Payret, her husband Steve, and their two sons live in Midlothian, VA. Joy received her Master’s of Education in Special Education from Southeastern University in 2015 and also completed her certification in the Wilson Reading System that same year. A special education teacher and reading specialist for many years, Joy is passionate about helping students overcome reading disabilities. Joy is currently working as a Coordinator of Special Education for Chesterfield County Public Schools.

Dr. Wendy Snow


Kurt Walborn


Wendy Wall

Wendy Wall is the Owner and Director of Learning & Behavior Specialists, LLC. She received her undergraduate degree in Learning Disabilities from James Madison University in 1991. She graduated with honors and attended the University of Arizona where she received her master’s degree in Special Education and Rehabilitation in 1994. She participated in a unique program of study designed by Dr. Samuel Kirk, who is recognized as “The Father of Learning Disabilities,” for coining the term learning disability and pioneering the field.

While at Arizona, Wendy assisted Dr. Nancy Mather and Dr. Rhia Roberts in the process of writing Informal Assessment and Instruction in Written Language: A Practitioner’s Guide for Students with Learning Disabilities. Her university training was under the tutelage of many of the world’s most renowned experts, researchers, and authors in the field of special education. Under the direction of these experts, Wendy extensively studied advanced assessment, reading and written language instruction, dyslexia diagnosis and intervention, oral language disabilities, multicultural-bilingual disabilities, special education, consultation, and assessment. She also completed field work as a diagnostician, oral language therapist, and prescriptive educator.

Currently, Wendy is on the board of the Virginia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association. Wendy is a Certified Academic Language Practitioner through the Academic Language Therapy Association and a Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist through the International Dyslexia Association’s Center for Effective Reading Instruction. She recently earned her Certificate of Trainer of Teachers through the Simultaneous Multisensory Institute of Language Arts, which is accredited by the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council. She is the only professional in Western VA with those designations. In addition to her remarkable professional training, has completed “Highly Qualified Special Educator” training and certification in Processing and Cognitive Enhancement and Master the Code. She provides several structured literacy/Orton-Gillingham based programs including the highly regarded Slingerland program. She has earned membership in the Academy of   Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators.

Her many years of experience include assessing and educating students with learning disabilities, dyslexia, and attention deficit disorders (grades K-12) in the public schools and in the private sector. She has mentored student teachers and has guest lectured for teachers in training for University of Arizona, University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, Hollins University, and Virginia Western Community College. She is married and has two sons and a daughter.


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