Our mission is to raise awareness and understanding of dyslexia and other reading differences and to promote effective intervention strategies. We strive to support dyslexic individuals and their families and to be a resource for teachers and other professionals who work with them.
Membership: Why Should I Join Michigan IDA?
As a member of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA), you’ll join forces with more than 13,000 others who want individuals with dyslexia to realize their fullest potential. The voice of our members is heard among educators, professionals, and policy makers in the United States and abroad. By joining the IDA, you strengthen the voice of people with dyslexia and enhance their ability to benefit from early intervention and effective teaching methods.
Benefits of Membership
Free Access to IDA Publications
Perspectives on Language and Literacy
Annals of Dyslexia
Reading & Writing
IDA Fact Sheets and Infographics
IDA fact sheets and infographics are convenient, professionally reviewed materials designed to improve understanding of dyslexia and support advocacy initiatives. Fact sheets can be used in IEP meetings, school board discussions, district policy initiatives. Infographics help make complex information easier to digest, remember, and share.
IDA Provider Directory
The IDA Provider Directory allows members to search by state for dyslexia professionals including evaluators, therapists, advocates, and tutors.
IDA has created a video library to share video clips, interviews, and informative media clips regarding dyslexia and related learning disabilities. Click below for a compelling example of available videos
Board of Directors
Shannon Koenen, President
Shannon (she/her) is a former middle school teacher with a passion for teaching students with dyslexia. She became interested in dyslexia when her son struggled with literacy issues in elementary school. When he was diagnosed with dyslexia, she pursued training in Structured Literacy so that she could help children with similar struggles. She founded Tutoring Bright Minds in 2014 and feels privileged to educate families about dyslexia while teaching her students to read, write, and spell. Shannon received her B.A. in Education from Smith College and her M.Ed. in Educational Psychology from the University of Washington.
Kristen Potts, Vice President
Kristen Potts (she/her) is the CEO of SLD Read, located in Calhoun, Kalamazoo, Kent, and Mecosta counties. SLD Read strengthens community through literacy by supporting people with learning disabilities, including dyslexia, in improving their reading, writing, and spelling skills. Potts has fifteen years of experience in the nonprofit sector, formerly serving as the Resource Development and Operations Director at Disability Network Southwest Michigan. In addition to resource development, Potts’ experience is focused on relationship building, community engagement and communications.
Karen Wasco, Secretary
Since 2004, Karen Wasco (she/her) has been practicing as a speech-language pathologist with a special interest and experience in literacy. She received her M.S. degree in Communication and Science Disorders from Gallaudet University. Ms. Wasco began her career at the University of Michigan Center for the Development of Language and Literacy where she worked with Dr. Joanne Pierson on DyslexiaHelp. She conducted language-literacy evaluations and provided intervention to elementary through college-age individuals with LLD. Currently, she works at the Literacy, Language and Learning Institute. Ms. Wasco holds certification in SLP from the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA) and Associate Level certification through the Orton-Gillingham Academy.
Lynn Jessel, Treasurer
Lynn M. Jessel is a Certified Public Accountant who graduated from Western Michigan University with a BBA and was in private practice for more than 35 years. Her primary focus was on small businesses (private and NPO) assisting with their accounting and tax needs. Jessel was treasurer of the Kalamazoo Loaves and Fishes for two terms. Upon selling her accounting and tax business, she became an Orton-Gillingham trained reading tutor and assisted struggling readers K to grade 2. It was there that she became acquainted with the Michigan Branch of the IDA and has been their treasurer since 2019.
Susan Schmidt, Director
Susan is a veteran educator who has served students and adults with learning disabilities for over 35 years in rural and urban areas in several states. As a result of extensive training at the Michigan Dyslexia Institute, she has incorporated the Orton-Gillingham method into the classroom setting for the past 25 years with exceptional results. With a B.S. in Elementary Education and M.A. in Educational Policy and Leadership from The Ohio State University as well as five years working in the Michigan Legislature, Susan is equipped to help lead the fight to get dyslexia legislation passed in the State of Michigan.
Jennifer Olmstead, Director
Jen resides in Sault Ste. Marie and is in private practice at A Therapy World and The Dyslexia Center. She has over 25 years in behavioral health and is a Registered Play Therapist, an Advanced Certified Children, Youth and Family Social Worker, a Certified Children’s Trauma Therapist, a Certified Advanced Alcohol and Drug Counselor, and Certified Dyslexia Practitioner. In her extensive work with ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, FAS/FAE, and Dyslexia, she has found various similarities, yet differences, that have assisted her in differentiating diagnoses. She has worked within schools, tribal, medical, community mental health and public health, social services, criminal justice, and private sectors.
Shawndra Swanigan, Director
Shawndra Swanigan is an office assistant at Complete Neuropsychology Services in Ann Arbor. As an adult with dyslexia and ADHD she understands the challenges and trauma that can accompany these diagnoses. She believes in advocacy and empathy for dyslexics because she walks the same path. She feels passionate about spreading awareness of dyslexia and how to remediate it. She wants to give voices to people with dyslexia who need support so that they will not struggle with literacy. Her love and faith in God keep her going every day.
Marsha Howell Chance, Director
As the mother of two grown daughters who have dyslexia, Marsha (she/her) has long understood the vast range of learning needs among students. Trained at the Michigan Dyslexia Institute, she began providing Orton-Gillingham instruction in 1987. With a BA in Elementary Education and MA in Educational Administration, Marsha spent 32 years as an educator and program administrator in the Okemos Public Schools. She is currently serving as the Executive Director/CEO of the Michigan Dyslexia Institute. The Institute provides teacher training in Orton-Gillingham and has five instructional centers throughout the state that provide evaluations and language instruction to persons with dyslexia. She is committed to helping educators understand dyslexia and gain the knowledge and skills to make a difference for those who are challenged by it.