Reading in the City – Our Speakers

Saturday, April 15, 2023, 8am-3:30pm at Denver Academy

The Conference Pricing & FAQs Schedule Speakers

We are thrilled to announce that our 2023 keynote speaker is Dr. Jan Wasowicz!

Jan Wasowicz, PhD, CCC-SLP, BCS-CL, has more than 40 years of experience as a language, literacy, and learning specialist. She has worked with students who have language-based reading, writing, and spelling problems in a variety of educational settings, including public schools and private practice.

Dr. Wasowicz is frequently invited to speak about best practices in literacy assessment and instruction at national, state, and local meetings and has taught numerous undergraduate and graduate courses, holding faculty positions at Northwestern University, Elmhurst College, Rush–Presbyterian–St. Luke’s Medical Center, and Governors State University.

She has authored articles appearing in scholarly journals, is the inventor of the original Earobics® software, and is an author of all SPELL-Links products and is the lead moderator of the esteemed SPELLTalk multi-disciplinary professional listserv. Throughout her career she has received numerous awards and patents in recognition of her pioneering work and her contributions to the fields of education, language, learning, and literacy.

Dr. Wasowicz is an ASHA-certified, IL-licensed and FL-licensed speech-language pathologist and an ASHA Board Certified Specialist in Child Language and she holds a professional educator license with multiple endorsements from the State Teacher Certification Board of Illinois. She maintains a private practice in IL via tele-practice and in FL serving students with oral and written language disorders.

Scroll down to learn more about our fabulous session speakers!

(speakers are listed alphabetically by last name)

Beth Anderson, M. Ed.

Beth Anderson is a retired ELL teacher and author of narrative nonfiction picture books and has extensive experience working with diverse learners.
Andrea Arguello, Assistant Principal and Bright MINDS Program Administrator

Mrs. Arguello is an Assistant Principal who provides administrative guidance and oversight to the Bright MINDS Program. Her background includes teaching as a Learning Specialist and serving as Special Education Department Chair. She has a Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education with an endorsement in Secondary Education from the Metropolitan State University of Denver and a Master’s Degree in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Denver. Additionally, Andrea is highly qualified in English Language Arts (7-12), Social Studies (7-12), Elementary Education (K-6), Special Ed Generalist (5-21), and Reading.
Rachel Arnold, Dyslexia Specialist, District Literacy Coordinator for La Veta School District, IDA-RMB President-Elect

Rachel Arnold holds a master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction as well as a Culturally and Linguistically Diverse (CLD) endorsement  She completed the MAT Dyslexia Specialist program at Colorado College, and provides intervention to students as a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) in training. Rachel will begin coursework in Mind, Brain, and Teaching graduate program at John’s Hopkins University this fall. A featured podcast guest-speaker, and recent co-presenter at Reading in the Rockies, Rachel will be presenting at the World Literacy Summit in Oxford, England this spring, and is currently collaborating with a National Joint Committee on Learning Disabilities research team investigating the connection between reading disabilities and school to prison pipeline.
Laura Boak, M.Ed Educational Therapist & Content Manager, Ascend Learning Center

While teaching second grade, Laura often found it challenging to give students who were struggling in reading the attention they deserved and needed . This experience inspired her to go back to school to study reading intervention at George Mason University. After four years of teaching in the classroom, she transitioned into the position of reading specialist and continued to grow her knowledge about the science of reading and writing. The success of her students inspired her to join the Ascend team as an Educational Therapist and Content Manager.
Brenda Butler, Kindergarten Teacher


Brenda Butler is a Kindergarten Teacher, Former District LETRS Trainer, and an Orton-Gillingham International Trainer.
Carrie Cole, M.Ed.

Carrie Cole is an independent educational consultant with Side-by-Side Educational Consulting. She is a contributing author for CORE’s Teaching Reading Sourcebook and is known for her ability to not only effectively communicate the latest research on evidence-based literacy practices, but also demonstrate how to implement these practices in the “real world” classroom.
Carolee Dean, M.S., CCC-SLP

Carolee Dean is an SLP, CALT, YA author, creator of HOT ROD decodable books, and she has extensive experience working with diverse learners.
Kristen DeBeer, Multisensory Math Tutor

Kristen DeBeer is a multisensory math tutor in the south metro. She received her training from Marilyn Zecher, M.A., CALT, at the Multisensory Training Institute of ASDEC in Rockville, MD. She holds a BA in Spanish with a minor in Mathematics from Drake University and an MBA from the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia.
Kayden Forsha, Ryan Pool, Aya Kawanabe, Messiah Beckworth Lloyd,Will Wiedman, Scout Rothchild & Elenn Steinberg
This team are experts in the area of dyslexia and ADHD. Kayden Forsha & Ryan Pool are TED talk presenters. Elenn Steinberg has presented at conferences around the world on the subject of dyslexia, student motivation, self-advocacy & empowerment. Included on our team are other younger people who share their expertise.
Robert Frantum-Allen, MA, Consultant

Robert Frantum-Allen, MA is a multifaceted leader, previously a curriculum and instruction manager for special and gifted and talented education, Director of Gifted and Talented as well as Director of Special Education for Denver Public Schools. Currently, Robert is a teacher of Early Childhood Special Education classes at DU, works as a Senior Consultant with Public Consulting Group in the early literacy division, and is the founder of Special Education Leadership Solutions LLC.
Jolene Gutiérrez, MLS

Jolene Gutiérrez is a children’s author and a teacher-librarian at Denver Academy and has extensive experience working with diverse learners.
Kelly Haase, Reading & Data Coach and Reading Interventionist

After teaching for over 20 years as a primary teacher, starting in Colorado Springs, Kelly Haase pursued certification with the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators as a Classroom Educator and became a Yoshimoto Orton-Gillingham Master Trainer in 2016. Haase then received certifications from the Academic Language and Therapy Associations (ALTA) and Knowledge and Practice Examination for Effective Reading Instruction (KPEERI) to become a Certified Academic Literacy Therapist (CALT) and Certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Specialist (C-SLDS).
Holly Haycraft, IDA-RMB Director

Holly Haycraft is currently a Literacy Interventionist at Kohl Elementary School in the Boulder Valley School District. She has been an educator for 26 years teaching both special education and elementary education. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education in the areas of Emotional/Behavioral Disorders and Specific Learning Disabilities from Minnesota State University Moorhead and a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from Prairie View A&M University. In addition, she completed her Elementary Education certification from Regis University. She is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and is currently training to be a Qualified Instructor for Take Flight.
Leslie Kesson, MA.Ed., Reading Interventionist & Tutor


Leslie Kesson, MA. Ed., is a Tutor, Retired Interventionist, OGI Trainer, IDA Member, and AGOPE Associate and Member.
Cindy Kanuch, M.Ed., CALT, A/OGA, C-SLDI, Principal of Orton Academy, IDA-RMB Director

Cindy Kanuch is a Certified Academic Language Therapist, an Associate with the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, a CERI Certified Structured Literacy Dyslexia Interventionist, the Principal of Orton Academy in Colorado Springs, and a board member of the Rocky Mountain Branch of the IDA.
Laura Lay, Senior Literacy Consultant, Colorado Department of Education

Laura Lay is a Senior Literacy Consultant at the Colorado Department of Education and a former public librarian at San Francisco Public Library. As a librarian as well as a literacy specialist, Laura works to collaborate community-wide in helping students become successful, skillful, and joyful readers. She believes literacy is a fundamental human right and that literacy instruction is a social justice issue. Laura and her work have been recognized by the Urban Libraries Council as a 2018 Top Innovator, by Library Journal as a 2019 Mover and Shaker, and by San Francisco Unified School District’s Community Advisory Committee of Special Education as a 2019 Advocate Worthy of Excellence.

Jay Mayer, Associate/OGA, IDA-RMB Director


Jay Mayer is a retired elementary school teacher who taught in public schools for 25 years. He has a master’s degree in Education from Pepperdine University, an Administration License from the University of Denver, and a bachelor’s degree in Real Estate Finance from the University of Denver. He is an Associate member with the Orton-Gillingham Academy and enjoys tutoring many students like himself. As a dyslexic, he is committed to helping students and families who struggle with reading and learning. He also manages OGAnswers LLC with his wife, who trains and mentors teachers and tutors in the Orton-Gillingham Approach. Jay is a lifelong learner who has attended Reading in the Rockies for over a decade, along with many other opportunities offered by IDA-RMB, in order to keep up with current strategies backed by the science of reading. Jay enjoys volunteering for IDA-RMB.
Todd C. Ognibene, Ph.D., NCSP, School and Clinical Psychologist

Dr. Ognibene (Dr. O) is coordinator for the Bright MINDS (dyslexia support) Program at Alameda International Jr/Sr HS (Jeffco Public Schools). He received his Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology from the University of Denver in 2002 and has been employed as a licensed school psychologist with Jeffco Public Schools since then. Dr. O also maintains a small private practice specializing in the assessment of dyslexia and related learning disabilities, as well as attentional disorders and executive function skill deficits.
Teri Parsons, MA.Ed., MAT, CALT
Teri Parsons is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and works part time at Bear Creek Elementary School in Monument, CO, providing individualized, small group language therapy to 2nd through 4th grade students. She previously worked at Orton Academy and Freedom Elementary and is well-versed implementing Take Flight Curriculum and Orton-Gillingham methods. Teri has two master’s degrees, Literacy Specialist and Elementary Education. She currently holds a Colorado Professional Teacher License with Elementary Education (K-6) and Reading Specialist (K-12) Endorsements. Teri is a retired Air Force veteran of 28 years, is currently serving on the IDA-RMB Board as secretary, and is also a member of the Academic Language Therapy and International Literacy Associations.
Tanya Peshovich, M.Ed.

Tanya Peshovich, M. Ed., is passionate about working with educators to implement evidence-based literacy practices and tiered systems of support based on the Science of Reading. As a former teacher and literacy coach, she is able to help educators bridge the research-to-practice gap. Ms. Peshovich is Orton–Gillingham trained and tutors children diagnosed with dyslexia, while also supporting various school districts in Montana, Idaho, and Colorado.
Sarah Richards, Level I Certified Wilson Reading System Instructor, Bright MINDS Program

Sarah is one of the Wilson Level 1 Certified Dyslexia Practitioners in the Bright MINDS Program. She has a varied international and domestic teaching background ranging in ages from 4th grade all the way to adult education. She started out teaching Spanish and English in the United States, then earned her Master’s specializing in English as a Second Language while living in GermanyShe is grateful to have completed her Wilson training with her own dyslexic daughter in preparation for the opening of the Bright MINDS Program.

Kari Roden, WY LIT Co-Founder, IDA-RMB Director

Kari Roden worked for 12 years as an Elementary school teacher and has her Masters in Literacy.  Her career took a new trajectory when her daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia in 2016. Kari Roden is currently an Intensive Reading Interventionist with Laramie County School District #1 in Cheyenne, WY and working as a literacy advocate. Kari assisted in the passing of Wyoming HB 297 related to dyslexia, evidence-based literacy and reading screening and response.  She co-founded a non-profit called WY LIT to provide funding across Wyoming for teacher training in evidence-based literacy, identifying the signs of dyslexia and evidence-based interventions. She is a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner.

Selena Roth, M.Ed., IDA-RMB Director

Selena Roth has a Master’s degree in Education with a concentration in Reading Science from Mount St. Joseph University. She is trained in reading therapy by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, SPELL-Links, and LETRS®. Selena works with private practice students, parents, and schools/districts on advocacy issues. Roth is a board member of the IDA-RMB and COKID. She founded the Cherry Creek Kids Identified with Dyslexia KID (CCKID) branch and is also a working member of The Dyslexia Working Group with the Colorado Department of Education. Selena and her colleagues at Southern Methodist University are working on a Barbra Bush Grant, developing a curriculum and structured literacy content for a learning app designed to advance literacy skills for functioning illiterate adults.
Nora Wersich Schlesinger, Ph.D., CALT, W.D.P.

Dr. Schlesinger has a Ph.D. from AZ State University in Speech and Hearing Science and is the Director of Language and Literacy Education at Wilson Language Training. She is a certified Structured Language Dyslexia Specialist and a Wilson Dyslexia Practitioner and an ardent advocate for individuals who struggle with reading.
Juliana Tapper, M.Ed

Through her company, CollaboratEd Consulting LLC, Juliana Tapper has provided training to over 2,200 secondary math teachers across the US. A former high school math teacher, Tapper has taught, led departments, and led PLC teams at three high schools. She served as a district math coach and TOSA and led PD for math and SPED teachers across 13 high schools. Her work has been published in NCTM’s journal, Mathematics Learning & Teaching, and she presents at national and state conferences.

Jessica Thurby, Learning Specialist and Level I Certified Wilson Reading System instructor

Ms. Thurby is a Level I Certified Wilson Reading System instructor with the Bright MINDS program. She is a Special Education Learning Specialist at Alameda. She graduated from Metropolitan State University of Denver in 2017 majoring in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences with a minor in Special Education concentrating in Childhood Communication. After graduating, she continued her education, doing additional coursework to get her license as a Special education teacher as well as an endorsement in Culturally and Linguistically Diverse education.
Mary Yarus, M.Ed., CALT, SLDS

Mary Yarus earned an M.Ed. and is a Certified Academic Language Therapist and a Structured Language Dyslexia Specialist. Her career in education began in 2001 following her daughter’s diagnosis of dyslexia. Mary also serves on the board of Houston Branch of IDA and is a past president.

Thank you for reading all about our 2023 Reading in the City Speakers!

Check out our schedule and session descriptions next…