The purpose of The Learning Alliance's Expert Advisor Network is to give professional and knowledgeable advice to the organization in the individual advisor's areas of expertise. Our advisors come from diverse backgrounds and hold varied points of view. All of The Learning Alliance's advisors share a deep concern for learning and literacy.
Joyce Pickering is the Executive Director of Shelton School & Evaluation Center in Dallas, Texas, the largest private school for LD students worldwide. Joyce began her career as a speech-language pathologist and has devoted herself to helping LD students. Among her many leadership positions, Joyce was President of the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council for 8 years and served on the board of the International Dyslexia Association for 10 years.
Her work has been published in many educational journals and she has been honored by many professional associations. She was recognized by the Pennsylvania Montessori Teachers Association for her work in the field of early childhood education. In 2009 she was nominated for the 2010 Living Legacy by the American Montessori Society.
In May 2002 she received an honorary doctorate in humanities from Dallas Baptist Univesity, in May 2003 she was honored by Exceptional Parent with their Distinguished Service Award. In 2006 she was recognized by IDA for her years of contributions.
Arlene Sonday, Author, Educational Consultant and Speaker has been teaching struggling readers, including those with dyslexia, for more than forty years.
She is an adjunct instructor at Hamline University in Minnesota, and has taught graduate courses at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey and numerous other universities and colleges. Arlene is listed in Who's Who in American Women in Education. She is a Founding Fellow and first president of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, on the Advisory Board of Fairleigh Dickinson’s Dyslexia Specialist Certificate program, a founding member and board member of Orton-Gillingham Minnesota, past vice-president of The International Dyslexia Association, past president of The International Dyslexia Association – Upper Midwest Branch, and past member of the Advisory Council of the Scottish Rite Children's Learning Centers.
Arlene received the Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award given by the International Dyslexia Association in 2009 and an award as Outstanding MSLE Professional from IMSLEC, International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council in 2008. In 2009, Fairleigh Dickinson University established the Arlene Sonday Award for Excellence in Teaching, given annually to a teacher who has earned the FDU Dyslexia Specialist Certificate and brought the program into his/her public school system.
She is the author of the Sonday System, four curricula for preschool, emergent and intermediate readers, published by Winsor Learning of St. Paul, MN. Arlene has taught courses and presented at conferences in India, Pakistan, Thailand, China, Egypt, Kuwait, England and Jamaica.
Dr. Susan Grant holds a Ph.D. in Neuroscience, having studied at the Graduate School of Medicine and the College Park campuses of the University of Maryland. She specializes and did research in Neurolinguistics, the study of the relationship between brain and language development. She also holds a Master of Science and Maryland license in Speech and Language Pathology. Dr. Grant has been in private clinical practice for more than 25 years, diagnosing and developing treatment plans for children with speech-language, reading, writing and learning disabilities, working closely with many public and independent schools throughout the State of Maryland, Washington, D.C., Virginia, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Her practice includes speech language pathologists and a psychologist who are available to provide therapy services and counseling. She has taught at the University of Maryland as visiting faculty and is a current member of the Advisory Committee on Exceptional Children and Youth for the U.S. State Department Office of Overseas Education. She was the founding Board member and Board president of a middle and high school, college preparatory program for students with learning disabilities. Dr. Grant lectures and has given many workshops nationally and internationally on the applicability of brain research to good teaching practice, language and reading acquisition, and learning disabilities.
Michael J. Labellarte, Sr., M.D.is a child and adolescent psychiatrist whose private practice, CPE Clinic, LLC., has offices in Towson, Columbia and Severna Park, Maryland, and in Vero Beach, Florida.Dr. Labellarte’s expertise in patient care is informed not only by his clinical research but also by his experiences in various patient care settings. He has evaluated and treated patients presenting to outpatient private practice, outpatient hospital specialty clinics, the hospital emergency department, inpatient hospital treatment, day hospital treatment, outpatient community mental health treatment, community crisis outreach and diversion, and consultation-liaison with primary care physicians and other treatment providers. He has also evaluated patients embroiled in criminal court, family court, and immigration court. Dr. Labellarte’s current practice centers around consultation and ongoing treatment of children and adolescents with complicated stories and complex psychiatric presentations. He utilizes psychopharmacotherapy, parent-management training, and other evidence-based treatment approaches. He often treats the parents and siblings of his patients as well. Targeted issues at CPE Clinic, LLC. include medication responsive psychiatric disorders (e.g. ADHD, anxiety disorders, autism spectrum disorders, bipolar disorder, depression, OCD, and Tourette’s disorder), behavior disorders, academic and school-liaison difficulties, and consultation on forensic cases involving hardship due to immigration or hardship due to divorce. He is experienced in serving patients who often require complicated treatment combinations and collaboration with other treatment providers.
In addition to providing psychiatric diagnosis and treatment of patients, Dr. Labellarte is a noted consultant on cases involving immigration hardship and cases involving child custody dispute. He maintains faculty appointments at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine and University of Florida Medical College. He maintains board certification in child and adolescent psychiatry, and previously earned board certification in general psychiatry as well.
Jean Schedler, Ph.D., Schedler Educational Consulting, Elkton, MD., has worked as a teacher, trainer, interventionist, assessor, and specialist in Reading Disorders both here in the United States and New Zealand. Dr. Schedler has been a keynote speaker and presented papers at many national and international conferences. She was part of the US Dept of Education Teacher-to-Teacher (2005) Initiative, an adjunct professor, and is a Co-Contributing author, Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills , Second & Third (in press) Editions. She is a Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators, and has served as Branch President for the International Dyslexia Association (IDA)Her clinical and research interests are in providing and maintaining sustainable reading instruction and interventions in the core and tiered reading programs, as well as, implementing reading comprehension intervention programs in middle and high school settings. At present, she is a reading consultant working collaboratively with schools to build sustainable reading programs using a systems design approach.
Dr. Joe Torgesen Director Emeritus, Florida Center for Reading Research at Florida State University, is our newest member for our National Advisory Board. Joseph Torgesen is a Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology and Education, Emeritus, at Florida State University. He is also the Director Emeritus of the Florida Center for Reading Research. He has been conducting research with children who have learning problems for over 30 years, and is the author of approximately 190 articles, book chapters, books, and tests related to reading and learning disabilities. His research interests have included reading development, reading disabilities and intervention, and assessment. He is a past member of National Board of Education Sciences, and was given the Orton Award from the International Dyslexia Association in 2006 for his contributions to the science of reading and dyslexia.
Heidi Sparkes Guber has brought her experience in learning-based performance and strategic leadership to a wide variety of organizations for over 25 years. She has worked with numerous non-profit and social service organizations, for-profit companies and government agencies, often in collaboration among them in search of innovative ways for committed stakeholders to deliver on the promise of their institutions.
Accelerated learning and performance through simple, scalable collective practice is at the heart of Ms. Guber’s work. She is currently conducting a two‐year developmental evaluation project with R&D initiatives at Living Cities, the social innovation consortium of 22 of the world's largest financial institutions and US philanthropic foundations. Ms. Guber developed the Breakthrough Leadership Process™ at Citibank, Bank One, Finance One, Ford Credit and Ford Motor Company as a leadership development approach to strategy implementation. In partnership with senior corporate leaders, these tools and methods have also been applied with success in non-profit and community development arenas such as educational reform and community revitalization.
In a five-year initiative with Ms. Guber’s support, the International Dyslexia Association expanded from its focus on academic research to becoming a vibrant national network of academic experts and researchers, school administrators and teachers, community service agencies and families.