Board of Directors

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Board of Directors


Jennifer LaHaie, M.Ed., CALT

Jennifer LaHaie has her masters in Curriculum, Instruction and Professional Development from Malone University. Her initial journey into dyslexia began with Level I and II certifications in the Wilson Reading System. Pursuing a deeper interest in dyslexia and structured language, Jennifer completed the Academic Language Therapy program at Southern Methodist University and is a Certified Academic Language Therapist.  Her varied teaching experience in private and public schools has proven valuable as a literacy coach and therapist.  Jennifer’s YouTube channel, “Dyslexia is Not a Dirty Word,” provides valuable information about dyslexia and other related topics.

Her passion is to ensure that students receive the instruction they deserve and empower teachers through support and knowledge sharing.



Morgan Amend, M.Ed., CALT
First Vice President

Morgan Amend is a Certified Academic Language Therapist (Dyslexia Therapist) who became involved with dyslexia after spending many years teaching elementary age students.  She currently has a private practice serving students with dyslexia as well as other written disorders.  In addition, she is an adjunct professor at Notre Dame College helping other teachers incorporate multisensory learning strategies in the classroom.  Morgan became interested in the field of dyslexia after noticing an essential piece of teacher education missing for pre-service teachers.  She hopes to spread the word of dyslexia and effective teaching methods to help all individuals have success in the classroom.  Morgan joined International Dyslexia Association Northern Ohio Branch in 2012 and became a member ALTA (Academic Language Therapy Association) in 2013.  Morgan received her undergraduate degree from Bowling Green State University, and a Master’s degree with a Reading Endorsement from Kent State University.  In 2011, Morgan enrolled in Southern Methodist University for an additional Masters certificate in Learning Therapy, which she received in 2013. Continuing her pursuit of learning, she became Level I certified in the Wilson Reading System in 2016.  Morgan lives in Copley with her husband and two children.  She enjoys spending time with her family and is an avid reader.


Nicole Smyk, CALT, CDT
Second Vice President

Nicole Smyk, has a B.S. in Business Administration from Kent State University and a Master’s Certificate in Academic Language Therapy from Southern Methodist University.  Nicole has been involved with the Northern Ohio Board since 2010.  Nicole begin her journey with dyslexia with her own daughter, who struggled to read until fourth grade.  The local school district was refusing to give her daughter adequate services and in frustration, Nicole sought a private diagnosis and tutoring from a local CALT.  This tutor also happened to be a board member of NOBIDA.  Nicole was intrigued by the results and methods of the tutoring and inquired how she could obtain training.  Little did she know that this would lead to a career change, a passion for dyslexia advocacy, and a position as a member on the Board of Directors of NOBIDA.  Nicole was honored to give her parent testimony before the Ohio Senate Education Committee for dyslexia legislation in October 2011.  Today, Nicole works for The Ratner School and spends every day providing reading intervention to students K-4



Cheryl Kleist, M.B.A.

Cheryl Kleist became involved with dyslexia advocacy when she testified in front of the Ohio Senate Education Committee for dyslexia legislation in October 2011.  At the time, she was struggling to get the school district to acknowledge her son’s reading disability.  She decided to get training in both special education law and structured literacy so she could better advocate for her son.  She has completed over 150 coursework hours from The Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE) and Orton Gillingham International.   She is a founding member of Decoding Dyslexia Ohio and creator of the website,  She became a board member for the Northern Ohio International Dyslexia Association in 2013 and is Co-Chair of the Ohio IDA Executive Legislative Committee, which is comprised of Ohio’s 3 IDA branches:  Northern, Central, and Ohio Valley.  She was appointed to the Ohio Department of Education State Advisory Panel for Exceptional Children (SAPEC) in June 2015.

Cheryl’s background is accounting and she worked for many years in the automotive industry.  She started off working with engineers in the quoting of new business and financial forecasting and worked her way up to the financial controller position in a manufacturing plant, before becoming a stay at home mom.



Jean Tobias, MS, NCSP, CALT

Jean Tobias is a school psychologist serving students in public schools for the past fourteen years. She is a Nationally Certified School Psychologist (NCSP), receiving her Master of Science degree from Miami University. In addition, Jean has a Level I certification in the Wilson Reading System and completed graduate training to become a Certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) through Southern Methodist University.  Presently, Jean is a board member of the International Dyslexia Association – Northern Ohio Branch and works for Plain Local Schools in Stark County.


Mary Jo O’Neill, M.Ed.
Immediate Past President

Mary Jo O’Neill is the founder and director of Creating an Equal Playing Field – an independent practice that helps families of children with dyslexia and other learning differences discover valuable resources and programs available in their schools and in their community. Most recently creating ADVOCATE, which is continuing her passion.  As well, Mary Jo works closely with McCarthy Lebit’s Education practice team to add value and provide support to their clients.

In the past, Mary Jo has worked as an outreach education coordinator with Lawrence School. She has taught in both public and private schools, as well as the Julie Billiart School. She also initiated and developed the administrative function of the Academic Support Center at Notre Dame College.
In 2013, Mary Jo was elected president of the International Dyslexia Association Northern Ohio Branch. Vermont College of Norwich University is where she earned her Bachelor of Arts, Early Childhood Education degree. She earned her master’s degree in mild/moderate learning disabilities at Cleveland State University and is a licensed intervention specialist.

Authorships Forward, “Expect a Miracle” by Sandy & David Petrovic, Infinity Publishing (2014).


Board Members

  • Tammy Alexander, MA, CALT
  • Elizabeth Anderson
  • Katie Bodnovich, CALT
  • Susan Boettler
  • Maribeth Connor, M.Ed.
  • Susan Croy
  • Catherine Doyle
  • Jennifer Elliott, M.Ed.
  • Heidi Flohr
  • Lanny Hollis, PhD
  • Theresa Kaska, M. Ed., CALT, CDT
  • Kimberly Kotynski, M.S.Ed.
  • Carol Moss
  • Susan Moyer
  • Heather Petruccelli, CALT, ICALP
  • Shari Sasso, M Ed
  • Laurie Sheehy, M.Ed.
  • Melissa Spangler, MA Ed, CALT
  • Angela Thi Bennett
  • Niki Vasu
  • Stephen Wagner, Ed. S.


Advisory Council

  • Ellen Brick, MA
  • Karen Dakin, M.Ed.
  • Stephanie Gordon, MA
  • Monica Gordon Pershey, Ed.D., CCC-SLP
  • Trish Harpring, M.Ed., MA
  • Joyce Hedrick, M.Ed.
  • Lori Josephson, MA
  • Pam Kanfer, MS, CALT
  • Sr. Marcia Kiser, M.Ed.
  • Donna Levine, M.Ed.
  • Diane McFiggen, M.Ed.
  • Mary Heather Munger, Ph.D.
  • Larry Orrach, M.Ed.
  • Carol Perry, CALP
  • Heidi Peters, M.Ed.
  • Rebecca Rowell-Malinas, M.Ed., MA
  • Judith Saltzman, JD
  • Rebecca Tolson, M.Ed., CALT, QI
  • Gretchen Walsh, MS.Ed.
  • Steven Wexberg, MD

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