Our History

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The IDA Northern Ohio Branch (NOBIDA) is a non-profit organization with a mission to offer hope, education and the opportunity for personal success to people with dyslexia and those who interact with them in northern Ohio.

The IDA Northern Ohio Branch was formed in 1989 by Stephanie Gordon and others that are still part of this organization today.

Our History outlines the timeline of the branch.


Our lead founder, Stephanie Gordon, educator, parent of a dyslexic child, and spokesperson for dyslexia awareness in the Cleveland-Cuyahoga area has been actively developing awareness in the Cleveland area since 1970 and has been a member of the Orton Dyslexia Society since 1974. She was appointed by Superintendent Dr. Richard Boyd to the Cuyahoga County committee when Public Law 94142 was passed.

Her mentor, Arlene Sonday, invited her to become part of a newly formed national committee on Development to look for ways that would fundraise for the Orton Dyslexia Society. At these meetings, she became acquainted with Robert Hall, a fellow appointee and founder of Educator’s Publishing Services (EPS). Robert Hall challenged Stephanie to have a conference in the Cleveland area and offered her $2,000 seed money to be repaid. Stephanie acted on the offer and her own idea to seek a co-sponsor. She found Dorothy Aram, Ph.D., an ODS member who was on the staff at Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. When they met in May, Dr. Aram said a co-sponsorship would be approved since the hospital had just hired H. Gerry Taylor as Director of RBCH’s Learning Center. The next meeting was deferred to August during which time Karen Dakin, an ODS member and educator, moved to Cleveland and became the fourth member of the planning team.

Drs. Aram and Taylor and Karen and Stephanie met through the months of August, September, and October (Ann Foreman, then an assistant to Dr. Aram, sat in on some meetings). Decisions were made: the conference would be called a symposium, Bruce Pennington would be our keynote speaker ($500 plus air fare and lodging), speakers, Dr. Aram, Dr. Taylor, and Dr. Elizabeth Short, and workshop leaders, Arlene Sonday, C. Wilson Anderson, Karen Dakin, and Stephanie Gordon, would receive a stipend of $100, travel and lodging costs would be paid for Joyce Bulifant, an actress (Mary Tyler Moore TV series) and a person with dyslexia, to talk to the parents.

The co-sponsors were the International Dyslexia Foundation of the Orton Dyslexia Society ((IDF/ODS) and Rainbow Babies and Childrens Hospital (RBCH). IDF/ODS was the funding agent and responsible for written communication, community promotion, and details of the symposium (program, folders, registration). RBCH provided physical facilities and bulk mail and Meg Gunsik (Dr. Aram’s secretary) received checks and reservations, answered personal calls, logged names, and sent checks to Stephanie for deposit. The symposium would be held at the Allen Memorial Library which seated approximately 480 people. Conference rooms at RBCH and classrooms in the Newton D. Baker Building would be available for workshops.

Karen and Stephanie needed help. A letter was sent to area members of the ODS. The group first met at the Greenhouse Restaurant at University Circle. Present were Ellen Brick, Gloria Gilbert, Kathleen McGorray, and Karen St. Amour. Ellen, Director of the dePaul School, offered to do the registration table and to get workers from the dePaul School. Kathleen McGorray offered to help Ellen. Gloria Gilbert offered to write the name tags in calligraphy. Karen St. Amour offered to do the programs. Having been involved with learning disability organizations, Stephanie was given address labels from public TV WVIZ’s Northern Ohio Superintendents’ Organization, Cuyahoga Special Education Service Center, the Greater Cleveland Learning Disability Association, and Educators’ Publishing Service’s Ohio mailing.

On March 8, 1989, the day of the first Symposium, registration topped at 480. The registration fee was $25.00. Refunds were sent to 100 late registrants. Stephanie’s son, Abram Gordon, J.D., Lynn Singer, Ph.D. from RBCH, and Joyce Bulifant spoke about dyslexia and the ongoing symposium on TV 5 Morning Exchange with host Fred Griffith, later to be our first Advisory Council member. Rosemary Bowler, Executive Director of ODS, represented the National ODS Office in Baltimore. Being witnesses to the community response, she, Wilson Anderson (ODS president) and Arlene Sonday (ODS Board of Directors) encouraged us to consider forming a branch. Lori Josephson, ODS member and educator, came to the conference and offered to help form a branch.

Stephanie called an organizational meeting on May 19, 1989 at the dePaul School. In attendance were Ellen Brick, Carole Bryndal, Janet Cinadr, Karen Dakin, Mary Ann Gaetano, Gloria Gilbert, Merle Gordon, Lori Josephson, Brian King, Donna King, Carl Lochard, Kathleen McGorry, Nancy Rushforth, Karen St. Amour, Diane Sudak, Betsy Winchell, and Joyce Wolpert. Three committees were formed: Development, Membership, and Program and attendees picked their choices. Brian King offered to write the 501(c)(3) application.

Stephanie contacted Emi Flynn, ODS Branch Council Development chair and the group became a branch in forming.

On October 7, 1989, a Formation and Election meeting was held at Oberlin College. Karen St. Amour was elected as the first president of the IDA Northern Ohio Branch.

In November, 1991, the IDA Northern Ohio Branch received Charter status within the Orton Dyslexia Society at its national conference in Portland, Oregon.

On March 7-9, 2013 the IDA Northern Ohio Branch held our 25th Anniversary Symposium entitled “The Many Facets of Dyslexia: A Silver Jubilee” to celebrate 25 years of hosting annual dyslexia conference in northern Ohio and more than 25 years of pursuing our mission.

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