Speaker Bios 2021

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PBIDA’s 43rd Annual Fall Conference on Literacy and Learning Disabilities

Achieving Equity in Literacy
Recordings Available Now through January 31, 2022
Virtual 2021 Conference

Speaker Bios

Keynote Speaker: Dr. Julie Washington

Dr. Julie Washington is a Professor in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine (UCI). Dr. Washington directs the Learning Disabilities Research Innovation Hub and is Director of the Dialect, Poverty and Academic Success lab at UCI. Currently, Dr. Washington’s research is focused on the intersection of literacy, language variation, and poverty. In particular, her work focuses on understanding the role of cultural dialect in assessment, identification of reading disabilities in school-aged African American children and on disentangling the relationship between language production and comprehension on development of reading and early language skills for children growing up in poverty.        

Dr. Peggy Hickman

Peggy Hickman, Ph.D. is currently an Associate Professor and Chair of the School of Education at Arcadia University. She is also the Director of the IDA Accredited Reading programs at Arcadia.  Her professional expertise includes structured literacy and biliteracy, multicultural special education, educator preparation related to diverse and multicultural populations, and educational leadership in diverse cultural and linguistic environments, with children in general and special education. Dr. Hickman has engaged in extensive professional development and instructor coaching for educators in PK-12 settings in the past 15 years, and each semester teaches master’s-level courses in instruction and assessment for teachers working with diverse and struggling learners in the content areas in PK-12 schools. In addition, Dr. Hickman taught school-aged students for 9 years in monolingual English and bilingual inclusive settings.

Dr. Jeter-Iles

Dr. Priscilla Jeter-Iles is currently the Director of Field Experiences and Outreach and an Assistant Professor at Arcadia University. Prior to her current position, Dr. Jeter-Iles served as an adjunct professor at Arcadia University for over 19 years while teaching in the Philadelphia School District. The last three years of her public-school tenure, she was the School Based Teacher Leader (SBTL).  Dr. Jeter-Iles received her BA and secondary certification in Social Science from Wheaton College in 1986.  She received her M.Ed. from Arcadia University, formerly Beaver College in 1999.  In 2009, Dr. Priscilla Jeter-Iles received her doctorate in Education from Arcadia University.  In addition to her degrees, she holds certifications in Early Childhood Education, Secondary Education and Leadership. She has over thirty years of experience in the combined fields of Social Work, Education and Behavioral Health.  Dr. Jeter-Iles maintains several memberships in a variety of professional organizations.

Dr. Colleen Lelli

Colleen Lelli, Ed.D. is a Professor in the Educational Specialists Department and the Director of the Center for Children of Trauma and Domestic Violence Education at Cabrini University. Dr. Lelli brings over 25 years of experience in the education field. She began her career teaching preschool children and then taught students with various disabilities at the high school level in Pottsgrove, PA. Dr. Lelli, in her 19 years in higher education has taught both undergraduate and graduate courses including Reading methods courses, Special Education methods courses, and Autism methodology courses. Her research interests include growing educators’ abilities to support the learning of those who have witnessed trauma. One key focus is using children’s literature to advocate for children with various traumas (e.g., helping children of trauma gain resilience). Additionally, Dr. Lelli has published and presented widely providing various professionals, key strategies to support children of trauma to learn effectively. Her first book was published through Rowman and Littlefield publishing and focuses on best practices educators and other professionals can use to support children with trauma. Dr. Lelli is actively engaged in community organizations while serving on numerous board positions including Laurel House, a comprehensive domestic violence agency in Montgomery County, PA; secretary of the board of Delaware County Victim Assistance Center and a board member for her local public library. 

Michael Frawley & Kathy Walker

Mike Frawley is the Director of Educational Technology for Woodlynde School where he also teaches Upper School English. He has a bachelor’s degree from Temple University and certifications in Elementary, Special, Mid-Level, and High School Education. He has been at Woodlynde School since 2015. Prior to joining Woodlynde, he taught Middle School English, Reading, and Science in the Pennsbury School District in Bucks County, Pennsylvania. He’s an avid reader and cinephile who can’t wait to start traveling the world again.

Kathy Walker teaches Middle School Writing at Woodlynde School. She has a Master of Education degree from LaSalle University, and she’s been teaching at Woodlynde since 1996 (25 years strong!). Kathy is certified in Elementary, Mid-Level, High School, and Special Education. She loves the beach and is looking forward to her next trip to the shore.

Jake Sussman

As a child who struggled with LD Jake Sussman felt worthless by the time he hit 6th grade. He faced many obstacles during his academic journey and was told he would never go to college due to his learning challenges. However, by his junior year in high school, he came to realize that while every human being has a brain, nobody has the same mind. As an adult, Jake’s purpose and mission in life is to change the conversation around learning and attention challenges for future generations. 

Jake is the Founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of Superpower Consulting, a mentoring firm that ignites LD students across the globe to confidently and successfully excel in traditional learning environments through matching mentees to their very own mentor who also struggled in school due to their LD. The philosophy of Jake’s “Discover your Superpowers” mentorship program is to not only focus on strengths instead of only on challenges, but to create customized tools for each mentee to become a master self-advocate. The results have been life changing.  Jake rigorously works to enlighten educators and parents to the needs of the young LD mind.

Today, Jake facilitates conversations around the world, including opening the International Dyslexia Associations global conference, spreading his message of communication, perseverance, and passion. Jake has curated a team of prominent doctors and professionals with the purpose of developing a program that empowers students with learning and attention challenges: children and adults, alike.


Pam Kastner, Ed.D., is an educational consultant at the Pennsylvania Training and Technical Assistance Network (PaTTAN) Harrisburg, where she serves as the State Lead Consultant for Literacy. Pam currently leads Pennsylvania’s Dyslexia Screening and Early Literacy Intervention Pilot Program extension and expansion for PaTTAN. Dr. Kastner is part of a research team investigating the impact of explicit instruction in advanced phonemic awareness on student literacy outcomes. She serves on the statewide Multi-tiered System of Supports (MTSS) team working extensively in the area of literacy, effective instruction, formative assessment, and professional learning communities. Dr. Kastner has served in a number of leadership capacities at the district level and served as a Pennsylvania Distinguished Educator for the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Dr. Kastner is a National Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling (LETRS) trainer and a certified reading specialist.  Dr. Kastner is an adjunct professor at Wilson College where she teaches LETRS courses and an adjunct professor at Mount Saint Joseph University in the Reading Science Program. Dr. Kastner also has the honor of serving as the President of The Reading League Pennsylvania.

Mary Dillon is the Director of Elementary Curriculum and Instruction K-6 at the Pen Argyl Area School District. She holds Pennsylvania State Certifications in Early Childhood Education N-3, Elementary Education K-6, Reading Specialist PK-12, Principal PK-12, and Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction PK-12. Before assuming her administrative position, Mary spent 18 years as a teacher and reading specialist at Plainfield Elementary. In 2015, Mary was selected to represent the Pen Argyl Area School District as the lead teacher in their participation in the PA Dyslexia Pilot Program. Mary obtained national certification by the Academic Language Therapy Association as an Academic Language Practitioner (CALP). Through the Extension and Expansion of the Pennsylvania Dyslexia Pilot Program, Mary completed the requirements to gain the certification of Instructor of Certified Academic Language Practitioner (ICALP).

Christina Grayson is a language and literacy specialist currently serving as Assistant Director of Early Literacy and Science of Reading Implementation Lead for Mastery Charter Schools. Prior to joining Mastery, she directed the development of accelerative literacy learning materials for teachers and kindergarteners, first, and second grades. Christina has spent the majority of her career as a literacy interventionist serving culturally, linguistically, and neuro-diverse 5-8 year-olds in New Orleans and Boston. In partnership with Dr. Catherine Snow, she presented original research on the impact of uptake of student talk on perspective-taking in deep comprehension at American Educational Research Association’s Annual Conference in 2015. Christina is passionate about the role educators’ professional self-concept and student-centric training play in children’s’ intellectual development and pursues this interest at the nexus of K-12 practice and research.
Christina holds a B.A. in Urban Studies from the University of Pennsylvania and an M.Ed in Language and Literacy Acquisition from Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Ernesto Ortiz, Jr. is entering his fifth year as the proud principal of McDonald Elementary School in the Centennial School District. He has been an elementary public educator for 20 years having spent the first sixteen years in the Allentown School District. Ernesto is a doctoral student at Delaware Valley University where his research focuses on the impact the science of reading has on teachers’ knowledge of how students learn to read and how it impacts teachers’ reading instruction and assessment practices.

Penny Moldofsky

Penny Moldofsky is the Director of the Literacy Institute at Woodlynde School.  She is a Wilson® Credentialed Trainer, Wilson® Dyslexia Therapist, Pennsylvania Level II Reading Specialist.  As an educator for more than 50 years, she has worked with students with dyslexia for nearly 50 years. In addition, she has trained hundreds of teachers as Wilson Certified Instructors in both Level I and Level II of the intensive Wilson Reading System® and Just Words®.  In 2020 she was honored with PBIDA’s Hoopes’ Award. She continues to hone her craft by working with students with dyslexia, their parents, and their teachers so they can thrive and become independent and strategic readers. 



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