Our Vision

We believe that all children should have access to the academic support they need to succeed. We are focused on promoting community awareness and fostering a greater understanding of the issues and challenges faced by children with learning challenges. Through early intervention, our goal is to make a transformative difference in the learning and life outcomes of students. Our ultimate goal is to effect system change with wide ranging societal benefits.

Our Mission

To empower all children and youth with learning disabilities to recognize their unique strengths and develop the tools to achieve life-long confidence and success.

Our Values

Community, Kindness, Acceptance, Achievement

Meet the Team

Rachel S. Forbes, JD

Executive Director

Executive Director

Rachel has a formal education in social geography, communications and law. Over the past 20 years, she has worked with dozens of non profits, charities and companies, including serving as executive director, program lead, staff lawyer, and also in a volunteer capacity on various non profit boards.

She enjoys utilizing her breadth of experience in governance, fundraising, strategy, project management and communications to build capacity within LDS as it continues in a period of strategic growth. Rachel is thrilled to be leading the energetic and committed professionals who make up the LDS team on our journey to ensure no student is left behind. As a parent and as someone who grew up knowing the education system closely, Rachel is passionate about ensuring every child has access to the support they need to thrive in their education and throughout their lives.

Rachel graciously lives, works and plays within the traditional territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.

Melissa Sager

Associate Director of Learning Support

Associate Director of Learning Support

Melissa has over ten years of experience providing remedial instruction for children with special needs in both public and private settings, and she is certified to teach in BC schools. While completing her Masters in Education, she taught diverse student populations with Learning Disabilities in a special education classroom. She became very interested in the field of Behaviour Analysis and later worked with several organizations to implement early intervention programs for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. 

After seeing the positive impact individualized instruction had on her clients over many years, Melissa decided to create a small school where she focused on the unique strengths, needs and interests of homeschool students. She worked with a team of multidisciplinary professionals to address academic, social, emotional, behavioural and executive functioning goals, while nurturing maximum student engagement through interest-based learning programs. She is very excited to be a part of the LDS team and continue working with specialists, instructors, students, parents and schools to help children and youth become more confident and achieve their full potential.

Claire Matthews

Training Program Manager

Program Manager

Claire joined the LDS team in March 2018 after completing her Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia. She has over six years of teaching experience educating children and adults. As the Program Manager, Claire leads instructor matching and scheduling, works on program development and leads instructors in LDS’s best practices. She is passionate about education and committed to supporting instructors to provide our superior delivery of service to our students.

Melissa Henderson

Learning Support Manager

Learning Support Manager

Melissa joined the LDS team in May 2019, as Learning Support Manager. She completed a B.A in Speech Sciences at UBC, and has a passion for linguistics, and education. With prior experience in remedial instruction and administration within remedial therapy organizations, she has seen the difference that proper support and quality instruction can make in the lives of students with learning disabilities. Melissa is truly excited to be a part of an organization that helps to make learning accessible for all students.

Syma Shaheen

Communications and Fundraising Manager

Communications and Fundraising Manager

Syma has come to LDS with over 10 years of marketing, communication and event experience.  She has worked with many organizations throughout Vancouver in both the not-for-profit sector and smaller enterprises. Working with organizations that are close to her heart she has been able to develop and create opportunities for businesses to thrive and grow, all in support of enriching lives. Her passion has always been working for organizations that provide people with opportunities to succeed and find their own personal power. 

Syma loves connecting with people, building communities and partnerships. In her personal time she can be found teaching and practicing yoga and spending time with her many nieces and nephews. Syma is excited to be a part of this amazing team and looks forward to growing with LDS.

Laura Covaza



Prior to joining LDS, Laura spent over 7 years in Accounting, managing the finances for many not-for-profit clients. She has her Professional Bookkeeping certificate from Langara College and her Office Administration diploma from Vancouver Career College.

Lisa Kranzer

Office Manager

Office Manager

Lisa joined the LDS team in July 2019 as Office Manager. She has a background in HR and Marketing and holds MA and MPhil degrees in Classical Studies and History. Lisa also has several years’ experience tutoring both children and adults. As the Administrative Supervisor, Lisa acts as the central hub of information management for LDS and is responsible for maintaining a smooth operation of the office. She is excited to be in a role that supports each child reaching their full potential.

Heather Liu

Administrative Assistant

Administrative Assistant

Heather joined the LDS team in March 2018 and assists LDS with administrative tasks on Saturdays. She completed an Associate Degree in English, and currently volunteers as a receptionist at Qmunity, a resource center for LGBTQ2S identified folks. She has also volunteered as an English tutor in a language exchange center. She is motivated to help individuals gain the skills and resources necessary to succeed.

Trista Baldwin

Communications Specialist – Contract

Communications Specialist

Trista has been working with LDS since November of 2019. A writer, editor, and graphic designer, Trista has over 12 years of experience in print and digital content creation. 

Trista moved to Vancouver after spending eight years in Shanghai, China, where she worked as a magazine editor and in marketing communications. As a freelance publishing professional, she’s worked with a variety of businesses and organizations in Vancouver.

She has a BA in History and International Development, a diploma in Publishing, and a certificate in Creative Writing.

Meet the Board

Shoreline West Asset Management, President and CEO

Greg has worked in a variety of areas including investment management, capital markets, energy, power, and natural resources industries. For the past 12 years, Greg has managed an investment fund in Vancouver. Greg holds a B.Sc. in Engineering Science from the University of Toronto and an M.S. and Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from Caltech. Greg is currently a director of Learning Disabilities Society, Social Venture Partners and Vancouver College.

In his spare time, Greg enjoys outdoor recreation activities with family and friends including hiking, trail running, mountain biking and skiing.

Greg is privileged to work with the inspiring staff and instructors at Learning Disabilities Society to support children and youth with diverse abilities. Greg shares the LDS vision to transform individual learning and life outcomes and collectively effect system change with significant and profound societal impacts. Greg draws inspiration from the many heart-warming daily stories of dedication, perseverance, and bravery that shape LDS and its community.

Susan Aitchison

Vice Chair

DialoguePro Consultants, Partner

Susan has been on the LDS Board of Directors for eight years, six of which she has acted as Chair of the Board. She has been an integral part of building LDS’s unique identity of being the sole providers of customized and measured LD remediation for all LD kids regardless of ability to pay.

She has a background as a trainer, mediator, and is a partner in DialoguePro Consultants, who provide training in The Learning Dialogue—an interpersonal communications tool they developed. Susan also has two grown children with learning disabilities and as a result has worked relentlessly to help provide services for families who would otherwise not be able to access support for their children.

Kevin Riley


Amazon, Accounting Manager

Kevin is an actively licensed Chartered Professional Accountant (CA) and has served as the Treasurer for the LDS Board for over four years. Previous to his experience with LDS, Kevin worked with numerous non-profit and charitable organizations in a volunteer capacity. Kevin is from Vancouver and currently lives in Seattle.

He is passionate about providing governance to LDS from a financial perspective, ensuring the organization maintains a strong financial position from which it can deliver the services needed for all of our students. As someone who has seen the positive impact the right support can have for a child with a learning disability, Kevin is excited to see LDS continue to expand and provide services to more children in need.

BC Supreme Court, Retired Justice

Wendy is a retired justice of the BC Supreme Court and was a founding partner of Harris & Company, where she was a leading practitioner in the area of school law for over 30 years. She was appointed to the BC Supreme Court in 2013 and was appointed a Queen’s Counsel in 2008. She was called to the BC Bar in 1980 and has an LLB from the University of BC; an MA from the University of Toronto; and a BA from the University of BC.

Wendy taught education law to graduate school students at the University of British Columbia from 2004-2011 and 2018. She has been a frequent lecturer at school boards, universities and professional organizations. She has written extensively on legal issues related to schools. Wendy served as President and Executive Board Member of the Canadian Association for the Practical Study of Law in Education (CAPSLE) and was an active member in this national organization since its inception. She received an honorary lifetime membership in CAPSLE in 2014.

Hamlet Abnousi


NovoBind Livestock Therapeutics Inc., CEO and Co-Founder

A Chartered Accountant (CA, CPA) with a significant transaction history in corporate finance, Hamlet obtained his Bachelors of Science in Analytical Chemistry and Cell Biology from UBC before pursuing his CPA at Deloitte. As founder of Abnousi Corporate Finance and Abnousi Capital, Hamlet worked to build and commercialize technologies that improve lives.

In 2012 he launched SciTech Global Ventures, an incubator for companies addressing global issues in medtech and, in 2016, assumed the role of CEO at NovoBind, one of the companies incubated by SciTech. Hamlet has since been focused on the development and execution of NovoBind’s global ambitions. With his passion for science and business, he dedicates his efforts, both professional and philanthropic, to projects that have significant impact.

Pamela Sack


Seaspan, Naval Engineer

Pamela Sack has a formal education in Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering and is currently working at Seaspan Shipyards as Governance Manager. Pam has over 25 years’ experience supporting large organizations in both Canada and the US.

Pam joined the LDS Board in 2017, bringing with her not only her corporate experience but her experience as the mother of a child with learning disabilities. After moving to Vancouver from Houston, Texas, her family was fortunate enough to find LDS and witness first-hand the impact LDS has on a child in need.

Melinda Markey


Community Action Initiative, EXECUTIVE Director

Melinda Markey is currently the Executive Director of a granting agency that supports community capacity building and social service sector development across the province. Melinda brings a background rich in non-profit leadership, governance, program evaluation and policy research gained from experience with research institutes, federally funded projects, and non-profit organizations.

Educated in public health at the Masters level at Simon Fraser University, Melinda works to ensure provincial resources are directed to historically undeserved communities, that social justice strategies are upheld, and that communities have access to flexible funding for solutions that are community co-designed and led. Melinda respectfully acknowledges that she lives, works and plays on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded lands of the Skwxwú7mesh (Squamish), Səl̓ílwətaʔ (Tsleil-Waututh), xʷməθkʷəy̓əm (Musqueam), and shíshálh (Sechelt) nations, and honours the Elders for their stewardship of the place and people of these nations.

All LDS instruction is currently being offered online until further notice.Apply Now
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