Our Staff

LDS staff are experts in their fields, with degrees in Law, Biomedical Engineering, Applied Psychology, Creative Writing, Communications, Mathematics, Global Development, English, and Linguistics

Our staff have deep educational and lived experience in a broad array of disciplines. All staff are required to undergo annual working with vulnerable populations training as well as provide current criminal record checks for working with the vulnerable sector. Staff attend group training and professional development, and their own specific professional development is noted in their biographies.

Rachel S. Forbes, JD

Executive Director

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

She enjoys utilizing her breadth of experience in governance, fundraising, strategy, project management and communications to build capacity within LDS as it continues its strategic growth journey. Rachel is thrilled to be leading and building the energetic and committed professionals who make up the LDS team. 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 supports 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. 

Professional Memberships: 

  • Law Society of BC, non practicing member 

Recent Professional Development: 

  • Foundations in Diversity and Inclusion (Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion, 2021) 
  • Public speaking and media training, Dr Mark Winston, SFU Centre for Dialogue  
  • The Art of Effective Digital Workplaces: A Communication Style Workshop 

    Jennifer Fane, Ph.D.

    Director of Education

    Jenn (she/her) holds an interdisciplinary PHD in education, public health, and social policy from Flinders University (Australia) and a Bachelor of Education degree from SFU. She is a passionate advocate for responsive and transformative education that prioritizes the learner and their needs and goals. She began her teaching career as a kindergarten teacher in the New Westminster School District and has been working in a range of educational settings such as schools, early years centres, and universities in both Canada and Australia for the past 15 years. She is a published author and scholar in the areas of education, early years, and teacher education, authoring over 20 peer-reviewed academic publications and a co-authored book. Her work as a teacher educator has been recognized nationally through the Australian Awards for University Teaching where she was awarded a Citation for Outstanding Contributions to Student LearningIn her roles as a teacher, teacher educator, professor, and educational researcher, Jenn is keenly aware of the challenges children, parents, and schools alike face in supporting children with diverse ranges of abilities, and the very real struggle this creates for children and families with diagnosed or suspected learning disabilities. Jenn is excited to be using her education and skills to support the exceptional work within the organization and serve its students, families, and the broader community. 

    Professional Memberships 

    • British Columbia College of Teachers 

    Recent Professional Development: 

    • Attended and presented at the 2021 ACEWIL BC Symposium 
    • Capilano University Land-Based Learning Seminar Series (2020) 

    Melissa Sager, M.Ed. (on leave)

    Associate Director of Learning Support

    Melissa (she/her) is a BC certified teacher with fifteen years of experience working with children and youth that have special needs in both public and private settings. While completing her Master’s in Education at The George Washington University, 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 Developmental Disabilities. 

    After seeing the positive impact individualized instruction had on her students over many years, Melissa decided to create a small school where she focused on the unique strengths, needs, and interests her of students, and was responsible for implementing the curriculum for grades 4-7. She managed a team of multidisciplinary specialists to address academic, social, emotional, behavioural, and executive function goals, while nurturing maximum student engagement through interest-based learning. She is grateful to be a part of LDS, where she continues to collaborate with specialists, instructors, students, parents, schools, and staff to help children and youth reach their full potential. 

    Recent Professional Development:  

    • Level B Assessment (BC) Certificate, Queen’s University Continuing Teacher Education (2020)  
    • BC First Nations, Metis, and Inuit Peoples, Queen’s University Continuing Teacher Education (2021) 
    • Public speaking training with Dr Mark Winston, SFU Centre for Dialogue 

    Abigail Lobo, MA

    Lead Case Manager

    Abigail (she/her) is an Inclusion Specialist and holds a Master’s Degree in Applied Psychology. She began her journey in the field of special education as an ABA Therapist at a special needs center in Dubai. For over 5 years she worked closely with children with a range of learning difficulties and developmental delays, and supported them at schools and within the community to forward their academic, social, emotional and behavioral learning. In 2017, she founded the Inclusion Department at a school in Dubai where she worked closely with students and their families from diverse backgrounds and learning differences. She supported teachers and caregivers in reducing barriers to learning, encouraged the use of appropriate accommodations and strengthened the need for adopting a growth mindset.

    Abigail believes every individual has their own set of strengths and limitations and views ‘disability’ as just a matter of being differently-abled. She values the importance of community and believes in the adage ‘it takes a village to raise a child’. She enjoys learning from her learners, credits powerful provision (no matter how small) and strives to ensure no child is left behind.

    Abigail grew up in Dubai and moved to Vancouver in January 2021. She is still childishly awestruck by nature and can get easily swayed at the sight of mountains in the distance or by squirrels crossing the street.

    Sarah Vopni

    Community Manager

    Sarah (she/her) brings kindness, positive energy, and a big-picture vision to our team. Sarah has a background in public relations and communications from Humber College and has a BA in Global Development from Queen’s University. She believes in and is excited to be furthering the goals of LDS to impact and support individual lives to help create positive change both personally and in communities. Most recently, Sarah has enrolled in a nonprofit management certificate at Simon Fraser University to take a new approach to management and support LDS to reach its vision and mandate. 

    Recent Professional Development: 

    • Non-Profit Management Certificate (Simon Fraser University, 2021)  
    • Designing for Accessibility: How to Make Your Comms Accessible and Inclusive (Alice Corner, Keela, 2020)  
    • The Art of Storytelling in the Digital Age (Julia Campbell, Keela, 2020)  
    • Respect Your Donors with Gender-Inclusive Data (Jude Shimer, Keela, 2020) 
    • Yes! You Can Build A Strong Relationship with Your Virtual Event P2P Fundraisers (Maureen Wallbeoff, Keela, 2020) 

    Alice Bromfield, MA

    Family and Student Services Manager

    Alice (she/her) has a MA with Honours in Linguistics at the University of Edinburgh. She wrote her thesis on Indigenous Language Revitalization, a passion that was sparked through her year abroad at the University of British Columbia. Finding a way that Applied Linguistics knowledge could help others is what brought her to LDS. Her professional background is primarily in marketing and communications, so she’s excited to use her varied skill set to help move mountains for our students. 

    Recent Professional Development: 

    • Women’s Economic Empowerment: Practical Tools for Gender-responsive Poverty Measurement (2021)

    Check out this Mission Makers blog post about how Alice is connecting with kids! 

    Alexa Rochfort

    Family and Student Services Administrator

    Alexa (she/her) received her undergraduate associate degree in Early Childhood Care and Education from Capilano University. During her undergrad, she specialized in working with children and their families who had different abilities, needs and varying support requests. Alexa then went on to complete a Post Graduate Certificate as a Systems Navigator at Humber College. At Humber, she learned a variety of skills to better support and communicate with others, while connecting them with the best fit for their needed resource.

    Alexa has a passion for helping others reach their full potential. She is grateful to be a part of the LDS Team, where she will assist in building children’s confidence, and empower youth to achieve their goals.

    Helen Sawchuk, CPA, CGA

    Finance Manager

    Helen (she/her) has used her CPA, CGA skills to support the financial and accounting needs of various not-for-profit organizations such as the Law Foundation of BC, which supports social justice causes, and Ronald McDonald House BC, which provides accommodation for families whose children are in medical treatment. During her time at RMHBC, Helen led the finance team through the transition from the small 13 family home in Shaughnessy to the 70,000 square foot building on the grounds of BC Children’s Hospital, while acquiring leadership skills in change management. 

    Both of her children, now young adults, have learning differences which made traditional education models a challenge, and she understands some of the stress that these differences create for both children and their families. 

    Mike Gray, MASc

    Assistive Technology Manager

    Mike (he/him) has a BSc in Mechanical Engineering (mechatronics option) from the University of New Brunswick and a MASc in Biomedical Engineering from U of T, working in Dr. Elaine Biddiss’ group at the Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital’s PEARL lab (Possibility Engineering and Research Lab). His thesis focused on the gamification of upper limb therapy for children with cerebral palsy. Post his Masters degree, Mike also worked at the University of Victoria’s Assistive Technologies Lab and worked on the development of modular assistive robotic platform. 

    Mike is very excited to advance the LDS Assistive Technology program, including our socially assistive robotics initiative, and to advance LDS IT priorities that will enable us to build further capacity and streamline operations to support more students more effectively. 

    Recent Professional Development: 

    • Certified Associate in Project Management (2020) 

    Read about how Mike is helping families use assistive technology in his MIssion Makers blog post here!

    Thaisa Gorniak

    Administrative Coordinator

    Thaisa (she/her) has a background in public relations and worked for years in the field with different clients and industries. Volunteering for several non-profit organizations since she was a teenager, she noticed a huge passion and desire to work at an organization where she could contribute to the community. Thaisa moved from São Paulo, Brazil to Vancouver in 2017 and since then she has been working in the education industry, between advising and administrative departments. To LDS, she provides positive energy and a welcoming experience to the centre’s daily visitors.

    Antra Patel

    Communications Support

    Antra (she/her) is currently studying Computer Science with a minor in Commerce at the University of British Columbia. She hopes to use her passion and skills in technology to help create a better and more inclusive world for children and youths with learning differences. She is passionate about helping them all realize their potential. 

    Antra graciously acknowledges that she lives, works, and learns on the traditional, ancestral, and unceded territories of the Musqueam, Squamish, and Tsleil-Waututh peoples.  

    Recent Professional Development: 

    • Google Analytics for Beginners (2021) 
    • Google Tag Manager Fundamentals (2021) 

    Read about Antra’s journey from intern to a staff member in her Mission Makers blog post here!

    Rie Stadnichuk

    Communications & Fundraising Support

    Rie (she/her) just completed her Bachelors in Communications and Economics at Simon Fraser University. She hopes to use this opportunity as a way of exploring meaningful work in the field. She is passionate about social issues and creating environments of inclusivity and open dialogue. Rie graciously lives and works on the unceded territory of the Syilx people. 

    Recent Professional Development: 

    • Google Analytics for Beginners (2021) 
    • Google Tag Manager Fundamentals (2021) 

    Read about Rie’s journey from intern to a staff member in her Mission Makers blog post here!

    Nathan Kee

    Saturday Administrative Coordinator

    Nathan (he/him) is currently a 4th year Computing Science student at Simon Fraser University. He has experience working with individuals of all ages, in public environments. Nathan has volunteered at the Richmond Olympic Oval Museum, guiding guests around the facility and introducing them to various Olympic Sports. He also ensured that each guest has a safe and memorable visits as they experience sports simulations. Nathan has also volunteered in an environment with kids of all ages and backgrounds at a TMD Martial Arts, guiding students towards their goal of a Black Belt. During his time there, Nathan has taught a wide variety of students at all levels.

    Passionate about helping and leading, Nathan is excited to have the opportunity to greet each visitor and ensure that each visitor has a safe and welcoming experience at the centre.

    Hallie Brown

    Learning Centre Assistant

    Hallie (she/her) is a high school student and RISE TEAM graduate, who is now a regular face around the East Vancouver Office. Her favourite part of school is seeing her friends but also learning new things and Food Studies.

    During RISE TEAM Summer Training, she learned how to write resumes and cover letters. She was taught leadership skills, which she practiced when she was a Junior Leader at LDS this past summer. She is now using all of her skills at LDS, while also gaining new experience and skills, such as professional communication, or what to say when picking up the phone.

    And fun fact, she’s a twin!

    Our Instructors & Early Childhood Educators

    LDS instructors have specialized training as:

    • BC-certified Teachers
    • Special Education Assistants
    • Orton-Gillingham (OG) Instructors
    • Speech-Language Pathologists
    • Inclusive Education Instructors
    • Certified Early Childhood Educators

    Aime M.


    Aime (she/her) started with LDS with summer camps. She has over seven years of experience working with children with special needs. She worked in the school district as an Education Assistant and currently works in the district as an Applied Behaviour Analysis Support Worker. She also holds a Creative Writing Associates degree. Aime currently tutors one-on-one with children at LDS both online and in person. She enjoys being creative and building rapport with the students she teaches to make lessons unique and meaningful for them.  

    Alison M.


    Alison (she/her) has worked in the field of Special Education for over 10 years, most recently as a Learning Assistance teacher. Her BA degree in English is from UBC Okanagan and she is also a certified Orton-Gillingham (OG) therapeutic tutor and a trained Behaviour Interventionist. Alison enjoys working with students 1:1, both in-person and online, and is also looking forward to being a part of the Early Risers program team.

    Alison believes that every student is unique and thus has their own unique potential. Her goal is to help students in reaching their full potential by creating an environment that is engaging, supportive and fun. Working with students who have learning differences is her passion and she is excited to join the LDS team!

    Anisa C.


    Anisa (she/her) is a BC Certified teacher and is currently completing her Diploma in Special Education from the University of British Columbia. Anisa has worked with students at all levels, from elementary to high school, and she has taught a wide range of subjects, including chemistry, math, and English—her favourite to teach being math. She teaches because she loves the “Ah-Ha’’ moments and enjoys seeing students achieve success. In addition to keeping busy with teaching, Anisa is kept on her toes by her two daughters, who are also navigating learning online. As both a parent and instructor, Anisa offers a unique perspective on setting children up for home learning success. 

    Recent Professional Development:  

    • Level B Assessment (2020) 
    • Mathematics Strategies for At-Risk Students 

    Anotidaishe G.


    Anotidaishe (she/her) is an instructor with a great passion for seeing students reach their full potential in all aspects of their life. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Simon Fraser University and has a background in learning and developmental disabilities.  She has worked with children from various backgrounds with different learning needs. Her experience also includes helping children diagnosed with Autism, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), as a Behaviour Technician. A quote Ano finds inspiring is from Winston Churchill: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.”  

    Recent Professional Development: 

    • Self-Regulated Strategy Development for writing instruction (2019) 

    Click here to read a Mission Makers blog post about how Anotidaishe is finding the gem inside each student! 

    Baylee W.


    Baylee (she/her) is a BC-certified educator currently working as a grade six classroom teacher with the Vancouver School Board. Baylee holds a Bachelor in Liberal Arts and Science from Quest University, and both a Bachelors of Education and a Diploma in Guidance Studies from UBC. Baylee has taught in New Zealand and Canada and has experience in independent and public-school settings. Baylee is passionate about working with a range of learners, and she looks forward to learning, growing, and working alongside those at LDS! 

    Becky B.


    Becky (she/her) is a holistic educator with a diverse background and an extensive history of educative experience. Becky has a Bachelor of Science in Human Geography, a Master of Science in Human Dimensions of Wildlife, a Bachelor of Education, and a Teaching Skills Enhancement Certificate. Teaching students from age three to sixty-three, Becky has a good understanding of the multitude of ways we learn. Her teaching philosophy involves developing interpersonal connections with students to help foster an understanding of the self-learner and the best ways to learn as an individual. As a self-proclaimed avid learner, Becky has a wide range of interests, which makes it easy for her to relate to others and encourage and empower them on their individual learning journeys.

    Brittany W.


    Brittany (she/her) is a certified teacher currently working as a Grade 1 and Resource Educator with the Vancouver School Board. Brittany holds a Bachelor of Arts from Carleton University, a diploma in Teaching English as a Second Language from the University of the Fraser Valley, and a Bachelor of Education from Simon Fraser University with a focus in Fine Arts Education. She has taught dance and performing arts to children aged 3-15 and has worked with children with various physical abilities. Brittany is passionate about working with children from all walks of life, discovering with makes learning fun, engaging, and memorable for each child. 

    Candace T.


    Candace (she/her) is passionate about tutoring students with learning challenges and believes every student has the ability to learn and make progress according to their capabilities. She completed her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Family Studies at the University of British Columbia and has several years of experience working privately as an Applied Behavior Analysis therapist and as an Educational Assistant at the Burnaby School District. She then went on to complete her Bachelor of Education at Simon Fraser University. Upon graduating, she taught in private schools, mainly in grade 3 and also has resource teacher experience. Candace is an Orton-Gillingham (OG) certified classroom educator and her teaching style is explicit, multisensory, and personable in order to ensure that her students are engaged and actively learning. She loves to teach small groups of students or 1-on-1 where she can offer remedial support to help children regain their confidence in math and literacy. She is very happy to be part of the LDS team. 

    Chris B.


    Chris is a recent Microbiology and Immunology graduate from the University of British Columbia who has tutored high school students in math, biology, chemistry and physics for the last 5 years. Chris enjoys helping youth of all ages achieve their goals in a variety of different subjects. Previously, he has volunteered for several years with the Canucks Autism Network and Pathways to Education, while recently acting as a childcare leader at after-school care programs and summer camps. He enjoys developing connections with youth and following along to see their growth and progress. In his spare time, Chris enjoys listening to music, playing sports and travelling, and can’t wait to join the LDS team.

    Corrine H.


    Corrine (she/her) holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in History from The University of British Columbia and is currently working toward completing her Bachelor of Education. A full-time tutor for several years, Corrine comes to LDS with a strong background in Orton-Gillingham (OG) tutoring and early phonics support. Corrine believes in making the learning environment friendly, fun, and accessible to all students. She feels strongly about finding the best teaching method for each individual learner, so they may feel a strong sense of accomplishment when understanding a new concept.

    In addition to her work with LDS, Corrine tutors at The Looking Glass Foundation, a residential home for youth and young adults struggling with eating disorders and mental illness. In this role, she utilizes her previous experience in university admissions to help the residents with resume and cover letter writing, and career and future planning. 

    Corrine loves to teach social studies, history, early phonics, and reading comprehension. She is thrilled to become a member of the LDS team. 

    Eliah A.


    Eliah (she/her/hers) is currently a master’s student in School and Applied Child Psychology at UBC. Originally from Ketchikan, Alaska, Eliah has a deep appreciation for the outdoors, and when not studying, tries to spend as much time as possible outside. Eliah is passionate about helping students develop their gifts to pursue their dreams. She has had many varied experiences working with children and youth, including leading an after-school homework club, serving as a summer camp activities director, and support specialist for individuals with developmental disabilities. Eliah looks forward to working collaboratively with students at LDS to achieve their academic goals.

      Emma L.


      Emma (she/her) holds a Bachelor of Kinesiology degree with a minor in Psychology from UBC. Driven by her desire to learn more about increasing accessibility to support services, she recently returned to UBC and is currently completing her Master’s in Occupational Therapy. Over the years, Emma has worked as an Education Assistant and Youth Programmer at local schools, community centres, and non-profit organizations. She has formal training in working with children and youth to facilitate positive learning outcomes through Equitas and the Coaching Association of Canada. Emma is passionate about empowering children and youth to be independent and confident in their skills. She is excited to provide equitable learning experiences and individualized support to her students with the LDS team! 

      Recent Professional Development:  

      • Partners for Youth Empowerment Creative Facilitation workshop (2018)

      Read about how Emma is giving back to the community that once supported her in her Mission Makers blog post here! 

      Gaurika D.


      Gaurika (she/her)  recently finished her Master of Education in Special Education (Learning Disabilities) from the University of British Columbia. She holds a Bachelor of Education in Special Education and a Bachelor of Science in Home Science (major in Human Development) from India.

      She spent over two years in India as a Learning Support Teacher for students with learning differences.  She enjoys encouraging kids to realize their full potential in a way that is comfortable for them while also fostering a fun and positive learning environment. Furthermore, she believes in building socio-emotional competencies in her students to help them develop resiliency and have a sense of belongingness. Gaurika is thrilled to join the LDS team and provide personalized intervention to students.

      Jennie L.


      Jennie (she/her) is a BC certified teacher and holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Language and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia. She loves to teach early reading skills, Language Arts, writing and math. Jennie is excited to be a part of the LDS team, where students receive one-to-one, personalized instruction, and where teachers are provided with ongoing professional development and resources to provide the best support for their students. 

      Jennie supports children with learning differences by treating each student as a unique learner, working with them to identify learning stretches to focus on, fostering a ‘can do’ outlook/attitude and celebrating efforts made.

      Jennifer W.


      Jennifer (she/her) has years of experience working with children including over a decade at LDS. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from the University of British Columbia and an Orton-Gillingham (OG) Tutor Training certificate. Jennifer enjoys building a bond with her students and increasing their confidence so they can feel successful in school. She currently tutors children one-on-one, both online and in person.  

      Recent Professional Development:  

      • Training for conducting student assessments using the DIBELS Administration and Scoring (2020) 
      • Self-Regulated Strategy Development for writing instruction (2018) 

      Jessie M.


      Jessie (she/her) holds a Master of Public Policy in Immigration Policy from Adler University and a Bachelor of Global Studies. She is also a certified TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages) educator and has taught English literacy and math to both children and adults since moving to British Columbia from the United States in 2016. Jessie loves helping students grow and succeed by understanding their inner and outer worlds more deeply. She is interested in policy solutions that create a more equitable and welcoming society and is thrilled to advance this work at LDS!

      June M.


      Originally from Scotland, June (she/her) moved to Vancouver in 2019. She is a linguist (a French and Italian speaker) who is passionate about helping students with learning differences, and she specializes in students with specific learning disorders. Trained originally as an elementary school teacher, she has a wealth of varied teaching experience in English as a Second Language, (ESL) and Remedial Teaching to children and young adults. She trained as a Specialist Dyslexia Teacher at Manchester Metropolitan University in 2009, and she taught at a large High School in Cheshire as a 1:1 remedial teacher for the last ten years. She’s delighted to ba member of the LDS team. 

      Check out this Mission Makers blog post about how June is providing a transformative learning experience for students!

      Larry P.


      Larry (he/him) has a Master’s Degree in science and engineering and previously taught night school math and chemistry at Sierra College in California. Later, Larry became a certified flight instructor and worked extensively with youth cadets in aviation training. After retiring from engineering management, Larry wanted to be involved again in teaching youth, so he completed the initial training to be an Orton-Gillingham (OG) Certified tutor in 2019. In addition to teaching at LDS, he has volunteered as a youth mentor for non-profits, including Covenant House Vancouver. He also volunteered in his community at the Kitsilano Community Centre by leading English Conversation Circles for non-English speaking youth and adults. Larry enjoys seeing his students thrive and discover they really can do what seemed so difficult until receiving instruction especially tailored to their learning needs.  He says, “Nothing compares to working with students once they find their confidence when they realize how capable they really are”. Now, Larry teaches the LDS RISE at Home program, allowing students to work virtually from the comfort of their own homes. 

      Recent Professional Development:  

      • Training for conducting student assessments using the DIBELS Administration and Scoring (2020) 
      • Self-Regulated Strategy Development for writing instruction (2018)  
      • Helping Early Literacy Practice Strategy (2020) 

      Linnea K.


      Linnea (she/her) has worked in education in Canada and internationally for over 9 years, most recently as a secondary school teacher in Melbourne, Australia. Her Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Education degrees are from Queen’s University in Ontario, and she is currently a Master of Arts student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at UBC where her research focuses on the process of school integration for newcomer youth. She has worked with students from a range of backgrounds and learning needs and believes that education should be engaging, culturally responsive, and student-centred. Linnea is passionate about supporting students in meeting their goals and reaching their potential and strives to meet student needs and challenge them to grow in supportive learning environments. She is excited to partner with LDS and share in their vision to provide all children with the academic support they need to succeed.

        Marlo H.


        Marlo (she/her) is an engaging and inclusive educator who has over eight years of experience with children’s programs. She holds a Master of Arts in Children’s Literature from the University of British Columbia, a multidisciplinary program that draws from the departments of Education, Language and Literacy Education, English, and Library Science. Marlo’s enthusiastic approach to education stems from years of volunteering with various children’s organizations, including the Winnipeg Public Library, Vancouver Public Library, and the children’s hospitals in both Winnipeg and British Columbia. Before joining LDS, she worked as a preschool education coordinator overseeing early literacy and mathematic programs for learners ages 3 to 6, as well as tutoring children of all ages, skill sets, and language levels. Marlo believes every learner is unique and that celebrating our differences makes us stronger. 

        Megan M.


        Megan (she/her) joins LDS with an extensive background in the education field, having worked in the community and in school settings for over 7 years. As an educator, her motto has always been the 4 “F”s and that is to be Fun, Friendly, Firm, and Fair to all students. Megan’s methods are always to take lessons step by step towards an ultimate goal all while having fun and learning along the way. Her individualized learning support is personalized to fit well with students’ strengths and goals. LDS has given her a great platform to continue to be a positive advocate and educator in helping support students with special needs. Overall, Megan is excited to learn with her students and be a supportive member of their learning journey!

        Mekdes T.


        Mekdes is a math instructor with over 5 years of experience teaching students of different ages, from high school to college level. She worked as a course instructor, teaching assistant and a one-to-one tutor, and she taught high school and university entry-level math courses. She received a Bachelor of Education and a Master of Science degree in mathematics. She also holds a Postgraduate Diploma in mathematical sciences. Her application to the BC teacher’s certificate of qualification is now in progress. She believes that motivating students is the crucial aspect of teaching and she thrives to draw students’ attention to learning. In her free time, she volunteers as a choir head, teaching songs for children of all ages. She also enjoys exploring different places and takes part in outdoor activities with her family.

        Melissa L.


        Melissa (she/her) holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Concordia University in Montreal and is currently a Master’s student in School and Applied Child Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on the student-teacher relationship among students with autism spectrum disorder. Melissa is originally from Peru but has lived in multiple cities and countries throughout her life. In the past, she has worked in daycares, elementary schools, and high schools, as well as summer camps as a behavioural therapist, English teacher, and animator. 

        Having worked with children of varying ages and learning needs, Melissa understands the importance of making the students feel safe and engaged through fun activities and going at their own pace. Her goal and passion is to support student’s academic success and help them feel empowered and confident in their abilities to learn.

        Missy M.


        Missy (she/her) is a BC-certified teacher currently working as a grade seven classroom educator with the Vancouver School Board. Missy holds a Bachelor in Arts in History and a Bachelor of Education from the University of British Columbia (UBC) with a focus in the International Baccalaureate Middle Years Program from UBC. Missy has taught in Germany and has experience in both middle years and secondary settings. Most specifically, Missy is passionate about empowering learners to reach their personal level of success and looks forward to joining the LDS team. 

        Naslishah T.


        Naslishah is an OrtonGillingham (OG) tutor who works in LDS’s in-school program. Previously, she has worked at Vancity Credit Union as a Health and Wellness. She holds a Bachelor of Commerce Degree from the University of British Columbia and a Holistic Health Practitioner Diploma from Langara College. She is also a Virtues Project Facilitator who believes that we can change the world by using the language of virtues within our communities. She enjoys working with children and is passionate about helping them achieve their highest potential. Naslishah loves encouraging students to take ownership of their own learning by providing them with simple and effective strategies to enhance their reading and writing. 

        Penelope B.

        Speech Language Pathologist & Instructor

        Penelope (she/her) holds a PHD in speech language pathology with a focus on speech rehabilitation for people with hearing loss from the University of British Columbia. She completed her master’s in Speech Language Pathology at Western Washington University. 

        She is a passionate advocate for people with communication and learning differences and their needs and goals. She began her career in Washington State working with children from preschool to high school and in an integrated Head Start Preschool Programme. Penelope has worked with a wide range of clients from children with hearing loss to preschoolers to adults in stroke recovery.

        She is a published author and scholar in the areas of speech language pathology, authoring over 15 peer-reviewed academic publications. She is a clinical professor with the School of Audiology and Speech Science at the University of British Columbia and has taught for 20 in the schools of Speech Language Pathology, Linguistics and Education. She continues to supervise and mentor Rehabilitation Assistants, Speech Language Pathologists as well as Communication Health Assistants in clinical placements.

        In her roles as a teacher, clinician, professor, and researcher, Penelope is aware of the challenges facing all stakeholders and people with diverse ranges of abilities. She is excited to be part of the LDS team, to think out of the box, and to collaboratively create novel approaches to changing the lives of people with learning and communication differences.

        Professional Memberships 

        • Speech-Language & Audiology Canada
        • College of Speech and Hearing Health Professionals of BC
        • Speech and Hearing BC
        • American Speech and Hearing Association

        Selected Training

        • Orton-Gillingham (OG) Method
        • Auditory Verbal Therapy Method
        • English as a Second Language Instructor Training
        • Hanen Program- It Takes Two to Talk

        Sarah M.


        Sarah (she/her) is a B.C certified teacher, working in Victoria. She is a self-proclaimed literary nerd and is passionate about everything to do with Language Arts! With a degree in English Literature and Education, Sarah is dedicated to working with students to find a shared love for reading and writing.  

        Sarah’s goal as an educator is to ensure that all students first and foremost feel safe and involved with their own learning. Sarah believes that when information is fun and engaging, this is when students retain most effectively and…learn to love learning!  

        In her free time, Sarah loves exploring the beautiful environment of British Columbia with her dog, scribbling free verse poetry, and meeting with her monthly book club. 

        Scott L.


        Scott (he/him) has been working with people with learning disabilities in a variety of settings for the past 25 years following his training at Douglas College. His areas of expertise include precalculus, chemistry and physics. He hopes to act as a guide for people to unearth their gifts and talents yet to be discovered. 

        Sofia L.


        Sofia (she/her) is a psychopedagogy specialist and holds a Master’s Degree in Neuropsychology and Education.  

        She is involved in the Educational world and creates engaging and effective educational content and experiences for students with learning disabilities, both in English and Spanish. 

        She is passionate about learning disabilities and psychometric testing.  

        Her psycho-neuroeducational approach ensures the development of cognitive skills in students for both their academic and personal life.  

        She began her professional experience in the education field as a bilingual elementary school teacher in Guadalajara, Mexico. She founded and directed Minds to Shine, a center that provided individualized services to children with learning disabilities.  

        Sofia is currently specializing in Early childhood education in Vancouver Canada.

        Tejia Y.


        Teija (she/her) is a master’s student in the School and Applied Child Psychology program at UBC. Prior to graduate studies, Teija obtained a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Laurentian University as well as a graduate certificate in Autism and Behavioural Science. She comes to LDS with a background as a Behaviour Interventionist, working with young children with Autism Spectrum Disorder and various learning differences. She enjoys taking an individualized, strengths-based approach to her work. Teija enjoys fostering meaningful inclusion of students in service planning and processes through ongoing collaboration. Teija is excited to join the LDS team!

        Our Board

        LDS directors have expertise and multiple decades of experience in areas including education, governance, legal and compliance, human resources, finance and audit, communications, advancement and development, information technology, operations and administration.  

        Our Directors are dedicated to the advancement of our mission to support all children and youth with learning differences to achieve lifelong confidence and success.

        LDS Board Chair Greg Sullivan

        Greg Sullivan, Ph.D.


        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.

        Joyce Wagenaar

        Vice Chair

        Communications Consultant

        Joyce joined the LDS board in November 2020. She is a communications and public affairs professional with 20 years of progressive experience and is recognized for effectively managing the public perception of an organization’s reputation through strategic advice, issues management, media relations and proactive public awareness initiatives.

        Joyce has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications from Simon Fraser University located in British Columbia. She is trained in public engagement and has a Certificate in Public Participation from the International Association of Public Participation as well as having a Certificate in Digital Marketing from Red Academy.

        Kevin Riley


        Amazon, Senior Accounting Manager

        Kevin is an actively licensed Chartered Professional Accountant (CA) and has served as the Treasurer for the LDS Board for over five years. Previous to his experience with LDS, Kevin worked with numerous nonprofit and charitable organizations in a volunteer capacity. 

        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.

        Hon. Wendy J. Harris, Q.C.


        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 of this national organization since its inception. She received an honorary lifetime membership in CAPSLE in 2014.

        Wendy supports the commitment of LDS to eliminate the barriers facing underserved and at-risk children and youth with learning and related disabilities – through research-based programs that are designed to address their individual learning needs and thereby create the potential for transformative change in their lives. 

        Nancy Perry, Ph.D.


        University of British Columbia, Professor and Dorothy Lam Chair in Special Education

        Nancy Perry worked as a classroom and resource teacher in school districts in British Columbia, Canada, before obtaining her Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1996. Today she is the Dorothy Lam Chair in Special Education and Professor of Educational and Counselling Psychology and Special Education at the University of British Columbia (UBC), Canada. There, she teaches courses in two program areas—Human Development, Learning, and Culture; and Special Education—and supports students in a B.Ed. cohort that focuses on promoting self-regulated learning (SRL) in the middle years. She is a recipient of UBC’s Killam Teaching Prize and the Robbie Case Memorial Award for Outstanding Contributions to Educational Psychology in Canada.

        Her research has two main goals: (a) understanding how children’s develop self-regulated learning (SRL); and (b) working with teachers to design activities and structure interactions with students to support SRL. Dr. Perry is a main contributor to our understanding that young children can and do regulate for learning and how classroom tasks, instructional practices, and interpersonal relationships influence their SRL. She is also a leader in the development and use of assessments that reveal children’s self-regulation in situ. Dr. Perry is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (APA), has served as President of Division 15, Educational Psychology, of APA, and the Canadian Association of Educational Psychologists, as Associate Editor for the Journal of Learning and Instruction, and on editorial boards of the top journals in Educational Psychology, including the Journal of Educational Psychology, Educational Psychologist, Journal of Learning and Instruction, and Metacognition and Learning.

        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 a significant impact.

        Hamlet recognizes the enormous potential for the delivery of technology through expert educators to break down barriers and facilitate meaningful, positive change. Hamlet fully supports LDS’ strategic investment in and development and deployment of assistive technology that ensures accessibility to critical tools that empower children and youth with learning differences.

        Lauren Minogue


        Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital Ltd., Vice President

        Lauren Minogue is a Vice President at Connor, Clark & Lunn Private Capital. She works with a diverse range of clients including families, business owners, and foundations. She engages her passion for helping families preserve and steward their wealth over successive generations, while also supporting clients as they journey towards achieving their life goals. Lauren is a CFA Charterholder and has a Bachelor of Commerce from the University of Victoria. She’s an active supporter of her local community. Lauren currently sits on the Board of Directors for the Social Venture Partners Foundation and for the Learning Disabilities Society. In her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis, running the seawall and hiking the North Shore mountains.

        Lauren is passionate about furthering LDS’ mission of making education accessible to children of all socioeconomic backgrounds. Our work is upstream and creates wide-ranging benefits to our community. 

        Brian Duong


        Hunter Litigation Chambers, Counsel

        Brian is honoured to be able to both support and help shape the inspiring work done by LDS.  He is a lawyer at Hunter Litigation Chambers, maintaining a generalist practice in civil and administrative litigation. 

        Brian holds law degrees from the University of Toronto and the University of Cambridge and is a former clerk of the British Columbia Court of Appeal. He has been a member of the Massachusetts and British Columbia bars since 2009.  Brian graduated with a degree in finance from the University of British Columbia.

        In his spare time, Brian can often be found on a squash court or with his boys.

        Shelley Gray


        Industry Training Authority, CEO

        Shelley Gray is the Chief Executive Officer of the Industry Training Authority (ITA), a Crown Corporation responsible for managing, supporting, and promoting British Columbia’s trades training and apprenticeship system. As the first woman to hold the position of CEO at ITA, Shelley is highly motivated to work towards creating a more inclusive skilled trades and apprenticeship system that reflects our diverse population.

        Shelley’s strategic leadership style is backed by 20+ years of experience driving business results through the implementation of customer-focused strategies for some of Canada’s top public and private sector organizations. Recently, her leadership was recognized by YWCA as a Women of Distinction nominee (2021) and by Business in Vancouver as an influential leader on their inaugural top 500 leaders list (2021).

        Shelley sits on industry Boards and Committees, including the Canadian Council of Directors of Apprenticeships, Vancouver College, and the Vancouver Board of Trade Diversity and Inclusion Leadership Council. In addition, she is a volunteer mentor with Minerva BC, an organization that is dedicated to advancing the leadership of women and girls.

        Shelley has a Bachelor of Arts in International Business from the University of Alberta, a Leadership Development Certificate from the UBC Sauder School of Business, and an INSEAD Executive Leadership Certificate in Driving Value through Business Acumen.

        Dana Montalbano


        Community Advocate

        Dana Montalbano is a community advocate serving as a trustee with various organizations.  Before her role as a nonprofit board trustee, Dana worked 15 years as an Enterprise Account Sales ConsultantAfter a successful career at Bell Mobility and OC Tanner Recognition, Dana now supports nonprofits and charities as a volunteer board director providing oversight for governance & nominating and revenue development.

        Dana’s background in strategic sales, as a nonprofit board trustee with a focus in revenue development and governance, and Chair roles in Governance, Revenue Development, for both a Capital Campaign and two major galas provide meaningful experience as a director at LDS.  Besides her trustee and sales experience, she brings first-hand experience with learning differences.  Dana has a teenage son who was diagnosed with dyslexia at 7-years old and because of that, she understands the exponential difference learning supports and advocacy provide for children with learning disabilities.  She is passionate about ensuring all children with learning differences have the supports they require, and as a result, can have the opportunity to thrive academically, emotionally, and socially.  Dana sees that LDS provides the learning supports children with learning differences need to meet their full potential and achieve their dreams.

        In November 2019, Dana with her husband was awarded the Giving Hearts Awards – Outstanding Philanthropist. In June 2021, she was awarded Science World Patron.  During Dana’s sales career, she was recognized for her sales achievements receiving multiple awards including President’s Club nationally and Top 10 salespeople in North America.  

        In addition to serving as a Board Director for LDS, Dana is serving as a Board Director for the Glenn Gould Foundation and as a member of their Revenue Development and Governance & Nominating Committees.  Most recently, she served as a Board Trustee for the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and was a VSO committee member for Revenue Development, Governance & Nominating, Human Resources, VSO’s Inaugural Virtual Ball 2021 and Pandemic Scenario Planning 2020.  Prior to becoming a VSO Board trustee, she acted as an At-Large committee member for the VSO’s Development Task Force. She has acted as a Board Trustee for Arts Umbrella’s Association and Foundation Boards, Co-Chair and Board Liaison of Arts Umbrella’s Capital Campaign, Chaired the Governance and Nominating Committee and Co-Chaired the Revenue Development Committee, and was a member of Arts Umbrella’s Development Task Force. She has also been Vice Chair and trustee at the Community Arts Council of Vancouver, and Gala Chairs for the YWCA’s Women of Distinction and the inaugural Vancouver Public Library Foundation Gala.  Prior to her board and gala work, she volunteered as a Wish Granter at the Make-a-Wish Foundation.

        Dana enjoys alpine skiing, cross country skiing, wake surfing, swimming, Pilates, Yoga, hiking with her friends and dog, traveling with her family, and reading.

        Early RISErs for 3-5 yr olds: applications open now!Learn more!