Board of Directors
Rebekah Dyer graduated from Arizona State University West with a bachelor’s degree in special education and a dual certification in both regular and special education. She completed her master’s degree in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University. Currently, Mrs. Dyer is pursuing her doctorate degree in special education at Grand Canyon University.
Mrs. Dyer taught special education for ten years fulfilling a variety of roles including: five years in a 6th-8th grade self-contained special education classroom; she taught special education students for a virtual school for six years; she was the middle school resource teacher as well as a middle school self-contained cross-categorical special education teacher. Furthermore, Mrs. Dyer has taught at Phoenix College, and she has been a college supervisor for teacher candidates at Rio Salado Community College and Grand Canyon University. She is passionate about students with special needs, and she enjoys working with future special educators.
Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus
Courtney Gilstrap LeVinus has been a board member since 2015. She is Founder and President of Capitol Consulting, LLC an Arizona political consulting, lobbying and non-profit management firm. Courtney is the mother of a dyslexic child and she is also dyslexic. An Arizona native, Courtney attended Xavier College Preparatory and Texas Christian University where she earned her Bachelor of Business Degree with a Major in Finance and a Minor in Speech Communication.
Courtney has been married to Chuck LeVinus for 13 years and they have one son. In her free time Courtney is a board member of several non-profits, runs marathons and competes in triathlons.
Courtney helped develop and advocate for HB2202 creating Arizona’s first dyslexia handbook for parents and teachers. She is a tireless advocate for dyslexic students in Arizona. Most recently she chaired the 2016 Masquerade for Dyslexia Fundraiser, the first major fundraiser for AZIDA and she is back Chairing the 2017 fundraiser that will be held on Saturday October 7th.
Marie Sychowski is a parent member, having joined the Board in 2013. She has a teen aged daughter with dyslexia and got involved with the IDA Arizona Branch because she wanted to learn how to advocate for her child. “I don’t know what I would have done without the guidance I’ve received from being a member of the IDA Arizona Branch.” Marie serves as our Membership Chairperson and is also our Treasurer.
Rachel Jamora, RN is an Illinois native and holds a Bachelor of Science in Nursing from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She became a board member of the IDA Arizona Branch in 2015. Rachel brings her drive and enthusiasm to this dynamic team. She is involved in various projects such as coordinating conferences, organizing fundraisers, and managing social media.
Kristina Blackledge is the founder of several companies created to assist children with disabilities and their families. AZ Parent Advocate is a comprehensive special education advocacy practice assisting families obtain appropriate special education services and accommodations in order to meet their potential. Breakthrough Academy is a small, private special day school providing Multisensory Structured Language Education, Applied Behavior Analysis, and Social Cognition instruction. AZ BEACON is a comprehensive service agency from tutoring, aftercare, and specialized transportation. Kristina specializes in working with children with Dyslexia, Autism, ADHD as well as children with complex mental health needs. Prior to starting her businesses, she worked as a Marriage & Family Therapist, specializing in Play Therapy and Infant Mental Health. She has also worked as an Developmental Specialist and Education Services Coordinator with Early Head Start and Head Start. Kristina holds a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology, a Masters in Marriage & Family Therapy, and post-graduate certificates in Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports and Infant & Family Studies. She has received supervision in ABA from a BCBA and training in numerous specialized reading intervention programs. Kristina has five children each with unique learning needs including Dyslexia, Autism, Bipolar, Tourette’s, and ADHD (Executive Functioning Disorder) and they are her inspiration.
Kristina focuses additional time and efforts toward policy change that will create practice changes by serving on several boards and participating in several disability-related associations and organizations. She has served on the IDA Arizona Branch, the AZ Special Education Advisory Panel, and the AZ Food Allergy Association for several years, and most recently served on the AZ Special Education Rule Committee and the ADE State Systemic Improvement Plan Committee.
Heather Caska, M.S., CCC-SLP is a licensed pediatric speech language pathologist. Heather graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from the University of Arizona and she completed her masters in Clinical Speech-Language Pathology at Northern Arizona University. Heather is currently completing her associate certification through the Academy of Orton Gillingham Practitioners and Educators (AOGPE).
Heather has worked as a speech language pathologist for 6 years and currently works in private practice in the southeast valley. She has experience working with children with various communication disorders and language learning disabilities. She is passionate about bringing more awareness to the community and increasing early identification of dyslexia.
Immediate Past President, AZ Branch / IDA Regional Representative for the Pacific Region
Meredith Puls is an educational consultant in private practice in Oro Valley, AZ. She has served as president of IDA Arizona Branch since May, 2013. Meredith has a master’s degree in special education from Boston College. She worked in the Department of Audiology, Speech Language, and Learning Services at The Children’s Hospital in Denver for twenty-two years as a learning specialist and diagnostician. She was Learning Services division manager from 1999 until her retirement in 2008. She is trained in Orton-Gillingham based reading instruction, and has given presentations on dyslexia and reading disorders at numerous local and national conferences.
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