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Officers and Directors

The Hawai‘i Branch’s all-volunteer Board meets regularly during the year to manage the operation of the Branch.

Natalie Haggerty, M.Ed.

Natalie Haggerty is an Instructor at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa, Department of Special Education. She is a Cohort Coordinator for the Exceptional Students Elementary Education (ESEE) program, and is passionate about pre-service teacher preparation. She is also a doctoral student in the UH-Mānoa College of Education, Ph.D. in Education program, Exceptionalities specialization. Her research interests include evidence-based practices for children with high incidence disabilities, and literacy instruction for students with mild to moderate disabilities. Mrs. Haggerty is the Fundraising Committee Co-Chair for HIDA and a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC). She previously served as a Middle School Dean, Curriculum Specialist, Summer Program Director, and Teacher at Assets School. She is the parent of a child who is dyslexic.

MurakamiMark Murakami

Mark Murakami is Vice President – Private Banking Division at First Hawaiian Bank. He has a son with dyslexia who graduated from Assets School in May 2016.  Mr. Murakami feels fortunate that their family was able to get assistance for their son and would welcome the opportunity to assist others in dealing with dyslexia.

Shannon Davies

Shannon Davies is part owner and manager of Kailani Farms LLC, an organic farm on Kaua‘i’s North Shore. She has a 10-year old son who was born with mild cerebral palsy who has also been diagnosed with dyslexia, dysgraphia and dyscalculia. Shannon is a strong supporter of assistive technology in the classroom and feel it is an invaluable resource for both children and adults with physical and learning disabilities. She is passionate about parents being strong advocates for their children and in supporting their children to become strong self-advocates. Shannon is currently working on completing her Liberal Arts degree through a distance learning program.

Kathleen Hassler, M.Ed.

Kathleen Hassler is the preschool-5th grade learning specialist at Mid-Pacific Institute (MPI) on Oahu. She is originally from New York where she taught special education in New York public schools. With over 20 years of teaching experience, she works to establish positive relationships between students, teachers, parents, and administration, counselors, and others to ensure a collaborative effort while creating support plans and strategies that promote a higher chance of academic success for all learners. Kathy has recently completed training through the Institute for Multi-Sensory Education in the Orton-Gillingham approach for the treatment of dyslexia. She believes strongly in HIDA’s mission and focusing on a child’s unique gifts and strengths.

Jennifer Leoiki-Drino

Jennifer Leoiki-Drino has been actively involved with HIDA over the last few years and has served as Chair of HIDA’s Public Awareness Committee since 2019. She is the mother of two children, 10 and 14 years old. When her 10-year old daughter was diagnosed with dyslexia, it became her passion to learn as much as she could about learning differences and specifically dyslexia. Having learning differences herself has given her a level of understanding and empathy for what it takes to walk in the footsteps of being dyslexic and the gifts and challenges it brings. Jennifer continues to be driven to educate people on learning differences in hopes that our academic systems will work from a place of Universal Design for Learning.

Kimble McCann, Ph.D.

Kimble McCann is an educator with a huge passion for supporting all stakeholders in learning. He holds a Ph.D. in Learning Design and Technology from the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa. Dr. McCann’s research interests and professional expertise include Universal Design for Learning (UDL) and technological-pedagogical-and-content knowledge (TPACK). He has served as a special education teacher, instructional designer, senior instructional technology specialist and educational consultant and is currently an IT project manager for Kamehameha Schools. Dr. McCann’s personal connection with dyslexia stems from growing up with a dyslexic father.

M’Liss Moore

M’Liss Moore has a unique connection to HIDA; she and her immediate family were very close to Cal Sakata, a longtime HIDA volunteer and Board Member. M’Liss has an impressive array of credentials, and brings her talents to HIDA where she can continue to honor her special friend and hānai family member, Cal Sakata. M’Liss is currently the Managing Director of Kamehameha Schools’ Financial Asset Division, where she oversees marketable and real asset strategies for KS’ asset portfolio. She has served as a Senior VP and Co-Director of Equity at Bishop Street Capital Management. M’Liss has also been very involved with bringing economics and finance opportunities for Hawaiʻi’s youth in order to broaden their educational opportunities.

Lisa Nakamura

Lisa Nakamura was a teacher at Assets School in Honolulu for 23 years, where she used Orton-Gillingham, RAVE-O, Project Read, Read Naturally and Lindamood-Bell LIPS and Visualizing/Verbalizing, to remediate students with dyslexia, ADHD and other learning difficulties. She currently applies this considerable expertise as the Learning Support Specialist in Reading (Holomua) for grades 3-5 at Kamehameha Elementary School on Maui. She is also a member of the Kūkulu Kumuhana MTSS Care Team, helping to develop academic and behavioral support plans for Tier 2 and 3 students. Lisa previously served a 3-year term on the HIDA Board and its Program Committee. Her goal in serving this time is to help spread to the neighbor islands awareness and understanding of learning differences, as well as the importance of Structured Literacy instruction for all children.


Margaret J. Higa, M.S.C.P.
Executive Director

Margaret Higa is the Hawai’i Branch of IDA’s (HIDA) Executive Director and its sole employee.  She has worked for HIDA in various capacities since 1999.  She knows the challenges of dyslexia first-hand as several of her children as well as other relatives and friends have dyslexia.

Cal Sakata – Volunteer Extraordinaire
In Memoriam

Former Hawai‘i Branch Board member and longtime DOE Special Education teacher Cal Sakata lost his five year battle with cancer in July 2009. Cal was a beloved teacher who served on the Hawai‘i Branch Board from 1996 through 2001, and again from 2003 through 2007. In 2002, he was selected as the Hawai‘i Branch’s Volunteer of the Year. Cal’s memorial service was a testament to the many people he touched throughout his life. The overflowing crowd of over 500 people included his family, friends, colleagues and students. It was a festive atmosphere filled with loving stories of Cal, punctuated by tears and laughter. The chapel and crowd were adorned with images of Mickey Mouse. Cal had requested that everyone wear something with Mickey Mouse on it to honor one of his idols – Walt Disney*. According to Leandra Pace, Cal’s longtime co-worker and dear friend who delivered the eulogy, one of Walt Disney’s quotes became Cal’s motto: “If you can dream it, you can do it!”

Click here to download and read the eulogy in its entirety.

*We have learned that according to the Walt Disney Family Museum, there is no indication anywhere in Walt’s history that he had dyslexia.






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