Board of Directors

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Board of Directors

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


Charles Bering, Ph.D.

Dr. Bering is currently a Department of Navy civilian serving as the Director of Operations at a local Navy command after retiring as a Naval Officer with nearly 25 years of active duty service. He has small business start-up experience and teaches business/management classes at a local university. He completed a dissertation study on self-advocacy for dyslexic persons in the workplace as part of fulfilling the requirements for a Ph.D. in Business Administration. Dr. Bering has three children. His two daughters have recently started their own families, and his son, who has dyslexia, attends college at a local university. Dr. Bering’s wife is a teacher/tutor with ten years of special education experience and formal training in Orton-Gillingham and Slingerland multi-sensory teaching techniques.



Deborah Knight, Ph.D.
Vice President

Dr. Knight recently retired from her position of Founding Director of the Rollins Center for Language & Learning at the Atlanta Speech School.  The Rollin Center partners with teachers, parents, schools, and school systems to provide high quality professional learning in the areas of language and literacy.  While at the Speech School, she served on the Board and as President of the Board of the Georgia Branch of the International Dyslexia Association.  Prior to assuming this position, she taught courses about struggling readers, reading methods, and special education methods at the University of Delaware. Her interests include professional development for teachers, phonological and orthographic processing, and the linguistic and cognitive aspects of reading comprehension. Prior to teaching at the University of Delaware, she served as the Director for the Tennessee Center for the Study and Treatment of Dyslexia. She has taught middle school, high school, community college and university students.



Laurie Moore

Mrs. Moore is currently the Executive Director for the Armed Services YMCA. She most recently served as the director of the Palmyra Program, leading a dynamic partnership and collaboration including eight universities and federal agencies. Previously, she led the non-profit designated to work with the National Park Service on the design, funding and marketing of the new state-of-the-art Pearl Harbor Visitor Center, has served as a deputy chief of staff for a member of congress, as well as having managed several re-election campaigns at both the state and federal level. She is an Associate Member of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators.  She and her husband own Kimo’s Surf Hut in Kailua.  They are the proud parents of two teenage boys, one of whom attributes his successes to the “gift of dyslexia”.


Mary Wong, Esq.

Ms. Wong attended the University of Hawai‘i, received her economics degree from the University of Pennsylvania, and her law degree from the University of Michigan. Ms. Wong’s first legal work regarding educational services was to increase public school services provided to immigrant families. She has a child with dyslexia.


Liuone Faagai, MHRM

Mr. Faagai is the General Manager of Human Resources at Hawaiian Electric. He has a Master of Human Resource Management from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa and joined HECO with over 20 years of human resource experience in various areas. In addition, he also works as an adjunct faculty member of the University of Phoenix in Hawai‘i. Prior to joining Hawaiian Electric, he worked as the Manager, Workforce Investment Group at Kamehameha Schools (KS) for over ten years where he was responsible for the management and development of KS’ human resource programs.


MurakamiMark Murakami

Mr. 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.



Elaine Nu‘uhiwa

Mrs. Nu‘uhiwa has been a part of Kamehameha Schools for over 30 years working in multiple roles from the oversight of Native Hawaiian grants to her current position as Executive Administrator in the Office of the EVP of Nāpoukaha Administration Group.  Mrs. Nu‘uhiwa became a member of the IDA Hawai‘i Branch several years ago to gain understanding and support for her son who was diagnosed with dyslexia at that time.   She is interested in giving back to the organization that provided valuable resources and recommendations for her family as they learned about the challenges and celebrations of dyslexia.



Kawailehua Pakjake

Mrs. Pakjake is a Skin Care Consultant with Rodan + Fields, a mom of 5, one who has dyslexia. With a degree in Journalism from Hawai‘i Pacific University and a background in Education, she is passionate about  advocating for those with reading differences and bringing awareness to the community on ways to resolve the issue of dyslexia and other reading difficulties.


Kavita Rao, Ph.D.

Dr. Rao is an associate professor at College of Education, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa. She teaches undergraduate and graduate level courses and supervises K-12 teacher candidates in the Hawai‘i DOE schools. Her research focuses on instructional and assistive technology, Universal Design for Learning (UDL), online learning, and technology-related strategies for culturally and linguistically diverse students. Dr. Rao’s prior professional experiences include working as a school technology coordinator in Massachusetts and as an educational specialist for Pacific Resources for Education and Learning (PREL). She has worked with schools and districts in Hawai‘i, Guam, American Samoa, and the Federated States of Micronesia and has conducted workshops on UDL in various school districts around the US and in Asia.


Elizabeth Scamahorn, M.Ed.

Mrs. Scamahorn is actively involved with academic training for students with dyslexia and other learning differences. She makes use of 35 years in the Kauai public and private school systems as a teacher, trainer, coach, and tutor. She and her staff recently completed their 11th summer of an intensive summer literacy clinic for students with challenged skills in grades 1st through 4th. She is trained in literacy acquisition through Orton-Gillingham & Slingerland methodologies, and numerous multisensory programs and curricula. She has been a member of the IDA Hawai‘i Branch for 27 years. Mrs. Scamahorn works from her office at Island School on Kauai, and extends her services to home school students, public and other private school students.


SeoDiane Seo

Ms. Seo is a longtime journalist, editor and digital media specialist. She worked for many years at the Los Angeles Times, then as a senior editor at She then served as the Managing Director of New Media for the ATP, the organization that runs men’s professional tennis worldwide. After moving home to Hawaii, Ms. Seo oversaw the TGIF section of the Honolulu Advertiser and launched the Honolulu Metromix entertainment site. She also co-founded and served as the editor/director of Nonstop Honolulu, an independent entertainment and lifestyle website that was acquired by aio. Since then, she’s served as Digital Director for aio’s Upspring Media, where she oversees Frolic Hawai‘i (rebranded from Nonstop Honolulu) and develops new digital initiatives. Ms. Seo is also one of the organizers of the Hawai‘i Executive Conference.


ShikumaLori Shikuma

Mrs. Shikuma is the parent of two children with dyslexia and a private Orton-Gillingham (O-G) tutor who was a tutor at Rocky Mountain Camp, a camp for students with dyslexia in Colorado. She has extensive retail management experience having served as a district manager for Gap, Inc.; buyer and store manager for Liberty House; and, district manager for Ann Taylor. Her volunteer experience at the school her children attend included school store manager, teacher assistant, class parent, workshop leader, and annual fundraising event committee.



Steve Shiraki, Ph.D.

With a Ph.D. in Educational Administration and Policy from the University of Hawai‘i at Manoa, Dr. Shiraki serves as an administrator and educational specialist for the Hawai‘i State Department of Education.  In addition to coordinating student support services for the Department, Dr. Shiraki has taught numerous graduate classes in curriculum development and educational leadership and has generously served as a mentor to many up and coming educational leaders in both the public and private sector.



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

Margaret Higa, M.S.C.P., is the IDA Hawai‘i Branch’s Executive Director and its sole employee.  She has worked for the IDA Hawai‘i Branch 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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