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 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, Exceptionalities specialization. Her research interests include evidence-based practices and literacy instruction for students with reading difficulties. Natalie previously served in various teaching and administrative roles at Assets School and is the parent of a young adult with dyslexia.
Kathleen Hassler is the Preschool and Elementary Learning Specialist at Mid-Pacific 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 believes strongly in HIDA’s mission and focusing on a child’s unique gifts and strengths. Kathy is Chair of the HIDA Program Committee.
Ned Directo is a Vice President with Bank of Hawai‘i and primarily manages the commercial real estate construction loan process. Ned has over 30 years of experience in the commercial real estate lending. She is currently a Director of the Filipino Chamber of Commerce of Hawai‘i and the Filipino Community (FilCom) Center. Ned is graduate of Waipahu High School and attended Hawai‘i Pacific University. Dyslexia is very near and dear to her as her motto is we are not all the same.
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. His 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. His personal connection with dyslexia stems from growing up with a dyslexic father.
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.
Susannah Johnson For thirteen years in the classroom and through research centering on twice exceptional learners, Susannah spent over a decade at Assets High School developing truly individualized instruction grounded in critical thinking, authenticity, and passion. Susannah received her Master of Education degree in 2016, is a regular presenter at the Schools of the Future Conference and the International Conference for Critical Thinking, as well as the author of articles about this unique pedagogy. Susannah continues to pursue knowledge and evolving educational strategies, using her own global explorations to ignite ideas in education innovation through Individualized Realized, LLC. She is also a Co-Founder with IMPACT Bound, education reimagined, and PLN Project, bringing individualized learning to life with global cohorts, and is the Director of Global and Grassroots Curriculum and Coaching for What School Could Be.
Jennifer Leoiki-Drino 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. Jennifer is Chair of the HIDA Public Awareness Committee.
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.
Nikki Oka is passionate about identifying pathways and advocating for opportunities for learner success through policy and community outreach. A proud graduate of the Kamehameha Schools and the University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa Shidler College of Business, she serves as a legislative analyst and committee clerk with the Hawai‘i State Legislature.
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.
The HIDA ‘ohana is mourning the loss of long-time HIDA leader Elizabeth (Betty) Ishii, who passed away on February 9, 2021. Betty joined the HIDA Board in 2006 and served as president from 2009-2011. After her term as president ended, Betty continued to be active with HIDA’s Public Awareness Committee, serving as committee chair into early 2019.
Betty’s contributions to every aspect of HIDA’s work played a significant role in HIDA evolving into the community leader, and award-winning IDA branch, that it is today. Betty Ishii gave relentlessly of herself and will be remembered always at HIDA with respect and gratitude. She is greatly missed.
Click here to read the article in its entirety.
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 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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