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The ASDEC Team


“The training is just elegant, and the results for my students are the most powerful I have ever gotten.”

- Patricia Bradley, Teacher at Immaculate Heart School, Greensboro, NC, Formerly at St. Mary’s School, Rockville MD


Claire Nissenbaum, M.A., C.A.T Emeritus
Founder, ASDEC

Ms. Nissenbaum is Founder of the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center (ASDEC). Ms. Nissenbaum has over 30 years experience working in the field of language-based learning differences. She was a principal in the TRI-Services National Institute of Dyslexia for 15 years. She has trained teachers in the Kent County (Maryland) Public Schools and at Chelsea School (Maryland), and students at Hood College in Frederick, Maryland. She was a founding Board Member of the International Multisensory Structured Language Association (IMSLEC) and a member of the Professional Advisory Committee of the 32 Scottish Rite Masons Childrens Learning Centers. Ms. Nissenbaum is a Fellow of the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. She has been a  frequent presenter at national conferences of the International Dyslexia Association, and is a contributor to the graduate-level textbook, Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills, Second Edition (2003). Ms. Nissenbaum authored the chapter, “Learning Strategies and Study Skills: The SkORE System.”



Ellen O’Neill, MA
Executive Director

With a Master’s degree in Human Services management from Brandeis University, Ms. O’Neill has over 20 years of experience in management,  research, grant writing, and advocacy.  Ms. O’Neill has served on the Board of Directors of the Chelsea School, Maryland Nonprofits, and the Prince George’s County Child Care Resource Center. As a parent of a dyslexic child, Ms. O’Neill brings a passionate commitment to delivering high quality training and education services to children and adults with learning disabilities.



Shingerai Mangwiro M.B.A.
Executive Assistant

Ms. Mangwiro brings over 10 years of experience in Accounting and Administration, Sales, Fundraising, Recruiting and Customer Service. Preparing for a career in Financial Planning, Ms. Mangwiro graduated from the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland and completed a Certificate Program in Financial Planning at Georgetown University. Ms. Mangwiro also has worked on a number of international and local human rights and economic development initiatives.


ASDEC Instructors

CALT: Certified Academic Language Therapist
CAT: Certified Academic Therapist 


Donna Brooks, CALT

Ms. Brooks is an ALTA-certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT) and IDA certified Dyslexia Therapist and ASDEC Supervisor. She is the founder of Moving Muscles. This program is specifically used for the ASDEC Summer Program and allows children the ability to become better coordinated, working on total body motion while addressing mid-line, hypotonia, dyspraxia challenges. Most importantly, the children have fun while doing this. Donna is also the founder of Blessings Through Dyslexia, an intervention services provider. She is also certified as a Myers-Briggs Facilitator, an Equipping Minds (EM) Mediator, a Feuerstein Method Mediator, Primitive Reflect Mediator, and The Listening Program (TLP) Provider, Visual and Auditory Assessor through The Listening Program, and an Intern for the Learning Ears Program. Donna is currently enrolled in a Masters of Counseling Program at the Townsend Institute, Irvine, California. She is retired from the United States Air Force. Donna and her daughter, Grace, understand the challenges and blessings that come with having dyslexia.



Patti Edison, R.N., CALT
Certified Academic Therapist

Ms. Edison has worked as a Certified Academic Language Therapist since 1994 and has served as ASDEC’s Clinical Coordinator of Intern Training Program, Director of the Summer Program for Dyslexic Adolescents, Clinical Supervisor, and Master Teacher. Patti holds a BS degree in Psychology from the University of Maryland, and carries certification through ALTA and IDA. Serving pre-k through adult students in her private practice, she specializes in remediation of reading, spelling, comprehension, writing and study skills. Presently, she is thrilled to be a part of the supervision team overseeing the teacher training in Frederick County, MD. A past presenter at the annual International Dyslexia Conferences, Ms. Edison worked as a Critical Care Registered Nurse prior to joining the ASDEC team.


Anthony Henley, Psy.D.
Instructor: Neuropsychology of Learning Differences and Disorders

Dr. Henley has been working in the field of learning disabilities for over 25 years. He started as an educational therapist, providing interventions to students with learning disabilities, but he now exclusively provides psychoeducational assessments as clinical psychologist licensed in Maryland, D.C., and Virginia.  He has presented locally, nationally, and internationally on the diagnosis and remediation of difficulties with learning and attention. He is co-author of a chapter in the primary textbook for providing interventions for students with learning disabilities (Multisensory Teaching of Basic Language Skills). He has played a leadership role locally and nationally in the International Dyslexia Association, and on the Board of Directors of the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center, a center for training teachers to work with students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities.


Merida Hurkett, M.S., CALT, QI
Clinical Co-Director ASDEC

Ms. Hurkett is currently the Clinical Co-Director at ASDEC in addition to her responsibilities as a supervisor and Master Teacher.  Ms. Hurkett has a MS in Special Education and received her certification as an Academic Therapist in 2005 and is a member of the Academic Language Therapy Association. Ms. Hurkett is a frequent presenter at workshops and professional development training.


Mona Iyer, AMS, CALT. CDT
Instructor, K-Reading Kickstart

Mona has been in the field of education, focusing on teaching young children for over 25 years. She received her American Montessori Society (AMS) certification in Montessori training from Dallas, Texas. Ms. Iyer moved to Maryland in 1996 where she has been a teacher at Manor Montessori School in Potomac, MD. Ms. Iyer is author of K-Reading Kickstart, a graduate level course in early screening and intervention.


Joy Jacques, R.N., B.S., CALT
Certified Academic Therapist

Ms. Jacques, Certified Academic Therapist, has been working in the field of academic therapy since 2002.  Her previous career was Critical Care R.N.  Ms. Jacques serves ASDEC as a Supervisor and Master Teacher.


Laurie Moloney, CALT
Certified Academic Language Therapist

Ms.  Moloney, Certified Academic Language Therapist, holds a B.A. In English and is a certified Academic Language Therapist (CALT). She began her training in 1989 – first at the Tri-Services/National Institute of Dyslexia and then at the Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center (ASDEC), where she completed her training, was a faculty and board member, and supervised interns.   She is a member of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the Academic Language Therapy Association (ALTA). Currently, she is President of DCIDA, the metropolitan DC branch of the International Dyslexia Association.

Ms. Moloney maintains a private practice, serving students of all ages — from the mildly involved to the severely learning disabled. She specializes in teaching students to read and spell fluently; take notes from textbooks, literature, and lecture; remember what they read and hear using powerful memory strategies; enlarge their vocabulary exponentially through the study of Greek and Latin morphemes; write well; manage their time and school materials effectively; and self-advocate. 


Traude Smith, M.Ed., CALT
Clinical Co-Director at ASDEC
Director of the Summer Program

Ms. Smith is the Clinical Co-Director at ASDEC and the Director of the Summer Program.  She completed her training as Academic Therapist in 1988.  In 2012 she became a qualified instructor. Ms. Smith has a B.A. in speech pathology and a M.Ed in special education.  Her background training in speech pathology and teaching the hearing impaired has been of benefit in the work with dyslexic children and adults.  Ms. Smith is a faculty member at ASDEC and presents workshops and professional development training at schools and conferences.


Deborah Spear, M.Ed., CALT-QI
Clinical Supervisor
Certified Academic Language Therapist

Ms. Spear is a Clinical Supervisor and Certified Academic Language Therapist at ASDEC. She formerly worked for Fairfax County Public Schools as a special education teacher, educational diagnostician, and as a Learning Disabilities Department Chair. Deborah has been in private practice since 2002 and holds certifications in Sounds in Syllables, Scottish Rite Orton-Gillingham, Wilson Language Systems, and Junior Great Books.  She earned her Qualified Instructor (QI) certificate in 2017. She has further training in Lindamood-Bell systems and Handwriting Without Tears. Deborah maintains a private clinical practice, supervisors interns, instructs Language 1 and Language 2, directs the Virginia summer program and consults with schools on improving their reading intervention programs.


Marilyn Zecher, M.A., CALT
Instructor: Multisensory Math

A nationally certified Academic Language Therapist and former classroom/demonstration teacher, Ms Zecher is a specialist in applying multisensory Orton-Gillingham based strategies to a variety of content areas. She trains nationally for The Multisensory Training Institute of the nonprofit Atlantic Seaboard Dyslexia Education Center in Rockville MD and is a part time instructor at Loyola University, Baltimore.  A frequent presenter at regional and national conferences including IDA, LDA, & NCTM, Ms Zecher specializes in evidence based methods and interventions for all students but which are especially effective with students with learning difficulties in the fields of mathematics, written language and study skills. Her presentations incorporate O-G strategies, the principles of UDL, and recommendations from NCTM, The What Works Clearinghouse and the Common Core State Standards. She developed the Multisensory Math Program and graduate level math methods courses for which she is the instructor.  She also gives professional development workshops on multisensory applications in math, written language and study skills. She maintains a private practice supporting older students who have dyslexia and related learning differences in Rockville, Maryland.


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ASDEC - Dyslexia Therapy, Training, and Parent Advocacy

17 West Jefferson Street, Suite 201
Rockville, MD 20850

Phone: 301-762-2414
Email: [email protected]

Copyright ©2019. ASDEC All rights reserved.


ASDEC is accredited by the International Mulitsensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC), one of two organizations in the US to receive the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) endorsement for meeting teacher training standards in reading.


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