I am Dyslexic and I am happy to share that with everyone. I grew up in Brooklyn, New York where I married my dear husband Frank many years ago. We moved to Staten Island, New York fifteen years ago, when we started a family. We have two sons; Lars and James.
I have worked in various industries; insurance / brokerage, manufacturing and Social Services, but I am most pleased of my work as a Dyslexic advocate for over the past 10 years here on Staten Island. I was a board member of the Staten Island Federation of PTA’s for Academic Excellence for Dyslexia and Corresponding Secretary 2011-2013. I was given awards for advocating for dyslexia from; the Staten Island UFT, P.O.P. Award Power of Parent Award 2011 and Families Together in New York State, Outstanding Parent Advocate Award 2012, Albany, New York. I have serviced on my sons’ public schools PTA’s and SLT-School Leadership Teams over the years and I attend various educational community meetings. I have the hope that creating the Society of Dyslexia brings more than reorganization of Dyslexics, I hope that the Society bring us together in such a way that inspires great works and benefits to our communities. I do hope to inspire many, that; Dyslexics individuals are very important to the balances of life. I have and will continue to advocate, embrace, and share the strengths we bring to our society’s. I do this for our future and the success of the Society of Dyslexia.
Ann M. Hoek, Founder
I was first diagnosed with dyslexia in my second year of college. I was one of the lucky ones. The Special Services Department provided me with services, which enabled me to graduate. I ended up
graduating with, a bachelors in communication and design, with a minor in child psychology from Pratt Institute. I started working in promotional departments of major magazines, such as Seventeen and Redbook. Then, I became the Creative Director of the largest trade publications at that time, specializing in travel. I worked with the biggest names in travel: Carnival, Holland America, Auto Europe, Perillo Tours, you name it. Unfortunately, my focus had to changed. My son who was diagnosed, two years earlier with dyslexia was having a terrible time in school. He became a priority. That was seven years ago. He is in high school now and doing fine. So, it's time for me to start focusing on something new. Helping the next generation of dyslexics to see the light and the only thing holding them back… is their selves.
Mark Stern, President
Born and bred in New York. I was seen as learning disabled at a very young age in the early 1960's, and was diagnosed as Dyslexic when the name was given to the disability, which I now see as learning different. Through hard work and perseverance, my parents helped me a great deal by sending me to doctors and also giving me most of their time, helping me with school work every single day till graduating in 1978. As an adult I came to find out that I am dyscalculic with Executive Functioning Disorder. Using work-arounds on a daily basis that my parents taught me, I was able to be successful in corporate America and worked my way into middle management. I volunteered in the late 1990's for the International Dyslexia Association of New York at monthly meetings for adults to help with daily struggles, and figure out ways to overcome those hurdles. It is now my goal to help the Society Of Dyslexia become well known, so families with members who fall under the umbrella of Dyslexia can come to our organization for support and become proud of their strengths and successes, and show those strengths and sometimes unique abilities to others, rather than just focus on the difficulties.
R. Clark Webb, Treasure
Originally from Louisiana, I moved to New York in 1984. For the past 12 years I’ve lived in Staten Island. I have been an IT professional for 30+ years (certified PMP, ITIL and CCM) and have worked for such companies as Software Computer Associates, Merrill Lynch, Credit Suisse First Boston, Home Box Office, and PeopleSoft and am currently working for the MTA. Often working with designing and implementing financials systems I will be serving as Treasurer of SOD. With a background in IT designing, coding and implementation of business systems, I will also be working with Ann with Website Design and implementation. A firm believer in volunteerism, I am happily volunteering for working with Society of Dyslexia to help make Laura’s vision of the organization supporting and promoting people with dyslexia with opportunities and information.
Thomas Abenante, Secretary
I’m one of three children in my family. My older sister who is 29, and my (identical mirror) twin brother and I are both 26. My brother and I have struggled with writing all our lives. I always refused to write unless I was copying from somewhere, or someone was helping me. When it came to homework I had tons of help from my parents who are my hidden hands. Every year since kindergarten my mother would ask my teachers if anything was “wrong” with us, and the standard response was “they are very smart, just lazy and unfocused; they need to apply themselves more”. Needless to say, I am far from “lazy” or unfocused”.
In the 4th grade my brother and I transferred to a K-12 public school and not til the 12th grade was it obvious that we couldn’t graduate unless we passed the English regents. With the school still denying there was even a problem, my mother refused to leave until they agreed to get us tested for learning disabilities. After minimal testing in 2008, I was diagnosed with an LD (specific type TBD) and an IQ of 120, and managed to graduate high school on time. When I got to college, I continued to struggle and eventually switched my major to Urban Development, something that was a bit easier for me to manage, but it did take me 6 years to graduate.
Now though I still experience some struggles in the professional side of life, I am still finding new work-arounds to help me get through the areas I am still improving in. As I learn more tricks, I notice daily improvement. As I am able to assist others with struggles in certain areas of their lives, I am a student myself, and learning from not just the SOD staff, but the good people that join our meetings. Everything comes full circle.