Meet Chris Ranaghan

Chris RanaghanChristine Ranaghan

V.P. of Outreach and Program Development at Learning Ally; Dyslexic

Christine Ranaghan, Vice President of Outreach and Program Development at Learning Ally, a national nonprofit, is a longtime advocate for students with dyslexia.  Chris joined Learning Ally, in 1999 as the Director of Educational Outreach for New Jersey.  In this role, she worked with community leaders, parents and educators to expand Learning Ally’s support and services for students with disabilities.  Currently Chris focuses on continuing this work but on a larger scale, ensuring students with print disabilities, their families and educators have access to the resources they need to support students’ academic and personal success. Chris’ passion for spreading the word about dyslexia is rooted in her personal experience.  Chris was diagnosed with dyslexia as an adult shortly after her daughter was identified.  Her experience as a parent of a child with dyslexia and the struggles dealing with school on behalf of her child, and her own journey as an un-accommodated student with dyslexia throughout her educational and professional life shapes her perspective and fuels her passion.


Meet Mark Brugger

Mark BruggerMark Brugger

Breakout Session: Experience Dyslexia ®, A Simulation Activity

Mark Brugger joined Learning Ally in 2012 in product management to develop services with a parent advocacy perspective. As a dyslexic from a family with several dyslexics and the parent of a special needs child, Mark is uniquely positioned to understand the educational needs of the child and the parent perspective. Mark is well-versed in special education and working with the public school. He has also been a case manager for a university Office of Student Disabilities, serving primarily young diagnosed/undiagnosed adults with SLD. Mark has been active in improving special education and 504 accommodations locally in his school district. Prior to Learning Ally, Mark lead teams in the telecommunications, networking, software and career services fields as an entrepreneur, change agent and major contributor.

Meet Brian Meersma

Brian_MeersmaBrian Meersma

Breakout Session: Tech Tools and Tips: Using Assistive Technology

Brian is a West Windsor-Plainsboro High School South senior who has been using assistive technology to overcome his dyslexia since the third grade. A member of the advisory board for Bookshare (the free online digital library for children with qualified print disabilities), Meersma also shares information about assistive technology devices and software through his blog at

Orlando Bloom

Orlando Bloom

Orlando Bloom

Born: January 13, 1977

 Know for his roles as Will Turner in the franchise “The Pirates of the Caribbean” and as Legolas in the franchise “The Lord of the Rings, Orlando Bloom has dyslexia. He struggled as a child with it and now as adult. Check out this video for more information on Orlando and his dyslexia. There many more as he was interview by the Child Mind Institute.

Meet Deborah Lynam

Deborah LynamDeborah Lynam

Breakout Session: Advocating for Your Child

Deborah is the mother of three boys, two of whom are dyslexic. She is one of the founding members of Decoding Dyslexia-NJ, a grassroots movement concerned with the limited access to educational interventions for dyslexia and other language-based learning disabilities within our public schools. She has worked for S.P.A.N. (Statewide Parent Advisory Network) as a parent group specialist. She currently is the Director of Parent Community Engagement for Learning Ally.

The 1in5 Initiative

     1in5 Initiative

The 1in5 Initiative

The 1in5 Initiative is the work of Learning Ally.  Learning Ally, after over 60 years of helping families find solutions for reading and learning disabilities, wanted to assist people in a way that went beyond providing audiobooks. They wanted to create a place where answers were readily available through discussions and interaction – dyslexics to dyslexics and parents to parents. Above all, they wanted a place where the people dealing with dyslexia could simply breathe.

The place we created is If you or a loved one is struggling now, they’re here to help you through the journey – here to introduce you to the person inside of you who wants to burst out and conquer the world! If you’re already conquering the world, we’re thrilled for you. They know– firsthand – the exhilaration that rushes over you when you finally figure it out – when you finally embrace dyslexia and deal with it. When it’s all said and done, it really isn’t that bad.

Because we understand the lows and the highs of dyslexia, the voice of our experience is valuable They wanted to build one since they couldn’t find a mountaintop to shout their message from. They named it 1in5, and they’re giving it to you – well, you and the other 60 million dyslexics out there seeking safe haven and voices of reason. This safe heaven allows you to express and declare your dyslexia in multiple ways and helps you guide your way through the journey!

Learn more about 1in5 by visiting their website here.


Headstrong Nation

Headstrong NationHeadstrong Nation

Headstrong Nation is a non-profit dedicated to serving the dyslexic community. Headstrong Nation aims to end the isolation of the world’s largest (it’s true!) disability group by providing information about dyslexia, self-advocacy and new technologies. To do this theyhelp dyslexic adults and parents of dyslexic children learn the facts, figure out how to play to the strengths and connect with others to form a movement dedicated to levelling the playing field for people like us. They vision is to create a movement in which people with dyslexia and related profiles do not merely survive. But to thrive.

It was founded in 2003 by Ben Foss. Ben is a dyslexic entrepreneur and activist and the founder of Headstrong Nation. He invented the Intel® Reader, a mobile device that takes photos of text and recites it aloud on the spot. Foss is a co-founder of Integration Ventures, a venture capital firm that is looking to invest in dyslexic entrepreneurs. Foss graduated from Wesleyan University and earned a JD/MBA from Stanford Law and Business Schools. Ben has written a book called, “The Dyslexia Empowerment Plan A Blueprint for Renewing Your Child’s Confidence and Love of Learning”. The book is a  a blueprint for renewing your child’s confidence and love of learning. The book will be released next week.

To learn more about Headstrong Nation visit their website here.

About the Creators