Advisory Council

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Advisory Council

Melissa Behrens-Blake  
Melissa did her undergraduate work in psychology prior to completing a Master’s degree in speech/language pathology under the mentorship of Dr. Bruce Porch.  She established a diagnostic unit at the University of New Mexico for university students in the area of learning disabilities and focused on this age group for ten years.  In 1997 she transferred to the UNM Psychology Clinic where she has continued diagnostic work with all age groups.  She has worked with interns from UNM’s Educational Diagnostic Program and works closely with doctoral candidates in neuropsychology who are interested in the evaluation process.  Advisement area: testing and diagnosis


Jenny Coffey  
Born and educated in England with a career in nursing, Jenny has lived in Farmington, NM since 1982. She has been a Certified Academic Language Therapist for over 25 years, and is a Qualified Instructor for the Multisensory Language Training Institute of New Mexico (MLTI of NM). A member of IDA since 1985, Jenny retired as a board member of SWIDA after 13 years.  Advisement area: SWIDA history, expertise in dyslexia therapy.


Douglas Cox, Albuquerque. Doug recently retired and is an experienced Certified Public Accountant.  He has served on several boards (ARCA, NMACI, NMSCPA) as a committee chair as well as a treasurer.  He is currently serving on the Budget Committee. Advisement area: Financial planning and accounting.


Sandra Dillon 
The key founding member of SWIDA (formerly the NM Branch of the Orton Dyslexia Society), Sandra is the founder and director of the Multisensory Language Training Institute of NM, and a current Board Member of the International Multisensory Structured Language Education Council (IMSLEC). She has served as a branch president.  Advisement area: SWIDA history, Professional Ethics, national guidelines, expertise in the area of dyslexia and dyslexia therapy.




Montine Gibbons 
Montine Gibbons is a Speech-Language Pathologist and Certified Academic Language Therapist in Albuquerque, New Mexico. She has worked as an SLP in the Albuquerque Public Schools for 20 years and as a CALT, providing private dyslexia therapy, for 9 years. She served 8 years on the SWIDA Board of Directors as Newsletter Chair, Technology Outreach Chair, Conference Committee Chair, Corresponding Secretary, Vice President and President. Montine is the current Co-Chair of the 2018 conference.  Advisement area: Expertise in the field of speech/language and dyslexia, outreach events, local arrangements. 



Dr. Steven Sánchez, Belen, NM, was a classroom teacher for 23 years, before becoming an administrator.  He recently retired as the Deputy Superintendent for the Las Cruces Public Schools.  Dr. Sánchez serves on the NMSU Board of Advocates for the College of Education and the NM North Central Associations Council on Accreditation and School Improvement.  As a Board Member, he helped facilitate the passage of HB 230, NM’s “dyslexia law.”  Advisement area: District policy and strategic planning, expertise in educational leadership. 




Megan Shanley, Albuquerque,  is an Occupational Therapist and RESNA-certified Assistive Technology Practitioner who graduated from Indiana University’s Occupational Therapy Program in 1998 and now works for the Universal Design for Learning team for Albuquerque Public Schools and Southwest Neuropsychology and Behavioral Health.  Megan is experienced in Assistive Technology evaluations and treatment for individuals with disabilities.  Dyslexia herself, and a self-professed “geek,” Megan uses Assistive Technology herself.  She has a unique understanding of the power and challenges of integrating AT into everyday life. Advisement area: Assistive Technology, website design and management.



NM Senator Mimi Stewart  
Retired from 30 years of teaching in the public schools in elementary special education, Mimi has been a State Representative in the NM House of Representatives and is now a State Senator. In her teaching and legislative careers, she has promoted teaching reading according to research and science. Mimi sponsored the Dyslexia Memorial in 2000 and the HB 230 Dyslexia bill in 2010. She continues to work on behalf of at-risk readers because there is still “much work to do.”  Advisement area: related legislation and political issues relating to education.


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