Two new trustees elected to the board of the British Dyslexia Association
Monday 15 March 2021
The Annual General Meeting of the British Dyslexia Association on Saturday 13 March saw 2 new trustees elected to the board, in the most contested election of recent times. With a total of 12 candidates across 3 positions, Dr Georgia Niolaki and Dr Helen Ross were elected as Local Association member trustees and Liane Cockram was re-elected as an Individual Member trustee. A sign of the continuing growth and evolution of the charity as it approaches its 50th anniversary in 2022, the meeting also heard from various volunteer-led committees that focus on areas like music, dyscalculia and cultural perspectives.
Dr Georgia Niolaki was a primary school teacher in the UK and Greece and for the last nine years, lecturer in Higher Education at Coventry University, and soon at Bath Spa University, a Senior Lecturer in SpLD/Dyslexia and Inclusion. Dr Niolaki also has dyslexia which was never diagnosed due to lack of awareness when she was a student, which led to difficulties and exclusion in her school years. Georgia is a Trustee of her North Warwickshire & Coventry Dyslexia Association and a Deputy Adult Representative on the Local Association Board.
Dr Helen Ross has worked as a SENCo and a Specialist Assessor so that she understands and can support dyslexic individuals and their families. Alongside teaching/assessing, Dr Ross is an active researcher, regularly contributing to academic journals, conferences, and wider policy debate. She has presented her research at national and international conferences, and consulted with the Office for Science and Technology to make policy and practice recommendations to government. Dr Ross is currently working with Wiltshire Local Authority, evaluating their county-wide Dyslexia Friendly Quality Mark Project.
Lianne Cockram has been the Vice-Chair of the BDA trustees for nearly two years, and served as the Interim Chair for 6 months in 2020. Liane was assessed as dyslexic in adulthood that resolved why she had struggled academically throughout her life and haunted by a constant feeling of low esteem. Liane is keen to be an integral part of moving BDA forward to ensure that all individuals have the opportunity to be diagnosed regardless of their background, their ability to pay, and their age and, that the BDA’s voice continues to be heard.
The same meeting saw Pamela Tomalin and Jeff Hughes step down as trustees after many years of involvement with the BDA. Pam and Jeff have been stalwarts of the BDA for many years. The charity is hugely grateful for all their hard work as trustees, and the huge range of projects and initiatives to which they have contributed. They have helped local associations deliver support and advice to people with dyslexia of all ages, and helped steer recent BDA projects on assessment and reasonable adjustments. They continue supporting people with dyslexia as representatives on the local associations' board.
Trustees play a crucial role in making sure that the British Dyslexia Association is run according to its charitable aims. They oversee the management and administration of the organisation and have overall responsibility for staffing, financial policies, annual budget and accounts, setting the strategy and monitoring performance. All BDA trustees have a strong connection to the cause and each bring different skills or experiences. Currently, trustees meet four times a year as well as the Annual General Meeting, and some trustees are also involved with sub-groups looking at particular aspects of the charity’s work. Becoming a BDA trustee can be a way of helping to change things for the better and representing the interests of people with dyslexia and co-occurring differences.
Nick Posford, CEO, said:
“I can’t wait to start working with Georgia, Helen, Liane and the rest of the board, as we continue developing our strategy for the future. Our work has never been more important as we come out of the Coronavirus pandemic. Existing barriers for people with dyslexia have only become more worrying. We need to ensure nobody is left behind, and that the benefits of thinking differently are widely understood and valued. The charity has a lot of work to do, to ensure schools, educators, employers and workplaces support everyone with dyslexia and co-occurring differences.”