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AIM Institute for Learning & Research

2023 Speaker Bios

Symposium Moderator - Nancy Hennessy, M.Ed.

Nancy Hennessy is an experienced teacher, author, and administrator who currently works as a literacy consultant. She has designed and delivered keynote addresses and multiple virtual and live professional learning events including workshops, podcasts, and training courses on the science of reading & structured literacy. Nancy is the author of the book, The Reading Comprehension Blueprint: Helping Students Make Meaning of Text. She also wrote the chapter, Working with Word Meaning: Vocabulary Instruction, in Multisensory Teaching of Basic Skills (4th edition). While serving as a national trainer for Language Essentials for Teachers of Reading and Spelling, she co-authored LETRS, Digging for Meaning: Teaching Text Comprehension (2nd edition) with Louisa Moats. Nancy is the past president of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and a recipient of IDA’s Margaret Byrd Rawson Lifetime Achievement Award.

Hugh Catts, Ph.D.

Rethinking Reading Comprehension

Dr. Catts is Professor of the School of Communication Science and Disorders at Florida State University. He is a past board member of the International Dyslexia Association and past board member and President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Reading. He has received the Samuel T. Orton Award from the International Dyslexia Association and the Honors of the Association from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association for his career contributions in each of these disciplines. His current research concerns the early identification and prevention of reading and language disabilities and the nature and assessment of reading comprehension problems. 

Amy Elleman, Ph.D.

Inference Generation and Knowledge Acquisition:

Key Factors in Reading Comprehension

Dr. Elleman currently serves as the director of the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Literacy Studies Ph.D. Program, an interdisciplinary program dedicated to teaching doctoral students how to translate literacy research to practice. Dr. Elleman has experience as a teacher and administrator serving students with learning and behavior difficulties. Dr. Elleman earned a B.S. in Psychology at the University of Maryland in Heidelberg, Germany. She earned her M.Ed. and Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University where she became interested in the early identification and treatment of reading comprehension difficulties. Her current research includes investigating individual differences in vocabulary acquisition for students with learning difficulties, conducting meta-analyses focused on comprehension, and examining the impact of knowledge and inference instruction for students with reading comprehension difficulties.

Tiffany Hogan, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Language Comprehension and Developmental Language Disorder: The other side of the Simple View of Reading

Dr. Hogan is a Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at MGH Institute of Health Professions in Boston, Director of the Speech and Language (SAiL) Literacy Lab, and Research Associate at Harvard University. Dr. Hogan has published over 100 papers on the genetic, neurologic, and behavioral links between oral and written language development, with a focus on improving assessment and intervention for children with Developmental Language Disorder, Dyslexia, and/or Speech Sound Disorders. Her advocacy for children with communication disorders has led her to co-found a DLD informational website:, host a podcast (, organize an annual conference on implementation science in CSD (, and contribute information for articles in numerous news outlets including the New York Times, the Boston Globe, along with several television and radio appearances.

Kristen Wynn Headshot Image

From Research to Practice: Anchoring Effective Processes to Improve Reading Outcomes

Kristen Wynn is State Literacy Director (K-12) for the Mississippi Department of Education with 17 plus years of service in the field of education. She is committed to ensuring equitable access for all students to effective literacy instruction, highly qualified teachers, and high-quality instructional materials. Her experience in the classroom includes teaching 1st and 2nd grade, as well as serving as a Kindergarten through 5 th grade Intervention Specialist. She has also spent several years as a new teacher mentor. Ms. Wynn previously served as a literacy coach for the Mississippi Department of Education (MDE), a Regional Literacy Coordinator, an Assistant State Literacy Coordinator, and currently serves as the State Literacy Director, where she has worked diligently to improve literacy outcomes of schools and districts across the state of Mississippi. She is the co-creator of several literacy professional development trainings (for educators) aligned to the science of reading. During the 2016-2017 school year, she co-produced the MDE’s Literacy Focus of the Month in Action instructional videos featuring literacy coaches and students in Mississippi classrooms. During the 2017-2018 school year, she began working with coaches to increase the rigor and consistency of writing instruction in kindergarten through sixth grade classrooms through the development and implementation of Writing Galleries. Currently, she serves as a member of the Mississippi Reading Licensure Task Force, the Mississippi Reading Panel, the Higher Ed Literacy Council (HELC) and the Governor’s Task Force for Teacher Preparation in Early Literacy Instruction. Kristen is the mother of two wonderful boys, Braxton and Parker and a sweet princess, Baylor.

Hollis Scarborough Award Recipient - Laurie Cutting, Ph.D.

The Complexity of Reading Comprehension and Beyond: Lessons Learned from the Reading Rope and its Author

Dr. Cutting is the Patricia and Rodes Hart Professor of Special Education, Psychology and Human Development, Radiology, Pediatrics, and Electrical and Computer Engineering at Vanderbilt University, and was the recipient of the 2017-2018 Joe B. Wyatt Distinguished University Professorship at Vanderbilt University. She is also Associate Director of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center, a member of the Vanderbilt Brain Institute, training faculty for Vanderbilt’s Neuroscience Ph.D. program, and a Senior Scientist at Haskins Laboratories. Her work focuses on brain-behavior relations in children and adolescents, with a particular emphasis on reading, language, and executive function. Currently, she is the principal investigator of several NIH- and other federally funded research projects examining the neural underpinnings of cognitive development and academic achievement. 

Need to Register?

Join us via livestream for

Why is Reading Comprehension So Difficult to Comprehend?

Monday, March 13, 2023

8:30 AM - 3:30 PM ET

Register Today

Recordings to be Shared with All Registrants

We have reached capacity for our Symposium at AIM and cannot accept more in-person registrants. Please register for online attendance.

Thank You to Our 2023 Research to Practice Symposium Sponsors

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