Who We Are

Lauren A. Katz

Lauren A. Katz, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Founder and Partner

Dr. Lauren Katz is one of the founders of the Literacy, Language, and Learning Institute (3LI) and was a tenured professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at Bowling Green State University (BGSU). Dr. Katz brings her expertise as both a speech-language pathologist and literacy and learning specialist to 3LI. 

After completing her M.S. degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions, she worked as a speech-language pathologist in the public schools in Montgomery County, MD as well as at the Lab School of Washington, in Washington, D.C. In these settings, Dr. Katz provided assessments and therapy in language and literacy to elementary, middle, and high school students, and she supervised graduate clinicians and clinical fellows.

Dr. Katz’s doctoral education began at the University of Oxford with Dr. Peter Bryant, a pioneer in the fields of reading and dyslexia. She went on to work closely with one of the most highly regarded researchers in reading, Dr. Joanne Carlisle. With Dr. Carlisle as a mentor, Dr. Katz completed her Ph.D. in Literacy, Language, and Learning Disabilities as well as a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan.

Following her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Katz worked as an Assistant and then Associate Professor in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at BGSU. She taught undergraduate, master’s, and doctoral-level courses in clinical methods, language development, reading and writing assessment and intervention, and school-age language disorders.

Additionally, while at BGSU, Dr. Katz founded and directed the ROWing Clinic (Reading, Organizing, and Writing) for school-age and college students with language and literacy disorders. Dr. Katz has conducted and continues to conduct research related to assessment and treatment practices in language and literacy for adolescents and young adults with spoken- and written-language disorders, and she has numerous peer-reviewed presentations and publications.

Dr. Katz holds certification in speech-language pathology through the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).  In 2011, she was awarded the Clyde R. Willis Faculty Development Award for her accomplishments in teaching, scholarship, and service. In 2012, Dr. Katz was honored by her alma mater, the MGH Institute of Health Professions, with their highest form of recognition, the Bette Ann Harris Distinguished Alumni Award, for her exceptional leadership, achievement, and service.

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Joanne Marttila PiersonJoanne Marttila Pierson, Ph.D., CCC-SLP

Founder and Partner

Dr. Joanne Pierson is a founding partner of the Literacy, Language, and Learning Institute (3LI). Dr. Pierson has expertise as both a speech-language pathologist and a literacy and learning specialist.

Dr. Pierson received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in speech-language pathology from Western Michigan University and the University of Michigan, respectively. Her early career was spent practicing speech-language pathology in the public schools working with primarily pre-school and elementary age students. During that time, she collaborated with reading and classroom teachers to design effective instruction for students with language disabilities in the general education classroom. This experience led her to pursue a doctorate from the University of Michigan in Education with an emphasis in Literacy, Language, and Learning Disabilities. While in the School of Education, Dr. Pierson taught general and special education undergraduate and graduate students in courses that addressed the needs of the atypical learner highlighting the important role of student interests and strengths in learning, an area she pursued in her dissertation.

For over 11 years while under the direction of her mentor and graduate advisor Dr. Holly K. Craig, Dr. Pierson was the Associate Director at the University of Michigan Center for the Development of Language and Literacy (UCLL). She managed the clinical services programs, trained speech-language pathologists in literacy and dyslexia, and developed such programs as Bridge to Kindergarten to prepare children with language disorders for kindergarten, Learning to Learn for elementary and middle school students, and Six Steps to Academic Success, a series of workshops for UM students.

Dr. Pierson developed and continues to manage DyslexiaHelp, a donor-funded, state-of-the-art curriculum and resource center offered free via the web to anyone with an interest in dyslexia. In addition, she gives talks and workshops on the role of oral language in literacy learning and dyslexia.

Dr. Pierson holds certification in speech-language pathology (SLP) from the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA) and licensure in SLP and K-8 teacher certification from the State of Michigan. She is president of the board of the Michigan Branch of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA). Dr. Pierson has served on numerous boards in the community and is a member of the Rotary Club of Ann Arbor.

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Karen A. Wasco, M.S., CCC-SLP

Language and Literacy Clinician

Since 2004, Ms. Wasco has been practicing as a speech-language pathologist (SLP) with a special interest and experience in literacy.

Ms. Wasco received her B.A. degree in English Literature from John Carroll University and did her post-graduate study in SLP at Wayne State University. She received her M.S. degree in Communication and Science Disorders from Gallaudet University.

Ms. Wasco began her career as an SLP at the University of Michigan Center for the Development of Language and Literacy (UCLL), where she worked closely with Dr. Pierson on DyslexiaHelp. As a result, Ms. Wasco gained an expertise in dyslexia as well as in technology, software, and web-based applications for language-based learning disorders (LLD).

Ms. Wasco and Dr. Pierson developed a workshop for middle school through college-age students with LLD titled Six Steps to Academic Success. The program focused on organization, setting goals, listening/asking questions, writing, reading comprehension, self-advocacy, memory, and test-taking skills. In addition to teaching these workshops, Ms. Wasco gave numerous presentations about this program in the community.

Ms. Wasco conducted language-literacy evaluations and provided intervention to elementary through college-age individuals with LLD while at UCLL, and at the Summit Academy Schools in Romulus, MI (2013-2015). She also supervised SLP undergraduate students, and managed UCLL’s computer lab where she was the go-to person relative to assistive software. During her time at Summit, Ms. Wasco was also responsible for leading Multidisciplinary Educational Team meetings and Individualized Educational Plans.

Ms. Wasco holds certification in SLP from the American Speech-Language-Hearing-Association (ASHA), and licensure in SLP from the State of Michigan. She is also a member of the International Dyslexia Association (IDA) and the Michigan Speech-Language-Hearing Association (MSHA).

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Frances SobolakFrances Sobolak

Administrative Assistant

Frances is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan, pursuing a B.A. in Linguistics and a minor in Music. She joined 3LI as an administrative assistant in the winter of 2016. Frances has also worked for Dr. Pierson on the DyslexiaHelp team, researching and creating content for the organization’s website. Hoping to pursue a career in the field of language and phonology, Frances is grateful and happy to work under the wings of 3LI ladies.