About Us

About NILD Canada

The National Institute for Learning Development Canada (NILD Canada) is a non-profit organization dedicated to training educators to work with children and adults with learning difficulties through an individualized program of educational therapy.

NILD Educational Therapy® stimulates areas of weakness through individualized and intensive intervention.








About Our Logo

…building confidence and competence

NILD’s logo, the figure eight, represents four key components developed through NILD Educational Therapy:


Cognition refers to thinking processes such as reasoning, reflecting, attaching meaning, remembering and evaluating.


This refers to how we receive and process information either through sight, sound, touch, movement, smell or taste.


The way we feel about the world around us, our relationships with others and our approach to life is largely impacted by our emotions. Self-confidence plays a key role in this.


Students must be taught “how to learn” in order to successfully learn the required content. Teaching a student how to learn creates independent learning skills that build competence.

The figure eight is incorporated in one of our core techniques, Rhythmic Writing, that helps to strengthen attention, processing skills, and handwriting.

Why does it work?


It is most satisfying for me to have an opportunity to endorse the work of NILD and the help they have provided for countless children. Since its founding, NILD’s methods and philosophy have mirrored solid findings about brain development and the complex process we call learning. While others have jumped aboard the various trendy bandwagons that afflict education from time to time, NILD has held to and expanded on their effective, and research-based approach. I most heartily recommend this organization for your favorable attention.
Jane M. Healy, Ph.D. , Author of Endangered Minds, Failure to Connect, Your Child’s Growing Mind


Our Staff


Executive Director – Mary Lou Maclean

Mary-Lou’s passion is helping struggling learners reach their full potential. She has worked in the field of education for over 25 years, as a teacher, NILD educational therapist and speaker. Since 2004, she has instructed graduate courses with NILD Canada and became Executive Director for NILD Canada in 2013.


Director of Marketing – Diane Geerlinks

Diane is passionate about helping kids learn, developing their strengths and improving their weaknesses. She has worked in the field of education for the past 25 years. In 2009, Diane trained as an NILD Educational Therapist and opened up her own practice, GeerLINKS Educational Therapy & Consulting. She is currently the Director of Marketing for NILD Canada and speaks at educators’ conferences across Canada.

Administrative & Financial Coordinator – Suzanna Niavradaki

Suzanna joined the NILD Canada team in 2018 and is passionate about customer service and keeping things running smoothly behind the scenes. With a background in administration and bookkeeping, she is very enthusiastic about being a member of the NILD family and supporting the cause for educational therapy. Suzanna is an active member of her daughters’ school where she serves as head of the parent volunteer community.


Board of Directors


Board Chair – Trevor Long

Trevor has been an NILD educational therapist since 1997. As a principal of a Christian school, he sees the desperate need to help struggling students and offers therapy to these students. He joined the Board of Directors for NILD Canada in 2012 and was elected Board Chair in 2013.

Susan Maley

Susan, a mother of 6 has been involved in education for over 45 years as a classroom teacher, a homeschool mom and an Educational Therapist. She took the NILD training in 1993 and served as a therapist at a mission school in Papua New Guinea. She re-certified in 2009 and has a continued to work as a therapist in a school setting as well as in private practice. Her passion is to help students recognize their strengths and strengthen their weaknesses so they can achieve their full potential.


Mark Westlake

Mark was introduced to NILD Canada through the struggles of his children in the school system. Lori, his wife, became a therapist in 2012, working their children and others. Mark saw huge improvements in their weak areas of learning and a strengthening of their confidence. Mark joined the Board of Directors for NILD Canada in 2014 and is a Financial Reporting Manager at an Advertising Agency in Toronto.


Director Emeritus – Trix Bradley

Trix was first introduced to NILD in 1991, signed up for training in the U.S. and set on the path to bring NILD to Canada! Trix served as NILD Canada’s Executive Director for 12 years, and is currently an instructor in our graduate courses. As a Psychometrist, Special Education Teacher, and NILD Certified Educational Therapist, Trix brings help and hope to struggling learners in her private practice.




The NILD Educational Therapy® model was developed in the 1960s by Deborah Zimmerman, a nurse and educator. Many of the educational techniques she developed were shaped by her work with early pioneers in the field of learning disabilities such as Archie Silver, M.D. and Rosa Hagin, Ph.D. In 1973, Deborah’s techniques were introduced into a private school in Norfolk, Virginia. In 1982, the Norfolk Institute for Learning Disabilities was established as a charitable organization under the direction of Grace Mutzabaugh. As NILD’s influence broadened, the name was changed to the National Institute for Learning Disabilities.
In 2007, Dr. Kathy Hopkins, NILD’s Executive Director at the time, led the organization through significant changes, including research and development of group models of intervention, expansion of the community-based model, Discovery Program, and the online component to the NILD courses. Dr. Hopkins also announced the organization’s name change to the National Institute for Learning Development at the 25th anniversary conference. This name change more accurately reflects the organizational direction. With headquarters in Chesapeake, Virginia, NILD continues to serve educators and students around the globe.

NILD was introduced to Canadian teachers through ACSI teacher conferences in the middle to late 1980’s. Training was brought to Canada in 1993 and the Canadian steering committee took over the training of therapists and regional conferences by 1996. In 2002, NILD Canada became an affiliate of NILD and now trains therapists at all three levels, organizes conferences twice a year and administers the registration and licensing of all Canadian therapists. A regional office was established in Waterloo in 2003. NILD Canada is administered by a Board of Directors, an Executive Director, a Director of Finance and Conferences, a Director of Marketing, and an Administrative Assistant.