Our Founder


Trina Westerlund
Founder and Executive Director (retired)
1977-2018

Her vision still lights the way.

So many lives have been impacted by Trina Westerlund’s vision, “Creating a world in which every child succeeds.” Trina was a pioneer; she created an empathy-based therapeutic education program that included pediatric developmental therapy and mental health counseling services, a first in our community.

Trina taught us about possibilities. That she could see potential where others could only see failure is a testament to her courage and commitment. She knew that children who struggle with learning disabilities, autism, sensory processing disorders, attention deficit disorder, or other neurological impairments that interfere with learning could be helped with the right interventions.

From Trina, we learned to see the world as the child does and how to engage him, enabling him to develop skills from his place of readiness. She taught us how to find durable solutions to unsolved problems, when she encouraged us to ask, “What will it take?” She imbued in every one of us that it is our capacity for listening and honoring the whole child (and his family) that makes progress possible.

We carry forward The CHILD Way, the guiding principles for engaging with students and staff to build an intimate community that fosters social, emotional and academic success, because Trina taught us how. Her belief in CHILD’s three Rs for success: Regulation, Relationship, and Resilience continue.

Trina's outstanding leadership was recognized with the Light a Fire Award for lifetime achievement from the Seattle Metropolitan Magazine, the Brava! Award for Excellence from Women’s University Club of Seattle and a Public Spirit Award from the Renton Regional Community Foundation. KCTS awarded CHILD its Golden Apple Award, the National Board of the Learning Disabilities Association presented CHILD an Excellence in Education Award, and former Washington State Governor, Christine Gregoire, issued a proclamation for a “CHILD Day” every October.

We are full of gratitude for the rich legacy that Trina began when she established Children’s Institute for Learning Differences in a church basement in 1977. We also take great pride in knowing the work Trina began all those years ago, continues on at our permanent campus in Renton – ensuring hope for all. 

We extend to Trina our very best wishes for all the new adventures before her.