Speakers

Shahla Ala’i, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA
Associate Professor, University of North Texas

Dr. Shahla Ala’i received her B.S. from Southern Illinois University and her M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Kansas. She is an Associate Professor in the Department of Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. Shahla and her students collaborate with Easter Seals North Texas to serve vulnerable populations through caring and science-based interventions. Shahla is also a member of an interdisciplinary social justice collective. This collective creates a space for applied research and activism and includes faculty and students from Woman’s and Gender Studies, Applied Anthropology and Behavior Analysis. Shahla served on the governing board of the Behavior Analysis Certification Board (BACB) and is a subject matter expert on supervision and on ethics. She is currently on several boards and disciplinary committees, most notably the ABAI Practice Board, ABA Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Board and the APBA Task Force on Diversity. She has published and presented research on social justice, ethics in early intervention, play and social skills, family harmony, and change agent training. She currently has two books in press, one on supervision and the other on love and science in the treatment of autism. Shahla was awarded an Onassis Foundation Fellowship for her work with families, was the recipient of UNT’s prestigious, student selected “Fessor Graham” teaching award, received the 2019 Texas Association for Behavior Analysis Career Contributions Award, and the UNT 2020 Community Engagement award.

Lorraine Becerra, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA
Assistant Teaching Professor, University of Missouri

Dr. Lorraine Becerra earned her Ph.D. in Disabilities Disciplines from Utah State University. She is an Assistant Teaching Professor in the Department of Special Education, a doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and Licensed Behavior Analyst. Her research interests focus on the development of efficient educator training, functional analysis, and effective safety behavioral interventions for children with disabilities. Dr. Becerra is dedicated to the dissemination of  behavioral intervention through her collaborations in Russia and Brazil.

Shelby Beckman, LMSW
Licensed Social Worker, University of Missouri Thompson Center

Shelby Beckman is a social worker for the University of Missouri Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders and social work and self-advocate faculty for the Missouri LEND program. She works with an interdisciplinary team at the Thompson Center to help children with developmental disabilities gain access to needed services. Ms. Beckman holds a Masters in Social Work from Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.

Benjamin Black, MD
Director of Medical Services, University of Missouri Thompson Center

Dr. Benjamin Black is a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrician who serves as Director of Medical Services at the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He attended medical school at Jefferson Medical College in Philadelphia, PA. He then completed residency in Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy. Following residency, he went on to complete a fellowship in Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics at Children’s Mercy, along with a fellowship in Pediatric Clinical Pharmacology. Prior to joining the Thompson Center in January 2020, he was on staff at Children’s Mercy Kansas City where he served as Associate Chief of the Section of Developmental Pediatrics. Dr. Black’s clinical and research interests include pharmacological management of neurobehavioral disorders.

Connie Brooks, PhD
Director of Health Professions, University of Missouri Thompson Center

Dr. Connie Brooks is the Health Professions Director at the University of Missouri Thompson Center, Co-Director of Clinical Training for the Department of Health Psychology at the University of Missouri, and the Director of the Missouri LEND (Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities) Program.

Richard Cubina, PhD, BCBA-D
Professor, Pennsylvania State University

Dr. Richard (Rick) Kubina is a Professor of special education at The Pennsylvania State University and co-founder of Chartlytics. Chartlytics merged with CentralReach where Kubina also serves as the director of research. Kubina has published multiple research articles, books, and book chapters on evidence-based education and measurement of student progress. He was the past Editor of the Journal of Precision Teaching & Celeration. Kubina works with school districts, health care professionals, and technology companies using Precision Teaching, effective practice methods, and other measurably superior educational programs.

Wesley Dotson, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA
Associate Professor, University of Missouri

Dr. Wes Dotson is an Associate Professor in the Special Education Department in the College of Education and the Director of Applied Behavioral Intervention Services at the Thompson Center for Autism & Neurodevelopmental Disorders. After earning his Ph.D. in Behavioral Psychology in 2010 from the University of Kansas, he spent ten years at Texas Tech University and the Burkahrt Center for Autism before coming to Columbia. He has been a BCBA since 2008. He has spent over 19 years in special education and clinical practice, working with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities of all ages across school, clinic, home, community, and residential treatment settings. His primary areas of research and practice are social skills, relationship development, and successful life outcomes for adolescents and young adults with autism, as well as the preparation of teachers and other professionals to work successfully with individuals on the spectrum.

Michael Gomez, PhD, TLMLP
Director, Adversity and Resilience Community Care Center (ARCC)

Dr. Michael Gomez is currently director of the Adversity and Resilience Community Center (ARCC), a child trauma behavioral health clinic in the West Texas area where he is committed to dissemination of evidence-based practices in psychology.  He is also Adjunct Professor at Texas Tech University Psychological Sciences and Texas Tech University Psychological Sciences, College of Education and the TTUHSC School of Nursing.  He was previously faculty at the Center on Child Abuse and Neglect/Child Study Center Department of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics at the OU Health and Sciences Center in Oklahoma City.  He specializes in Trauma-Focused CBT, treatment of adolescents with problematic sexual behaviors (PSB), PCIT, TARGET, and assessment of autism spectrum disorders.  He is a Nationally Certified TF-CBT Trainer, of which he is one of 70 in the world.  Additionally, he is a Nationally Certified CE-CERT Trainer, a model for addressing burnout and vicarious trauma in providers.  He is trained in assessment and diagnostics of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD).  He is one of the three national co-chairs for the National Child Traumatic Stress Networks (NCTSN) Trauma and Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (IDD) Workgroup (formerly the NCTSN Trauma and ASD Community of Practice), as well as a member of the NCTSN Steering Committee, the NCTSN Affiliate Advisory Group, and the NCTSN Youth Task Force. 

Connie Kasari, PhD
Distinguished Professor, University of California Los Angeles

Dr. Connie Kasari received her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and was a NIMH postdoctoral fellow at the Neuropsychiatric Institute at UCLA.  Since 1990 she has been on the faculty at UCLA where she teaches both graduate and undergraduate courses, and has been the primary advisor to more than 70 PhD students.  She is a founding member of the Center for Autism Research and Treatment at UCLA. Her research aims to development novel, evidence-tested interventions implemented in community settings.  Recent projects include targeted treatments for early social communication development in at risk infants, toddlers and preschoolers with autism, and peer relationships for school aged children with autism. She leads several large multi-site studies including a network on interventions for minimally verbal school aged children with ASD, and a network that aims to increase equity in access to interventions for children with ASD who are under-represented in research trials.  She is on the science advisory board of the Autism Speaks Foundation, and regularly presents to both academic and practitioner audiences locally, nationally and internationally.

Sophy Kim, PhD
Research Director, Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB)

Dr. So Hyun “Sophy” Kim is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychiatry at Weill Cornell Medicine and a Research Director at the Center for Autism and the Developing Brain (CADB). Dr. Kim is a clinical researcher with an extensive background in identification of early behavioral phenotypes and examining developmental trajectories of children with ASD. She has led collaborative efforts to develop a new language assessment tool, the Observation of Spontaneous Expressive Language (OSEL), which is now undergoing a national norm based on a partnership with the publisher, WPS. She has also led the development of the new treatment outcome measure for ASD, the Brief Observation of Social Communication Change (BOSCC) with Dr. Catherine Lord. Currently, she is a PI of a NIMH funded project designed to examine the mechanisms of early, parent-mediated interventions for toddlers with ASD (1R01MH114925-01). Most recently, Dr. Kim has led efforts to examine school readiness in kindergarteners with ASD while integrating behavioral and electrophysiological (ERP/EEG) methods, with a particular focus on executive function

Catia Cividini-Motta, PhD, BCBA-D
Instructor & Practicum Coordinator, University of South Florida

Dr. Catia Cividini-Motta is the ABA Practicum Coordinator and an Instructor in the Department of Child & Family Services within the College of Behavior & Community Services at the University of South Florida. She received her doctorate in Behavior Analysis from Western New England University and holds a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Northeastern University. Her research interests include verbal behavior; assessment and treatment of problem behavior; parent and staff training; skill acquisition, generalization, and maintenance; and teaching procedures.

Christine E. Reeve, PhD, BCBA-D
Founder and Director Autism Classroom Resources & The Special Educator Academy

From writing and podcasting at Autism Classroom Resources to creating teacher resources, Dr. Christine Reeve’s driving goal has always been about bringing special educators together and helping them serve their students in the best ways they can. With a doctorate in psychology and as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral, she has spent the last 25 years working with a wide variety of special education programs as a behavior specialist, an administrator, university faculty, and primarily as a trainer and consultant.  Chris has co-authored several books for special education teachers including Taming the Data Monster and Setting Up Classroom Spaces for Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She is currently the founder and director of Autism Classroom Resources & The Special Educator Academy.

Nuri Reyes, PhD
Clinical Psychologist and Assistant Professor, University of Colorado

Dr. Nuri Reyes is a clinical psychologist and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the at the University of Colorado, Anschutz Medical Campus (AMC), and Children’s Hospital Colorado. Prior to going to the University of Colorado, Dr. Reyes completed her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Virginia Tech, and her BA in Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Dr. Reyes’ concentration is in early child development and developmental psychopathology. Currently, she provides diagnostic assessments and treatment to English- and Spanish-speaking children at risk for autism spectrum disorder and related neurodevelopmental disorders. Her previous research experience has included studies with youth with developmental delays, intellectual disabilities, and typical development.

Paige Martin Reynolds, PhD
Professor, University of Central Arkansas & Mother of a Child with Autism

Dr. Paige Reynolds is the mother of Max, an astonishing 10-year-old on the autism spectrum, and his equally astonishing 17-year-old sister, Anna. Paige is a Professor of English at the University of Central Arkansas, where she specializes in Shakespeare Studies. In addition to being a teacher and scholar, she is a professional performer and writer. Her recent essay on mothering and autism, A Glimpse into My Son’s Magnificent Mind, was featured in the popular Modern Love column of the New York Times in July 2020. She lives with her husband and their children in Little Rock, AR.

Kim Selders, MA, CSS-School Psychologist
Autism Assessment Specialist, University of Missouri Thompson Center

Kim Selders has 16 years of experience working in the field of disability, including over 6 years of experience focusing on those with autism. Her background includes work as a School Psychologist, conducting psychoeducational evaluations of students to determine eligibility and programming for special education services. She has also served as the Director of Disability services at a private college, where she worked with students with disabilities to determine appropriate accommodations for the college setting. Currently, Kim works as both a Training and Education Specialist and Autism Assessment Specialist at the Thompson Center. In these roles, Kim trains professionals from a variety of fields on methods to support individuals with autism and conducts Autism assessments for medical clinics and research projects.

Stephen Sheinkopf, PhD
Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Brown University

Dr. Stephen Sheinkopf completed his PhD at the University of Miami and his postdoctoral training at Brown Medical School under an NRSA fellowship. His primary research interests include the identification of very early signs of autism in infancy, the development of social communication abilities in young children with autism, and neurodevelopmental outcomes in children exposed to drugs prenatally. Dr. Sheinkopf has served on scientific grant review panels for Autism Speaks and the Autism Research Program through the Department of Defense, as well as reviewed grants for the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Science Foundation. He has also served on several local and regional advisory boards. At Brown, Dr. Sheinkopf is the principal investigator of the Rhode Island Consortium for Autism Research and Treatment (RICART), funded by the Simons Foundation Autism Research Initiative, and he co-leads the autism research initiative as part of the Hassenfeld Child Health Innovation Institute. 

Shawna Shelton, RN
Nurse Clinician, University of Missouri Thompson Center

Shawna Shelton, BSN, RN is a Nurse Clinician for the University of Missouri Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. Shawna is part of the interdisciplinary medical team at the Thompson Center.  She works closely with patients and their families to educate and ensure proper care and management of common medical co-morbidities associated with autism spectrum disorders. Shawna received her Bachelors of Science in Nursing from the University of Missouri-Columbia and has been a registered nurse for 20 years.

Craig Stevenson, MPA
Director of Policy & Advocacy, Kids Win Missouri

Craig Stevenson serves as the Director of Policy and Advocacy for Kids Win Missouri where he helps advance policies for child well-being. Prior to joining the Kids Win Missouri team, Craig led the Mozambique initiative of the United Methodist Church, which helped raise funds for critical community needs in Mozambique, Africa. From 2010 to 2015, he worked on the Governmental Relations team at the University of Missouri. Craig is active in his community, serving on the board of directors for the Hallsville School District and is the 2021 Chair of the Boone Electric Cooperative Trust. As foster parents, he and his wife Brittney have been foster parents to 13 children. They live outside of Hallsville, Missouri with their year old son, Sebastian.

Jennifer Sykes, PhD
Assistant Clinical Professor, University of Missouri

Dr. Jennifer Sykes is an Assistant Clinical Professor providing psychological services at the Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders . She earned her PhD in counseling psychology from the University of Missouri-Columbia. She completed her pre-doctoral internship at Morrison Child and Family Services in Gresham, Oregon and her postdoctoral residency at the Thompson Center. Her assessment scheduled includes the Clinical Assessment Team (psychology, occupational therapy, speech/language pathology) for children under six as well as Autism evaluation clinics for toddlers, preschool aged children, school aged children, and adolescents. Dr. Sykes also assists with student supervision and training and leads trainings on Autism and issues connected to diversity and inclusion.

ABA Inside Track
Diana Parry-Cruwys, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA
Robert Parry-Cruwys, MSed, BCBA, LABA
Jacquelyn MacDonald, PhD, BCBA-D, LABA

ABA Inside Track is a podcast about applied behavior analysis and the research the fuels the field. Two BCBA-Ds and their BCBA host lead spirited discussions on a wide range of different topics. The podcast hosts a variety of distinguished behavior analysts and is also a popular source of continuing education credit for BCBAs, BCBA-Ds, BCaBAs, and RBTs. ABA Inside Track assures their audiences that listening to the podcast is “way more fun than pressing a lever.”

Peter Tsai, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center

Dr. Peter Tsai is an Assistant Professor of Neurology, Neuroscience, Psychiatry, and Pediatrics at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center. He graduated from Harvard University, received his MD, PhD degrees from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, performed his pediatrics and child neurology residency training and behavioral neurology fellowship at Boston Children’s Hospital, and his postdoctoral work with Dr. Mustafa Sahin at Boston Children’s Hospital. He then moved to UT Southwestern where he heads up a laboratory examining the neural circuit contributions to neurodevelopmental disorders. He also directs the Cerebellar Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic at the Center for Autism and Developmental Disabilities and is the Associate Director of Training and Education at the O’Donnell Brain Institute at UT Southwestern.

Mary Jane Weiss, PhD, BCBA
Professor, Endicott College

Dr. Mary Jane Weiss is a Professor at Endicott College, where she has been for 9 years, and where she serves as the Executive Director of ABA and Autism Programs, including the master’s programs in ABA and the Ph.D. Program in ABA. Dr. Weiss also does research with the team at Melmark. She has worked in the field of ABA and Autism for over 35 years. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Rutgers University in 1990 and she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2000. She previously worked for 16 years at the Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University. Her clinical and research interests center on defining best practice ABA techniques, exploring ways to enhance the ethical conduct of practitioners, teaching social skills to learners with autism, training staff to be optimally effective at instruction and at collaboration, and maximizing family members’ expertise and adaptation.  She serves on the Scientific Council of the Organization for Autism Research, is on the board of Association for Science in Autism Treatment, is a regular contributor to the ABA Ethics Hotline, and is an advisor to the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. She is a regular reviewer for several professional journals, and is a frequent member of service committees for a variety of organizations.

Kristen Wigby, MD, FACMG
Medical Geneticist, Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine

Dr. Kristen Wigby is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the University of California, San Diego. She serves as a Medical Geneticist at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego and as a Clinical Investigator at the Rady Children’s Institute for Genomic Medicine (RCIGM). Dr. Wigby’s research focuses on recognition and natural history of rare disorders and implementation of genomic sequencing in children with neurodevelopmental disorders. She is the Medical Director of the Precision Medicine Clinic and Multi-Disciplinary Autism Clinic at Torrey-Hills. Dr. Wigby also evaluates patients as part of the Turner Syndrome Clinic and Neurometabolic clinic. She completed her clinical fellowship in the Medical Genetics program at the University of California San Diego and her pediatrics residency at the University of Colorado-Denver Anschutz Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital Colorado. Dr. Wigby has clinical expertise and ongoing research projects studying females with Trisomy X and the genetics of neurodevelopmental disorders. 

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