Meet the Team

Executive

Brooke Wagner, M.A., RDI® Program Certified Consultant

CEO, Therapeutic Approach to Growth, Inc.

Brooke

Brooke Wagner, M. A. has supported individuals with special needs both locally and internationally since 2000. She holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Santa Clara University, a Masters Degree in Human Behavior from National University, and is an RDI® Program Certified Consultant. In addition, Brooke is an RDI® supervisor through RDIConnect in Houston, TX. In this role, she guides and supervises RDI® consultants in training through their supervision requirements. She has also received extensive training and experience in developing and implementing comprehensive programs utilizing RDI®, ABA, Floortime, PRT, PECS, How Does Your Engine Run?, Handwriting Without Tears, Social Stories, Touch Math, and TEACCH.

Brooke believes in a supportive and comprehensive approach and, therefore, uses a variety of methodologies based on her past experiences when providing recommendations. In addition, she finds it necessary to regularly communicate with all other specialized therapists (Speech, OT, PT, etc.). Brooke also served on the board of the San Diego Autism Society of America for four years and successfully directed the annual “Swing Away For the ASA” golf tournament fundraiser in 2007. As a native to San Diego, she believes in supporting her local community through outreach opportunities, sharing information and resources and connecting with clients and those impacted with developmental delays on a human level.

bwagner@tagforgrowth.com

Clinical Directors

Gail Ludwig, M.A. CCC, SLP, RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Clinical Director, Therapeutic Approach to Growth, Inc.

Gail Ludwig, M.A., is an RDI® program certified consultant, a licensed speech/language pathologist and certified HANDLE™ screener. Graduating with a Master’s in Speech Pathology in 1982, she has been a practicing speech/language pathologist for over 30 years. She received her RDI® certification in 2008 and became a HANDLE™ screener in 2009. Presently, she primarily works as an RDI® consultant for TAG, Inc., however, she also supervises their speech therapy program and does occasional HANDLE™ screenings. Because of her extensive experience and trainings, she is able to look at clients in a comprehensive way which considers their communication strengths and challenges, relationship obstacles and sensory motor functioning. Lastly, she has several years of experience supporting students in their school setting, acting as a consultant to school staff and supervising school shadows.

Gail is very passionate about her work and has experience with clients of all ages. In addition to consulting with parents, she often sees adult clients with various disabilities including autism, brain injury, sensory processing deficits, learning, developmental or psychological disabilities. Her philosophy is based on establishing a trusting relationship with her clients and supporting them in a way that considers their needs and ability to receive feedback. She is a very caring person and works hard at supporting her clients to achieve their maximum potential.

gludwig@tagforgrowth.com

Jackie Zaldua, M.A., BCBA, RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Clinical Director, Therapeutic Approach to Growth, Inc.

Jackie Zaldua, M.A., BCBA, has specialized in autism spectrum disorder (ASD) since 2002. She is passionate about utilizing a comprehensive approach to working with children and families impacted by autism and has a strong background in supervising developmentally based behavioral programs as well as expertise as a staff development specialist and certified Crisis Prevention Intervention (CPI) trainer. In 2012, Jackie joined the TAG, Inc. team. As Clinical Director of TAG Carlsbad, she is honored to provide clinical supervision and support to our dedicated staff. Jackie truly enjoys seeing each client develop both as individuals and in their family relationships as they experience growth on many levels.

Jackie earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Health Science (2002) and a Masters of Arts Degree in Educational Psychology and Counseling-Early Childhood Education (2003) from California State University, Northridge. Her background and training in child development was consistent with the RDI® philosophy and she obtained her RDI certification in 2010. Jackie had the privilege of receiving her RDI® clinical training by Dr. Rachelle Sheely, co-founder of the RDI® program. As an RDI® Consultant, Jackie finds great joy in teaching parents and educators how to foster their child’s developmental growth in key areas such as emotional engagement, joint attention, co-regulation, social communication, self-awareness, personal goal setting, and real-world problem solving. She values teaching parents how to build strong relationships with their child and encourages parents to engage in self-care so that they can maintain a healthy guiding role for their child.

In 2014, Jackie obtained her credential as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She completed BCBA coursework from the University of Northern Texas. As a BCBA, she is skilled in implementing Functional Behavior Assessments, analyzing patterns of behavior, developing measurable treatment plans that utilize positive proactive support strategies and analyzing data to measure goal progress. Furthermore, she emphases the use of a naturalistic approach, a trusting relationship between tutor and child, and developmentally appropriate practice. Jackie provides ABA training for TAG staff, oversight of treatment plans, and provides supervision for our Registered Behavior Technicians in training.

It is important to distinguish that the Crisis Prevention Intervention and Relationship Development Intervention Certifications are not behavior-analytic in nature and are not covered by the BACB credential.

jzaldua@tagforgrowth.com

Kathryn Bovino, M.A., ITDS, RDI® Program Certified Consultant + Certified Yoga Instructor

Clinical Director, Therapeutic Approach to Growth, Inc.

Kathryn Bovino, M.A., ITDS is a RDI® Program Certified Consultant, as well as a Certified Infant/Toddler Developmental Specialist (ITDS). She has worked in the field of child development since 2000 and with families affected by Autism Spectrum Disorders since 2004. She earned her Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis with a Graduate Certificate in Autism from Ball State University and has a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from the University of South Florida. Kathryn’s training and experience extends from developing and implementing RDI® programs and working in Early Intervention as a Developmental Specialist, to utilizing a variety of approaches to autism treatment (ABA, DIR/Floortime, TEACCH, PECS, PRT, Handwriting without tears, video modeling and social stories). After managing her own RDI® Practice for six years, Kathryn decided to join Therapeutic Approach to Growth, Inc. (TAG) in 2012 as she believed in the mutual dedication to families and felt she could provide better support with the strong collaborative program that TAG offers. Kathryn’s mission is to provide a comprehensive, individualized approach that empowers parents to be the agent of change in their child’s treatment and development, while creating a better quality of life for the family as a whole.

In addition to specializing in the treatment of Autism Spectrum Disorders, Kathryn is a certified yoga instructor. She began practicing yoga in August 2000 and after several years of experiencing the benefits gained from yoga and meditation; she wanted to share it with others.  She was certified in Life Balance Yoga Therapy at the 200 hour level in October 2008 and to teach Aerial Yoga in February 2012.  Utilizing her extensive experience within her daily life, she also enjoys teaching and sharing the therapeutic effects of yoga and meditation with others.

kbovino@tagforgrowth.com

Case Supervisors

Dr. Kimberly Van Dusen LMFT, RPT

Case Supervisor, Parent Training Consultant

kim-van-dusen-case-supervisor

Dr. Kim has a Master’s in TV Broadcasting, a Doctorate in Psychology, is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, and a Registered Play Therapist. She was previously a Program Manager for a local non profit agency implementing a positive behavior support program in over 20 elementary schools.

Dr. Kim has also owned a private practice and specialized seeing children ages 0-17. She currently speaks at various conferences, provides parenting consultations and parenting workshops, and has previously facilitated weekly prenatal and postnatal support groups. Dr. Kim is also a university professor for Master’s and Doctoral level students teaching courses in parent child therapy and play therapy.

Dr. Kim is a TODAY Show Parenting Team Contributor and is a regular guest as a parenting expert on KFMB News 8 Morning Extra on the CW San Diego.  She is passionate about working with parents, families, and children and is a proud member of the TAG team!

kvandusen@tagforgrowth.com

Stephanie Myung, M.S., BCBA, CTRS.

Case Supervisor & Parent Training Consultant

Stephanie’s passion for and experience in working with individuals with autism and their families began in 2002. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Therapeutic Recreation (2006) from Ithaca College and a Masters of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and Autism from the Sage Colleges (2012). She obtained her credential as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2013.

Starting her career as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist, Stephanie incorporated a person-centered approach to therapeutic intervention. She developed and implemented therapeutic programming for individuals with autism and other disabilities, to include yoga, art, and animal assisted therapy (with the use of therapy and Assistance Dogs International certified facility dogs). As her career developed, so did her interest in the field behavioral science, leading her to pursue her credential as a BCBA. Stephanie is skilled in pairing therapeutic interventions and recreation and leisure activities with behavior analytic principles in a way that helps individuals to meet their goals while increasing their quality of life. She has always been fascinated by the human-animal bond and interested in the therapeutic effects dogs can have on the lives of individuals with disabilities. Building upon this passion, she has become experienced in positive reinforement dog training and developing therapy and facility dog programs in schools and therapy centers.

As a BCBA, Stephanie specializes in natural environment teaching as well as functional communication training. She is well versed in implementing functional behavior assessments, developing behavior support plans, and providing training and support to staff. She is honored to be able to be part of the TAG team and support individuals with autism and their families.

RDI® Consultants

Amy Olts, M.A.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Amy O.

Amy Olts received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Cornell University and worked as an ABA therapist in the San Diego area for close to two years. After learning about RDI® and its benefits to families of children with autism, she decided to shift her focus and is currently an RDI® Program Certified Consultant (since 2008). Amy also has her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology, and the skills she learned in her program have been instrumental in supporting the families that she works with.

She is dedicated to applying her knowledge, experience and coursework toward helping children with developmental disorders and their families.  Her genuine care for the families that she works with, coupled with her natural interpersonal skills make the experience of working with her a valuable and memorable one for both families and children.

aolts@tagforgrowth.com

Michelle Cohen, M.M.F.T.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Michelle has worked therapeutically with families since 2004. She holds a Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy from Utah State University and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Marriage Family Human Development and Psychology from Brigham Young University. Michelle worked as an ABA therapist and school aide in the San Diego area for two years before discovering RDI®. She was thrilled to find a perfect fit for supporting families with autism from a systemic approach, consistent with her professional philosophy and background.

Quickly following she became an RDI® Program Certified Consultant. Michelle greatly values her work with families with children with autism and assisting them in reaching a high quality of life. She is also deeply humbled by the dedication and commitment she sees in families, feels honored to assist on their remediation journey, and delights in witnessing each moment of discovery and growth.

mcohen@tagforgrowth.com

Christine “Kiki” Haddad, MPS ATR, RBT

RDI® Program Certified Consultant + Art Therapist

Christine “Kiki” Haddad Zaynoun MPS ATR is an art therapist who received her bachelor’s degree in fine arts from the American University of Cairo in 2012, and her master’s degree in creative arts therapy from Pratt Institute in New York in 2014. She has also received her RDI® Program certification after training by the founders; Dr. Gutstein & Dr. Sheely.

Kiki is currently working as an art therapist and RDI® Program Certified Consultant at TAG. She worked at Imagine Academy for Autism and The League Education and Treatment Center in NYC as well as the Advance Society and the Learning Resource Center in Cairo, Egypt where she practiced art therapy and DIR® Floortime therapy with children and their parents with a wide range of special needs of ages 2 to 30. She has even dedicated some of her time practicing art therapy with underprivileged children in the slums of Egypt and the Dominican Republic. Kiki features in “Art Therapy: The Movie”, a documentary about art therapy across the globe and has written a chapter in the upcoming book “Art Therapy in the Middle East”.

Kiki has 10+ years of experience supporting those with special needs, which she is immensely passionate for; but also loves art, music, traveling and reading!

Niina Kivilahti-Korkala, M.A.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Niina Kivilahti-Korkala, M.A. has supported and taught individuals from preschoolers to adults since 2002. She has worked as a teacher, an adult educator, an ABA therapist, an early childhood interventionist, and as a parent trainer. Niina joined the TAG team in 2012 as an RDI extender. She holds a Masters in Educational Psychology from University of Oulu, Finland (2003), a Teaching Credential from University of Oulu, Finland (2003), and is a Specialist in Competence Based Qualifications, Finland (2008).

Niina has worked for over 10 years as a group exercise instructor and still enjoys taking classes herself. She sees exercise as part of a healthy life style and also a benefit to mental health. She feels honored to work with families to improve the quality of life for the whole family. She is passionate about what she does and is honored to serve families and help them develop to be the best that they can be.

Speech Therapists

Stacey Wechsler, MA CCC-SLP

Licensed Speech/Language Pathologist

Stacey is a caring and devoted Speech Language Pathologist with 24 years experience working with children in a variety of educational settings. She received her bachelor degree as a Teacher of The Speech and Hearing Handicapped from The State University of New York, Cortland and her Masters Degree in Speech Language Pathology from New York University. Stacey began her career working in an Early Education Program servicing children (2.8years-5yrs) and their families in the Hudson valley area of NY. She specialized in treating children with developmental disabilities ,intellectual disabilities, and ASD spectrum disorders while implementing a collaborative approach to treatment.

Stacey and her family moved to San Diego in 2006.  For the past 10 years, she has been providing school based speech and language services to children with language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, ADD/ADHD, executive functioning difficulties, and ASD disorders.  In addition, she is experienced in treating receptive and expressive language delays/disorders, articulation/phonological disorders, apraxia, fluency disorders, auditory processing disorders, and pragmatic language disorders.  She is passionate about collaborating with families and other professionals in order to provide a personal, functional, and effective treatment program.   She is thrilled to be part of the TAG team and she enjoys establishing supportive and lasting relationships with clients and their families.

Lelani Myburgh, SLPA

Speech Therapist

Lelani is a caring, and energetic Speech and Language Pathology Assistant. She has 12 years of experience working with children in educational settings. She has worked with children of all ages and all needs. She excels with communication devices, and has a passion for Autism Spectrum Disorders. She obtained her certificate from Orange Coast College, then went on to California State University of Long Beach for her Bachelors Degree in Communicative Disorders. She intends on furthering her education and obtaining her Masters degree.

She has worked with a wide range of disorders, disabilities, and behaviors. This has driven her passion for the field and she continues to study, and broaden her knowledge on therapy techniques and best practices. She is creative and enjoys finding new, and fun ways to target goals with children.

Lelani is originally is from Bloemfontein, South Africa. She came to the states in 1990 when she was 5 years old, along with her younger brother, and her parents. They moved to Huntington Beach, where her parents currently still live. She enjoys traveling, renaissance faires, animals, and camping.

She is thrilled to be part of TAG and the supportive environment.

Courtney Haight, SLPA

Speech Therapist

Courtney Haight has been a SLPA since 2007. She was born and raised in Orange County and moved to San Diego in 2010. She is married and has two sons and lives on property in Valley Center. Courtney has spent most of her career in the Private Clinic setting and this is where her heart has always been. She has enjoyed the school setting but feels that her time is best spent supporting clients in a clinic. Her greatest joy is to be a part of a treatment team and be involved with the family’s journey through speech therapy. She loves learning and growing with her families and creating a functional and authentic treatment environment. She is so grateful to have the opportunity to join this amazing team and spending time with her precious clients at TAG.

Amanda Smith, SLPA

Speech Therapist

Amanda Smith received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Occidental College in 2004 and went on to attend San Diego State University and CSU Northridge to complete her SLPA Fieldwork hours and certification. She was raised in San Diego and is now married and raising 2 boys of her own in this wonderful city.

Amanda has extensive experience with all age groups (preschool through high school) and a wide range of diagnoses in school-based settings as well as private practice. She has a passion for her work and for connecting with all the wonderful children and families she’s been fortunate to work with. She strives to make therapy fun and enjoyable for children as well as give parents helpful take-home tips to continue our work in the home setting. She is constantly searching for innovative ideas for her therapy sessions in addition to ways to generalize treatment to the world outside the therapy room. She is excited to become a part of the TAG team and grow and learn among such amazing professionals

Amanda King, SLP

Speech Therapist

Amanda King earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Towson University, Maryland. She began working in the field of special education as a student aide at Sheppard Pratt Hospital’s Forbush School, and then as a teaching assistant at the Kennedy Krieger Institute Career and Technology Center. She earned her Master’s degree in Secondary Special Education and taught in self-contained classrooms in both non-public and public school systems in Maryland.

After almost ten years in the field of special education, Amanda decided to shift her career path to a more specialized area.  She earned her Master’s degree in Speech Pathology from Arizona State University. As a clinically certified speech pathologist, she has worked with toddlers through adults in private, acute and sub-acute settings. Amanda also has experience with the use of AAC devices with both children and adults. Amanda brings a breadth of experience to the TAG team, and she believes in the core values and philosophy behind the TAG approach to treatment.

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Kayla Shakiba, SLPA

Speech Therapist

Kayla Shakiba received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Speech Language and Hearing Sciences from San Diego State University in 2017. A few months after earning her bachelors degree she went on to receive her speech-language pathology assistant license to better explore the field. Shortly after she obtained her SLPA license, she began working with children at public and charter elementary schools in San Diego County, conducting therapy in the areas of receptive and expressive language, articulation, fluency and social pragmatics.

She has worked with a wide caseload of children with different diagnoses, which has allowed her to become a more versatile therapist. Her interest primarily focuses on young children with autism and developmental delays. She is passionate about finding new ways to provide children therapeutic outcomes that will improve not only their ability to learn and communicate but also their daily lives. She is excited to be apart of the TAG team to implement RDI principles and sensory support to children to be as regulated during sessions as possible.

Occupational Therapists

Jill Purdom OTR/L

Certified Occupational Therapist

Jill is an Occupational Therapist with the passion for supporting and guiding each child to reach their fullest potential through individualized treatment plans. She graduated with her Bachelors of Science Degree in Kinesiology from California State University, Fullerton in 2014 and soon after pursued her Masters of Science Degree in Occupational Therapy from California State University Dominguez Hills graduating in 2017. She has worked in a variety of pediatric settings including hospital, school, clinic and even within the child’s home for early intervention services. Jill enjoys working along side the child’s family to ensure a transference of skills from clinic (simulated environment) to home (natural environment) is reached.

In her free time, Jill enjoys teaching and taking yoga, walking near the beach or at the local farmer’s market and playing with her two cats. She is excited to be a part of the collaborative and inclusive TAG team and looks forward to working with each client and their families to foster individualized growth and development!

Jaclyn Collins, MOT, OTR/L

Certified Occupational Therapist

Jaclyn Collins, MOT, OTR/L is an occupational therapist who received her Bachelors of Science in Community Nutrition in 2012 from the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, North Dakota and her Masters of Occupational Therapy in 2014 from the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston, Texas. She is currently in training to become an RDI consultant, as well as a Somatic Experiencing practitioner. Jaclyn has worked with individuals across the lifespan in various environments (home, clinic, and hospital); however, children and their families speak closest to her heart. Jaclyn uses evidence-based practice, strengths-based empowerment techniques, collaboration, and occupation as catalysts towards helping children and their families live their lives to the fullest. She is experienced at using playful, intrinsically motivating, and expressive interventions to assist children with building both developmental and life skills, as well as partnering with families to facilitate their growth. She believes regulation is key to developing healthy and trusting relationships and works to guide clients toward understanding their own sensory and nervous systems. Outside of work, Jaclyn enjoys hiking, backpacking, running, paddle boarding, yoga, traveling, all things coffee, and DIYing.

Gabrielle Liebbrandt, OTR/L

Certified Occupational Therapist

San Diego Occupational Therapist

Although Gabby is native to San Diego, CA, though her childhood and adolescence, she moved all over the country with her family. It was with these experiences, she developed a passion for meeting people of all walks of life and varying abilities. After graduating from Florida State University in 2011 with a degree in Recreation and Leisure Services Administration, she moved back to San Diego where she worked as an ocean lifeguard and swim coach in the communities of Encinitas and Solana Beach. Her love of the outdoors and helping individuals to develop an appreciation for Southern California terrain, led her to a profession in which she could develop meaningful and lasting relationships with those that she served. Ultimately, she found the field of occupational therapy and had the opportunity to attend Midwestern University in Glendale, AZ. Gabby’s passion for the field of occupational therapy grew as she discovered all of the meaningful ways this profession could impact individual’s lives. As a new graduate, Gabby is excited to continue learning and growing as an occupational therapist with the therapists and families at TAG. In her free time, Gabby can often be found at the beach running, swimming, and ultimately exploring all of the National Parks of this beautiful country.

Paraprofessionals

Allie Tyner, B.A., RBT

Lead Paraprofessional

Allie Tyner graduated from the University of Kansas in 2011 with a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She has experience working with children for over 12 years and 5 years working directly with individuals impacted with ASD and other varying disabilities. Allie has 4 years experience implementing RDI strategies from the Relationship Development Intervention program and she encourages her clients to reach their full potential with internal motivation and a growth mindset.  She provides 1:1 support for behavior, academia, self-help, independence, hygiene, social skills, life skills, and more for TAG’s RDI, occupational therapy, speech therapy and educational programs.

As the lead paraprofessional at TAG, Allie guides incoming paraprofessionals to further extend their RDI training while supporting them in and out of tutoring sessions.  Allie is CPR certified, has been CPI trained and has recently completed her RBT (Registered Behavior Technician) certification through the BACB program. She plans to obtain her Speech Pathology Assistant certification this fall, 2018. Her dream is to help those less fortunate than herself and she thrives while guiding verbal and non-verbal communication interactions.

Bobby Williams, B.A., RBT

Paraprofessional

Bobby graduated from the University of Iowa in 2015 with a B.S. in communication studies and human relations. Out of college, he began working with kids in a residential unit as a mental health specialist and a paraprofessional for over a year in Illinois. He has always had a passion for working to better the lives of all people and has brought that passion with him from the Midwest. His long-term goal is to continue his education in pursuit of becoming a certified therapist.

Bobby has a passion for drumming, music, and art. He brings these passions to TAG to help enrich the lives of everyone he meets. He has a genuine care for the well-being of others and plans to continue his education to meet his goal of bettering the quality of all lives around him. Bobby has lived in Northwestern Illinois, Chicago, Iowa City, Santa Monica, and Denver before finally moving to San Diego in August of 2017. He is excited to start a new chapter of his life and grow with the TAG organization.

Rajan Singh, B.A., RBT

Paraprofessional

Rajan graduated from the University of California, Riverside in 2017 with a B.A. in Psychology. During high school and college, he was involved in Best Buddies, an organization that creates opportunities to make one-to-one friendships with people with developmental disabilities. From there he realized his passion for helping people and he now looks forward to bringing that same passion to the TAG organization!

In his free time, Rajan enjoys making art, exploring new areas, and spending time with friends and family. His long-term goal is to grow professionally at TAG and eventually continue his education in developmental psychology.

Kennedi Hernandez, RBT

Paraprofessional

Kennedi Hernandez’ passion for working with children began four years ago when she started work in a school setting. Since then, she has worked with children whose ages range from 2 to 16. Kennedi brought that passion with her when she moved from Odessa Texas, to California this past fall. She is currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Communication from the University of Texas of the Permian Basin. She is excited about working with individuals here at TAG to build lasting relationships through engaging in creative activities. Kennedi is excited to bring all she’s learned to her sessions with TAG.

Olivia Bellis, RBT

Paraprofessional

olivia-bellis

Olivia Bellis graduated from Illinois State University in 2009 with a Bachelor Degree in Psychology. While pursuing her degree, Olivia was a Big Sister through the Big Brother Big Sister foundation and mentored for 2 years. This experience made her realize her true passion for working with children. After graduation, Olivia moved to Chicago and had the opportunity to work at The Little Gym as a gymnastics and dance instructor for children 3-5 years old. As she worked as an instructor for two years, she realized how beneficial individualized attention and relationships can be to the development and learning for every child.

While Olivia was looking for more opportunities to challenge herself, she was lucky to find a developmental therapeutic clinic for children who have developmental differences in 2012. Here, she was a lead facilitator and specialized in growing alongside children with autism spectrum disorder, developmental delays, ADHD, regulatory disorders, and children that experience challenges with learning, peer interaction and sensory processing. Olivia has over six years of experience implementing programs that encourage regulation, social engagement and peer interaction as well as promote individual growth as its limits are expanded and horizons are broadened. In July 2017, she became certified as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT).

Olivia moved to California in February 2018 with the intention and motivation to continue her passion of supporting and growing with children who have developmental differences in a delicate and personal way. She loves to play the piano and spend her free time outdoors hiking, biking, camping, and beaching.

Carli Proctor, RBT

Paraprofessional

Carli received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at the University of San Diego in May of 2018. During her time at USD, she was a research assistant for a study focused on treatment for young children with externalizing behavior problems. In 2015 Carli started as a teacher’s assistant at the Child Development Center on campus and worked with children between the ages of two and five years.

Carli was born and raised in San Diego, California. She loves to travel, listen to music, read, and spend time with her friends, family, and dog. She has always had a passion for children, originally wanting to be a teacher but changed her mind after falling in love with psychology. She is excited about the experience, and knowledge that TAG will provide which will help her reach her long-term goal of becoming a licensed clinical psychologist.

Jaide Benasfre, RBT

Paraprofessional

Jaidee graduated from University of California, Riverside in 2018 with a B.A. in Studio Art. After volunteering at a pediatric OT clinic in her last year of college, she fell in love with working alongside children with special needs. She decided to pursue a career in Occupational Therapy after witnessing each child’s confidence grow and improve throughout their sessions. She is excited to be a part of TAG because it will give her the opportunity to receive the same rewarding experiences. Jaidee loves being creative- whether that be painting, arts and crafts, or sewing. She also enjoys spending quality time with her family, friends, and her two dogs. She is very eager to implement her creativity and her value in relationships with TAG.

Eric Bendas, RBT

Paraprofessional

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Eric is currently working as a registered behavioral technician at TAG. He previously worked at B.A.T as a behavioral therapist and at People’s Care in Temecula working as a life coach with adults with special needs. He first found his passion working with children with special needs by volunteering at his local church to help children age 2 through 18 with autism and other disabilities. Eric has 3+ years of experience helping those with special needs. In his free time, he loves writing, reading, volunteering at his church, and spending time with his beautiful wife.

Katherine Buckley, RBT

Paraprofessional

Katherine graduated from Cal State Northridge with a Bachelors in Science. She has experience in ABA early childhood development and currently works part-time at Tustin Unified School District. Katherine has worked with children who have mild/ moderate and moderate/ severe disabilities since 2015. Katherine’s background is in fitness and health and has taught and coached swimming for close to 7 years. Her hobbies include hiking, traveling and family time. Katherine plans on going back to school for her BCBA in the future!

Torry Poulson, RBT

Paraprofessional

Victoria (Torry) Poulson joined the TAG Carlsbad team in 2018. She started her career in special education as a teachers assistant working with special needs students at a local high school. It was there she took on a leadership role in running their Special Olympics program, a position she found personally meaningful. During this experience, she developed a passion and love for working with students with special needs. The staff at the school took notice and began asking her to babysit their own children with autism/special needs and she thrived in this role. Torry joined the TAG team excited to further her knowledge and expertise in working with children and teens with autism. She plans to further her college education and major in the field of Special Education. We are excited to have her on our team as she brings a great deal of enthusiasm and care to her role and is passionate about developing her clinical skills!

Caitlyn Quindoy, RBT

Paraprofessional

caitlyn-quindoy-paraprofessional

Caitlyn Quindoy is an RBT and has worked with kids in the past providing ABA therapy, while coaching and managing a high school volleyball team. She is currently in school on her way to receive her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She hopes to receive her Master’s degree shortly after and work in a related field. Her goal is to bring positivity and growth while maintaining strong relationships with the people she works with. She is very enthusiastic about helping others and believes that in this field she can provide opportunities of success for others.

Janna Rayton, RBT

Paraprofessional

Janna received her B.A in Psychology from California State University, San Bernardino in 2016. While attending college she began working with children as an Associate preschool teacher for the YMCA. After college, she started her journey working with children with special needs, as a behavior technician. She currently works as an education assistant to children who are severely impaired. Her long term goal is to receive her Master’s Degree in School Counseling.

Janna’s is thrilled to be a part of the TAG team, she is looking forward to growing and learning new things. She hopes that her past experience, as well as her ability to adapt quickly, will bring forth a positive impact on the families at TAG.

Administration

Kerri Sarkissian

Billing Specialist

Kerrie joined TAG in June 2018, as the Billing Specialist. She previously worked with a multi-state ABA agency as the Director of Operations. Prior to that she worked 12 years with LifeScan, a Johnson & Johnson company in the Payer & Channel Development department. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and two sons.

Kristen Greig

Carlsbad Office Admin

Kristen Greig is trained as a paralegal specializing in real estate, corporate law, and trusts and estates and has worked for both private law firms and quasi-public agencies. Working as an Admin at Therapeutic Approach to Growth allows her to combine her administrative skills and her love for children. When she isn’t at the office, Kristen teaches dance bi-coastally in both Connecticut and California and loves spending time with family and friends. She is thrilled to be a TAG team member and truly enjoys supporting and helping to serve the families at TAG.

Therapy Animals

Nala Bovino

Certified Therapy Dog

Nala is a certified Therapy dog (along with her handler Kathryn Bovino) at TAG.  Nala attended The Good Dog Training School and received her Canine Good Citizen Certification in November 2013.  After receiving her CGC certification, Nala attended the K9 Dog Park School.  She graduated from their Therapy Dog class and succeeded in passing her Love on a Leash (LOAL) Therapy Dog Control Evaluation.  Upon graduation, Nala continued on her journey to participate in supervised visits under the guidance of LOAL staff.  In April 2014, Nala and Kathryn were certified as a Therapy Dog Team with Love on a Leash, Inc.  The team has experience providing therapy in nursing homes, veteran’s facilities, and libraries.  Nala joined the TAG team to support and meet the needs of individual clients. She has experience helping individuals face and overcome their fears of animals, as well as support individuals in their own goals and to come out of their shell and share more about themselves.  In addition to Nala’s therapeutic pursuits, in her spare time, she enjoys swimming in the ocean, playing fetch, and snuggling.

kbovino@tagforgrowth.com