Meet the Team

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

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. As a BCBA, she is skilled in implementing Functional Behavior Assessments, analyzing patterns of behavior, and developing behavior treatment plans that empower individuals. Furthermore, she integrates a naturalistic approach to her programs as well as an emphasis on developmentally appropriate practice. 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.

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. She completed BCBA coursework from the University of Northern Texas. Jackie had the privilege of receiving her RDI® clinical training by Dr. Rachelle Sheely, co-founder of the RDI® program. Jackie has a strong background in supervising developmentally based behavioral programs as well as expertise as a staff development specialist and crisis prevention 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 and to oversee each clinical program. Jackie truly enjoys seeing each client develop both as individuals and in their family relationships as they experience growth on many levels.

jzaldua@tagforgrowth.com

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

Kathryn Bovino, M.A., ITDS

RDI® Program Certified Consultant + Certified Yoga Instructor


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

Chris Vinceneux, OTR/L

Occupational Therapist + Educational Consultant


Chris Vinceneux, OTR/L is an expert in the evaluation and treatment of sensory processing disorders among children. Chris Vinceneux, OTR/L, graduated from the ADERF College of Occupational Therapy in Paris, France in 1985. He is registered and board certified by the National Board for Certification in Occupational Therapy and licensed in California (#6687). Chris has always focused on identifying the most effective methods to help individuals with sensory, motor, behavior, social, and learning difficulties. He believes that every individual and family he has worked with motivated him to be the best he could be and brought him a step further in his mission to help individuals with special needs.

Over the span of his exciting career, Chris has developed a unique approach to the evaluation and treatment of individuals with special needs. Chris joined Therapeutic Approach to Growth, Inc. (TAG) as he felt that the strong collaborative approach of TAG would allow him to move to the next step of his journey and further support his clients. Chris strives to address the uniqueness of each individual he works with by developing out of the box and comprehensive treatment plans. Chris has conducted many training sessions for parents and professionals on the subject of “Sensory processing interventions to improve behavior and learning”. Everyone who has worked with Chris knows how passionate he is about sharing his knowledge and helping his clients and their families!

cvinceneux@tagforgrowth.com

Amber Sobrio-Ritter , M.A.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant

Amber Sobrio-Ritter holds a bachelors in psychology from the University of Nevada, Reno and a masters in educational psychology from Ball State University. She has worked with individuals as young as 3 and as old as 41 and values the wealth of experience and understanding she has gained during her time at TAG. She loves to empower and collaborate with parents as she supports them in gaining the skills needed to provide their child with opportunities for dynamic growth. She lives in the Bay Area and works to support families throughout northern and southern California, as well as northwest Nevada.

asobrio@tagforgrowth.com

 

Christine “Kiki” Haddad, MPS ATR

RDI® Program Certified Consultant + Art Therapist

Kiki H.

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!

Tiffany Gerondale, M.A., MEd, N.C.S.P.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant (In Training) + Nationally Certified School Psychologist + Educational Consultant

Kiki H.

Tiffany Gerondale has worked in the school setting since 2006.  She received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology as well as her Masters of Arts in School Psychology from Trinity University in San Antonio, Texas.  She is a nationally Certified School Psychologist that worked in inner-city schools for over seven years.  After working in the medical/hospital-administration side of healthcare for four years, Tiffany realized that something was missing from her career – her genuine passion in working with families and children with educational, behavioral, and developmental problems.

Tiffany is an expert in evaluating both emotional and behavioral disorders.  Her extensive education and background in the schools allows her the ability to focus on helping children and families in both the school and home setting.  Tiffany believes in an interdisciplinary approach to working with children with disabilities and enjoys collaborating with colleagues to build the best program for her clients.  She recently began the program to become a RDI® Program Certified Consultant and looks forward to utilizing these skills to further impact the lives of her clients.

Carlos Nunez, M.A.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant


Carlos Nunez, M.A., is an RDI® Program Certified Consultant, a Licensed Psychologist (allowed to practice under license #6534920 in Mexico only.) with a specialty in children psychopathology, graduating with a Master’s in Developmental Psychology from the Autonomous University of Guadalajara in Mexico.

Carlos has conducted many training sessions and lectures throughout Mexico and he also has implemented therapeutic and educational programs in public and private services for people with Autism Spectrum Disorders. He is a very passionate and committed professional who works everyday to support each family in achieving a better quality of life.
He joined TAG to provide RDI® services and values the unique opportunity to continue his learning pathway among this outstanding group of professionals.

Niina Kivilahti-Korkala, M.A.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant (In Training)


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. She is currently an RDI CIT (RDI Consultant in Training) and is looking forward to supporting families with her experience, skills, and positive attitude.

Donna Sepe, B.A.

RDI® Program Certified Consultant (In Training)

Donna Sepe graduated from the University of Notre Dame with a Bachelors of Business Administration. She is currently pursuing a Masters in Special Education with a concentration in Behavior Analysis. She has volunteered extensively in elementary classrooms and loves interacting with children! Donna is excited to commence her RDI Consultant training and to explore the Guiding Relationship in even greater detail.

Donna moved to the Bay Area from Pittsburgh, PA in 2001 and does not miss the cold weather! She is passionate about a holistic approach to children’s health. In her free time, Donna loves jogging, food, and traveling.

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.

Katie McCusker, B.S.

Licensed Speech Pathology Assistant

Katie attended Biola University graduating with Communication Sciences and Disorders degree and a Speech Pathologist Assistant license. She began to work in various elementary schools and middle schools in 2014. She has worked closely with teachers from preschool to high school, with a focus on speech and academics. Katie has worked with students with language delays, articulation, social pragmatics, non-verbal, developmental disabilities, autism, semantic development, and auditory processing. Katie has experience working with non-verbal students with AAC devices and has completed continuing education for Apraxia and social thinking.

Tricia Martinelli, B.A.

Certified Occupational Therapy Assistant

Tricia holds a B.A. from the University of New York at Buffalo and an A.A.S from Erie Community College. She has been a professional member of the American Occupational Therapy Association for over 17 years. She has received the California State Assembly’s Above and Beyond Award for outstanding service to helping children with disabilities. She has supported individuals with special needs both locally and nationally since 1996. She has also received training and education in implementing therapeutic activities utilizing The Write Direction, Handwriting Without Tears, Zones of Regulation, Action Based Learning: Building Better Brains through Movement, Brain Breaks, and Whole Body Listening, facilitating social and self-awareness.

Tricia provides creative and innovative individualized Occupational Therapy treatments designed specially to meet the client’s needs and potential skills that are purposeful and meaningful. Her OT services focus on caring for the whole child psycho-social, sensory-motor, spiritual (respect cultural and ethnical diversity) and cognition. She believes in the highest standard of clinical excellence by following evidence based best practice to provide care with patience, compassion and integrity. She is thrilled to be working with and collaborating with the other specialized TAG practitioners. She believes in and encourages flexible thinking. Tricia ensures each client has an opportunity to create, explore and learn problem solving and critical thinking skills for today and tomorrow. She is adamant about providing caregiver education so as to implement techniques in everyday situations for success and holistic wellness. Most importantly, Tricia is especially known to make OT FUNctional!  “Children are amazing and our greatest resource. Every child has a unique skill onto themselves that they may not have expressed, YET.”

Allie Tyner, B.A.

Tutor + Student Aide


Allie Tyner graduated from the University of Kansas in 2011 with a B.A. in Speech Pathology and Audiology. She has worked with children for over 8 years and previously taught dance for 5 years. Allie has experience in the classroom setting, supporting clients in the TAG clinic, organizing teen events in the community, and managing the summer preschool program and camps.

Allie has had experience and training implementing the strategies for the Relationship Development Intervention program.  She provides 1:1 extender programs for TAG’s RDI, occupational therapy, speech therapy and educational programs.  She is all about learning and having fun while doing it!

 

Ryan Martinez

Marketing Specialist + Tutor + Student Aide


Ryan Martinez is a military combat veteran who focuses his passion on being a positive influence to today’s world and future generation. He is currently attending The Art Institute of California, San Diego in pursuit of a B.A. degree in advertising. He has previously worked in multiple youth programs since his time in the military and has transitioned to working with youth and adults who sit on the spectrum and other disabilities.

Ryan joined TAG, Inc. in 2016 and underwent training on RDI concepts. He now actively practices RDI principles to help others become more independent in today’s world. Ryan’s notable post-military accomplishments have been riding across America on a bicycle, raising over $70,000 dollars in support of a charity that raises awareness for people with mental illness, as well as traveling to the Dominican Republic conducting humanitarian work in efforts to help better the community, economy, and agriculture in support of the local Dominican people.

 

Elizabeth Hernandez, B.A.

Tutor + Student Aide


Elizabeth Hernandez graduated from Cal State Dominguez Hills with a B.A. in English Literature and holds a California Teaching Credential.  She is fluent in Spanish and has traveled extensively.  As a classroom teacher, she engaged with children from a rich variety of backgrounds.  As part of the curriculum, she used music, games and special methods of encouraging her students—for whom English was often a second language—to gain confidence and skill in using their new language.

She currently volunteers as a living history museum docent, where she helps 4th grade children understand California history.  In 2015 Elizabeth underwent training in RDI principles and is now working as an RDI extender in the home setting.  She particularly enjoys the flexibility which the home setting offers in adapting to the potential of the individual.

 

Silvia Arballo

Tutor + Student Aide

Silvia became a part of the TAG team in 2016 starting as the office administrator, but soon after discovered her passion for working with children and young adults in the autism community. She is now a trained RDI extender tutor and is currently obtaining her BA in child development. Her long-term goal is to become a certified occupational therapist. She has experience working as a caregiver for both mentally and physically challenged seniors.

Silvia is a San Diego native and wouldn’t have it any other way! She has a strong belief in the power of positivity and hopes to spread the message to everyone she encounters.

Brisia Calderon

Tutor + Student Aide

Brisia joined the TAG team in the summer of 2017 and is currently finishing her last year of undergraduate studies in the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is pursuing a double major in Sociology & Latin American and Latino Studies. She has always had a passion for working with people, especially with children, in situations where she can provide them with opportunity and support to grow. She is currently volunteering at a hospice and is using her clinical experience to support and strengthen her growth mindset.

While Brisia knew that she wanted a career working with children and young adults, she didn’t know what field to pursue. It wasn’t until her younger brother was diagnosed with autism that she took an interest in this field. Brisia wants to continue her studies by going to graduate school and attaining a Masters of Social Work.

Kristen, B.A.

Tutor + Student Aide

Kristen received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Intercultural Studies from Biola University. She has volunteered and worked professionally with adults and children with special needs for a combined 12 years, which she enjoys very much and sees as part of her life’s passion. Kristen is currently pursuing her Masters of Science in Occupational Therapy at San Jose State University, where she will finish in 2019. She finds Occupational Therapy to be an exciting and effective method for people to live healthy lives, gaining independence and confidence through occupations. Kristen has worked in various settings and styles with adults and children of a wide variety of needs and backgrounds, and she is excited to dive into Therapeutic Approach to Growth’s unique philosophy and model of relationship-based intervention.

In her free time, Kristen enjoys reading, being outdoors, and the arts. She is an avid traveler and hopes to visit 100 countries in her lifetime. Her long-term goals includes practicing Occupational Therapy with families of children with special needs in China, one of her favorite countries, and if she were not pursuing OT, her next dream job would be that of a Travel Show Host!

Lindsey Craig, B.S.

Tutor + Student Aide

Lindsey Craig graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo in 2015 with a B.S. in psychology and a minor in child development. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in speech-language pathology at Cal State East Bay in Hayward.

Lindsey has served as a student intern in a preschool early education program, providing support to children with various speech and language delays and disorders. Before starting her graduate program, she was an assistant teacher in a mixed-age Montessori preschool. Lindsey has volunteered with the CSUEB Aphasia Treatment Program, assisting graduate student clinicians in the facilitation of cooperative group discussions for community members with Aphasia, a communication disorder caused by brain injury. In her free time, Lindsey enjoys cooking, attending concerts, and going on outdoor adventures.

Lindsey joined TAG in 2017 as an RDI extender, serving families in the Bay Area. She values the opportunity to be a member of TAG team, and is eager to continue her training in RDI principles. She looks forward to growing alongside the families she supports.

Sheila Salmeron, M.A.

Tutor + Student Aide

Sheila was born by the warm waters of the Mediterranean Sea in Southern Spain. After earning her B.A. in Educational Psychology, she moved to Barcelona. There she started her career as an Early Childhood Educator in an alternative-curriculum based preschool while getting her M.A. in Social Education. Sheila moved to San Diego in 2011 and has been working in public and private schools for about 10 years. She currently works for the Early Childhood Department in a Waldorf School. In her free time, Sheila enjoys cooking, road trips and traveling around the world! Sheila joined TAG in 2017 as an RDI Extender, serving families in San Diego area. Sheila is a lifelong learner and looks forward to growing professionally and personally working with families and children at TAG for Growth.

Vrushali Sane

Billing Specialist

Vrushali S.

Vrushali Sane has a Masters degree in Business Administration from the University of Pune, India. She moved to San Diego in 2001 and continued to pursue certification in Accounting and Human Resource Management. She joined TAG, Inc as a Billing Specialist in Jan of 2016. With over 5 years of professional Administrative experience, she hopes to drive successful results with her proven expertise and hard work. When away from the computer, she enjoys time with her husband, two young kids and dog. She is passionate about travel, food, and outdoor activities.

billing@tagforgrowth.com

Lesley Smith

Carlsbad Office Admin

Lesley first began working with children 6 years ago spending her summers as a YMCA summer camp counselor. Her passion is working with children and fostering growth and compassion for all individuals. She also worked as a dance teaching assistant before moving to San Diego from South Carolina in 2015.

She has worked in Encinitas helping with local summer art camps for kids in 2016 before joining TAG in the fall. She now works in our Carlsbad office as a part time Administrative assistant, and is attending Mesa College in San Diego with a focus on Psychology.

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