I am a clinical psychologist and board-certified behavior analyst. I specialize in treating children and adolescents with intellectual and developmental disabilities (DD), including autism spectrum disorder (ASD). I also help children with behavioral feeding problems at the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics (DDBP) Feeding Clinic. Our team uses an interdisciplinary approach to treat significant childhood feeding disorders. The clinic is highly specialized, and families from across the region seek treatment here.
I was inspired to work with children with developmental disabilities during my work at a summer camp after my first year of graduate school in clinical psychology. I was the bus driver for the camp and had the privilege of taking the campers on field trips around Cincinnati. That summer, I learned that our world is not built for people with individual differences like those with developmental disabilities. Although the children were able to physically enter the aquarium, children’s museum, restaurants, movie theatres and other field trip locations, they were not fully included like the other children. They were often met with stares, awkward comments and fearful looks. Since that summer over 20 years ago, I have dedicated my professional life to making the world a more welcoming place for children with developmental disabilities and their families.
I use evidence-based practices that emphasize the strengths of my patients. I believe that all people have something to contribute in this world, and that anyone can grow and learn with the right supports in place. I consider it a privilege that families trust me and my colleagues to provide the best care possible to their loved ones. It is something that I do not take for granted.
I am the program director of the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) Program, where I provide oversight for this interdisciplinary training program.
In addition to these positions and my clinical practice, I’m involved in research with a focus on three primary areas:
- Interdisciplinary education related to professionals serving individuals with intellectual/developmental disabilities
- Evidence-based practice for ASD and DD
- Community inclusion of individuals with ASD and DD
My career has been guided by the core values of service and community to meet the needs of children with disabilities and their families. In alignment with my core value of community, I have spent the last several years focused on making the Cincinnati region more inclusive and accessible for individuals with DD and their families through the Starting Our Adventure Right (SOAR) Program and the Greater Cincinnati Access and Inclusion Network (G-CAIN). I have been honored to receive the following awards, as an individual and as part of a team:
- The 2014 Rubinstein Award for Imagination and Courage from the Jack H. Rubinstein Foundation for Developmental Disabilities. This award is voted on by employees of the DDBP and given to a DDBP employee or team for developing innovative ideas, encouraging risk-taking and learning from success and failures. The 2014 award recognized our work in creating the SOAR program at Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport.
- The 2016 Dr. Jack Rubinstein Award from the Jack H. Rubinstein Foundation for Developmental Disabilities. This award is voted on by members of the Jack H. Rubinstein Foundation for Developmental Disabilities Board and awarded to the person who best embodies and exemplifies the DDBP vision and mission.
- The 2018 Cincinnati Lifts Inclusion and Minority Business (CLIMB) Award, from the Cincinnati Business Courier and the Cincinnati USA Regional Chamber. This award recognizes the individuals and organizations working to bring a higher level of diversity, equity and inclusion to our Cincinnati community. The Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden was recognized for their Access for All program in partnership with Cincinnati Children’s LEND program, which I direct.
In my free time, I enjoy spending time with my husband, family and friends. I also enjoy traveling to new places, cooking, antiquing and watching sports — especially the West Virginia University Mountaineers and Cincinnati Reds.