Our Team

Joel Arick, Ph.D.

Dr. Arick has experience working as an educator, researcher and trainer in the field of autism for over 40 years. He is the lead author of the nationally used STAR (Strategies for Teaching based-on Autism Research) Program and Links Curriculum. He is also a co-author of several other published programs in the area of autism. These programs include the ASIEP-3 (Autism Screening Instrument for EducationalPlanning-3, 2004), the KADI (Krug Asperger Disorder Index, 2003), and the FACTER Program (Functional Assessment and Curriculum for Teaching Everyday Routines, 2004). Dr. Arick, with colleagues, has been measuring the progress of children educated using the STAR Autism Program, over the past ten years. He is also an author of a chapter entitled “School-based Programs for Children with Autism” in the Handbook on Autism (2005). Dr Arick is Professor Emeritus at Portland State University.


Sheila Magee, M.S.

Sheila has served in public schools for over 30 years as a classroom teacher, school psychologist and administrator. She has coordinated programs for children with autism at both the pre-school and school-age level. The programs she coordinated have implemented the STAR Program and served as model training sites. She has many years of experience coaching and implementing the strategies found in the STAR Program, including: Discrete Trial Training, Pivotal Response Training, Teaching Functional Routines and Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports. In addition to her work in the schools, Sheila has also taught classes at the university level preparing educators in the field of special education.


Kara Magee-Arick, M.S., BCBA

Kara has spent the last decade working directly with students that have Autism. She received her Master’s degree in special education from Portland State University and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She is a co-author of both the Links Curriculum and Sunshine Literacy Program and currently travels the country conducting workshops and providing in-class training for STAR Autism Support. Kara is an experienced education professional having worked as a classroom teacher and Autism Specialist with students of all ages as well as with adults in community and vocational settings.


Nilma Aviles

Since 2011, Nilma has worked as a classroom teacher of children with autism, as well as those affected by a variety of other developmental disabilities. She is a graduate of the University of Puerto Rico, where she received a Bachelor of Education in Adapted and Elemental Physical Education. Nilma began working with STAR Autism Support as coach of the Puerto Rico Autism Project in February of 2015. As a coach in the project, she uses strategies and tools found in the STAR Program and Links Curriculum to support the implementation of evidenced-based strategies at multiple school sites throughout Puerto Rico. 

Alicia Balfrey, M.S.

Alicia received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from UC Santa Cruz and her Master’s in Early Intervention/Early Childhood Special Education from the University of Oregon. Alicia’s career in special education started with providing in-home applied behavior analysis (ABA) services to students with autism and other special needs. After receiving her teaching license and degree in EI/ECSE, she worked for Early Childhood CARES at the University of Oregon where she taught an ECSE autism classroom, implementing the STAR Program and serving as an OrPATS model training site. Currently, Alicia works on the Oregon statewide project as well as the China project. Alicia enjoys meeting new teachers and students, presenting evidence-based strategies during STAR/Links workshops, and discussing strategies for managing challenging behaviors. She currently resides in Eugene, OR with her husband Connor and dog Dakota!


Amy Barnhill, BCaBA 

Amy has provided behavior analytic services to individuals on the autism spectrum since 1997. Over the course of her career, she has developed and implemented educational/behavior support programs in clinical and school based settings, trained and supervised staff, and provided social skills and vocational training for young adults with Aspergers and related differences. In 2003, Amy helped create and direct a social skills intervention program that continues to flourish in serving children and adolescence with a diverse range of backgrounds and abilities. Amy joined the STAR Autism Support team as a training specialist in July of 2013. She has completed postgraduate studies at St. Cloud State University and is a Board Certified Associate Behavior Analyst.

Karen Brown, M.S.

Karen received her Master's in Human Development & Early Childhood Disorders from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2009 and went on to work with Early Childhood Intervention. During that time, she contributed to the assessment of children birth to 3 with special needs as well as provided interventions and parent support within the home setting. Since 2012, Karen has been a certified Special Education Teacher, working in a variety of classrooms including Functional Communication, Resource/Inclusion, and Early Childhood Special Education. Prior to joining the STAR team, she was a district coach providing support and resources to teachers and students in the form of STAR training, behavioral supports, and classroom management/organization ideas. She has always been passionate about the opportunity to coach other teachers and professionals and enjoys collaborating to find new solutions for working with a variety of students. 

Aimee Dearmon, M.S. CCC-SLP, BCBA

Aimee is a speech and language pathologist (SLP) and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who has over 15 years of experience serving students with autism in public, private and home settings. In addition to providing workshops and training in schools across the country and Puerto Rico, Aimee works with STAR Autism Support to manage and develop large projects. Her work includes developing workshops, building training sites, and coaching staff to successfully implement The STAR Program and Links Curriculum in several states, regions, and districts. Aimee is passionate about raising awareness for autism in her community and has led fundraising efforts at the local and regional levels.

Ruth M. Eyres, M.S.E., NBCT

Ruth has worked directly with students with intellectual disabilities, autism, developmental disabilities, multiple disabilities, and dual sensory impairments since 1997 as a public school teacher and education consultant. She helped pilot the Links Curriculum in Arkansas and currently provides in-classroom coaching using Links. Ruth received her M.S.E in special education from the University of Central Arkansas and is currently completing a doctorate degree in Instructional and Curriculum Leadership at The University of Memphis. Ruth is a Nationally Board-Certified Teacher and currently works as a state-wide consultant with the Easterseals Arkansas Outreach program coaching school teams to implement evidence-based practices with fidelity. She is active on the boards of the Arkansas Subdivision on Autism and Developmental Disabilities (DADD) and the Arkansas Council for Exceptional Children (CEC).


Cami Ferguson, M.S. CCC-SLP, BCBA

Cami worked within the private sector for 6 years and the public school setting for 14 years. Within the school setting Cami was a part of the Assistive Technology team, Autism team, provided hands-on STAR training, supervised SLPs and graduate students. She provided support for Preschool Programs for Children with Disabilities, Functional Life Skills and Structured Teaching Method classrooms. She works with children and families with speech and language disorders, autism and other developmental disabilities. She also provides collaboration and support for students in need of Assistive Technology, Augmentative and Alternative Communication systems. Cami has a Masters degree in Communication Disorders. Cami enjoys connecting with educators and families, while bringing a realistic and supportive approach to presentations and classroom consulting.


Tara Fleck

Tara has worked in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis throughout Pennsylvania and New Jersey since 2007. As a certified teacher, Tara taught in classrooms for preschool through sixth grade. After post-graduate studies at Temple University, Tara trained and supervised ABA therapists in the field of Early Intervention for 6 years, developing and implementing curriculum for Social Skills, Life Skills and parent training. Tara lives in Philadelphia as a Training Specialist for STAR Autism Support. 


Carolyn Foster, M.Ed.

As a training specialist for STAR Autism Support, Carolyn provides on-site coaching in evidence-based practices for early language learners and students with autism. She earned her master’s degree in special education and is currently certified to teach special education, early childhood through grade 12, in Texas and Colorado. Carolyn has been involved in applied behavior analysis in various roles since 1995. She has served students with exceptionalities as a teacher in self-contained classrooms as well as at a private behavior therapy clinic. Carolyn has taken post-graduate coursework in behavior analysis and emotional/behavioral disabilities through the University of North Texas. She currently lives in Colorado with her husband and sons. 

Wynter Franzke, M.Ed.

Wynter has worked with students and adults in Special Education for 10 years in a variety of roles including Educational Assistant, Classroom Lead, Clinical ABA Therapist, Behavior Specialist, and Autism Consultant. Wynter holds a Master’s in Education with a certificate in Positive Behavior Supports, in addition to a Masters of Arts in Human Behavior with a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis. As a Training Specialist for STAR and OrPATS, Wynter conducts virtual and in-person workshops and continues to provide distance learning training and consultation to classrooms to help them implement evidence-based practices. Wynter also provides workshop training, parent training, and hands-on consultation to classrooms internationally and throughout the country for STAR Autism Support. Wynter resides in Mid-Willamette Valley, Oregon with her family and is currently working on studying for the Board-Certified Behavior Analyst exam.

John Gill, M.S.

John has worked in public education since 1989 as a regular education teacher, special education teacher, district facilitator, autism specialist and paraprofessional. During six years with Portland State University, in addition to his teaching duties he conducted workshops and extensive hands on training to teachers and staff of students with autism as part of a statewide project in Oregon to develop training sites around the state. As a trainer for STAR Autism Support since its inception, John continues to provided workshops and in-classroom training around the country. John is a recognized contributor to the STAR Program, as well as a co-author of the STAR Program Training Videos and the Sunshine Literacy Kit.

Renee Gonzalez, M.Ed.

Renee graduated from Northern Arizona University with a bachelor’s degree in speech-language sciences and technology, and she earned a master’s degree in early childhood education with a certificate in applied behavior analysis (ABA) from Arizona State University. She has served children with autism, speech and language disorders, and other developmental disabilities since 2012 and holds a current Arizona teaching license with dual certification in early childhood education and early childhood special education. Renee’s previous role as a special education teacher in an autism classroom allowed her to use her experience with evidenced-based practices to teach functional communication, social skills, functional life skills, and academics at both the preschool and school-age level. She also served as a teacher, mentor, and coach for her district supporting educators and paraprofessionals in implementing the STAR program. Renee began working with STAR Autism Support in June 2022 as a training specialist providing workshop trainings and classroom consultations.


Katelin Haugan, M.Ed., BCBA

Kate received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Pacific Lutheran University in 2015. She began her professional career as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) providing behavior analytic services to children and teens with autism in public school and home settings. In 2018, Kate went on to earn her Master of Education in Curriculum and Instruction (Applied Behavior Analysis) and certification as a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). She has implemented, developed, and supervised ABA programs for children (ages 2 – 16) with autism, emotional-behavioral disorders, and related developmental disabilities in home, school, and clinic settings throughout Washington, Vermont, and Rhode Island. Kate joined the STAR Autism Support team as a Professional Development Assistant in 2021. She currently lives in Portland, OR with her husband and two cats.

Mark Howard, M.S.Ed.

After early professional experience in college administration, Mark worked for more than a decade as a special educator, trainer, and mentor for teachers and paraprofessionals in primary and secondary public schools. During his time in the classroom, he developed and led a specialized program using the STAR Program to support students in kindergarten through grade 6. Mark holds a master’s degree in education, and has presented at local, regional, national, and international professional development opportunities and conferences. Beyond his time in public education, he has extensive experience working with children and young adults (ages 3-22) with autism spectrum disorder and other disabilities in private and not-for-profit sectors.


Lisa Kemmerer, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Kemmerer has been working with children with autism since 1994. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and received her PhD in Special Education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis from the University of Iowa. Some of Lisa’s work experiences include: faculty positions at multiple universities, autism coordinator for the University of Iowa, Children’s Hospital Autism Center, behavior analyst with school districts in Iowa and West Virginia, special education teacher, and paraprofessional.


Shawn Kolb, BCBA

As a Training Specialist for STAR Autism Support, Shawn Kolb provides professional development and on-site coaching for educators and parents on implementing evidence-based practices for students with autism. Shawn is a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst (BCBA) who has over 30 years of experience working with children and adults with autism and developmental disabilities. Most recently she developed and provided oversite for a day program for preschoolers with autism which utilized the STAR curriculum. Shawn also assisted in developing the Applied Behavior Analysis program and Project ImPACT program. Shawn enjoys helping others through collaborating, connecting and providing support while focusing on teaching children skills they will use for the rest of their lives in school, at home and in their community.

Darby Lasley, M.S.

Darby works with STAR Autism Support to provide workshops and hands-on consultation to classrooms throughout the country and in the state of Oregon with classrooms who have been trained to serve as model training sites (Oregon Regional Program Autism Training Sites/OrPATS). Darby brings classroom experience as an elementary life skills teacher who helped create the first elementary ORPATS training site in Lane County. For four years Darby served as a Program Supervisor overseeing the elementary life skills program and the regional autism program for Lane Education Service District. Darby also served as a senior instructor for Portland State University providing workshops and hands-on training to classrooms around the state of Oregon. Darby holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education, a Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Development and a current Oregon Administrator License and Oregon Teaching License with endorsements Autism, Special Education and Early Childhood Education.

Susanna Launder

Susanna has over 20 years of experience working with individuals with ASD. She worked as a public school educator for 12 years in Florida and Virginia before transitioning into grant-funded work supporting individuals with ASD, their families, and professionals working with them. In this role she has developed and implemented trainings and materials for parents and educators alike. She earned her Ph.D. in special education from Florida Atlantic University in Boca Raton, Florida. She is an active researcher with interests including literacy interventions for individuals with ASD, instructional technology, and twice-exceptional learners with ASD. Susanna currently lives in southeast Florida with her husband and daughter.

Nathan Marsden

Nate has worked in public education, with students with autism and developmental disabilities, since 1999. As a training specialist for STAR Autism Support, Nate provides on-site consultation to teachers to implement evidence-based practices. Nate holds a degree in Special Education from Weber State University and has an Early Childhood Special Education license from Utah State University. Nate has been a Behavior/Autism Specialist and a Special Education Teacher. As an early childhood educator, Nate implemented the STAR curriculum as part of the Utah Statewide Autism Education Project. He has been a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (CEC) for over 10 years, and has been actively involved on the Utah board, as well as contributing to CEC’s Student Committee, Program Advisory Committee, and the Maltreatment Policy Statement Workgroup. Nate is passionate about advocating for the needs of students, families, and educators, and is engaged in ongoing work to influence local, state, and federal policy. He currently lives in Utah with his wife and three children.

Rebecca Martinez, M.Ed., BCBA

As a training specialist for STAR Autism Support, Rebecca McGuire provides behavior support strategies and on-site coaching in evidence-based practices for educators. Rebecca holds a Master’s Degree in Special Education with a concentration on Autism and ABA strategies. In her previous role as Behavior/Academic Specialist, Rebecca provided professional development training and on-site support to educators in her school district. Rebecca has trained teachers to implement communication, behavioral, academic and management strategies in their classrooms.

Deeana Meade, M.Ed.

As a training specialist for STAR Autism Support, Deeana provides professional development and on-site coaching for educators and parents on implementing evidence-based practices for autistic students Deeana graduated from Cornell University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and received her master’s degree in educational leadership from the University of North Texas. Deeana has served students with autism and other disabilities since 2010, both as a certified special education classroom teacher and also at the administrative level. She developed her passion for teacher education as a coach and mentor to new teachers with several national organizations and within school districts in Texas. As an educator, Deeana saw the power of using evidence-based practices in teaching students with autism and trained in ABA principles as applied to the classroom. She currently lives in Texas with her family, and she includes coffee and ice cream among her personal preferred reinforcers.

Beverlyann Mercado, M.A.

Beverlyann has been in education since May 2014. She received her master’s degree in Special Education and Autism from Central University of Bayamon and finished her graduate certification in Applied Behavior Analysis from George Mason University. She worked as an Autism Teacher in Puerto Rico using the STAR Program and LINKS Curriculum for 2 years, then supported teachers across the island as a coach for the Puerto Rico Autism Project in 2019. She moved to Fort Worth, Texas, in May of 2021 and worked as a Behavior Specialist in Irving ISD. Beverlyann joined the STAR Autism Support team in May 2022 as a Training Specialist and is currently working on studying for the Board Certified Behavior Analyst® exam.

Kathryn Morrow, M.Ed.

Kathryn has worked in public education since 2006, as both a special education teacher in an autism classroom in the Chicago Public School District, as well as an autism specialist for a school district in Oregon. She has experience implementing evidence-based practices with students on the autism spectrum across elementary, middle school, high school, and post-secondary levels. Kathryn works for STAR Autism Support as a training specialist and as assistant product manager for the Links Routine Teaching Units. As a training specialist, Kathryn travels the country providing workshops and classroom consultations to school districts. She enjoys working in diverse classrooms and coaching teachers and paraprofessionals to be successful implementers of the STAR Program and Links Curriculum. Kathryn received both her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Special Education from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She currently resides with her husband and two children in Southwest Michigan.

Jen O'Donnell, M.S., EI/ECSE

Jen has worked in the field of special education for 12 years in a variety of roles, including instructional assistant, early childhood education specialist, and autism consultant. Jen holds a master’s degree in early intervention/early childhood special education, a bachelor’s degree in psychology, an Oregon teaching license with an endorsement in early childhood special education, and a certificate in autism spectrum disorder from Portland State University. She worked with the OrPATS grant project in Oregon providing training, coaching, and consultation to classrooms implementing evidence-based strategies for students with autism. Jen has provided parent training and coaching through the early childhood program at Northwest Regional Education Service District and in 2021 became a certified coach for Project ImPACT. She recently moved to and currently lives in California with her husband Casey and twin sons Aidan and Connor.

Holly Phinney, M.Ed.

Holly holds a Bachelor's degree in Education and a Master's degree in Special Education with a concentration on Autism and a certificate in transitions from Texas Tech University. Holly has spent the last ten years working in public education in Waco and Austin, Texas working with students with disabilities from ages 3-12 years old. Holly holds a current license as a Special Education Teacher as well as a diagnostician in the state of Texas. In her previous roles, Holly has provided professional development training and onsite support to teachers and families. Holly has also trained teachers and families to implement behavioral, communication and academic management strategies in the classroom and home setting. Holly was inspired to work in this field and continues to be passionate about making a difference with students and their families with ASD because of a family member with autism. Holly has recently married and lives with her husband and puppy outside of Austin, Texas.

Kristi Porter, M.Ed.

As a training specialist for STAR Autism Support, Kristi Porter provides professional development and on-site coaching for educators and parents on implementing evidence-based practices for students with Autism. Kristi graduated from Texas Women’s University with a master’s degree in special education as an Educational Diagnostician. Kristi has served in many different capacities in special education in Utah, Wyoming, and Texas. She had the privilege of representing educators on the Wyoming Advisory Panel for Students with Disabilities while serving as Chair Elect. Kristi is passionate about professional development and has presented at the Texas Council for Exceptional Children Conference, Texas Region 11 Directors Meeting, and the National Council for Exceptional Children.

Elizabeth Price, M.Ed.

Elizabeth has worked with students with ASD and other disabilities for the past eight years. She attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign where she obtained her Bachelor’s Degree in Special Education and Master’s Degree in Education Policy, Organization, and Leadership. Elizabeth also holds a current Illinois Administrator License. She has worked across elementary, middle, and secondary levels in academic, functional life skills, community, and vocational settings. As a classroom teacher, Elizabeth implemented the STAR program and Links curriculum, and became an elementary model site for the STAR Program in her district. Elizabeth began working with STAR in June 2017, and works as a training specialist to provide training during workshops and classroom consultations. She recently moved from Chicago to San Francisco.

Julia Rockwell, M.S.

Julia started her pursuit in special education at an early age, volunteering in special education classrooms and at a therapeutic horsemanship starting at the age of 11. Julia graduated with a Bachelor of Science in biology from New Mexico State University and a Master of Science in special education from the University of Oregon. She holds a current special education teaching license with an endorsement in early intervention in the state of Oregon. Prior to her start at STAR, Julia had spent the last decade working for the University of Oregon as an autism and behavior consultant, where she provided support implementing the STAR program with the preschool special education population, and as a parent coach for caregivers with neurodiverse children birth to 5 years of age. Julia also conducted autism educational evaluations and was an Early Childhood Positive Behavior Intervention and Supports (ECPBIS) practice-based coach. Julia is passionate about early intervention, parent empowerment, and special education. She holds the highest regards for those that positively support neurodiverse children! Julia lives with her family in Eugene, OR.

Laura Seiferd, M.Ed., BCBA

Laura has worked with students of all ages within public education and private settings for over 15 years. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who began her career in special education as an in-home Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapist, as well as in a clinical setting with individuals who displayed challenging behaviors. Since then, Laura has worked as a special education teacher, district behavior and instructional specialist, and special education coordinator in a public school setting. Originally from Washington state, Laura attended Gonzaga University where she earned undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Special Education, as well as a Masters in Special Education with an emphasis in Functional Analysis. Laura currently lives in Texas with her husband and two sons.


Tricia Severs

Tricia brings 14 years of experience working with exceptional students to the STAR team. As a member of a military family, Tricia has worked with students of all ages in Kentucky, Tennessee, Hawaii, and Arizona. Throughout her time in schools, Tricia saw consistent student progress by focusing on functional life skills, academic, and prevocational skills which led to increased student independence. Her student’s ability to generalize their skills throughout their daily lives, while celebrating their successes, is a true passion of Tricia’s. Tricia implemented the LINKS curriculum with high school students who had moderate to severe disabilities within a model site classroom. As a LINKS coach within her district she provided support to fellow teachers and paraprofessional aides.


Julie St. John, Ed.S.

Julie completed her Education Specialist degree in School Psychology at the University of Iowa in May, 2015, and has been working with students with autism and developmental disabilities for six years. Her professional experiences include assessment of challenging behavior, behavior reduction, skill acquisition, and diagnostic evaluation. She has worked in clinical and school settings but finds energy and passion in schools working directly with students, teachers, and paraprofessionals. Julie is always looking for ways to continue learning and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in School Psychology.


AbbiGail Terrell

Abbi has worked with children and families impacted by autism and other related disabilities for over 25 years. She began her career working with children and their families during summer camps and therapeutic play groups. After graduating from the University of North Texas with a bachelor’s degree in social work, Abbi obtained her special education certification and worked 16 years as a classroom teacher with a variety of age groups. Abbi has a passion for helping students increase independence by teaching skills that are critical for success in inclusive settings.


Tracy Uden, M.Ed., BCBA

Tracy works with STAR Autism Support conducting workshops for the STAR and Links curriculums, as well as providing hands-on coaching in classrooms throughout the United States and China. Tracy taught in public schools in CA and AZ and brings classroom experience as a former general education teacher. After her years in general education, she worked as an Instructional Coach and then as an autism specialist. Tracy created and taught in an ABA based classroom providing behavior support and training in evidence-based strategies prior to being introduced to the STAR curriculum as part of the AZ State-wide project. Tracy graduated from ASU with a master’s degree in education with an emphasis in ABA. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, who currently resides Grand Junction, CO.


Debbie Ware, M.A., CCC-SLP

Debbie is a Speech/Language Pathologist, serving children with Autism in public, private/non-profit and home settings for the past 20+ years. She joined STAR Autism Support in 2013 and currently provides consultation/training in schools throughout the United States and China. Debbie worked as a consultant with Easterseals of Arkansas - Outreach Program providing consultation/training to teachers and therapists in the state of Arkansas. She was the coordinator of a week-long summer training program which utilized modeling, coaching, and hands-on implementation using the STAR program. Prior to this, Debbie worked in the San Diego Unified School District in San Diego, CA. She received extensive training in the field of Autism and participated in a 3-year multi-agency grant project in San Diego County. Upon completion of the grant, Debbie’s team was responsible for opening one of the pre-school classrooms for children with Autism, implementing evidence-based practices.


Pedra Weber, M.Ed. in Special Education, MEDC

Pedra was featured in the book She Leads: The Women's Guide to a Career in Educational Leadership (George & Tolan, 2022) for her leadership qualities while working in special education. Her 20-plus years in education started as an elementary teacher working with a variety of grade levels. From there, she completed a master’s degree in educational leadership where she worked as a principal of an elementary school. Her heart led her back to working directly with students as she finished her master’s degree in special education and taught in a structured learning classroom serving grades 4–6, which became a training site for other self-contained classrooms in the school district. Later she accepted a position in an early intervention setting and worked primarily with students who have autism. Her classroom became a STAR Autism Support training site until she moved to Florida and joined the STAR team as a training specialist.