Conference Speakers

VABA is Looking Forward to Welcoming our 2022 Conference Speakers!

VABA is excited to announce our speakers!  Click below for more information on each speaker

Dr. Joanne Gerenser BIO AND KEYNOTE

Joanne Gerenser, Ph.D.

Biography: Joanne is the executive director of the Eden II Programs in Staten Island, NY. She is an adjunct associate professor at Brooklyn College. She received her Master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the Ohio State University and her Ph.D.  Speech and Hearing Science from the City University of New York Graduate Center.  She is Vice-Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council for the Organization for Autism Research.  She serves on a number of boards, including the Council of Autism Service Providers, the InterAgency Council of NY, and the Staten Island Not for Profit Association.  Dr. Gerenser is co-editor of the book ABA for SLPs: Interprofessional Collaboration for Autism Support Teams. She has authored several book chapters and articles on autism and developmental disabilities.

Keynote: Applied Behavior Analysis and Speech Language Pathology: Intercollaboration for Enhanced Outcomes (1.5 CEUs)

Speech-language pathologists (SLPs) and professionals in applied behavior analysis (ABA) (along with many other disciplines, such as OT, teachers, etc.) frequently participate as members of support teams for children with autism. Collaboration between these professionals can enhance the team’s work, since each professional brings valuable resources to the table. However, overlapping areas of expertise, different terms used for similar instructional elements, and variations in addressing the same problems may complicate the collaborative process. This gap between ABA professionals and SLPs appears to be growing even wider and if not addressed, can begin to have negative consequences for individuals on the spectrum. This presentation will discuss the differences and issues that complicate collaboration. Examples of the widening gap will be provided from the field. Potential strategies to overcome these challenges and foster collaboration will be discussed.

Learner Objectives

Following the presentation, participants will be able to:

1. Identify areas of overlapping expertise and roles for the SLPs and behavior analysts
2. Describe at least 3 common misconceptions of applied behavior analysis
3. Describe at least 3 common misconceptions of speech pathology
4. Identify potential strategies to enhance collaboration between the speech pathologist and the behavior analyst

Time Order Agenda:
10:55-11:10: De-finitions of Intercollaboration; Review of challenges and barriers to intercollaboration between SLP and Behavior Analysts (BA)

11:10- 11:20: Overview of the widening gap

11:20-11:35: Overview of SLP competencies and BA competencies; Review of overlap of competencies

11:35-11:45: Review of scope of practice vs. scope of competency; Evidence based practice vs. empirically supported treatment

11:45-11:50: Benefit of intercollaboration

11:50-12:00: Strategies to promote intercollaboration; Characteristics of an effective Intercollaborative Team

12:00-12:05: Q& A

Dr. Gerenser WORKSHOP

Workshop: Risk Management: From Assessment to Intervention (3 CEUs)

Risk management is essential to identify potential problems before they occur or before they can have a negative impact on your program. Risks can range from those impacting the finances, the health and safety of staff and participants to the reputation of your organization. This session will describe important steps that need to be taken to develop a risk management program. Examples of data collection procedures will be discussed that help inform the risk management program at an autism service provider program. Case studies will be reviewed. These case studies will include risk identification, analysis, intervention as well as follow up.

Learning objectives:
Through this workshop, attendees will:
1. Define Risk Management
2. Identify key steps in developing a risk management program
3. Identify, evaluate, and prioritize potential risks
4. Develop strategies for risk mitigation for their organizations
5. Describe process for measuring outcomes

Time Ordered Agenda: 

9:00 – 9:10  Overview
of presentation and definition of risk management

9:10 – 9:20 Initial steps for developing a risk management
program; Establish context

9:20 – 9:40  Key risk
areas for autism service providers

9:40 – 9:50  Getting
started: identifying your potential risks

9:50 – 10:00  Break

10:00 – 10:20  How to
evaluate and prioritize risks

10:20 – 10:40  Overview
of components of a risk management program (Eden II); Sources of data

10:40 – 10:50
Strategies for risk mitigation

10:50 – 11:00

11:00 – 11:10
Strategies for risk mitigation (cont.)

11:10 – 11:30 Measuring outcomes

11:30 – 11:50
Essentials for an autism provider’s risk management toolbox

11:50 – 12:00 Q & A


SungWoo Kahng, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Biography: Dr. SungWoo Kahng is Chair of the Department of Applied Psychology, Director of Academic Programs in Autism and ABA, and an associate professor at Rutgers University. Prior to his current position, he was an associate professor at the University of Missouri (MU) where he was also the chair of the Department of Health Psychology, the Founding Director the MU Graduate Programs in Applied Behavior Analysis, and Director of the Applied Behavioral Intervention Service of the MU Thompson Center for Autism and Neurodevelopmental Disorders. He was also a faculty member in the Department of Behavioral Psychology and a senior behavior analyst on the Neurobehavioral Unit at the Kennedy Krieger Institute as well as an associate professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Kahng graduated from Kalamazoo College with a Bachelor of Arts in psychology and received his Ph.D. in behavior analysis from the University of Florida. He was an Associate Editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis where he also served on the Board of Editors. Additionally, he is on the Board of Editors for Behavioral Intervention and Review Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. He is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Dr. Kahng is the President of the Board of Directors of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, a member of the Scientific Council of the Organization for Autism Research, President-elect of the New Jersey Association for Behavior Analysis, and a member of several advisory boards. Dr. Kahng is the recipient of the 2003 B.F. Skinner New Researcher Award given by Division 25 of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Kahng has co-authored over 90 peer reviewed articles and chapters. The focus of his research and clinical work has been on assessing and treating severe problem behaviors exhibited by individuals with developmental disabilities. He is also interested in a broader research agenda, which includes topics related to employment and college supports for adults with autism spectrum disorder as well as obesity and aging. Finally, he has mentored numerous undergraduate, master’s level, and predoctoral students as well as post-doctoral fellows.

Keynote: Why We Need to Place More Emphasis on Research with Adults with ASD (1.5 CEUs)

Interventions based on applied behavior analysis (ABA) have become the most common and effective interventions for individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD). Decades of research has supported the efficacy of ABA-based interventions to treat the symptoms related to ASD (e.g., language, social skills, problem behaviors). This has resulted in the recognition of ABA-based interventions by scientific and professional organizations such as NIMH, The U.S. Surgeon General, and the American Academy of Pediatrics. Despite the wide-scale recognition, questions remain about the efficacy of ABA-based interventions with adults with ASD because most of the research has been conducted with younger learners. Adults with ASD present unique challenges given their physical size, different treatment goals, and long reinforcement history. Research focused on adults will provide additional evidenced-based interventions, which may provide data to provide more support for this population. This presentation will include examples of clinical research with adults with ASD in employment and college settings.

Learning objectives:
1. Identify how ABA can be used to support obtaining employment.
2. Describe some of the barriers to maintaining employment and research to support ongoing employment.
3. List the gaps in research to help support adults with ASD.

Time Order Agenda:
1:30 p.m. – 1:45 p.m. Current state of research to support adults with ASD

1:45 p.m. – 2:00 p.m. Research on supporting adults w/ASD to obtain employment

2:00 p.m. – 2:30 Research supporting adults w/ASD to maintain employment

2:30 p.m. – 2:45 Future opportunities for research to support adults w/ASD


Workshop: Functional Analyses of Problem Behavior: Procedural Variations and Ethical Considerations (1 Ethics CEU plus 2 CEUs)

Functional analyses are the gold standard in the assessment of problem behaviors. FAs are the most precise method of determining behavioral function, which informs the development of treatment. Despite the research supporting the efficacy of functional analyses, there continues to be reluctance on the part of practitioners to conduct the analyses on a consistent basis. This presentation will focus on procedural variations of functional analyses, which may make it more practical in specific situations. Additionally, it will present the argument that conducting functional analyses is the ethical choice.

BREAKOUT #1A - Stefanie Griffey

Stefanie S. Griffey, M.Ed, BCBA, LBA

Biography: Stefanie Griffey is the Founder and Presient of Coastal Behavior Consulting, LLC. She has been a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) since 2010, as well as Virginia licensed teacher and has provided services to children ages 18 months – 18 years in schools, in home and in clinic during that time. Stefanie served as a teacher and principal for a regional autism program prior to founding Coastal behavior Consulting in 2014. During her 22 year career, she is most proud of the relationships she has formed with families, children and other professionals. These relationships have shaped her vision of providing high quality ABA services while promoting professional and ethical growth in the field. Stefanie is a lifelong resident of the Hampton Roads area and loves being at the beach with her husband and three children.

Breakout: Measuring Success: Using KPI's for Effective and Ethical ABA Business Growth (1 CEU)

The field of Applied Behavior Analysis is rapidly growing – challenging many small to mid-sized practices with how to ensure overall business success while maintaining clinical integrity. According to the Society of Human Resources (SHRM), a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) is “a measurable value that demonstrates how effectively a company is achieving key business objectives." KPSs are a powerful tool to empower both operational growth and clinical excellence. So, what do you measure and how do you use the data that is collected? Stefanie will share the process used within her organization to identify and develop ABA-relevant KPS, and how these measures have elevated internal policies and initiatives regarding the client intake process, staff hiring, staff training, and more. She will also address best practices for sharing results in an intentional and predictable manner, and the ripple effects on all stakeholders – from staff, to client families, to insurance funders.

BREAKOUT #1B - Emily Fleming

Emily Arnold Fleming, BCBA, LBA

Biography: Emily Arnold Fleming has been working concurrently in the fields of
behavior analysis and improvisational comedy since 2012. In her “Mortgage
Job" she has found her niche as a BCBA doing consultation and training for front-line staff. In her “Fun Money Job" she performs and directs improvised comedy shows while running weekly classes to students of all ages and abilities. She is currently the Head Coach for ComedySportz Richmond and a Behavior Consultant for The Faison Center. Her passion is to teach others how to live with more acceptance and flexibility, whether they are on a stage, in a cubicle, and anywhere in between. You can catch her digital work on Instagram at @yesand_socialreinforcement and @improvonandoff .

Breakout: ACTing Up: Group Games to Teach ACT Skills (1 CEU)

Acceptance and Commitment Training is used to promote flexibility, openness, and commitment to chosen values. Much of ACT relies upon private events, metaphors, and high-level verbal behavior. It can be tough for a behavior analyst to make these concepts concrete, objective, and observable – Especially when teaching to staff or parent groups!
In this presentation, we will take all six components of the ACT Hexaflex (Present Moment, Acceptance, Values, Committed Action, Self-As-Context, and Defusion) and explore group activities to demonstrate those skills. We will create contexts that make these skill demonstrations observable, repeatable, and (most importantly) reinforceable by the trainer. This won’t be your average VABA talk; you will be up and moving and laughing, all while building your ACT toolkit.

Learning Objectives:
– Describe Acceptance and Commitment Training through a behavioral lens
– Describe the six components of the ACT Hexaflex
– Identify overt behaviors connected to the ACT Hexaflex components (Present Moment, Acceptance, Values, Self-As-Context, Committed Action, and Defusion)
– Practice, then describe, those behaviors related to the Hexaflex components through participation in group games

Time Order Agenda:

3:00-3:10: Brief introduction to ACT and Hexaflex components. Introduction to group games as a teaching method for ACT concepts.

3:10-3:50: Demonstrating group games and activities, covering the six ACT Hexaflex components.

3:50-4:00: Practical applications and ethical considerations regarding demonstrated activities.

BREAKOUT #2A - Florence D. DiGennaro Reed

Florence D. DiGennaro Reed, PhD, BCBA-D

Biography: Dr. Florence DiGennaro Reed, a board certified behavior analyst, received a doctorate in school psychology from Syracuse University. She also completed a clinical post-doctoral fellowship at the Institute for Child Development and a pre-doctoral internship in clinical psychology at the May Center for Education and Neurorehabilitation and the May Center for Child Development. Presently, Florence is a Professor in the Department of Applied Behavioral Science at the University of Kansas where she serves as departmental chairperson and directs the Performance Management Laboratory. Her research examines effective and efficient staff training and performance improvement practices. Florence has published over 90 articles and book chapters and two edited books on a variety of topics including training, performance management, assessment, and intervention. With co-authors Drs. Gregory Madden and Derek Reed, Florence recently published a textbook titled An Introduction to Behavior Analysis. Moreover, Florence has been an Associate Editor for Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Journal of Behavioral Education, and Behavior Analysis in Practice.

Breakout: Practical Ways to Train and Support Human-Service Staff (1 Supervision CEU)

Performance management involves the application of behavioral principles to manage the performance of staff. Despite serving as effective change agents for clients, behavior analysts often struggle with motivating and supporting the staff they supervise. This presentation will describe evidence-based performance management procedures and share experimental data and case studies supporting the effectiveness of a behavior analytic approach to staff training and professional development. The presentation will emphasize resource-efficient efforts to produce behavior change of staff.

BREAKOUT #2B - Nicole Hollins

Dr. Nicole Hollins, BCBA-D, LBA

Biography: Dr. Nicole Hollins, BCBA-D, LBA has worked with neurotypical children and children with developmental disabilities for close to 10 years. Dr. Hollins holds a M.A. and Ph.D. in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University. Dr. Hollins is a member of the Association for Behavior Analysis International. She has presented her research at national and regional conferences and published chapters in books and in peer reviewed journals. Dr. Hollins is currently the Director of Training and Professional Development at a local autism agency. Prior to assuming her current role, Dr. Hollins served as a project coordinator and supervising behavior analyst for several grants that focused on evaluating current teacher practices while providing systemic recommendations for improving equity in the public schools. During that time, she provided services and developed efficient systems to over 40 various applied settings including schools, autism treatment centers, family homes, and group homes.

Breakout: Can everyone see my slides?: Blending active student responding with synchronous instruction to evaluate response accuracy and student engagement (1 CEU)

Active student responding and opportunities to respond are appropriately referred to as best-practice instructional strategies for in-person learning. Many have shifted from teaching primarily in-person to either a hybrid or an online format over the past decade. The global pandemic hastened further shifts from in-person to online learning for many institutions of higher education. Given this rapid shift to online instruction, it is critical to evaluate evidence-based teaching practices in online formats. There is a robust body of literature that supports the effectiveness of embedding opportunities to respond and active student responding during in-person instruction. To date, there is limited to no data that evaluates embedding best teaching practices during online synchronous courses in post-secondary settings. Using an alternating treatments design, this study evaluated the effects of two active student response modalities on response accuracy for 17 students enrolled in a synchronous online graduate course. The results suggest that students performed more accurately on post-lecture queries following conditions that required written active student responses compared to responds cards. Moreover, the accuracy of correct responding maintained across the exams and the cumulative final exam. Limitations and future implications are discussed.

Learning Objectives:
1) Identify evidence-based teaching practices

2) Explain the importance of student engagement during learning

3) Explain the effects of different active student responding modalities

Time-ordered Agenda:
8:45 – 9:00: Introduction to online instruction teaching practices
9:00- 9:15: Review methodology and procedures
9:15- 9:20: Discuss the results of online teaching interventions
9:20- 9:35: Summarize finding, considerations, and future research questions

BREAKOUT #3A - Ryan Sain

Ryan Sain, Ph.D.

Biography: I have been a behavior analyst since my mother sat me down in a mall in the 80s and told me to “just watch people”. I formalized that education through my doctoral work under Thomas Armon Brigham at Washington State University. I focused on experimental evaluations of applied self-management programs, and of course, behavior analysis in general.

I later worked internationally doing university development work across Africa and Afghanistan. It is there that I developed an appreciation for open educational resources. I hung up my soft money hat and returned to teach at my alma mater (i.e., EWU). Several years ago, after leaving academia, I joined the team at Northwest Autism Center in an operations role. Before long I was given an opportunity to become a full time faculty member at MBU in the ABA program and am delighted to be back in academia, and in a new state to boot. I am also the co-founder of PsychCore – a company that creates and disseminates open educational resources via YouTube and other social media platforms.

Breakout: EAB for Practitioners: There’s value in them thar data! (1 CEU)

The experimental analysis of behavior is no less relevant today than it was prior to 1968. One might even argue more so. As our field grows and expands our analytic charge remains. And as such, we must continue the scientific dance with our EAB counterparts to impact humanity for the most benefit while remaining true to our core principles. In this presentation we will discuss some of the relevant differences between EAB and ABA and more importantly, the similarities. Examples of current EAB literature will be discussed in the context of applied issues and the interplay between the two will be demonstrated. I hope that by the end of this presentation you will see that the two robust sciences are simply different sides of the same coin that we call behavior analysis.

BREAKOUT #3B - Lewis, Ham, Weil, Smith Panel

Kate Lewis, MS, BCBA, LBA,
Whitney Ham, MS, BCBA, LBA,
Erin S. Weil, M.Ed, BCBA, LBA,
Stephanie P. Smith, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA

Kate Lewis – Kate currently works for Virginia Commonwealth University Autism Center for Excellence providing training and technical assistance to school divisions in order to increase their capacity to provide evidence-based instruction and behavioral supports to students with autism.

Kate is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, as well as, a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Virginia. She has worked with individuals with disabilities using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis since 1999. Kate earned her B.A. in psychology from George Mason University and her M.S. in behavior analysis from Florida State University. Kate has also completed coursework to gain a certificate in nonprofit management through Virginia Commonwealth University and is also an alumna of the Emerging Nonprofit Leaders Program. She has provided services to individuals with special needs in home programs, public and private schools, group homes, and autism centers, providing them with the necessary skills and education to help them be successful in their communities. Kate has presented at local, state and national conferences on implementing ABA principles and autism, as well as, taught university coursework in behavior analysis. Kate served as the President for the Virginia Association for Behavior Analysis from 2013-2015 and At-Large Representative from 2018-2020. She also served on the Board of Medicine Advisory Board for Behavior Analysis from 2015-2019 and is currently on the Advisory Board for Virginia Tech’s Center for Autism Research.

Stephanie Smith – Stephanie Smith is a Behavioral Consultative Teacher for Hanover County Public Schools. She primarily works with students who have ASD between the ages of 4 years and 22 years old. She earned her M. Ed in Applied Behavioral Analysis from Arizona State University in 2018 and became a BCBA in September 2020. Stephanie also has her M.A in Professional Mental Health Counseling.

Whitney Ham – Whitney currently works in Region 1 providing training and technical assistance to school divisions in order to increase their capacity to provide evidence-based instruction and behavioral supports to students with autism.

Whitney has been with the VCU-RRTC since 2010. Whitney graduated from the University of Virginia in 2008 with a B.A. in Psychology. She began as an intern for her graduate school program supporting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders at Project SEARCH. She earned her M.S in Rehabilitation Counseling from VCU in 2011 and became a CRC. After becoming a CRC Whitney focused on providing customized employment and behavioral supports to the individuals that she serves as well as focusing on increased community integration and education on working and supporting individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Whitney went on to become a BCBA in 2015. Whitney’s interests fall in the areas of provision of behavioral supports to individuals with challenging behavior, facilitating competitive integrated employment, and transition to adult life for individuals with disabilities.

Erin Weil – Erin Weil is an Autism Coordinator for Henrico County Public Schools. She graduated with her Masters degree from Auburn University in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism and Behavior Disorders. She completed the work for her BCBA at Florida Institute of Technology.

Erin has worked in multiple education settings ranging from the public school setting, private residential setting, and private ABA. Her experiences have been working with students with significant interfering behaviors as well as supporting teachers with strategies to keep them in the classroom.

Breakout: Panel Discussion: Barriers and Successes in Implementation of Practical Functional Assessment and Skills Based Treatment in Public Schools (1 CEU)

Developed by Dr. Greg Hanley and colleagues, the Practical Functional Assessment and Skill Based Treatment (PFA- SBT) process is an advanced behavior technology that supports a learner and their support team to efficiently assess problem behavior(s) and transition to the development of individualized interventions to replace the behavior(s). The assessment and treatment process are able to be implemented by various individuals (parents, paraprofessionals, RBTs, teachers, etc.) with the oversight of a trained professional. Furthermore, the core values of the assessment and treatment process are that all components of the process should be safe (not elicit severe behavior), dignified and televisable for all involved. The central goal is to eliminate problem behavior while building essential skills such as functional communication, delay and tolerance behaviors while acquiring skills to support inclusion. This session will be a panel discussion of how this technology can be implemented in the public school setting and the successes and barriers experienced. The Behavior Analysts on the panel will provide an in-depth discussion with case examples to show how customizable this approach is and how it’s effective with a variety of students with different needs.

Learning Objectives:
1. Participants will describe how the Practical Functional Assessment and Skills Based Treatment process can be applied in public school settings and supports that help facilitate implementation

2. Participants will identify benefits of application of Practical Functional Assessment and Skills Based Treatment process in public school settings

3. Participants will identify possible barriers and solutions to implementing the Practical Functional Assessment and Skills Based Treatment process in public school settings

Time-ordered Agenda:
9:45-10:00 – Overview of the Practical Functional Assessment and Skills Based Treatment Process

10:00-10:20 – Panelists will address organized questions and provide case examples to demonstrate how customizable PFA/SBT is and how it’s effective with a variety of students with different needs.

10:20-10:35 – Open to conference participants to ask questions to the panel about implementing PFA/SBT in the public school setting.