About

The BALC believes that in order to meaningfully address these areas of need the focus of our work must center around 3 key competencies : Effective Leadership, Clinical Acumen & Operational Expertise. We call these 3 competencies the Triad of Excellence™.

 

Vision Statement

Behavior analysis is valued as an integral ingredient to enhance human performance and applicable to mainstream problems.

The Behavior Analyst Leadership Council is a 501(c)(6) nonprofit organization.

Mission Statement

Advancing the business interests of Behavior Analysts and providing opportunities for professional development and capacity building.

Core Values

1. Consumer-oriented
2. Collaborative
3. Effective and timely advocacy
4. Fiscally responsive

Executive Director

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James Hoko

Executive Director

Dr. James Hoko is a doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst licensed in four states (Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Rhode Island) and is the Executive Director of the Behavior Analyst Leadership Council (BALC).  Dr. Hoko directs and manages consultation services locally to school districts and families as well as remotely through MBS’ ABA Global Access program.

James has over 32 years of experience as a doctoral-level Behavior Analyst and leader in the behavior analytic community.  He has provided leadership in the development and management of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) Autism programs, educational collaboratives, programs for students with social/emotional challenges, and magnet schools targeted toward specialized student populations.

Dr. Hoko has worked in a wide range of school and community settings and has supervised numerous behavior analysts in the resolution of instructional and management issues for children with special needs.  In addition, he has developed and conducted many trainings and workshops on topics such as instructional control, clinical assessment, maladaptive behavior reduction, classroom management, ethics, and supervision.

Board of Directors

 

Solandy Forte

Solandy Forte

PhD, LCSW, LBA, BCBA-D, is the Director of Consultation Services and Community Outreach at Milestones Behavioral Services

President

She is a doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst licensed in Connecticut and Massachusetts and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Dr. Forte provides consultation services to the school programs at Milestones serving individuals with a diverse set of complex learning needs. In addition to providing direct consultation to children within the private school setting she also has provided consultation to multi-disciplinary teams within the public school setting where she assisted with program development initiatives to promote building capacity for educating children with autism and related neurodevelopmental disorders within the least restrictive educational setting. Dr. Forte has experience working with children and young adults with special needs in their homes, schools, and community settings. She is an adjunct professor for the Institute of Autism and Behavioral Studies at the University of Saint Joseph in West Hartford, Connecticut and the Institute of Behavioral Studies at Endicott College in Beverly, Massachusetts.

Dr. Forte also has experience providing parent training, staff training, social skills training, and in-home behavior analytic services to children living in therapeutic foster homes with a wide range of developmental disabilities, mental health disorders, and autism, and related disorders. She is an active member of organizations advocating for the advancement of the behavior analytic profession. She currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Behavior Analyst Leadership Council (BALC) and has served on the Executive Council for the Connecticut Association for Behavior Analysts (CTABA). Dr. Forte has presented at regional and national conferences on topics related to staff training, behavioral assessment, navigating through cultural barriers, behavioral consultation, supervision, and ethics to name a few. She is an expert in the field who is committed to improving the quality of life of the individuals she serves.

Suzanne

Suzanne Letso

Licensed Behavior Analyst in CT, MA, NY
Vice President

Suzanne Letso is the co-founder and Chief Executive Officer of Milestones Behavioral Services (formerly Connecticut Center for Child Development). Suzanne currently serves as the founding President of the Behavior Analyst Leadership Council, as a member of the Board of Directors of the Council of Autism Service Providers, on the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts’ Advisory Board, the Scientific Advisory Board for the Organization for Autism Research, and as Vice Chair of the Board of Directors for Marrakech, Inc.

Suzanne has also served as the Treasurer and member of the Board of Directors for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, and has participated in the establishment and management of a number of other service organizations, autism-related initiatives, and state task forces. Suzanne was the recipient of: the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts’ 2016 Jerry Shook Award, which honors individuals whose achievements have enhanced the value of sound professional credentials in the practice of applied behavior analysis; the Marrakech Founders’ Advocacy Award in 2009; and Enterprising Women magazine’s Advocate of the Year Award in 2007. In recognition of Milestones 20th Anniversary, Suzanne received Milestones Going the Extra Miles Founders Award.

Suzanne is a registered lobbyist for the Connecticut General Assembly, and has worked as an advocate on a number of legislative issues in the states of Connecticut and Alaska. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, licensed as a Behavior Analyst in New York and Massachusetts. She holds #000001 license in Connecticut as a Behavior Analyst.

As an expert in her field, Suzanne is invited to speak at large conferences and small events around the world. Through Milestones, Suzanne is part of the team that works to initiate or grow ABA schools and programs in other states.

She is also the parent of a son with autism.

Stephen Eversole

Stephen Eversole

Ed.D., BCBA-D

Treasurer

Dr. Eversole was inspired to become a “behaviorist” in a high school psychology class after reading Beyond Freedom and Dignity by B. F. Skinner.  He remained inspired, receiving his M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University in 1984 and his Ed.D. in Special Education from the University of Kentucky in 1995.  That same year Dr. Eversole began dabbling in computer-based training and in 1998 founded Behavior Development Solutions—makers of the CBA Learning Module Series, CE products, and other training materials.  He has practiced behavior analysis for over 35 years, working with a variety of special needs populations including individuals with autism, mental retardation, and severe emotional disturbances.  Dr. Eversole has also taught classes on behavior analysis and presented research findings at professional conferences.  Dr. Eversole’s current research interest is in instructional design and its application to teaching both inside and outside the field of behavior analysis.

Mark-Palmieri

Mark J. Palmieri

Psy.D., BCBA-D

Secretary

Dr. Mark Palmieri is a licensed psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and the Co-Director of Center for Children with Special Needs (CCSN). He provides psychological evaluations, co-directs the Feeding Clinic and the Behavioral Sleep Clinic, and supports program development for clinical and school consultation services.  He leads capacity development initiatives which establish sustainable educational programs for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other complex neurodevelopmental disabilities. Additionally, he is currently leading project development throughout CCSN to expand clinical services to increase access to high quality evidence-based practices throughout the community.  Dr. Palmieri is also an Assistant Clinical Professor of Psychology at the Yale Child Study Center, Yale University School of Medicine. He has lectured both nationally and internationally on topics such as behavioral assessment and treatment planning, consultation and program development, and the treatment of feeding and other complex behavioral disorders.

Dr. Palmieri received his doctoral degree from the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology at Rutgers University. Before joining CCSN, Dr. Palmieri completed his predoctoral rotations at the May Institute where he provided school consultation services and behavioral treatments for individuals with Autism and other developmental disabilities as well as for individuals with traumatic brain injuries. He also facilitated school-wide positive behavior support programming in schools across New Jersey as part of a state initiative sponsored through the New Jersey Department of Education in collaboration with the Elizabeth M. Boggs Center on Developmental Disabilities.

Debora Thivierge

Debora Thivierge, BCaBA, CBAA

Board Member

Debora received her BA in Sociology from Hofstra University and is a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst. She serves as the Executive Director and Founder of The ELIJA School, Founder of The ELIJA Foundation,  the ELIJA Farm, and ELIJA’s Transition Program and Services (TPS). Debora has volunteered her time to numerous Autism groups such as Nassau County’s Department of Health Early Intervention Coordinating Council, New York State Association of Behavior Analysis, Nassau County Autism Coalition run by the County Executive and served as a board member of The Behavior Analyst Certification Board® (BACB®) for 5 years. She was appointed to the New York State Licensure Board for Applied Behavior Analysis in 2014 and served until 2018, when she stepped down to advocate for the advancement of the field in ABA. For the past 20 years, she has been providing advocacy to families and conducted training workshops to promote evidence based instruction for families and educators who have been touched by Autism. She has a 21 year old son with Autism.

speterson headshot

Stephanie M. Peterson

Board Member

Dr. Stephanie M. Peterson, Ph.D., BCBA-D is a Professor and Chair in the Department of Psychology at Western Michigan University. Dr. Peterson earned her doctorate in Special Education from the University of Iowa in 1994. She has taught courses in behavior analysis and special education at several different universities (Gonzaga University, Utah State University, The Ohio State University, Idaho State University, and now Western Michigan University). She also served as Chair of the Department of Special Education, School Psychology, and Literacy at Idaho State University. Dr. Peterson served as Senior Co-Editor of Education and Treatment of Children for over 10 years and has served on or currently serves on the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, Behavior Analysis in Practice, and Journal of Behavioral Education to name a few. Dr. Peterson has also served as an elected member of the Board of Directors for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board, completing her two consecutive 3-year terms. Her research interests include the assessment and treatment of problem behavior in individuals with developmental disabilities, choice making, functional communication training, and behavior analysis in education. For the past several years at Western Michigan University, she has been working closely with her colleague, Dr. Wayne Fuqua, Co-PI, on a series of grants to establish an Autism Center of Excellence to better serve individuals with disabilities in Kalamazoo, to further continue the excellent behavior analytic training model already established in the Department of Psychology, and to provide a model of excellence in autism treatment and training for others in the behavior analytic community.

Deborah Napolitano

Deborah Napolitano

Board Member

Dr. Deborah Napolitano joined the Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) faculty at Daemen College as an Assistant Professor in October of 2018. Debbi previously was on faculty as an Associate Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Rochester School of Medicine where she still retains a Courtesy Clinical Associate Professor appointment. Debbi also continues to work with Hillside Family of Agencies supporting the behavioral programming in the Developmental Disabilities Department. Debbi obtained her Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Psychology/Behavior Analysis from the University of Kansas in 2000.

Debbi is widely published in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) and behavior analysis, with peer reviewed research publications in some of the field’s premier journals such as the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis and the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Debbi also serves as an Associate Editor for the Journal of Mental Health Research in Developmental Disabilities. Debbi’s research interests are in the areas of rigid and repetitive behavior in individuals with autism, drug and behavior interactions, applications of behavior analysis in child welfare, and the assessment and treatment of severe challenging behavior of persons with IDD. Her clinical interests are also in these areas, with additional focus on interprofessional collaboration and the interface between behavior therapy (e.g., Dialectical Behavior Therapy) and ABA for individuals with dual diagnosis of IDD and brain health concerns.

Debbi has spent a great deal of her career advocating for individuals with IDD, their families, and for the profession of Behavior Analysis. She currently serves on the Developmental Disabilities of Western New York/East (DDAWNY/East) family legislative committee and also serves on the Leadership Council for the National Council for Severe Autism. Debbi is currently the chair for the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA) legislative committee where she works towards appropriate credentialing in the state, and is the secretary for the Severe Challenging Behavior Special Interest Group of the International Association on the Scientific Study of Intellectual Disabilities (IASSID). Debbi also has previously served as President of the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis (NYSABA) and as a board member the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA) Board of Directors for the previous six years.

Executive Assistant

Christine (1)

Christine Brushie

Executive Assistant

Christine has more than 25 years experience as an Administrative and Executive Assistant.  Ms. Brushie is an alumnus of Gibbs College where she obtained an Associates Degree in Applied Science.  Christine has a background in many industries such as Finance, Manufacturing, Marketing, Healthcare and non-profit operations.  Christine has been a volunteer with Behavior Analyst Leadership Council (BALC) since 2017 supporting the organization’s events, communications, and website in addition to coordinating the BALC team of dedicated volunteers.

Please direct any administrative issues you have her way and she will be happy to help in any way possible.  You can contact Christine at cbrushie@balcllc.org.

Support Team

Melissa Danielson

Melissa Danielson

Membership Coordinator  –  Events Committee Member

Melissa Danielson is the Autism Intervention Coordinator and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst for Branford Public Schools.  In her role, she works to build vertical and horizontal alignment of educational programming for the districts most impacted learners, facilitating productive collaboration between general education and special education with the focus on equity of access and promotion of an inclusive student-centered community.

Melissa received her undergraduate degree in History and Education from St. Lawrence University, a master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in Autism Spectrum Disorders and Other Developmental Disabilities from Southern Connecticut State University and a Sixth Year Certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis from Southern Connecticut State University. Melissa is currently pursuing her second Sixth Year Certificate in Educational Leadership from Southern Connecticut State University.

Shaquana Cobbs

Shaquana Cobbs

Social Media Advisor  –  Events Committee Member

Shaquana Cobbs is a board certified behavior analyst and licensed behavior analyst in the state of Connecticut. She began working in the field of behavior analysis in 2014 providing ABA to students with autism. Shaquana received her undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in criminal justice from Southern Connecticut State University and a Master’s degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis from Kaplan university. Shaquana has plans to pursue a PhD in Educational Psychology in the near future.


Currently, Shaquana provides consultation services to adolescents and young adults with varying intellectual and developmental disabilities in both the school and home environments. In her role, she provides parent training, supervision to RBTs and ABA instructors, collaborates with case managers, mental health workers, and related services, plans, develops and monitors skill acquisition programs and behavior intervention plans for new and established clients. Her professional interest include providing trauma informed care from a behavior analytic prospective and using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy.

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