Early Intervention Program
Executive Director, Patricia (Tricia) Neuenschwander, RN, BSN
Creating Brighter Futures was founded by Program Director, Patricia (Tricia) Neuenschwander, RN, BSN. Tricia has been managing an integrative medical practice since 2007. Her goals for Creating Brighter Futures are to provide outstanding services and ensure that each child receives comprehensive, appropriate care based on his or her individual needs. She strives to increase the quality of life for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders by teaching developmental skills using evidence-based behavior intervention. She oversees the business operations, ensuring high quality staff performance and the development of new and existing programs to better meet current and future needs. Her background is predominately in emergency room nursing, where she worked for over 19 years. She graduated from Schoolcraft College with an Associate Degree in Nursing in 1994 and earned a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from Regis University in 2006. Currently she is earning her Master’s degree in the Pediatric Nurse Practitioner program at Wayne State University. Her passion lies in promoting the health of children allowing them to reach their maximum potential. Tricia states, “I want to combine my background in nursing, my love for children, and my desire to help those vulnerable with ASD and related behavioral disorders.”
Clinical Director, Jessica Irish, M.A., Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Jessica Irish, M.A., BCBA, has been working with individuals with behavior needs since 2007. Jessica graduated from Eastern Michigan University with a Bachelor of Science in 2006, and Western Michigan University with a Masters of Arts in 2008. She received her BCBA in October of 2008. Jessica was previously the Clinical Director of an ABA center in SE Michigan, where she conducted comprehensive assessments, provided daily monitoring of academic curriculum and behavioral intervention plans, coordinated therapy objectives with families and related therapists, including SLP, OT, and PT. Jessica also worked as a Language Facilitator where she trained and supervised therapists on Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and PECS implementation.
Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Deanna Coker, M.A., Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Deanna has worked with individuals, children and adults, with autism and developmental disabilities in the community setting for the last 7 years. She graduated from Western Michigan University in 2008 with my Master’s Degree in Psychology, with a concentration in ABA. Her passion to work with children diagnosed with autism happened when she was assigned to a research project during her undergraduate senior year that interviewed young adults with special needs in a local high school. The interview consisted of questions regarding perceptions of their education so far, their home life, and their self-image. Many of the students rated their education and self-image very low. Since that humbling experience, Deanna has wanted to help children with special needs get a better start in life in the hopes of making their lives better.
Program Coordinator, Connie Combs
Connie Combs studied Early Childhood Education and Special Education at Texas Women’s University and Harding University in Searcy Arkansas. After college she moved throughout the Midwest, finally landing for some time in Denver Colorado. Here she worked for the Denver public school system as a teacher in a blended early-on classroom. DPS is where she received her first exposure and training in ABA. Through the years she worked in private home ABA and raised her three children, who are now teenagers. Connie was excited to bring her naturalistic style of teaching and play therapy to the team when she started working for Jessica in 2010. She has been fortunate to have received training by the area’s top SLP’s, and enjoys parent and staff training in the areas of developmental milestones and technique. Connie currently resides in Livonia with her son and two daughters where she spends her free time enjoying gardening, hiking with her dog and searching for the perfect children’s book.
Case Manager, Nicole Weston Finkbeiner
Nicole grew up in Davison, Michigan, a little town right next to Flint. She discovered her love for teaching when she was very young, babysitting for extra money in the summertime. At sixteen, she began working at a local daycare. Nicole worked there on and off for six years and absolutely loved it. She started my B.S. at Saginaw Valley State University in clinical psychology with the intentions of focusing on elementary counseling. During her sophomore year, she moved to the University of Michigan-Flint and finished her degree. Nicole did her internship at a crisis home performing mileau therapy with adults in crisis. After her internship was over she moved to Ann Arbor in hopes of joining the master’s program at University of Michigan. After working at a traumatic brain injury facility for a year, she discovered Creating Brighter Futures and joined our team of ABA therapists.
Case Manager, Adam Pacheco
Adam graduated from Grand Valley State University in 2013 with a B.S. in psychology. He has experience with both children and adults on the spectrum. Before Creating Brighter Futures, he worked with adults in a residential setting. Outside of work, he also practiced both home- and center-based therapy. He played soccer throughout his childhood and also coached a children’s soccer team in his spare time. Adam spends most of his free time with family and friends.
Case Manager, Hillary Watson
Hillary joined the CBF team in December. She graduated from Western Michigan University in 2010 with a Bachelor’s in Psychology. Her first job out of school was at a crisis help line. After this, she worked at a facility for patients with traumatic brain injuries where she learned many techniques for helping those with disabilities. In her free time, Hillary likes to spend time with family and friends.
Case Manager, Rachael Connolly
Rachael is a native Michigander but has lived in both Colorado and California. The last ten years she resided in Sacramento where she attended Laguna Creek High School and college. She earned her credentials in personal training, nutrition and was working on her bachelors in Kinesiology. While working in personal training and going to school part time she worked full time as a Behavioral Therapist. For two years Rachael ran social groups for both boys and girls ranging from 5-18 years old and also worked one on one doing in home therapy. With a new found love for teaching children Rachael has changed her major to Mental Health and Social work. She is very excited to be apart of the Creating Brighter Futures team while finishing up school. In her spare time she loves traveling, going back to Sacramento to visit her family and loves trail running and marathons.
Case Manager, Karen Finch
Karen is currently working for her bachelor’s degree in Public Health with a concentration in Health Administration at Eastern Michigan University (EMU). Through finding her passion for working in the field of autism she aspires to continue her education to achieve her master’s in autism at EMU. She grew up in Michigan and has two siblings. One, which has disabilities, this allowed her at a young age to recognize her love to help young and older individuals with special needs. Previously, she worked with college students on the spectrum at EMU and was a caregiver for an autistic child for a couple years. She also has several years of experience with children off the spectrum. Outside of school and work she loves to travel and discover new places in Michigan.
Behavior Technician, Tyler Karr
Tyler is still currently working towards graduating from the University of Michigan-Flint with a Bachelor’s of Science in Applied Psychology. This was his first job working with children, however he has always enjoyed children and is ecstatic to finally work with children. Tyler has an older sister on the spectrum, which is one of the reasons for his love of psychology. With his free time, Tyler likes to spend time with his family and friends, traveling, and scuba diving.
Behavior Technician, Keri Gutekunst
Keri was born and raised in Dearborn, Michigan, where she still currently resides with her twin daughters. She attended Western Michigan University, where she studied both Psychology and German, and was introduced to early intervention ABA for children with autism spectrum disorders. She graduated with her BS in Psychology in 2008, and has recently returned to WMU as a graduate student to pursue her Masters degree in Behavior Analysis. She is currently preparing and plans to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in the Spring of 2017. In her free time, Keri enjoys music, movies, and spending quality time with her children.
Behavior Technician, Stefanie Scott
Stefanie was born and raised in Minnesota and moved to Michigan in 2014. She has a background in human development and family studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She obtained her RBT (registered behavior technician) certification from the behavior analysis certification board in December 2015. Stefanie is currently enrolled in coursework through Florida Institute of Technology to pursue certification as a BCaBA. While most of her previous ABA experience has been providing in home therapy, she is excited to work in a collaborative, center based program. In her free time, Stefanie enjoys cooking vegetarian dishes, exploring the outdoors, and cheering on the Minnesota Twins.
Behavior Technician, Keren Flores
Keren is from Honolulu, HI but moved to Michigan to attend Eastern Michigan University where she’s studying Psychology and Sociology. Keren has always loved working with children and has experience with children of all ages, on and off the spectrum. She’s really excited to be a part of the Creating Brighter Futures family. On her spare time, Keren loves listening to her records, watching movies and exploring new coffee shops.
Behavior Technician, Mara Calabrese
Mara graduated from Eastern Michigan University in 2013 with a Bachelor of Science in Therapeutic Recreation. She has provided Recreation Therapy to adults with traumatic brain injuries in a long term care and rehabilitation center, and to children with developmental disabilities within a home based company. Mara’s true passion is working with children who have special needs. She is excited to have joined the CBF team in July of 2016 to learn more about ABA therapy as a Behavior Technician. Mara is currently applying to graduate school for Occupational Therapy and hopes to continue working with children in the future. Outside of work, Mara enjoys staying active and especially loves running.
Behavior Technician, Storm Pagan
Storm Pagan (soon to be Storm Caryl) grew up in Brooklyn, Michigan and attended Central Michigan University. Storm graduated with a Bachelors of Science in Psychology. Her entire work background is circled around children. She loves what she does, and is currently seeking a graduate degree in professional counseling.
Behavior Technician, Erin Huffnagle
Erin graduated from the University of Michigan- Ann Arbor in 2014 with a B.A. in Linguistics. After college, she spent a year in Americorps, doing service work along the west coast. While applying to graduate school, she lived in sunny San Diego, working at a school for kids with special needs. She is currently going back to school at Eastern Michigan, pursuing her Masters in Speech Language Pathology. Erin has a lot of prior experience working with kids with autism, and hopes to continue working with kids upon receiving her Masters. In her free time, she likes to camp, hike, and be around friends and family.