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 10 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 at Texas Woman’s University and Harding University. After college, she has enjoyed over 20 years working with special needs preschoolers and their families in public school, home therapy and private therapy. Connie enjoys finding and adapting interesting and engaging activities, songs, group games and programs for the children of CBF. She also enjoys parent advocacy and staff coordination and development. She currently lives in Livonia with her three children.
Rachel Prokop, Speech Language Pathologist
Rachel is a Speech Language Pathologist who grew up in Livonia, Michigan. She graduated from Central Michigan University in 2014 with her Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in American Sign Language; she then went on to graduate from Miami University in Ohio in 2016 with her Master’s Degree in Speech Pathology. Rachel always knew she wanted to work with children which is what led her to pursue speech pathology. The majority of her experience has been in outpatient settings. She enjoys watching TV, learning new languages, traveling, spending time with family and friends, ice skating, watching baseball (Go Tigers!), puzzles, and being outside.
Case Manager, Hillary Watson
Hillary joined the CBF team in December, 2016. 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, 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, Rachel Rhodes
Rachel grew up in Canton, Michigan and is currently living in Ypsilanti, Michigan. She currently attends Eastern Michigan University in pursuit of a degree in Elementary Education. Rachel worked with children at Northern Michigan University for three years before joining the team at CBF. She is excited to work with a variety of children to further her capabilities in education. Outside of work and school, Rachel enjoys hiking, watching the sunset, snuggling with her dogs, and going on adventures with friends.
Behavior Technician, Heather Rice
Heather is a recent graduate from Grand Valley State University with a bachelor’s in psychology. She has always has a strong passion for working in the mental health field and enriching the lives of children. She hopes to further her education at a master’s level in social work in the near future. In her free time, Heather enjoys spending time with friends and family and being active.
Behavior Technician, Cassie Whiting
Cassie recently graduated with her bachelor’s in Psychology from Eastern Michigan University. She has over a year and a half of experience as an autism technician and will be attending grad school to pursue a career in adolescent psychotherapy.
Behavior Technician, Danielle Hart
Danielle is currently attending Baker College of Jackson working towards receiving her bachelor’s degree in Human Services. After Danielle receives her bachelor’s degree she plans to apply to graduate school for Social Work. Danielle has always had a strong passion for children, and is very excited to be a part of the CBF team. In her free time, Danielle loves to spend time with her family and friends.
Behavior Technician, Victoria O’Brien
Victoria is a soon to be graduate of Eastern Michigan University, where she will receive her Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. She has always wanted to work with people with special needs, and this is her first experience working with children with Autism. She is very excited to have joined the CBF team to expand her knowledge on ASD. She is interested in furthering her education in Psychology by applying to graduate school in the near future. In her free time, Victoria enjoys spending time with family and friends and traveling.
Behavior Technician, Kasey Cailkins
Kasey is a recent graduate from Central Michigan University with a bachelor’s in communication disorders and psychology. She has always had a desire to work with and improve the lives of children. She was recently accepted to Eastern Michigan University Masters program for Speech-Language Pathology to pursue her goal to become a speech pathologist. In her free time, Kasey enjoys spending time with her family, reading, and traveling.
Behavior Technician, Jason Giraud
Jason graduated in 2017 from the University of Michigan-Dearborn with a Bachelor’s in psychology. His past work experience has included supervising and caring for children as a camp lifeguard and recreational staff member. Prior to working at CBF he worked in a Detroit ABA center with young children. He has always enjoyed the joy children express when they discover they can learn a new skill and he is happy to witness it everyday at CBF. Jason is looking to further his education in a doctoral program in clinical psychology research.