Meet Our Trainees
Alycia Clark is a pediatric physical therapist, working for Easterseals. She currently works in the early intervention setting, contracting with the local regional center, and in the school based setting, working with a couple districts in the greater Sacramento area. She graduated from University of the Pacific with her Doctorate in Physical Therapy and from UC Davis with her Bachelor of Science in Exercise Biology. Her professional interests include understanding early motor development, enhancing evidence based interventions for individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and strengthening developmental assessment processes. She is incredibly excited for the opportunity to be a part of the LEND program and expand her knowledge with evidence based practices to better support the families and students she works alongside.
Shereen Cohen is a Postdoctoral Fellow in the LEND program at the UC Davis MIND Institute. She earned her B.S. in Psychology from UC San Diego, her M.A. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa, and her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UC Santa Barbara. Shereen initially discovered her passion for working with individuals affected by ASD when conducting research at UCSD in 2009. She has worked with individuals and families impacted by ASD in a wide variety of contexts and has served individuals with ASD of all ages and ability levels. She strongly believes that neurotypical people can learn just as much from people on the spectrum as people on the spectrum are expected to learn from neurotypicals. Her mission is to support adolescents and adults with ASD, as well as parents and siblings of individuals with ASD, in reaching their personal goals and potentials. She hopes to bridge gaps in services and interpersonal communication in order to help build happy and successful families.
Abirami Duraiswamy or Abi (pronounced Abby), A mom of a 17 years old boy on the autism spectrum, autism as defined my adulthood more than anything else. Overcoming the challenges of autism could feel as simple as connecting a few dots on a piece of paper or challenging and exciting as connecting the dots in the sky. Either way, it is an experience. I am thrilled to be a part of the LEND team and hoping I would be able to contribute by sharing my experience and knowledge to this inter disciplinary team.
My name is Jamie Holmes. I have been a special education teacher for 17 years. I have worked at many schools across the Sonoma County and greater Sacramento areas. My interest in Autism began when I took a training in order to fulfill one of my credential requirements. I have focused the last 7 years of my career in the field as a teacher, mentor, and advocate.
Marissa Montejano graduated with her master’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences from Portland State University in 2020. Previous to that, she completed her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences in 2012 from Portland State University, where she then worked as a synchronized swimming coach while pursuing research interests specifically in the area of autism before starting her master’s program. Marissa’s interest in working with children on spectrum began while as a camp counselor at various day and overnight camps in Oregon. Since then, she has continued working with children on the spectrum not only in research, but in various school and clinical settings, including time in Ecuador where she also continued to grow her Spanish language skills. Her professional interests include social communication, feeding/swallowing disorders, language development and prelinguistic communication, and speech sound disorders. As a clinician, Marissa values providing culturally competent and outstanding family-centered care to her families.
JoAnn Park is originally from the Midwest but medical school brought her out to California. She completed her General Adult Psychiatry residency at UC Davis and remained here to continue her training in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry. She is excited to participate in the LEND program and hopes to expand her knowledge on Neurodevelopmental Disorders in order to provide better care to her patients and their families.
A Masters Candidate at University California, Davis in Public Health, Ms. Pazdral has a history of leadership in government and public agencies. Earlier in her career, she provided direct services to people with disabilities. She lives in Davis with her husband and tween daughter.
Sarah Vejnoska is a doctoral student in the LEND program at UC Davis pursuing her degree in developmental psychology. She received her master’s in psychology from Davis in 2017. Sarah has been a graduate student researcher at the UC Davis MIND Institute since 2015 working on community-based intervention research as part of the Collaborative START Lab. Her research interests include the dissemination of evidence-based practices to under-served populations with autism spectrum disorder and intervention implementation.
Yue Yu graduated with her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at IUPUI and completed her internship training at MUSC, South Carolina. Her clinical and research interests include working with children with autism spectrum disorder and their families, particularly psychosocial outcomes in parents of children with ASD. She is also interested in and will be working on dissemination and implementation of evidence-based interventions for ASD.
Medium/Advanced Medium-Term Trainees
Lupe Alonzo-Diaz serves as the President & CEO of Physicians for a Healthy California (PHC) as well as the Vice President of Continuing Medical Education for the California Medical Association where she provides leadership with the goal of increasing access to care in underserved communities. She has held various leadership roles within the state of California including Deputy Director of Administration for the Department of State Hospitals as well as acting Chief Deputy Director and Deputy Director of Healthcare Workforce Development for the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Lupe earned a master’s degree in Public Affairs from the University of Texas at Austin and a bachelor’s degree in political economy and history from the University of California at Berkeley. Her pursuit of equitable access to services for children and families with special needs drives her passion and commitment.
Jhellies Banaag first took interest in Psychology around 2011 during her undergraduate studies. After beginning her studies, she sought an internship where she stumbled upon an ABA company and began her journey working with children diagnosed with ASD and other related disorders in 2015 as a Registered Behavior Technician. Since then, Jhellies has navigated through her career in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis to becoming a Behavior Specialist, BCaBA and now a BCBA. She completed her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology at Sacramento State University and completed her Masters of Science degree in Psychology at Purdue Global University Global with an emphasis in ABA. Jhellies has completed research with Dr. Penrod and Dr. Miguel at CSUS and at UC Davis MIND Institute. Over the years, she has engaged in a variety of research projects related to neurodevelopmental disorders and continues her clinical practice with ABA in the home, community and clinical settings. She shares a strong passion for working closely with families and team members in enhancing the lives and quality of treatment to those effected by neurodevelopmental disabilities and disorders.
Viviana Barnwell is a linguist, a lawyer, and a ESL specialist who has devoted the past few years to support, train, and advocate for families of children with special needs in the Bay Area, especially immigrant Spanish speaking families. Her passion and commitment to the cause comes from the fact that she is herself the parent of a child with multiple neurological conditions, including ASD. She feels grateful for being part of LEND and plans to use all the skills and knowledge she will acquire through the program, to continue working in the area of neurodevelopmental disabilities advocating for the children's and the families' needs.
Tamara Barthel is a retired executive from the high-tech industry who has turned her attention and energy to developing and delivering programs benefiting youth and young adults on the autism spectrum. She is a certified youth coach and mentor specializing in evidence-based, clinically proven, life, education, career, commitment and motivational coaching for teens and adults on the autism spectrum and their families. Tamara is the mother of an autistic son in his mid-twenties and step mother to 4 neuro-diverse teens and adults.
Juliana Baumgartner graduated from Sonoma State University with a degree in Psychology with an emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorders. While working primarily with adults with disabilities in Day Service programs as a curriculum and program developer, she has also trained law enforcement personnel on Disability Awareness during crisis interventions. She is passionate about addressing social barriers faced by individuals with disabilities as well as the interplay between disability and mental health supports. She wishes to continue to support and address the needs of adults with disabilities particularly in areas of crisis management and emergency response.
Jennifer Bullen is a PhD student in Human Development working with Dr. Peter Mundy. Her areas of interest include understanding mathematical learning and dyscalculia in students with autism and/or ADHD, and how we can create better educational interventions, services, and curriculums through understanding how children learn. She is grateful for the opportunity to participate in LEND.
Jonathan Bystrynski is a clinical/community psychology doctoral student at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. He is current completing his predoctoral psychology internship at the MIND Institute and the UC Davis CAARE Center. His clinical and research interests are focused on providing evidence-based trauma services for children with neurodevelopmental disabilities.
Swaranjit Gill is board certified as a Family Nurse Practitioner. He has passed board certification examination for psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner. Recently, he has obtained a doctorate in nursing practice (DNP) from Fresno State University, California and certificate in autistic spectrum disorder from University of Davis, California. For the last 3.75 years, he has been working as a psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at Madera County Behavioral Health Services, Madera, California where he can incorporate his leadership skills to provide care to clients with neurodevelopmental and related disabilities.
Jaewon Jun is pleased to participate in the LEND program in 2020-21. As a mother with a high functional teen with ASD, a parent coach and a researcher in related veterinary neuro-developments in S. Korea, her interest includes cultural competency and evidence-based research for disabilities through the LEND program. She is so grateful for this opportunity to learn with MIND staff and other trainees and to expand her knowledge for other families to support.
Max Kardos is a doctoral student pursuing his PsyD in Clinical Psychology at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, CA. He is focusing his clinical work on children and families who have suffered trauma in the past. His dissertation is an analysis of how fathers of young children think and feel about play with their kids. He has trained in a variety of settings with both adults and children. He has worked with children and adolescents in a forensic setting, on an inpatient psychiatric ward and at a low-income family therapy clinic. Additionally, he has provided therapy to adults with severe trauma and mental health disorders in an intensive outpatient clinic and currently works with older adults via telehealth since the COVID pandemic began. He has joined LEND to learn more about Autism Spectrum disorders and neuro developmental disabilities and how to provide accurate assessment, treatment and support for patients and their families.
My name is Lourdes Marizcal and I graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. I am interested in investigating how empirical cognitive and social developmental research can be applied to best serve children who have neurodevelopmental disabilities and come from underserved populations. I have two siblings with autism and am excited to join the LEND program because I know that I will have many opportunities to learn how to best serve and advocate for people with neurodevelopmental disabilities and their families.
Chandni Parikh is a postdoctoral fellow at the UC Davis MIND Institute. She received her Ph.D. in Family Studies and Human Development from the University of Arizona and her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. She is currently pursuing re-specialization of her doctoral degree to Clinical Psychology for the long-term career goal of becoming a licensed psychologist. Her research and clinical interests include understanding neurodevelopmental disorders in very young children with an emphasis on assessment, screening, diagnosis, and early identification of neurodevelopmental disorders.
I am a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. Over the past few years, I have enjoyed working in a High Risk Infant Follow-up program. I am also pursuing my Doctorate of Nursing Practice degree at UC San Francisco. I plan to focus my studies and future career in Developmental Pediatrics.
Ursula Stallworth is a graduate student at Liberty University currently looking to fulfill her last required course under Preceptorship/Practicum. At which time she will be a receiving a degree completion of a Masters of Public Health specializing in Health Promotion. She is passionate about working with children with various types of neurogenic disorders that negatively affect their attempts for academic success. She currently works as a Special Educator/Case Manager and CST(Cranial Sacral Therapist) to provide somatic emotional release for children with ASD, ADHD, and Traumas within a Northern California School District.
I’m a Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics (DBP) fellow at UC Davis MIND Institute. Prior to fellowship, I worked as a general pediatrician at Highland Wellness, a community clinic in Oakland. I am a Bay Area native, and I love my community. I saw a huge gap in our mental health services and knew I needed DBP fellowship training to best serve my community.
Hello! My name is Kelly Torbet and I am an aspiring pediatric nurse. My goal as a health-care professional is to minimize the traumatic effects of hospitalization for pediatric patients with developmental disabilities and co-morbid psychiatric disorders. I do this with an informed model of care including developmental theory, age appropriate play, and therapeutic interventions. I plan to attend a Masters Entry Program into Nursing in 2021 to become a pediatric nurse informed by Child Life theory. I volunteered with the Child Life department at the UC Davis Medical Center for over a year before completing my Child Life practicum program this summer.
My name is Thao Tran. I am a doctoral prepared nurse practitioner specializing in ambulatory care and family care. My professional areas of interest are in special education, trauma and mental health in children and adults with developmental disabilities, palliative care, and advocacy with respect to improved housing conditions, better access to health services, increased special education funding, and improved training for providers to recognize mental health among those with developmental disabilities. I am driven to improve health and life outcomes for those affected by a developmental disability.
Dr. Alicia Valero-Kerrick is a School Psychologist for Elk Grove Unified School District serving preschool students. She received her Ph.D. in Education from the University of California, Davis. Dr. Valero-Kerrick previously taught child development courses for the College of Education at California State University, Sacramento. As an Educational Consultant, she worked with early childhood educators to create preschool optimal learning environments for culturally and linguistically diverse learners. Her current areas of interest include social communication in ASD and multidisciplinary evaluation of ASD/NDD.
Kristen Wallman is a second year Master of Social Work graduate student. She has an MA in Sociology and has spent the last 17 years parenting two neurodiverse children. As a parent of pre-school children, Kristen became a community organizer and an “accidental advocate” for her children and others, later serving on the school board in her community and as an elected member of her state’s Legislative Assembly. She has written and passed state policy supporting individuals and families on the autism spectrum and co-founded the Red-River Valley Autism Network, which provides community education and support for individuals and families impacted by ASD. Her clinical and research interests include identifying and reducing barriers to support for families. She is particularly interested in supporting families who are multi-generationally neurodivergent.