My autistic son started ABA therapy with Engage in the fall of 2010. He had never spoken a single word. After only two months of ABA with Engage, he spoke his first word: “Cookie.” He has not slowed down. He is now using multiple-word sentences, and his frustration has decreased with his ability to communicate. His therapist is amazing. She has helped him come so far, and continues to help him learn new things. She also helps us as parents by giving us tools to use on a daily basis. I am so amazed with how far my son has come, and he would not have come this far without his therapist and Engage.
Engage Behavioral Health Leadership
Our Engage team is led by experts in the science of Applied Behavior Analysis and Verbal Behavior. With more than 30 years of combined experience in the field, they understand how to work in concert with families, physicians and schools to help bring the puzzle pieces together.
Jennifer received her master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Florida State University, under the mentorship of Dr. John Bailey, Dr. Maxin Resis and Dr. Al Murphy. Prior to her completion of a master's degree, she received a bachelor's degree in psychology with a specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of South Florida.
Jennifer specializes in the assessment and treatment of severe problem behavior (e.g., self-injury, aggression, property destruction) exhibited by children and adults with developmental disabilities, and Applied Verbal Behavior programming for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has extensive experience working with individuals diagnosed with a variety of disorders in both clinical and outpatient settings, and has worked as a behavioral consultant for children and adolescents with ASDs, preschool-aged children deemed at risk for school failure, adults diagnosed with mental illness and developmental disabilities, as well as socially-emotionally disturbed (SED) adolescents.
In addition to starting Engage Behavioral Health, Jennifer has worked as Executive Director of Sydney's Academy and assisted in establishing the Applied Behavior Analysis program at All Childrens Hospital in St. Petersburg. She is committed to the demonstration of effective, outcome-based interventions for individuals with special needs and learning difficulties.
In addition to her clinical and administrative activities, Jennifer’s daily goal is to create a team of professionals who will provide a family centered approach to therapy, where everyone participates in therapy and learns.
Email Jennifer here.
Leigh received her Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of South Florida and her Bachelors in Psychology from the University of South Florida. She has been working with children with autism and related disabilities in family homes and in schools since 2004. Leigh has spent the majority of her time working with children with varying developmental disabilities, particularly with autism. Leigh’s experience lies in developing, implementing and monitoring verbal behavior programs, behavior reduction programs, and skill acquisition. She also has experience implementing ABA programs with students in school settings and in the community. Leigh enjoys teaching others how to teach in the natural environment and make sure that skills learned become real! Leigh strives to always go above and beyond for each of her clients and ensure that the whole family receives everything they need to be sucessful!
Email Leigh here.
Stephanie’s experience in this field began in 2005. During this time, she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a focus on Applied Behavior Analysis from Florida State University and her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of South Florida. Stephanie specializes in and enjoys working with children diagnosed with autism, as well as working within private and public schools and social skills programs. She has experience working with adolescents and adults who are diagnosed with a variety of disabilities, as well as working with typical-developing children and adolescents in group homes and foster care. Stephanie’s interests in the field include giving each child that she works with the tools and skills to live a healthy, meaningful life. She takes pleasure in working with the entire family to create and achieve goals that will not only benefit the child, but also benefit the lives of those around him or her.
Email Stephanie here.
Crystal received her bachelor's degree in psychology from Rhode Island College in 2003, and has been working with individuals with developmental disabilities ever since. During her internship, she saw the effects of how a good ABA program can make all the difference in the world in the life of a child. That is when she decided to make this her career. She completed the required courses for the specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis at Florida Institute of Technology and became board certified in 2008. She also has varied experience working as a therapist, behavior consultant and administrator for Sydney’s Academy. Crystal’s passion is helping children and their families reach their full potential using evidence-based practice in a caring, person-centered way.
Email Crystal here.
Gianna completed her Bachelors in Psychology and Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of South Florida. She has worked with individuals with autism and related disabilities for the past 6 years and has myriad experiences with training formats and settings. Her experience in providing direct instruction and naturalistic teaching strategies with children has occurred in family homes, schools, and within various community settings with the overarching goal of providing well rounded, child-centered learning environments focused on natural, developmental learning channels. Her specialty centers on children and adolescents. Gianna is committed to providing individualized services that meet the needs of each child and strives to make any environment a place for learning through interaction. She is driven by her passion to improve the quality of life for individuals with disabilities, and to help families become active facilitators of success for their children. The children she has impacted are a testament to her positive approach, which can be seen in their smiling faces and new voices, truly an indicator that small changes can make a major difference!
Email Gianna here.
Kristin received her bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of South Florida. She began working with children with autism and related disorders in 2006. Then, in 2009, she went back to the University of South Florida to receive a master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis. Kristin became an Associate Behavior Analyst in 2007, and then a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2010. Kristin has experience working with adults with autism, mental retardation and Prader-Willi syndrome in group homes and adult training centers. However, the majority of her experience has been in working with children ages 3-12 in-home and in schools. Her primary focuses with children have been social skills training, classroom inclusion, appropriate peer interactions, verbal behavior and ABLLS programming. Kristin enjoys teaching appropriate peer interaction, functional communication and play skills with children of all ages. She also enjoys teaching adolescents how to develop friendships and life skills.
Email Kristin here.
Krystal received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and her master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of South Florida, under the mentorship of Dr. Raymond Miltenberger. She has been working with individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASDs) since 2007. Krystal has extensive experience providing intensive early intervention services based on Applied Behavior Analysis for toddlers and young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities. She also has experience guiding families through the initial stages after their child receives a diagnosis. Krystal works closely with caregivers, as well as coordinates with other professionals in the child’s life to develop individualized treatment plans. Krystal’s goal is to discover the unique needs of each child and build on his or her strengths to teach new skills. She enjoys teaching children within their natural environment and embedding their goals into play. Krystal specializes in verbal behavior programming, social skills training, classroom inclusion techniques, video modeling, and caregiver training. She has provided services within the home, school, and community settings for children and adolescents diagnosed with ASDs and other developmental disabilities. In addition, she has assisted with research on Positive Behavior Support in early education inclusion classrooms, training parents on strategies to teach their children safety skills, and using video self-modeling to teach social skills to children diagnosed with ASDs. Krystal is most passionate about making learning FUN and providing a team approach, where everyone in the child’s life is actively involved in therapy.
Email Krystal here.
Dr. Zern is a licensed clinical psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She recently joined the Engage Behavioral Health team after completing her postdoctoral residency at Family Psychology Associates in Safety Harbor, Florida. Prior to moving to the Tampa Bay area, Dr. Zern completed her internship at the Dan Marino Center, at Miami Children’s Hospital.
She specializes in assessment and treatment of developmental and behavioral disorders in children and adolescents, including autism spectrum disorders, anxiety, ADHD, Tourette Syndrome, and feeding disorders. Dr. Zern is also experienced in Applied Behavior Analysis, and has extensive experience in providing therapy in a variety of settings (i.e., in the home, at school, and/or daycare) in order to generalize skills to the natural environment.
Specialized services provided by Dr. Zern include:
- Developmental evaluations, including autism spectrum disorders (ADOS and ADI-R)
- Psychoeducational assessment
- Learning disorders
- Gifted placement
- Applied Behavior Analysis
- Cognitive Behavior Therapy
- Parenting skills and Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT)
- Family therapy
- Consultation with other professionals
- Habit reversal
- Anxiety reduction
- Social skills
- Parent support
- Sibling support
Email Dr. Zern here.
Mary Kate received her master's degree in psychology, specialty in Applied Behavior Analysis, from Florida State University, under the mentorship of Dr. Jon Bailey and Dr. Al Murphy. She became a BCaBA in 2001 while completing graduate school. In 2002, upon completion of her master’s degree, she became a BCBA and has worked with children and adults with autism and related disabilities in family homes, group homes and schools.
Mary Kate has extensive experience providing intensive early intervention services based on Applied Behavior Analysis for toddlers and young children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other developmental disabilities. Mary Kate’s experience lies in developing, implementing and monitoring verbal behavior programs, behavior reduction programs and daily living skills. She also has experience implementing ABA programs with students in school settings and in the community. She specializes in developing and writing verbal behavior programs and training staff and caregivers in proper implementation.
Mary Kate enjoys teaching others how to incorporate goals into the natural environment through play and day-to-day activities to promote generalization and to make learning fun and exciting. Mary Kate enjoys working with the parents and figuring out, as a team, the best plan for that particular family. As a parent of two children with autism, she truly understands the importance of the entire family playing a role in the treatment plan and each member being actively involved.
At Engage, our therapists are passionate about your child’s development. Engage hires board certified staff, those completing practicum hours to become board certified and those wanting to apply to certifcation programs or programs in a related field. Click the names below to meet our team through their LinkedIn profiles.