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LAC Blog

All posts by Allison Gonyon

Lighthouse Families First Foundation Donates $10,000 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

In honor of Lighthouse Autism Center’s 10-year anniversary, the Lighthouse Families First Foundation has donated $10,000 to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. This Foundation was selected by the Lighthouse staff, who place a great value on mental health and suicide prevention.

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) has a mission to save lives and bring hope to those affected by suicide. Established in 1987, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) is a voluntary health organization that gives those affected by suicide a nationwide community empowered by research, education, and advocacy to act against this leading cause of death.

AFSP is dedicated to saving lives and bringing hope to those affected by suicide.  AFSP creates a culture that is smart about mental health by engaging in the following core strategies:

  • Funding scientific research
  • Educating the public about mental health and suicide prevention
  • Advocating for public policies in mental health and suicide prevention
  • Supporting survivors of suicide loss and those affected by suicide

Led by CEO Robert Gebbia and headquartered in New York, and with a public policy office in Washington, D.C., AFSP has local chapters in all 50 states with programs and events nationwide. AFSP celebrates 30 years of service to the suicide prevention movement.

May is also Mental Health  Awareness Month. AFSP has provided Lighthouse Autism Center with resources for the staff as well as coloring activities for the centers.

On May 21, 2012, Lighthouse Autism Center opened its very first center in Mishawaka, Indiana. With a handful of clients and a small team of clinicians, we began providing ABA (Applied Behavior Analysis) therapy services to the Michiana community.

Over the past ten years, Lighthouse has grown into a leading center-based provider of ABA therapy for children on the autism spectrum, with a network of centers across Indiana, southwestern Michigan, and Illinois. As the largest ABA provider in the state of Indiana, Lighthouse has a reputation for bringing together compassionate care with clinical excellence, with autism therapy programs supported by a beautiful play-based environment that supports the best possible outcomes for children with autism.  To think that Lighthouse started with just one center and has now grown to over twenty centers is truly incredible.

Lighthouse Families First Foundation was founded by Gregg and Sandy Maggioli in 2014 with the mission of providing financial assistance to special needs families in need of support. The foundation gives back in various ways such as purchasing communication devices and software for non-verbal children, providing gas cards and grocery store gift cards to families in need, and so much more!

To learn more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, visit: Real stories | AFSP

Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Leila Allen

In May of 2022, Lighthouse Autism Center is celebrating 10 years of business. This would not be possible without our tenured staff. These individuals helped build a strong foundation for Lighthouse Autism Center and continue to bring compassion and expertise every day! They have paved a path for an inspiring future of endless growth and possibilities. They have brought hope into our communities and homes. They have unlocked a world of unlimited potential. Thank you for being such a significant piece to our puzzle and for embracing Lighthouse Autism Center’s core values every day!

Meet Leila Allen

About Leila

Leila is the Chief Clinical Officer at Lighthouse Autism Center. Her prior role at Lighthouse was a Clinical Director. Leila is a dog mom and enjoys hanging out with friends and family. She loves tacos, sushi, and coffee. A unique skill that Leila has is that she can speak a little Farsi and a decent amount of French.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?
Before Lighthouse, as a BCBA, I was working with teenagers & adults in a school, day programs, and inpatient care in Chicago. Before that, I was at an ABA center in the Indy area.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?
Gregg convinced me it would be a place where BCBAs had a voice in how the company would run and I stayed because he kept his word.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?
Other than stuff with kids, our first few Christmas parties where we were all in the same place. Also, so many great memories from Edison when we first started, it was crazy and busy, but wearing so many hats always made for memories, from Gregg being our plumber, to his mom picking out our paint colors, to the leak in my office ceiling, there are way too many to list!

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?
I moved here for Lighthouse and have stayed here for Lighthouse!

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?
Being able to impact families in a positive way, support them through this process, and see our kiddos succeed!

What does Lighthouse mean to you?
That’s simple—being able to have a positive impact on families, like the therapists that worked with my brother did on my family. Support does not always have to come from family, often it’s the village you surround yourself with and we get to be that village for our kiddos and their families.

Which of the LAC Values do you most identify with?
Be yourself. I think this runs throughout Lighthouse, not just as an employee and how we want to look at our teams, but also our kiddos.

What is your favorite change/improvement you have experienced in your time at Lighthouse?
Being able to service so many kids in different areas.

What advice would you give to perspective or new employees?
Just apply! All it takes is one day to fall in love with these kiddos.

To learn more about career opportunities at Lighthouse Autism Center, visit our career page at: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/jobs/

Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Melissa Williams

In May of 2022, Lighthouse Autism Center is celebrating 10 years of business. This would not be possible without our tenured staff. These individuals helped build a strong foundation for Lighthouse Autism Center and continue to bring compassion and expertise every day! They have paved a path for an inspiring future of endless growth and possibilities. They have brought hope into our communities and homes. They have unlocked a world of unlimited potential. Thank you for being such a significant piece to our puzzle and for embracing Lighthouse Autism Center’s core values every day!

Meet Melissa Williams

About Melissa

Melissa is a Family Outreach Coordinator at Lighthouse Autism Center. Her prior roles at Lighthouse include Registered Behavior Therapist and Senior Therapist. Melissa enjoys baking and cooking. She loves Cake Bake Lemon cake, and her favorite animal is an elephant. She likes rainbow Tie-dye and is a good singer but does not enjoy singing for others. Melissa used to be a performing belly dancer for fairs, festivals, and special events and was once the centerpiece for a sword performance where she danced and balanced a large sword over her head.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?
Before working in ABA, I spent much of my time working in Elementary Education for PHM’s Kindergarten Program. I also did work through college and following PHM in Social Work with Children and Adolescents with Mental Illness and those in the Juvenile Court System.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?
While working for PHM as a Program Assistant, I fell in love with working with kids with special needs. I spent a lot of my spare time researching and developing programming with my resource teacher to better serve the students in my care. A few co-workers chatted about a new ABA center in town ran by Gregg and Sandy. They insisted that I look into applying and felt like it would set me up for a lot of growth within my current skillset. There was just something that set LAC apart from other ABA centers popping up around town, and I just felt like I needed to be part of it.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?
I have SO many. The most impactful would be when a nervous parent dropped her son off for his first day. I told her he was in good hands and with people who were going to fall head over heels for him. She then told me she felt like she found “The light at the end of her tunnel.” That was a HUGE pivoting moment in my career with LAC. It opened my eyes to the level of importance of what we do and the impact we have on families.

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?
I feel like Lighthouse has invested in not only myself, but my family. The COVID-19 pandemic was a very trying time for our family. When the pandemic hit and the world was shutting down, my husband’s company was trying its best to keep its head above water. The company went from over 50 employees, down to 5… Those 5 also had to sacrifice much of their jobs to keep things moving. Mike and I had emotional conversations we thought we would never have to have… We worried about keeping a roof over our head, providing for our son, and the “What Ifs” as we found out we were expecting a new baby. The one constant during this time was LAC. They continued to support our family the best they could. They didn’t turn away from our needs when things became too difficult. They continued to support my husband’s company by ordering masks and additional apparel, keeping a local business afloat. I felt like LAC valued me as an important piece of the company, not just a number like many other companies were doing around us.

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?
I love seeing families flourish while receiving services and now being that first person to get them moving in the right direction. I also love witnessing therapists making breakthroughs with our kids. I love seeing the “Ah ha” moments when therapists realize why they are here and why THEY are important.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?
It all comes back to “being the light at the end of the tunnel.” I feel amazing being a light in this community. I feel proud of who we are and what we do. Very few people can say that about their job, and I feel fortunate to be one of the lucky few.

Which of the LAC Values do you most identify with?
Care about people more than anything.

What is your favorite change/improvement you have experienced in your time at Lighthouse?
The most exciting change has been the transition to Lighthouse Fusion! It has been wonderful to see the centers be remodeled to a fun and immersive environment that you can immediately witness our students become fully engaged with. The response from families viewing the center speaks for itself. Every tour has been blown away and always expresses how much their child needs what we do at Lighthouse Autism Center.

What advice would you give to perspective or new employees?
If you invest in Lighthouse, Lighthouse will invest in you in return. If you believe in what we do, and bring your best to serve those around you, the company will recognize and serve your efforts in return.

To learn more about career opportunities at Lighthouse Autism Center, visit our career page at: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/jobs/

Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Maggie Gendel

In May of 2022, Lighthouse Autism Center is celebrating 10 years of business. This would not be possible without our tenured staff. These individuals helped build a strong foundation for Lighthouse Autism Center and continue to bring compassion and expertise every day! They have paved a path for an inspiring future of endless growth and possibilities. They have brought hope into our communities and homes. They have unlocked a world of unlimited potential. Thank you for being such a significant piece to our puzzle and for embracing Lighthouse Autism Center’s core values every day!

Meet Maggie Gendel

About Maggie

Maggie is the Senior Director of Business Development at Lighthouse Autism Center. Her prior roles at Lighthouse include Receptionist, followed by Executive Assistant. Maggie loves spending time with her family and traveling. She has been to 20 countries and 5 continents. Maggie’s unique skill is having an eye for finding sea glass at the beach. Almost every beach trip she has taken, she has found a piece of sea glass.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?
I graduated with a degree in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University. My first job before joining Lighthouse in 2014 was as a direct support associate with adults who have autism. I’ve also worked at the University of Notre Dame in their Development Department.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?
I wanted to work somewhere where I felt like I made a difference. My first job prior to Lighthouse was working as a direct support associate for adults with autism. I loved that job. Lighthouse provided me an opportunity to take the next step in my career while still being connected to a mission I was passionate about.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?
When I first started at Lighthouse, I loved sitting at the front desk. I was in the heart of the center and had a front row seat to the kids playing in the playroom. There was even one boy that used to work to come and see me and it was the best the feeling!

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?
Lighthouse has changed my life in immeasurable ways. The biggest way though is investing in my professional growth. Lighthouse has provided me with opportunities to refine my skills, expand on those skills, and has challenged me to try new things. I’m grateful for the opportunities Lighthouse has provided to continue to develop professionally in my career.

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?
The people. I can honestly say I genuinely like every single person I work with. With a mission like ours, it’s hard not to attract just downright good people. And you feel that when you’re here. It’s a joy to come to work every day, not only because I love working for Lighthouse, but I enjoy the people I work with.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?
Lighthouse for me means being part of something that is bigger than myself.

Which of the LAC Values do you most identify with?
Give away credit. It’s so important to lift each other up. It truly takes a village for us to pursue our mission and it’s important that we recognize everyone’s role in supporting that mission.

What is your favorite change/improvement you have experienced in your time at Lighthouse?
It’s incredible to see how much we have grown over years, not only in size, but in how we have evolved as an organization to consistently build and improve, while still staying true to our core mission.

What advice would you give to perspective or new employees?
Speaking specifically to prospective employees on the admin team, I would say to run don’t walk at an opportunity to work for Lighthouse. It’s rare that an “office job” makes you feel like you are really making an impact on your community. With Lighthouse, we have this incredible opportunity to work for an organization that is making such a direct and tangible impact on the communities we live in – it’s an incredible feeling to be a part of that.

To learn more about career opportunities at Lighthouse Autism Center, visit our career page at: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/jobs/

Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Katie Meyer

In May of 2022, Lighthouse Autism Center is celebrating 10 years of business. This would not be possible without our tenured staff. These individuals helped build a strong foundation for Lighthouse Autism Center and continue to bring compassion and expertise every day! They have paved a path for an inspiring future of endless growth and possibilities. They have brought hope into our communities and homes. They have unlocked a world of unlimited potential. Thank you for being such a significant piece to our puzzle and for embracing Lighthouse Autism Center’s core values every day!

Meet Katie Meyer

About Katie

Katie is the Senior Director of Operations at Lighthouse Autism Center. Her prior roles at Lighthouse include Registered Behavior Therapist, Senior Therapist, Junior Program Manager, Program Manager, Clinical Director, Regional Director, Director of Clinical Expansion, and Senior Director of Business Development.  Outside of work, Katie loves to travel and hike.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?
I started with Lighthouse fresh out of my bachelor’s program. I was a home therapist for 3 months before starting at Lighthouse Autism Center.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?
I was working as a therapist doing in home therapy when Lighthouse opened. I knew I wanted to continue in the field and doing center-based therapy was exciting.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?
I could never pick just one of my favorite memories at Lighthouse. The last 10 years have led me down so many different paths. Jordan and I worked together as therapists at our first location, and I don’t think either of us have looked at cheese or SpaghettiOs the same way since. Being in Warsaw I worked with the best team I’ve ever had. We were a small center that quickly became family and watching the center become what it is now makes me so proud. I’ve met some of my best friends through Lighthouse and I wish I could relive every single day.

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?
The families, kids, and people I have met throughout the last 10 years have not only shaped my clinical career but have impacted me on a very personal level. Seeing the joy, and sometimes heartache, that comes from being involved with the autism community has a way of making you appreciate every single moment in your life…from the small ones of being able to read in peace or the big ones of watching my own kids grow up and learn new skills. I’ll never forget every parent that cried happy tears based on something we taught their child or every therapist who cried at the graduation of our clients. We have built something completely unique, and I am grateful every day that I came to work here 10 years ago.

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?
I am incredibly lucky to work with the regional director team. Most of us have worked together for more than 8 years and I’ve never seen the level of respect, trust, and sincerity that we all give each other on a daily basis. Lighthouse started because of the passion of two parents with autism and our regional director team have carried that passion from day 1 and I’ve been so lucky to be a part of their team.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?
In short, Lighthouse is everything to me. LAC has provided me with a decade of memories and those can never be changed or taken away. Every client I’ve met along the way has a piece of my heart and I am better for knowing them all.

Which of the LAC Values do you most identify with?
Give away credit- I am SO happy to see people living our values every day and I love to recognize them for that.

What is your favorite change/improvement you have experienced in your time at Lighthouse?
My favorite improvement so far has been the development of Lighthouse 2.0 (Lighthouse Fusion). It has been so amazing to watch our company come together and create the next level of ABA therapy. We have always had clinical excellence at our core, but Lighthouse Fusion has allowed us to take the whole field of ABA in another direction and I am so excited for our clients and families.

What advice would you give to perspective or new employees?
The days can seem long, but every second is an opportunity for you to make an impact on someone’s life and that makes for a great day if you let it.

To learn more about career opportunities at Lighthouse Autism Center, visit our career page at: https://lighthouseautismcenter.com/jobs/