Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Spotlight: Haeleigh

Meet Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight of the Month: Haeleigh.

Haeleigh is a Registered Behavior Therapist at our Champaign center, where she has worked since May of 2022. Haeleigh received her undergraduate in psychology at the University of Northern Colorado and she is currently enrolled to begin a Master of Arts program in neuroscience and neurocounseling at Bradley University this fall. She has two pets- a dog, Mico, and a cat, Weeble. Haeleigh recently moved to Champaign, Illinois to be closer to family and for her program at BU.

What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse?

I have always been interested in Autism Spectrum Disorder and working with children. I am excited to learn more about ABA at Lighthouse and have become more encouraged to spread the word of neurodivergence. The position has further inspired me to pursue my career in neurocounseling by learning more about behavior and behavioral analysis. With my experience at LAC, I am excited to be able to research additional therapy options like neurofeedback and biofeedback for people with ASD and similar disorders.
 
 

What is your favorite part of working at Lighthouse Autism Center?

Every day is different, and every role within the organization is vital. Each day our kiddos walk through the door, I know they learned a little bit more than the day before. Knowing it is because of my team at Lighthouse that we can change the lives of these kiddos and their families makes coming to work every day worthwhile. Witnessing joy from the kiddos as well as the RBT’s throughout the day is one reason that makes coming to work each day so easy.
 
 

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

I have so many wonderful memories of the little quirks and personalities of the kiddos. I think my happiest memories come from the joy and laughter of the kiddos, especially while they are having fun learning and mastering out of programs. It’s so rewarding working with a kiddo on a tough program, and then working with them a couple days later and seeing how far they’ve come to achieving a goal and progressing to more challenging programs.

 

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Lighthouse Autism Center Staff Spotlight: Bryn

Meet Lighthouse Autism Center’s Staff Spotlight of the Month: Bryn.

Bryn is the Clinical Director at our Fishers Autism Center, where she has worked since January of 2021 and has been in the field of ABA therapy for 11 years. Bryn received her undergraduate degree in child psychology at Bridgewater University in Massachusetts, her BCaBA at the Florida Institute of Technology, and then her master’s at Ball State University. She was born and raised in Indianapolis, Indiana and enjoys spending time with her family, hiking, going to the park and swimming.

What made you decide to apply to Lighthouse?

I am in the field because I love helping clients, families, and my clinical team achieve their individual goals and I enjoy being a part of their journey here at Lighthouse. I love ABA therapy because I love seeing the progress our learners make each day.
 

What is your favorite part of working at Lighthouse Autism Center?

My favorite thing about working for Lighthouse has been the continued collaboration with my incredible coworkers. I always enjoy the opportunities for career growth and cultivating my skills to become the best supervisor and mentor to my team.
 

Do you have a favorite memory from your time here?

There are so many memories! I love that I am part of creating an environment with my team and fellow clinicians that has a positive and tangible impact on our learners. I especially love the people that I work with each day and that we get to spend our days working together to make sure our learners are achieving the best outcomes.
 
Come be a part of our team!

To learn more about career opportunities at Lighthouse Autism Center, check out our career page today!

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Meet Janine Shapiro, M.S., CCC SLP-BCBA

Meet Janine Shapiro, M.S., CCC SLP-BCBA

What made you decide on a career in therapy?

I have two younger siblings who presented with developmental speech disorders. I grew up in clinical waiting rooms! My parents had enormous respect and gratitude towards my brothers’ speech therapist; she was a hero in our house!
 

What inspires/drives you?

I’m inspired by the progress I see each day. I am driven to create new techniques- Fusion procedures- that produce results parents and other practitioners never dreamed possible.
 

What is your favorite part of your job?

Working alongside and collaborating with some truly brilliant speech and behavior analytic clinicians. I look forward to going to the office each day. I’m passionate about my career, which I don’t view as work. I’m extraordinarily lucky.
 

How has this career path impacted you?

I do not take anything for granted. I live a very grateful life. I’m most thankful for the families who trust me to give their children a voice.
 

What advice would you give to those seeking a Similar career path?

When offered an opportunity to learn, raise your hand! Add as many techniques to your toolbox as possible; each one will one day bring a learner a step closer to better communication and a more independent life. Seek out great mentors.
 
To learn more about Lighthouse Fusion™, click here.

 

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

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!

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 prospective or new employees?

Just apply! All it takes is one day to fall in love with these kiddos.

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

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!

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 prospective 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.

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

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!

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 prospective 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.

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

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!

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 prospective 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.

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Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Sean Addley

Meet Sean Addley

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!

About Sean

Sean is a Training Systems Manager at Lighthouse Autism Center in South Bend. His journey started as a Registered Behavior Therapist, then a Senior Therapist, followed by a Clinical Administrator.  Sean is a movie fanatic and can recite an abundance of movie lines and song lyrics form memory. Sean’s favorite color is green, and his favorite animal is a polar bear with the commonality of enjoyment for sleeping in cold spaces. He loves cheeseburgers with a fried egg. Some of Sean’s favorite activities are tailgating and cornhole.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?

Before coming to Lighthouse Autism Center, I was a teacher and football coach.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?

A close friend of mine (who was a BCBA at Lighthouse) told me I would be really good at it, and I should check out Lighthouse. I am an education major, so I thought this was a great opportunity to gain experience during the summer when schools are closed. Once I got here, I knew this was something special and I wanted to be a part of it.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?

There are too many memories to choose just one as my favorite, but I will share a funny one! I was a Senior therapist at the time, and one of the kids in my pod was getting upset. When that happens, he typically flopped out of his chair and on to the floor. I saw this coming and positioned myself so if he slid off his chair he would slide onto my knee, and I could keep him from falling on the floor. This also happened to be the ONLY time I ever wore khaki pants to work instead of jeans. So, when I knelt, the inner seems of my pants tore wide open! The therapist I was assisting with the behavior busted out laughing, and the giggles continued down the hallways as word spread as fast and wide as the hole in my pants. What do you think I did? Taped it up. Keep me in the game, coach!

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?

Everything is on its way to somewhere, and I’m very lucky that my path in life crossed with LAC’s vision and values.

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?

I believe that it’s not just about the work you are doing, but the people you are working with. The people who are here at Lighthouse, are here because they want to make a difference and be part of something that is bigger than themselves.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?

Everything is on its way to somewhere, and I’m very lucky that my path in life crossed with LAC’s vision and values.

Which of the LAC Values do you most identify with?

I can relate to all our values, but 4. Put a premium on innovation and creativity, is the one I most identify with. That’s just how my brain works, “what can I do to make this better/easier.” Not all my ideas were great ones, but all of them were accepted and encouraged.

What is your favorite change/improvement you have experienced in your time at Lighthouse?

Going digital! Getting rid of paper data and other wasteful paper processes.

What advice would you give to prospective or new employees?

You have an incredible opportunity before you! You will learn fundamentals of human behavior that you will remember for the rest of your life. You will work with some of the kindest, most caring people you’ve ever come in contact with. Most importantly, if you want to make a difference in a child’s life, Lighthouse is where you can have an impact every day.

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Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Nicole Smoker

Meet Nicole Smoker

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!

About Nicole

Nicole is a Regional Director at Lighthouse Autism Center, overseeing various centers. Her prior roles at Lighthouse include Registered Behavior Therapist, Senior Therapist, Program Manager, and Clinical Director. Nicole loves spending time outside in the summer at the lake or pool. She also loves going on adventures with her kids. A unique skill that Nicole has is that she is double-jointed in both of her arms and legs.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?

Before Lighthouse, I worked in child development at a youth care center.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?

I graduated with a BA in Speech and Child Development. At the time I was not ready to go to grad school for speech. I applied at Lighthouse and within a few weeks had applied to start my master’s in ABA.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?

My favorite memories are when LAC was much smaller. You knew everyone and it was so much fun going to community events, staff bonding, and happy hours!

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?

I have met some of my best friends through working at Lighthouse!

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?

Seeing the change that we are making in our clients’ lives. Helping our kiddos communicate their wants and needs, engaging in play with their siblings or parents, responding to a family members’ excitement! These may seem little to some people, but they are huge accomplishments for families.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?

Lighthouse means family. Family is the bonds that are created within the work atmosphere. Families that we are helping every single day.

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 ability to serve my hometown, from only providing services to 5 families in 2016 to now providing services to 30 families in Warsaw! I love that I get to continue to mentor BCBA’s in the rural areas, so families have access to services in their hometowns!

What advice would you give to prospective or new employees?

My advice to a new Registered Behavior Therapist would be to give it 90 days. The RBT job is so fun and rewarding. Can it be challenging, of course! However, the RBTs are the staff members who get to work with the kids every day, they get to see all of the small changes. The bonds that RBTs can create with their peers is truly something special in our field! I always joke that one of the girls that worked with me when I was a therapist is a prime example of how it gets better. When she first started, she cried every day for 2 weeks and was too nervous to even eat her lunch. She ended up being an amazing therapist once she gave it time!

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Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Jordan Kujawski

Meet Jordan Kujawski

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!

About Jordan

Jordan is a Regional Director at Lighthouse Autism Center, overseeing a handful of local centers. Her prior roles at Lighthouse include Registered Behavior Therapist, Senior Therapist, Program Manager, Senior Program Manager, and Clinical Director.  Jordan loves the summertime, beaches, lakes, sushi, and spending time with her family.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?

I have been working with individuals with special needs for 17 years in different settings including in-home ABA, respite care, a group home setting, and center-based ABA. I have 2 younger brothers with autism and when my older of the 2 brothers got diagnosed with autism, I was instantly interested is working with individuals with special needs and I have loved every minute of it!

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?

I was working at another ABA company at the time when the Clinical Director there told me that LAC was hiring for full-time and knew that is something that I wanted. I applied and interviewed with Sandy. I was instantly interested in the position after meeting with her!

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?

I do not know if I can just pick one, I have a lot of favorite memories with different clients, families, and staff. Some of my favorite memories involve simple things that parents would share with me like their child ate food at a restaurant with them for the first time, they were able to go on a vacation together as a family, grandparents have not seen the child in a few months and were blown away by the changes. I get excited when kids learn new things, but I loved hearing from the parents how it impacted them as a family.

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?

Lighthouse really showed me what an impact quality therapy could make. When my brothers were diagnosed, there were not center-based services in the area and the services available at the time were not the quantity or quality they are today. Seeing the impacts in the first 6 months of Lighthouse being open for the clients and their families was such an amazing experience that I went back to school to get my MA and became a BCBA.

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?

The clients—they are the absolute best part. The things that they learn and how each grows, learns, and shares is the best experience.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?

Lighthouse to me means having hope for something better and having people who want to help you get there.

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?

One of my favorite things that has changed over the years is going into new places where kids can get services. I have been a part of opening several centers in counties where there were not services and got to witness firsthand how much it meant to those families.

What advice would you give to prospective or new employees?

This is a hard one. I would say just be open minded and realize that the kids are going to teach you more than you could ever teach them.

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Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Christopher Adams

Meet Christopher Adams

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!

About Christopher

Christopher is an IT Helpdesk Specialist II at Lighthouse Autism Center in South Bend. He started at our Mishawaka Park Place center as a Behavior Therapist.  Christopher loves spending time with his family and dog, doing arts and crafts, as well as writing and recording music with his friends. He inspires to write children’s books and even proposed to his wife by writing and illustrating a book that ended with an elephant begging the question “Will You Marry Me”. Christopher is quite active. He can skateboard, ski, and surf!

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?

After graduating with a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Bowling Green State University in Ohio, I spent some time working as a professional musician. I spent some time touring and worked in a recording studio. After that I moved back to Indiana, and I worked for other Mental Health Service providers. Prior to Lighthouse I worked for 7 years doing therapy services that were grounded in Activities of Daily Living and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Models. I worked for service providers that partnered with local schools to provide services at the school and in the homes of our clients. I also own and operate a photo and video business.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?

When I got married, I moved to Mishawaka, and I made friends with a Lighthouse Autism Center Therapist from the Edison Center. I heard how highly she spoke of her coworkers as well as her high regards for Gregg, Sandy, and Leila. She also talked about how positive the work environment was and how the model was different than anywhere she had worked before. My friend strongly encouraged me to apply for a job and after some coaching I decided to take her advice. After meeting with Jordan Kujawski, shadowing Sean Addley, and eventually meeting with Leila Allen I was hopeful I would receive an offer. I saw something radically different than the type of treatment I had worked in before and I was impressed. Fortunately, Sandy called me shortly after to offer me a job. I am so grateful for the friendship that led me to LAC. I am grateful to have discovered Lighthouse. Several people have personally invested in me and my family and I am so happy that I decided to leave a job I loved for one that has truly been a career.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?

While working as a therapist I got to accompany clients as they transitioned into to the school setting. It was so exciting to see all the skills we had worked on with the kiddos generalize to their new setting. The feedback I got from the schools was always grateful.

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?

Lighthouse has continued to evolve as an organization, stretching and growing to better serve our families. In that growth, the company has remained fiercely loyal to the values of the small company I started at. Lighthouse values employees. It has been refreshing to work for a company that gives away credit to its employees. I have had some incredible supervisors who have embodied this company value and have provided me with constant reminders of gratitude, support, and recognition for our efforts. Lighthouse values families. Even more impactful than the appreciation I have received for my work at Lighthouse, is the confidence in knowing that the company has never lost sight of our mission to improve the lives of the families we work with. The supervisors I have worked with constantly remind the staff that by improving outcomes for the kiddos that we are changing the lives of families. Now that I work in IT, I still feel the emphasis of the organization and what our core objectives are. Every year at Christmas we read stories from families. Each account that I read reminds me that I work for a company that is in the business of changing lives for families. Additionally, each tear-filled graduation we have reflects not only the pride our staff have in the work they do but also the depth of connection we feel to the families we serve.

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?

It is hard to say that I have a favorite thing about Lighthouse, but I am grateful for connections. I am grateful for the connections I have with the teams I have worked with and the connections we all feel to the families we serve.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?

Like the name implies I think Lighthouse is a beacon of hope for the families we serve. It means a lot to me to work for an organization that does what it says it does. I have worked for companies that look good on paper and “talk the talk.” I feel Lighthouse “walks the walk.” I have seen huge transformations in the lives of our clients, and I have felt genuine gratitude from the families we have served. Lighthouse has also been a place for me to grow personally and professionally. People have personally invested in me at Lighthouse and have given me trust and room to grow.

Which of the LAC Values do you most identify with?

Put a premium on innovation and creativity. I loved the times in Pod meetings where the floor was open to new ideas. The Program Managers would take our rough ideas and input and shape them into programs for improving outcomes from kids and their families. In my new role in IT, I feel that all the ideas I have proposed for improving processes reflect our other values like, “Don’t separate the vision from the operations.” Lighthouse values creative input from its employees and I feel like the leadership does a good job of ensuring that those ideas are aimed at our other values and our core objective of improving lives through quality ABA.

What is your favorite change/improvement you have experienced in your time at Lighthouse?

I think the most exciting change or improvement I have seen at Lighthouse is the addition of all the new centers. I know the need for quality ABA is widespread and I am excited that Lighthouse stepped up, took the risk, and expanded so that we could offer this needed service to so many incredible families. When I started at Park Place, we only had two centers and now we have more than 20. The feedback from the families and our communities is overwhelming.

What advice would you give to prospective or new employees?

Allow yourself the opportunity to be vulnerable and embrace a new way of thinking. Lighthouse has a unique approach to ABA and to how it operates in general. If you commit to the values of the company, you fill find great fulfillment in seeing the results in the lives of the families we serve. Having worked in other centers before Lighthouse I had the perspective of seeing how fast the Lighthouse approach affected real life improvements for our clients and their families. Also, the investment you give to Lighthouse will be returned to you. The organization is structured to promote a positive culture and it relies on the staff to continually self-reflect and grow that culture by your words and actions.

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Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – Meet Ashley Ritchey

Meet Ashley Ritchey

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!

About Ashley

Ashley is a Regional Director at Lighthouse Autism Center in Champaign, IL. Her prior roles at Lighthouse include Registered Behavior Therapist, Junior Program Manager, Program Manager and Clinical Director. Ashley enjoys spending time with her family, attending concerts, watching dating shows, listening to true crime podcasts, and completing puzzles.

Life Before Lighthouse:

What was your career background/experience before Lighthouse Autism Center?

I graduated with my undergraduate degree in special education. After completing my student teaching, I knew that I still loved teaching various skills but did not care for the linguistics and requirements of teachers. Soon after, I discovered the ABA field and started working as a Registered Behavior Therapist. From there I have stayed in the field.

Lighthouse Journey:

Why did you originally apply at Lighthouse Autism Center?

I originally applied to Lighthouse because I had just moved back to the area and was previously a Registered Behavior Technician in central Indiana. When I had applied, I was offered a therapist position as one of the first therapist to open our Plymouth location.

What is your favorite memory at Lighthouse?

One of my favorite memories at Lighthouse was being a part of the Warsaw center expansion on two occasions. The Warsaw center location started as a 1-pod building and is now a 4-pod building.

How has Lighthouse impacted you personally?

Lighthouse has impacted me personally in so many ways. I can honestly say that working at Lighthouse has truly allowed me to become a better person. It isn’t very often that individuals can say that they love the career and field that they are in.

What is your favorite part about working at Lighthouse?

My favorite part about working at Lighthouse is seeing the growth that your kiddos achieve. It is always a sad but rewarding day to see one of your kiddos graduate. Additionally, Lighthouse has always offered a family environment to staff with room to grow professionally.

What does Lighthouse mean to you?

Family.

Which of the LAC Values do you most identify with?

“Care about people more than anything”. This has always been a value that I have strived to display while working my various positions. I have gone out of the way to communicate with others, make people feel welcome, while also displaying a love for my job.

What is your favorite change/improvement you have experienced in your time at Lighthouse?

I would say that the biggest improvement that we have made as a company was switching from all paper data collection and daily progress notes to electronic.

What advice would you give to prospective or new employees?

I would tell a new therapist coming into the field that the terminology can be overwhelming initially and that all the terminology and job tasks will come together by the end of the fourth week. For someone coming in a management or administrator role, I would review all the different ways that Lighthouse gives backs to its employees.

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