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Setting a Strong Foundation, the Lighthouse Way – 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!

Meet Sean Addley

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 perspective 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.

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 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!

Meet Nicole Smoker

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 perspective 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!

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 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!

Meet Jordan Kujawski

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 perspective 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.

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 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!

Meet Christopher Adams

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 perspective 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.

 

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 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!

Meet Ashley Ritchey

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 perspective 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.

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