Staff & Board of Directors

Lorri Unumb, Esq.

Chief Executive Officer

Lorri Shealy Unumb is a lawyer, mother of three teenage/adult boys, and an internationally renowned autism advocate. She began her career as an appellate attorney with the United States Department of Justice and then as a full-time law professor. Following her son’s diagnosis with autism, she began volunteering for autism causes, writing ground-breaking autism insurance legislation for South Carolina (“Ryan’s Law”) that passed in 2007 and served as the catalyst for the national movement toward autism insurance reform. She served for a decade as the national head of state government affairs for the international nonprofit Autism Speaks. Lorri is also the founder of the annual Autism Law Summit, now in its 17th year, and is co-author of the law school textbook “Autism and the Law.” In 2010, she founded the Autism Academy of South Carolina, a nonprofit ABA center now known as The Unumb Center for Neurodevelopment.

For her local, national, and international advocacy efforts, Lorri has been recognized with

  • the NASCAR Foundation’s Betty Jane France Humanitarian Award;
  • the Miss South Carolina Pageant “Woman of Achievement” Award;
  • the Jefferson Award for Public Service (Charleston, SC);
  • the Professional Women in Advocacy “Excellence in a State Campaign” Award; and
  • the Civitan International World Citizenship Award.

Her work has been profiled on CNN, on NPR’s “Morning Edition,” and in Town & Country magazine, from whom she received one of three 2009 “Women Who Make a Difference” awards. She is also profiled in the American Academy of Pediatrics 2013 book “Autism Spectrum Disorders: What Every Parent Needs to Know.”

Mike Wasmer, DVM, DACVIM

Chief Operating Officer

Mike Wasmer is Chief Operating Officer at the Council of Autism Service Providers(CASP)

Formerly a Director of State Government Affairs for Autism Speaks, Mike was part of the team (with Lorri Unumb and Judith Ursitti) that led the autism insurance reform movement across the country. Driven by his experience as the father of a child with autism, Mike is passionate about the mission of CASP to promote and ensure access to safe, high-quality, evidence-based services for individuals with autism. A frequent speaker on autism advocacy and policy, Mike has also successfully advocated for the addition of meaningful autism benefits in many self-funded health benefit plans.

A native of Baltimore, Maryland, Mike earned a Bachelor of Science degree Summa Cum Laude from Loyola University, Maryland, and a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine degree from The Ohio State University, College of Veterinary Medicine. He also completed a veterinary internal medicine residency at Texas A&M University College of Veterinary Medicine and is a Diplomate of the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine.

Mike is the father of two and lives in Kansas City with his wife, never too many dogs and cats, and a pond full of ornamental fish. In his free time, Mike enjoys working in the yard and lazy afternoons at the lake.

Mariel Fernandez, MS, BCBA, LBA

Vice President of Government Affairs

Mariel began working in behavior analysis in 2001 and earned her master’s degree in applied behavior analysis at Auburn University in 2004. She has extensive experience in clinical operations, compliance, and regulatory/public policy.

Prior to joining CASP, Mariel led the Regulatory Affairs department at Blue Sprig Pediatrics, focusing on advocacy, public policy, and legislative initiatives across 19 states. Mariel is a member of the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (TDLR) Behavior Analyst Advisory Board, a Co-Chair of the Metro-Care Services Public Advisory Committee, and President of the Texas Association of Behavior Analysis (TxABA) Public Policy Group. She also serves as a subject matter expert for the Policy Council on Children and Families, specific to the Autism Services benefit through Texas Medicaid.

Mariel was honored with the Blue Sprig CEO Award, in 2020, for her work preparing the organization to shift to telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic. She was also the recipient of the 2022 Autism Law Summit "Implementation Award" for her work in Texas to pass behavior analyst licensure and secure access to ABA for beneficiaries of Texas Medicaid.

Mariel is a native of Indianapolis, Indiana. She currently resides in Dallas, Texas, with her husband Carlos and two miniature schnauzers, Cooper & Jax. Mariel enjoys spending time with friends and family, traveling, cooking, and walking/ cycling on the city’s hike and bike trails.

Kayla Chandler

Director of Events

Kayla brings 6+ years of experience in managing special events, conferences, and meetings. Prior to CASP, she worked for Global Genes, a rare disease advocacy nonprofit, leading the planning and execution of various events. She has planned and executed domestic and international events ranging from small symposia, golf tournaments, and galas to large conferences and summits both in person and virtual.

Kayla graduated from Johnson & Wales University with a BS in Sports, Entertainment, and Event Management and, more recently, received her certification in meeting planning, Certified Meeting Planner (CMP).

Kayla resides in Boston, MA. In her free time, Kayla loves to travel and spend time at the beach, paddle boarding, or relaxing with family and friends.

Kimberly McGillan

Membership Manager

Kimberly McGillan is the Membership Manager for The Council of Autism Service Providers. A 2020 graduate of Clemson University, Kimberly currently lives in Columbia, South Carolina, with her husband and enjoys hiking and traveling to national parks in her free time.

Andy Beres

Director of Marketing and Communications

Andy Beres is the Director of Marketing and Communications at CASP. He brings 15 years of experience in public policy nonprofits and local organizations. Most recently, Andy served as marketing and communications director at the Maryland SPCA, where he developed thriving TV partnerships and revitalized storytelling. He also led major campaigns on poverty issues and the criminalization of homelessness at the Center for Law and Social Policy and National Law Center on Homelessness & Poverty, respectively.

Born in Cockeysville, Maryland, Andy earned his B.A. in English from Stevenson University. He currently lives in Virginia with his loving wife and Beagle.

ACQ Staff

Erick Dubuque, Ph.D., BCBA-D, LBA


Erick Dubuque is the Vice President of Quality with the Council of Autism Service Providers (CASP) and Director of the Autism Commission on Quality (ACQ). Erick is a former assistant professor with over a decade of experience coordinating three graduate training programs in applied behavior analysis domestically and internationally. His professional, voluntary, and scholarly activities have centered around quality control in the training and application of behavior analysis. As an accreditation administrator, expert witness, licensure board chair, and consultant, Erick has shaped legislation, regulations, and policies designed to protect the public and increase access to effective and ethical applied behavior analytic services for individuals with autism.

Erick is a former U.S. Peace Corps Volunteer (Kenya), a 4-time recipient of the Faculty Favorite Award at the University of Louisville, and a past recipient of the Bazemore, Edwards, and Warner Award for his leadership promoting social justice issues for the LGBTQ community.

Erick currently lives in Louisville, Kentucky, with his wife, son, and two dogs. He enjoys playing and relaxing with his family, programming in his spare time, and reading.

Thea Davis, MS Ed, LABA (MA), BCBA,

Accreditation Reviewer

Thea Davis, MS Ed, LABA (MA), BCBA, is a seasoned professional with over 20
years of experience in the field of autism and applied behavior analysis. As
the founder and former executive director of Autism Bridges, LLC, Thea
established a network of four service areas including clinic-based, home-
based, and school-based services in Bedford, NH, Portsmouth, NH, Methuen
MA, and Burlington, VT. Her leadership and dedication have positively
impacted the lives of thousands of individuals with autism spectrum disorder and their families.

As a mother of a child with autism, Thea's commitment to improving the lives of individuals with autism is both personal and professional. Her expertise in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy for children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum and other related disorders has led her to co-author and present dozens of presentations at ABAI, BABAT, NHABA, HABA, and the national Autism Law Summit.

Thea has a proven track record of leadership in the field of applied behavior analysis, having served as the founder and president of NHABA and as a founding member of Massachusetts Coalition of Applied Behavior Analysis (MassCAP), where she also served as the Director of member education. In the fall of 2022, she was appointed to serve on the Accreditation Committee for the Autism Commission on Quality (ACQ) and was invited to become a member of the Profession Practice Committee for the Berkshire Association for Behavior Analysis and Therapy (BABAT) in early 2023. Thea also served as a subject matter expert for the Council of Autism Service Providers'; Organizational Guidelines (CASP, 2022).

With her extensive experience and unwavering commitment to the field, Thea continues to drive meaningful change and progress in improving the lives of individuals with autism and their families.


Amber Valentino, Psy.D., BCBA-D

Guidelines Project Manager

Dr. Amber Valentino is a dynamic and accomplished doctoral level board-certified behavior analyst, who brings a wealth of expertise and a passion for making a positive impact in the lives of neurodivergent individuals. She has over 20 years of experience in the field of applied behavior analysis, working in a variety of healthcare settings.

Having dedicated a substantial portion of her career to working as an executive for a prominent multi-state ABA organization, Dr. Valentino has successfully developed clinical standards and spearheaded a productive research agenda. Her invaluable contributions have ensured the provision of high-quality services and clinical oversight across the organization's operations. 

Beyond her extensive executive role, Amber has made significant research contributions. She authored a book on the research to practice gap in behavior analysis and has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, solidifying her position as a thought leader in the field. Her commitment to advancing the field extends to her role as a member of the editorial boards of several prestigious journals, where she actively engages in editorial work through reviewing and guest editing.

While her professional accomplishments are noteworthy, Amber finds fulfillment in her role as a mother and cherishes the time spent with her young son (Porter), supportive husband (Garth), and their lively French bulldog (Scribbles). Residing in the vibrant San Francisco Bay Area, she draws inspiration from the diverse community that surrounds her.

Amber’s expertise, coupled with her compassionate nature and unwavering dedication, make her an exceptional resource for individuals seeking guidance in the realm of behavior analysis. Whether collaborating on research, navigating clinical challenges, or advocating for neurodivergent individuals, Amber brings a unique blend of experience, knowledge, and genuine care to all aspects of her work.

Stephen Anderson, Ph.D., BCBA-D
The Summit Center, Chief Executive Officer

Current Board Term Ends: June 2025

Dr. Anderson received his Ph.D. in Developmental and Child Psychology from the University of Kansas. He has served as Adjunct Assistant Professor at a number of colleges and universities including the University of Kansas, Northeastern University, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Buffalo State College. He has published journal articles, book chapters, and one book on the education and treatment of people with autism or other developmental disabilities. Dr. Anderson has served in leadership roles at the state and national level in several professional organizations and as a consultant to the NY Department of Health Early Intervention. As a licensed psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Dr. Anderson has worked in the autism field for more than 40 years and has served as an expert witness and consultant.

Yvonne Bruinsma, PhD. BCBA-D
In STEPPS, Executive Director

Current Board Term Ends: June 2025

Yvonne Bruinsma founded In STEPPS in 2010. She has more than 25 years of experience in the field. She previously gained extensive experience as the clinical director and clinical manager at several agencies and brought PRT to the Netherlands. She has been an active researcher and continues publishing in the field. Yvonne has written articles in peer-reviewed journals and in 2015, wrote and published a seminal article with other top researchers in autism treatment about Naturalistic Developmental Behavioral Interventions such as PRT. Yvonne also has co-written a book about Naturalistic Developmental Behavior Interventions (NDBI) currently in press. She has worked in a variety of settings, including developmental centers, group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, vocational sites, and schools. She earned her master’s in developmental psychology from the University of Leiden, the Netherlands, and her master’s and doctorate in special education, developmental disabilities, from University of California, Santa Barbara. Yvonne was certified as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D) in 2008.

Lani Fritts, MBA
CASP Treasurer

Current Board Term Ends: June 2027

In 2008, Lani left a 15 year career in logistics and technology related companies, and in 2009 he co-founded Trumpet Behavioral Health, a leading provider of Applied Behavior Analysis and related services to individuals diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Since that time, Lani has been active in the ABA provider community, advocating for access to services and developing and sharing organizational and clinical standards. Lani was a founding board member and the first treasurer of The Council for Autism Service Providers (CASP), a nonprofit association focused on cultivating, sharing, and advocating for provider best practices in autism services. Lani has an undergraduate degree in Economics from Georgetown University and an MBA from the Stanford University Graduate School of Business.

Rita Gardner, MPH, LABA, BCBA, CDE
CASP Board Chair; Melmark, Inc. President and CEO

Current Board Term Ends: June 2025
Rita M. Gardner is President and CEO of Melmark, a multi-state human service provider with premier private special education schools, professional development, training and research centers. Rita has devoted 35 years to non-profit management in the field of community-based services for children and adults with the diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders, acquired brain injuries, neurological disorders and severe challenging behaviors. In addition to leading Melmark’s $95-million operations across all of its divisions, Rita is the co-founder of Melmark New England in Andover, Massachusetts and a co-founder of Melmark Carolinas in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Rita has been recognized by the Commonwealth Institute and Boston Globe, on the organizations’ list of Top 100 Women-Led Businesses in Massachusetts for the past two years (#35 in 2018 and TBA in 2019). She is dedicated to creating opportunities for skills growth and advancement for women in the field of human services. Rita does this through her work with CASP (Council of Autism Service Providers), for which she and Melmark are founding members; her leadership role as a board member of MAAPS (Massachusetts Association of Approved Private Schools); and her vital role in WIBA (Women in Behavior Analysis), for which Rita volunteers her time and expertise as a mentor.

Rita received her Master of Public Health degree from Boston University’s School of Public Health in the School of Medicine. Most importantly, she holds the heart of Melmark’s mission at the core of her professional standards. She is dedicated to every child, adult and family served at Melmark, as well as every member of Melmark’s professional staff.

Joanne Gerenser, Ph.D.
The Eden II Programs, Executive Director

Current Board Term Ends: June 2026
Dr. Joanne Gerenser is the Executive Director of the Eden II Programs. Eden II is a set of programs that provides educational, vocational, family support and residential services to children and adults on the autism spectrum. She has worked at Eden II for the past 38 years. She received her Ph.D. in Speech and Hearing Sciences at the City University of New York Graduate Center.
Joanne teaches courses in autism as well as communication disorders at Temple University and the Penn State World Campus. She has authored several articles and book chapters as well as Co-Editor of the book ABA for SLPs: Interprofessional Collaboration for Autism Support Teams. Joanne has been an invited speaker at conferences in Ireland, Sri Lanka, China, Cyprus, Australia, and Canada.

Joanne has been the past president of the New York State Association for Behavior Analysis as well as the Interagency Council of NY. She was a founding board member of the Council of Autism Service Providers, serving as the first board president. Joanne is the Vice Chair of the Scientific Advisory Council for the Organization for Autism Research.

Joanne has been recognized for her work in autism as well as her work in her local community with numerous awards and honors. These include the Lou Miller Business Leadership Award, the Albert V. Maniscalco Community Service Award, the Autism NJ Distinguished Provider award, to name a few.

Natesh Kumar, MBA
Empower Behavioral Health, CEO

Current Board Term Ends: June 2027

Natesh Kumar is the CEO of Empower Behavioral Health and Circle of Care, leading healthcare companies dedicated to providing comprehensive therapy services to individuals of all ages. Under his leadership, these organizations are among the few in Texas that offer a wide range of services with individualized care plans for both patients and their families.

Natesh is passionate about making healthcare services accessible to everyone. He actively contributes to several Executive and Investment Boards, including his recent involvement with Driscoll Children’s Hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas. His commitment to the healthcare community extends to professional organizations, where he co-founded the podcast PodCASP with CASP.
Outside of his professional responsibilities, Natesh enjoys spending time with his wife, Reema, and their three children. His hobbies include watching sports, playing golf, and traveling the world.

Natesh holds an MBA in Operations and Strategy from Southern Methodist University and a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration with a focus on Management Information Systems from the University of Texas. With 15 years of executive experience, he has successfully overseen multiple businesses across various industries. His expertise includes financial analysis, business model valuation, process optimization, and project management.

Eric Larsson, PhD LP BCBA-D
Lovaas Institute Midwest, Executive Director

Current Board Term Ends: June 2027
Dr. Larsson is currently the executive director of clinical services at the Lovaas Institute Midwest, where he implements the renowned program of intensive early intervention services for families of children who suffer from severe behavior disorders, including autism. He is a Licensed Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral.
Dr. Larsson is a member of the clinical faculty in the Psychology Department at the University of Minnesota, where he teaches classes in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and autism. He is currently the President of the Association for Science in Autism Treatment and is the Honorary President of the Lovaas Foundation of Barcelona, Spain. He also serves on the boards of the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies, the Autism Recovery Foundation, the Minnesota Northland Association for Behavior Analysis, the Autism Treatment Association of Minnesota, and Erik’s Ranch and Retreats. He is a past member of the Behavior Analyst Certification Board and the Association of Professional Behavior Analysts.

Brian McCann, Esq.
The Faison Center, President and CEO

Current Board Term Ends: June 2026
Prior to joining the team at The Faison Center, Brian was an attorney who devoted his law practice to civil litigation with an emphasis in education law to help families of children with disabilities. During his legal career, Brian was recognized in Virginia Super Lawyers in 2013, 2014 and 2015. Brian was also a member of The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Trial Lawyers in the Commonwealth of Virginia. In 2013 Brian was recognized as a Top 40 Under 40 in the city of Richmond for his work in Special Education Law.
​Born and raised in Richmond, Brian earned his Bachelor of Arts in Economics from the College of William & Mary and graduated from the William & Mary School of Law, where he was a member of Order of the Coif, Law Review, and Moot Court.

Brian is extremely proud that the Faison Center provides a life span model of services to individuals with autism unlike anything in the Commonwealth of Virginia. He is dedicated and driven to better the lives of all individuals with autism and their families through a model of services unlike anything in the country.

Steve Muller, MA
Balance Autism, CEO

Current Board Term Ends: June 2026
For over 30 years, Steve has served children and adults with autism and other intellectual disabilities. For the past 23 years he has served as CEO of Balance Autism, a nonprofit organization focused entirely on developing innovative solutions for children and adults with autism. At Balance Autism we balance science with imagination, evidence with creativity and research with compassion. Services span the lifespan and address skill development in residential, recreational, social, vocational and other needs. Steve has presented at state, national and international conferences sharing unique and entertaining stories to help families and professionals better serve this special population.

Daniel Openden, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Southwest Autism Research & Resource Center, President and CEO

Current Board Term Ends: June 2025
Dr. Daniel Openden became SARRC’s President and CEO in July 2013, after having served as Vice President and Clinical Services Director since 2007. Dr. Openden earned his doctoral degree in special education, disability, and risk studies at UC Santa Barbara. His first pivotal encounter with autism occurred when he was a college senior working as a second-grade aide with a girl with autism in a mainstream classroom. Attending school with her every day (while he took college classes at night), forever changed his perspective about what’s possible for people with ASD: “That experience led me to believe that kids with autism can be educated in the same environments as anybody else and integrated with the rest of the community.” Since then, Dr. Openden has worked extensively with families and children with ASD on both federal and state funded research projects. He has also provided consulting and training for school districts across the country, published peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, and presented research at regional, state, and national conventions. He credits taking acting lessons as a child and playing in small television roles until he was 14 with giving him the confidence to become a talented presenter and leader. He and his wife Erica have two young sons. The Phoenix Business Journal in 2011 named Dr. Openden one of Phoenix’s “Forty Under 40” up-and-coming community leaders.

Heather O'Shea, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Verbal Behavior Associates, President

Current Board Term Ends: June 2027

Dr. Heather O’Shea has spent over 20 years working with families and children with special needs. She earned her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from California School of Professional Psychology, specializing in services with children and families in the educational, medical, and legal systems. She started her career in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2004 and enrolled in the very first BACB Course Sequence ever offered in California. She left her role as the Chief Clinical Officer at a large national organization in 2020 to join Verbal Behavior Associates (VBA) as President. She is proud to oversee an organization committed to providing evidence-based intervention and specializing in serving clients with profound needs. Her commitment to quality service delivery, ethics, training and mentorship have driven her dedication to the field. Her mission is to impact the field and leave a lasting positive impact on all of those impacted by and committed to improving the lives of those touched by autism. She is also known for creative ways to encourage community. After winning the Spirit Award (aka giant stuffed pickle) at the Autism Law Summit, she traveled the country with it, promoting autism awareness.

John Randall, MPA, M.Ed., BCBA
CASP Board Clerk
Amego, Chief Executive Officer

Current Board Term Ends: June 2027
John has been working in the fields of Human Services and Education since 1988. As is common at Amego, he began his career providing direct services. John was named President & CEO of Amego in 2008. John has worked in leadership positions in both the private and public sectors. He holds Masters Degrees in Education and Public Administration. John is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a Licensed Applied Behavior Analyst. John has held advisory and board positions for numerous professional organizations including past service as President of the Massachusetts Association of Applied Behavior Analysis. John has also served on many Human Rights Committees in various capacities.

Rachel Taylor, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Senior Consultant, Behavior Analytic Professional Practices

Current Board Term Ends: June 2026
Dr. Rachel Taylor (formerly Dr. Tarbox) has supported individuals diagnosed with neurodevelopmental disorders for over 25 years. Dr. Taylor started her career working for several prestigious organizations, including the New England Centerfor Children and the Kennedy Krieger Institute. She is the former Co-Director of Research and Development for CARD and the Founder and Director of CARD's Specialized Outpatient Services. In 2008, Dr. Taylor was the founding ABA Department Chair at The Chicago School Los Angeles and has also held faculty positions at California State University Los Angeles and Channel Islands. She has published numerous peer-reviewed articles and book chapters, is a previous member of the Executive Council for ABAI, and more recently served as the 2020 CalABA Conference Chair. Dr. Taylor also serves as a member of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research (OAR) and as an Advisor to the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies. She is the founder and former CEO of the Center for Applied Behavior Analysis (CABA), a behavioral health organization that provides ABA-based services across a wide range of service settings, diagnoses, ages, and levels of severity. Her current areas of focus as a consultant for CABA Consulting include 1) protecting against a potential divide between science and practice and 2) supporting ABA practitioners to maximize desired outcomes and minimize risk.