Margaret received her bachelor’s degree in genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She worked as an autism treatment provider in the clinic and home setting in the Madison, WI area before moving to San Diego and working at Alexa’s PLAYC as an Autism Education Associate in 2018. She went on to receive her master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in autism at SDSU and became certified as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2022. She is passionate about providing treatment in an inclusion setting and naturalistic setting.
Amy Oh, BCBA
Amy received her Master of Science in school psychology with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis. She graduated from UC San Diego with a bachelor’s degree in human development in 2014, giving her the opportunity to do undergraduate research about Alexa’s PLAYC’s incorporation of classroom management strategies for children with autism spectrum disorder. Beginning in 2017, she worked as the school psychologist for Poway Unified and Escondido High School Unified School Districts before returning to Alexa’s PLAYC to share her knowledge of the school system and the IEP process. Amy is passionate about educating families to see the strengths and identity of the whole child and to foster a more tolerant and inclusive community for all.
John earned his Master of Science in applied behavior analysis from National University in 2018. He has been working with children with autism spectrum disorder since 2015, providing in-home ABA services for 7 of those years. John also spent a year and a half working in a school setting using ABA and other behavior supports. John is passionate about creating a fun and inclusive learning environment for all kids and providing meaningful training for caregivers to promote learning at home
Genevieve earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University. While attending college, she worked as a care manager and a life-enrichment manager for patients diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. After graduation, she pursued a career as a behavioral interventionist for a nonprofit organization and provided therapy for children ages 2-7 years old with developmental delays within an in-home ABA setting. She also worked as a paraeducator for the San Diego Unified School District. Genevieve has a passion in helping others reach their full potential and is a caregiver at heart. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her three lovable terriers and going on family outings with her husband and son.
Nijessia Cerqueira has a passion for learning and education. She was an ESL teacher for 14 years, teaching all ages, from preschool to academic and business English. She loved seeing her students’ progress and helped them achieve their goals. She also earned a bachelor’s degree in social & behavioral sciences and communications from University of Central Florida. She joined the field of applied behavior analysis in 2019. She transferred her teaching skills to the field and learned how to prepare and apply behavior interventions. Working with the special needs population has changed her life and heart forever and she feels very fulfilled through witnessing changes in their lives and families. She has a master’s degree in applied behavior analysis and has worked in in-home services and in the school district. She plans to become a BCBA in the future and she is excited to be part of the Rady’s family and help the children and families at Alexa’s PLAYC. She spends her free time in nature, hiking and enjoying many outdoor adventures on land and in the ocean or visiting her home country, Brazil.
Emily is a San Diego native who enjoys camping, hiking and cooking. She graduated Summa Cum Laude with her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from San Diego State University. While working on her undergraduate degree, she worked as an Assistant Site Supervisor for the YMCA for two years. Through this position she provided after school care for children grades K-6. Prior to joining Alexa’s PLAYC, Emily worked as a Behavior Technician delivering in-home ABA therapy to children with autism. Emily is currently pursuing her Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and is projected to graduate in Spring of 2024. In the future, Emily hopes to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and further provide therapeutic intervention to individuals on the spectrum. In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time with friends, cooking and trying out new coffee shops around San Diego.
Originally from New Jersey, Shannon came to San Diego to pursue her Bachelor’s Degree in Education and Child and Family Development at San Diego State University. During her undergraduate degree, she worked as a paraprofessional for elementary school students as well as volunteered for the Big Brother/Big Sister Program. After graduating, Shannon was helping teach small groups in a second-grade classroom and decided to focus on special education. She then provided in-home ABA therapy to children years 3-6 as a Behavioral Technician for several years until finding Alexa’s PLAYC! Shannon has always had a passion for helping children from her educational and professional life to her personal life with her big family of a lot of little cousins. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family and friends, playing sports, drawing, and going to the beach.
Emily graduated from San Diego State University with a degree in psychology and a minor in child and family development. Prior to working at Alexa’s PLAYC, she worked as a behavioral interventionist in an in-home ABA setting for three years. She also worked at the YMCA for six years as a site supervisor for a licensed before-and-after school program during the school year and as a camp coordinator during the summers. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with friends and family and going to Disneyland!
Melissa graduated from San Diego State University with her degree in Child and Family Development with an additional 20+ Child Development units from the local community colleges. While at SDSU Melissa started as a volunteer at Rady’s Children’s Care Center, before being hired full-time in 1998. She has been part of the Alexa’s PLAYC team since the centers merged in 2009 as both a toddler and preschool Behavioral Technician. Melissa is passionate about supporting children and their families during this stage of their development within a fun and caring environment. She believes every child is unique and brings their own joy to the classroom. During her spare time Melissa enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends.
Crystal got her bachelor’s degree in Child Development and Family Studies from CSU Long Beach in 2011. She began her career as an early education teacher, working with children ages 2-5 at the NASNI Child Development Center in Coronado. After meeting and working with some incredible students she discovered her passion for special education and decided to take her career in a different direction. She then began working as a special education classroom student attendant for the Chula Vista Elementary School District while she worked on her graduate studies. In 2019 Crystal graduated from San Diego State University with a Master’s in Special Education with an Emphasis in Autism. From there she spent the next 3 years living in Long Beach and working for the Palos Verde Peninsula Unified School District as a behavior interventionist, working with elementary school students. Crystal is excited to be back home in San Diego and in her free time she enjoys playing soccer, spending time with family, and going to the zoo.
Elyssa is a registered dance/movement therapist. Originally from Seattle, she came to San Diego after completing her Masters of Art in dance/movement therapy and counseling form Columbia College in Chicago. She started as a volunteer at Alexa’s PLAYC by bringing dance into our classrooms to enhance social-emotional learning. She is passionate about cultivating every child’s unique creative process to support their healthy growth and development. When Elyssa is not working, she loves being with friends and family, going to the beach and learning to surf.
Gabriela Padilla – Lead Teacher
Gabriela earned her bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development at Point Loma Nazarene University. Throughout her education, she began volunteering and working for programs for children, adolescents and families coping with the challenges of a variety of medical conditions. She enjoys creating meaningful experiences for children and families with the goal to identify and support their needs. Prior to coming to Alexa’s PLAYC, Gaby worked at Father Joe’s Village as an infant specialist, working with families experiencing homelessness, and as a toddler teacher at a small play-based community preschool in North Park. During her downtime, she spends time volunteering, decorating her studio, running by the beach and spending time with family and friends.
Marissa graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development from UC San Diego. She believes that every child should have the opportunity to thrive in an environment in which their wonder and curiosity can flourish. Nature and inquiry-based pedagogy are an integral part of Marissa’s classroom approach. She is certified in peaceful classrooms and outdoor classrooms. Marissa has worked at several different types of early childhood education centers, taught reading to children with special needs using the Orton-Gillingman method of literacy instruction, and worked in the field of research. During her free time Marissa likes to enjoy nature, travel, and read
Kati graduated from Cal State Northridge in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in deaf studies. Prior to working at Alexa’s PLAYC, she was a 1:1 instructional assistant in the Santee School District and also worked as an in-home ABA therapist. During her spare time, she enjoys traveling, swimming, going to the beach and spending time with family and friends. A little fun fact: she attended Rady Children’s Child Care Center as a preschooler before it became known as Alexa’s PLAYC.
Esteban received his bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University. He has been teaching preschool for over 10 years and continues to find passion through the unexpected and unannounced daily happenings in early childhood education. Esteban is native to San Diego and comes from a big family with 6 sisters and his parents. He enjoys long walks and weekend getaways with his family, burgers, writing, and golfing.
Lara earned her degree in Child Development with a minor in Psychology. Prior to joining the Rady Team, she worked as a Certified Nurse Assistant for 5 years serving the elderly following a nursing path. After volunteering at Mesa College Child Development Center, she pursued her passion of working with children. She has worked in the field of child development as a teacher since 2003 with both neurotypical children and children with special needs. In her spare time, Lara enjoys reading, watching movies, catching up with friends and family, painting/drawing, spending quality time with her husband and two children experiencing outdoor adventures, different types of food and traveling.
Anh earned her Master of Arts in education with a focus in autism and early childhood education from National University. She has 20 years of experience of working in the education field ranging from preschool to middle school. Before joining Alexa’s PLAYC, Anh has worked as a one-on-one instructional assistant at San Diego Cooperative Charter School for 12 years. She believes every child has the potential to bring something unique and special to the world. In her free time, Anh enjoys traveling, hiking and spending time in nature. She also loves spending time with family, close friends and her beloved corgi, Atticus.
Judy was born and raised in San Diego, CA. In 2015, she moved to Boston where she received her bachelor’s degree in psychology and minor in education from University Massachusetts- Boston. While pursing her undergraduate degree she worked as a preschool teacher at a local day care and various internships such as the 3-Point Foundation and AmeriCorps- Jumpstart. In Jumpstart she worked with preschoolers from lower income communities to help scaffold and prepare the children readiness for kindergarten. When she was part of the 3-Point Foundation, she worked as a Lead Student Councilor for middle schoolers from lower income communities where she coached them in basketball and life skills, as well as, providing them opportunities and goals for a higher education. After graduating with she bachelor’s, she started working for the YMCA of Greater Boston as a UPK teacher. Through this position, she was able to gain experience working with children in the foster care system that have experienced various forms of violence and children with developmental delays. Though she loves the winter in Boston, she missed being home with her family and friends and decided to move back to San Diego in July of 2022. She loves spending her free time reading a good book, teaching her betta fish new tricks, and playing with her nephews.
Mayra Sigala Acosta
Mayra graduated from San Diego City College in 2021 with an Associate’s Degree in child development. Prior to joining Alexa’s PLAYC, she worked at a small non-profit as a preschool teacher. Her plan for the near future is to return to school for her bachelor’s degree in child development. On her free time, she enjoys taking her dog Nova out, eating out with friends, and spending time with her family.
Katy Clark (Floater)
Katy graduated from UC San Diego in the summer of 2021, majoring in cognitive and behavioral neuroscience. After graduating and prior to joining Alexa’s PLAYC, Katy worked as a behavior technician delivering in-home applied behavioral analysis therapy to children with autism. She hopes to enter a graduate program in psychology soon so that she could become a therapist for teens and young adults. When she is not working, Katy enjoys reading, making art and playing with her Cairn Terrier, Kip!
Bianey Lopez (Floater)
Bianey received her bachelor’s in child and adolescent development from Point Loma Nazarene University. During her time there, she worked in their early childhood learning center. Since graduating Bianey has continued to work in diverse settings supporting children and their families. She has a passion for giving back to the community, in the past volunteering for Rady’s main campus and Make-A-Wish San Diego. Her long-term goal is to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, she is continuing her education at the graduate level. In her free time Bianey enjoys watching sunsets, making flower arrangements, and being with her family.
Isabelle Quejada (Floater)
Isabelle earned her bachelor’s degree in child and family development from SDSU in 2022. During her college years, she worked as an associate teacher at SDSU’s Children Center. Isabelle enjoys hanging out with friends and family, watching the sunset, and exploring new cities.
Charlyn Slaughter (Floater)
Charlyn is currently attending SDSU, majoring in Sociology. Her plan after SDSU is to continue onto grad school to become a pediatric occupational therapist. Prior to working at Alexa’s PLAYC, she was a shift supervisor in Child Watch at the YMCA and a nanny for 2 years. When she is not working or going to school, she loves hanging out with her family and friends. A couple of her favorite things to do are going to the Padres game and trying new food places.
Martha Graf, M.S., OTR/L
Martha (“Marta”) received her bachelor’s degree from the University of Southern California in 2007 with dual degrees in psychology and communication. After graduating, she worked as the lead behavior therapist at an early intervention preschool program for children on the autism spectrum for three years before starting graduate school. Marta is a registered and licensed occupational therapist and received her Masters of Occupational Therapy in 2012 from Boston University. She has been working at Rady Children’s since 2013. Marta enjoys working with children of all ages and helping them to achieve their goals and reach their fullest potential. She also has experience working in other areas of occupational therapy, such as school settings and skilled nursing facilities. Marta is currently a member of the American Occupational Therapy Association and is certified in the SOS Approach to Feeding as well as iLS (Integrative Listening Systems). In her personal time, she enjoys long walks with her dog Taco and knitting for friends and family.
Christiana David, M.A.
Christiana has been a speech-language pathologist at Rady Children’s Hospital since 2011. She earned her bachelor’s degree in communication disorders with a minor in psychology and her master’s degree in speech, language, and hearing sciences from San Diego State University. Christiana enjoys helping children and their families realize their potential through improved communication skills. At Rady Children’s, she treats children in the outpatient clinic and is a member of the Feeding Team. She has worked as part of the Inpatient Rehabilitation Team and treated kids at the Helen Bernardy Center. Christiana is trained in PROMPT level 1 (Prompts for Restructuring Oral Musculature Phonetic Targets) and PECS Level 1 (Picture Exchange Communication System). She is licensed by the state of California and holds her Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA).