COVID-19 Updates: Latest Information for Parents

Alexa's PLAYC

San Diego Team

Behavioral Specialists

Elizabeth Gallagher photoElizabeth Gallagher, BCBA
Elizabeth earned her bachelor’s degree in child development, ages 0-5, from San Diego State University and her master’s in education in applied behavior analysis from Arizona State University. She is also a board certified behavior analyst. Elizabeth began working at Rady Children’s Hospital in 2015 as a developmental specialist with Children’s Care Connection (C3) and then joined the Alexa’s PLAYC team as an autism education associate. Beginning in 2019, she worked as a program manager supervising in-home ABA therapies, and in November, she rejoined the Alexa’s PLAYC team as a behavior specialist. Elizabeth is passionate about naturalistic intervention for children with autism, as well as supporting their families with parent education and training.

Arielle King photoArielle King, BCBA
Arielle began her career working with individuals on the autism spectrum as an in-home early intervention therapist. Over the past 10 years, she has taught special education in both Arizona and New Zealand, helped found a bakery owned and operated by adults with autism, and assisted in the startup of a Phoenix-based applied behavioral analysis  clinic specializing in pivotal response treatment. Arielle earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology and master’s in special education from Arizona State University. She is a board-certified behavior analyst. In her work with both children and adults, Arielle is passionate about creating opportunities for individuals with autism to be fully engaged and integrated in their communities.

Amy Oh photoAmy 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.  

Early Childhood Autism Education Associates

Yuka Ahmanson photoYuka Ahmanson
Yuka, a native of Okinawa Japan, has worked 12 years in the child educational field. She completed her associate degree in early childhood education at Santa Barbara City College and a bachelor’s degree in psychology with a concentration in children and adolescent at Southern New Hampshire University. Yuka also earned a master’s degree in special education with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis at Arizona State University. She has always had an interest in music and enjoys playing instruments such as the trumpet, clarinet and drums, and participated in marching band. She is eager to share her Japanese culture and musical experience with children at Alexa’s PLAYC. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her husband and 5-year-old daughter.

photo of Genevieve AskrenGenevieve Askren
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.

Emily-Fuller photoEmily Fuller
Emily is a San Diego native who enjoys camping, hiking and the beach. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University graduating summa cum laude. While working on her undergraduate degree, she worked as an assistant site supervisor for the YMCA for two years, where she helped provide after school care for children grades K-6. Prior to joining Alexa’s PLAYC, Emily worked as a behavioral technician delivering in-home applied behavior analysis therapy to children with autism. Through this position, she was able to gain experience working with children on the spectrum and her repertoire of knowledge regarding early childhood development. In her free time, Emily enjoys spending time with friends, cooking and drinking coffee.

Diana-Maldonado photoDiana Maldonado
Diana began her career with children while in college working as an in-home behavior technician specializing in applied behavior analysis. After graduating from Saint Mary’s College of California in 2019 with degrees in psychology and Spanish, she began working as an early interventionist for a nonprofit organization, providing therapy to toddlers with developmental delays. Diana is glad to be back in her hometown of San Diego and continuing her goal of providing quality care in an inclusion-based and naturalistic way. When she’s not working, Diana enjoys going on early morning beach walks and watching movies with her husband.

Emily Mendoza photoEmily Mendoza
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!

Photo of Hailey NilssonHailee Nilsson 
Hailee received her bachelor’s degree in kinesiology from Colorado Mesa University and went on to get her early childhood development credits at Riverside City College. Prior to working at Alexa PLAYC, she worked in a private school setting serving students with autism and as a behavioral therapist at an in-home applied behavior analysis setting for over three years. Hailee currently dedicates her time outside of Alexa’s PLAYC to coach youth soccer teams. She has been in California since 2017 and has lived in a handful of other states growing up. Hailee became a first-time mother in 2019 to a beautiful little girl and spends all of her free time loving and caring for her.  

Margaret Noll Photo of Margaret Noll
Margaret received her bachelor’s degree in genetics from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. For the past six years, she has worked as an autism treatment provider in the clinic and home setting in the Madison area. Margaret recently moved to San Diego and is excited to skip the winter weather.

Melissa-ADI TeamMelissa Ramirez
Melissa earned her bachelor’s degree in child and family development from San Diego State University. She has worked in the field of child development since 1997 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 1999. When Melissa is not at work, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going to the movies, shopping, scrapbooking and going for walks on the beach.

Kyla Delos Santos photoKyla Delos Santos
Kyla comes to us with extensive experience working with young preschool children. She graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University with a bachelor’s degree in child development. For five years, she worked with children in the Sweetwater Unified District as an after-school program coordinator, instructor and teacher’s aide. Kyla then transitioned to become a behavioral therapist incorporating in-home applied behavior analysis (ABA) and completed an internship at the Autism Discovery Institute. During her free time, she loves to volunteer in her community by coordinating children’s events and assisting with community summer programs. She also enjoys spending time with her family and four dogs.

Sarali Saulog photoSarali Saulog
Sarali earned her bachelor’s degree from San Diego State University in 2019, majoring in speech, language and hearing sciences. While in college, she became a therapeutic recreation leader for the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation, Therapeutic Recreation Services, where she has been volunteering since 2017. At TRS, she specialized in interpreting American Sign Language for adolescents with autism and who are hard of hearing. Before joining Alexa’s PLAYC, she worked as a behavior interventionist in school, home and clinic applied behavior analysis settings for two years. In her spare time, Sarali enjoys spending time with her dog and family and exploring new restaurants. Sarali is passionate about the importance of diversity and inclusion, and is very excited to help children discover their uniqueness!

Elyssa Yeh photoElyssa Yeh
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.

Early Childhood Teachers

Katie-Benson photoKatie Beamer
Katie earned her degree from Cal State San Marcos in human development. She has worked with children and families in various settings, including preschool, as a personal nanny, volunteering in the hospital and in behavioral therapy. Aa a registered yoga instructor, Katie enjoys interacting with people of all ages in fun, challenging and interactive ways. She has a 6-year-old niece and 4-year old nephew, who both bring her incredible joy. When she is not on her yoga mat or playing with kiddos, she is at the beach, camping or mountain biking with her partner, Ross, and Aussiedoodle, Riley. 

Sarah Doss
Sarah earned her bachelor’s degree in child development from San Diego State University. While attending college, she worked as an associate teacher at San Diego State University’s Children’s Center where she implemented child-led curriculum and provided care for infants and toddlers. She has also worked as a camp counselor, and she volunteered at pediatric clinic for occupational therapy. Sarah’s long-term goal is to become a pediatric occupational therapist. In her free time, Sarah enjoys taking yoga classes, hiking and going to the beach.

Jamie Gavino photoJamie Gavino
Jamie earned her bachelor’s degree in child and family development at San Diego State University. Currently, she is in her master’s program at National University for applied behavior analysis. She found her passion for working with children during her study abroad trip in Vietnam in 2019. Here in San Diego, she worked at a local hospital in the special needs unit where she saw how her care improved the overall well-being of her patients. Since then, Jamie has dedicated her time volunteering with the Special Olympics. Previously, she has worked as an ABA behavior technician, an associate teacher at the SDSU Children’s Center and as an after-school coach, integrating STEM with sports for a group of refugee children in El Cajon. In her free time, Jamie enjoys playing with her Shiba Inu, going to local nurseries, visiting the beach and streaming telelvision shows/movies.

Kati Gimm photoKati Gimm
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.

Wendy Lewis photoWendy Lewis
Wendy earned her degree in Montessori early childhood education from National Center for Montessori Education, Early Childhood Education-Infant and Toddler from Montessori Teacher College-Sacramento. She has been teaching in private Montessori schools since 1999. She has experience in the classroom teaching in English and Spanish. Wendy is passionate about providing the best education and care to children.

Lara Padrigon photoLara Padrigon
Lara earned her degree in child development and is currently pursuing a degree in psychology. She has worked in the field of child development since 2003 with both neuro-typical children and children with special needs. In her spare time, Lara enjoys reading, watching movies, catching up on sports, painting/drawing, spending quality time with her family and trying out different types of cuisines.

Salina Sithiporn photoSalina Sithiporn 
Salina graduated from San Francisco State University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development and a concentration in early childhood. Before joining the Alexa’s PLAYC team, she worked with children from ages 6 months to 5 years old in childcare settings such as Gymboree. Salina believes that every child learns in their own unique way, and she is passionate about helping the children connect with learning in a way that is meaningful and fun. Salina’s long-term goal is to become a pediatric occupational therapist. In her spare time, she enjoys baking and cooking for her friends and family.

Gaby Torres-Cueva photoGaby Torres-Cueva
Gabriela earned a bachelor’s degree in child development from Point Loma University, where she is currently pursuing a master’s degree in special education. She has 12 years of experience working in the education field. For the past four years, she worked as a pre-kindergarten and kindergarten teacher at Montessori Hills Academy. In her free time, she enjoys traveling, camping, cooking and taking long walks with her fur daughter, Concha.

Anh Luc photoAnh Luc
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.

Ashley Carrillo (Floater)
Ashley graduated from Point Loma Nazarene University in 2019 with a bachelor’s degree in child and adolescent development. Prior to joining Alexa’s PLAYC, she worked as a behavior interventionist in the home and clinic setting for two years and a respite caregiver for children and adults with special needs for three years. In her free time, Ashley enjoys going on walks with her 8-year-old golden retriever, spending time with her family and watching movies.

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!

Occupational Therapist

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.

Speech-Language Pathologist

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).