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Autism Discovery Institute



Kristin Gist, Senior Director of Developmental Services
Kristin is the Senior Director of Developmental Services at Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego. She has been with Rady Children’s for over 40 years, and most of her work has been with children from birth to 5 years of age and their caregivers. Kristin’s formal education includes a master’s degree in clinical psychology from San Diego State University. She started as an elementary school teacher, then worked as Head Start teacher. She currently supports 14 departments helping children who are at risk, who have had injuries or who are challenged by developmental disabilities or with social emotional functioning and behavior. In 1998, in partnership with Dr. Aubyn Stahmer, Kristin founded Rady Children’s Autism Intervention Center, now known as the Autism Discovery Institute. In her spare time, she can be seen playing with her three grandchildren — Julia, Simon and Mareike– or walking her Goldendoodle, Ollie. Kristin and Ollie are volunteers in Rady Children’s Canine Therapy Program.

Themba Carr, Ph.D., Manager and Clinical Psychologist
Themba is a clinical psychologist at the Autism Discovery Institute. She earned her doctorate in clinical psychology from the University of Michigan and completed postdoctoral fellowships at the University of California, Los Angeles Center for Autism Research and Treatment and Center for Health Services and Society. Themba’s clinical expertise includes the assessment and diagnosis of children with autism spectrum disorders and the implementation of autism-focused caregiver-mediated early intervention models. In addition to working directly with families, she serves as a certified trainer for the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule and the Autism Diagnostic Interview. She is also a UC San Diego assistant clinical professor (non-salaried) and provides teaching and training opportunities in the assessment and diagnosis of autism spectrum and related disorders.  Themba’s research interests include implementing community-partnered participatory research methods to decrease healthcare disparities. She is currently serving as a committee member on the Lancet Medical Journal Commission on the Future of Care and Research in Autism.   

ADI Team Photo - Lauren BrookmanLauren Brookman-Frazee, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Research Director, Autism Discovery Institute
Lauren is an associate professor in the UC San Diego Department of Psychiatry, associate director of the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center and the research director of the Autism Discovery Institute. Her federally funded research involves partnering with mental health and education system leaders, providers and families to develop, test and implement evidence-based interventions in community and school-based settings and reduce disparities in access to quality care. She conducts this research with the specific population of children with (or at risk for) autism spectrum disorders as well as the broader population of children with mental health problems receiving publicly funded mental health services. Additional areas of research include research-community partnerships, clinician training/supervision, early developmental and social-emotional screening and intervention, and parent training and psychotherapy intervention process and outcomes.

Elise Tran, M.S., BCBA, Care Coordinator, ADI Multidisciplinary Team
Elise is a board certified behavior analyst and the care coordinator for the Autism Discovery Institute’s multidisciplinary team. To help children with autism get the care they need, she works with families to obtain needed services, from setting up developmental and behavioral evaluations to getting treatment. Elise has extensive teaching experience in classroom settings, where she also piloted special projects to promote parent support for immigrant families in the Bay Area. Upon receiving her BCBA certification, Elise worked for a non-profit in San Jose, where she used her expertise in behavioral treatment for children with autism to lead caregiver training in group homes and supervise one-on-one applied behavior analysis in the home setting. She has also integrated ABA into an extended day-clinic program for preschool-aged children. Elise received her Master’s in Special Education in ABA from the University of Washington in 2015.

Dayna Stout, Program Evaluation Specialist
Dayna is a program evaluation specialist at the Autism Discovery Institute. She earned her bachelor’s degree in integrative biology at University of California Berkeley. She joined the team at Rady Children’s in 2019. Dayna supports the Autism Discovery Institute team in implementing quality improvement initiatives to improve and ensure quality care across all services. She is passionate about improving healthcare systems to provide evidence-based quality care to children and families across all backgrounds. Additionally, she enjoys providing music therapy at Alexa’s PLAYC.

Dalia Flores, Program Coordinator
Dalia is the program coordinator at the Autism Discovery Institute. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from San Diego State University in 2017. She works with families and behavior specialists to ensure children with autism spectrum disorders get the services they need. She focuses on recruitment, enrollment, and coordination of social skills groups at the Torrey Hills and Kearny Mesa ADI locations. She has experience working with children on the autism spectrum or other developmental delays in both in-home and educational settings since 2016. Dalia is also the clinic coordinator for the Down Syndrome Center at Rady Children’s. She is bilingual in English and Spanish.

Bonnie Corbin, Administrative Associate
Bonnie has been a part of the Autism Discovery Institute since its inception. Then known as the Children’s Autism Intervention Center, Bonnie held roles ranging from scheduling, assisting in the Toddler School and taking care of the daily business transactions. With the expansion to the Autism Discovery Institute, Bonnie now focuses more on the business operations but may still be found interacting with families at the front desk or handling a variety of tasks.


Behavioral Specialists

Brian Fritz, M.A., BCBA
Brian Fritz has worked with children with autism spectrum disorders since 2009 and has been at Rady Children’s Hospital since 2012. He earned his master’s degree in education, with an emphasis in applied behavior analysis, from Arizona State University. He is also a board-certified behavior analyst (BCBA). Brian provides individual and group services at the Torrey Hills and Kearny Mesa locations and is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children and families affected by autism.


Abbey Hye, M.A., BCBA
Abbey received her Master of Arts in human development and psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles and is a board-certified behavior analyst. She has broad training in the implementation of behavioral and developmental treatments (e.g., PRT, JASPER, ESDM) for children with autism and other developmental delays (e.g. Dup15q, tuberous sclerosis complex). Prior to joining Rady Children’s, she worked as a research assistant on a variety of early intervention studies at UC San Diego and UCLA, provided in home therapy through local agencies and conducted developmental/diagnostic assessments at the UCLA CAN Clinic. She has a passion for parent coaching and is committed to teaching social communication skills to children with autism and helping their families. Abbey has been working in the field of applied behavior analysis since 2008.

ADI Team Photo - Colleen HColleen McNish, M.S.
Colleen earned her master’s degree in educational counseling from National University. She has been implementing home- and school-based behavioral interventions for children with autism and other developmental disorders since 1999. Her clinical experience includes the implementation and development of early intervention programs for children with autism spectrum disorders in addition to training therapists in a variety of research-based approaches.



Lorena Rivas, M.S., BCBA
Lorena is a board-certified behavior analyst. She received her Master of Science in clinical psychology from Walden University. She works as a behavior specialist at the Autism Discovery Institute providing individual services to children with autism spectrum disorder and their families. Lorena has worked with children with ASD since 2013 in both home and academic settings. She is passionate about behavioral health and is committed to helping children and their families utilizing evidence-based parent coaching programs. In her spare time, Lorena can be seen playing with her dogs. 

Clinical Psychologists

Liz Bacon, Ph.D., BCBA
Liz is a clinical psychologist at the Autism Discovery Institute. She received her doctoral degree in psychology from UC San Diego, where she studied early intervention techniques for toddlers with autism. She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UC San Diego Autism Center of Excellence, where she investigated methods to support community pediatricians to conduct developmental screenings for infants and toddlers and refer for evaluations and treatment to promote early and prompt access to care. Liz is a licensed clinical psychologist and a board-certified behavior analyst and is well-versed conducting diagnostic evaluations and providing naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions for toddlers and children. Her research and clinical interests include improving access to developmental evaluations and treatment, understanding the stability of diagnoses over time and individualizing treatment for children with autism.

Whitney Brown, Ph.D.
Whitney received her doctorate in clinical psychology, with an emphasis in child and adolescent psychology, from Loma Linda University in 2016. She has been a licensed clinical psychologist in the state of California since 2017. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UC Davis MIND Institute (Medical Investigation of Neurodevelopmental Disorders), where she received specialty training in neurodevelopmental evaluation and interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders, genetic disorders, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, prematurity and a range of other developmental delays and neurodevelopmental disorders. She has extensive experience in pediatric neuropsychological assessment and developmental evaluations. She also has experience providing therapeutic services to school-aged children, including social skills groups and cognitive behavioral therapy. Whitney is passionate about providing excellent care to children and families impacted by autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities.

Allison-ADI TeamAllison Jobin, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Allison is a licensed clinical psychologist and board certified behavior analyst at the Autism Discovery Institute and study manager in the Department of Psychiatry of the University of California, San Diego and Child and Adolescent Services Research Center. Dr. Jobin has over 15 years of experience in the delivery, supervision and evaluation of evidence-based interventions for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and their families. Her research and clinical work has focused on parent-mediated treatment models, naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions and the assessment and diagnosis of children with ASD and related neurodevelopmental disorders. She has expertise in the training and supervision of providers, educators and caregivers in evidence-based treatment models. Her current research includes the evaluation of community-based treatments for children with ASD, as well as the investigation of effective methods for training providers in evidence-based practices and the sustainment of these practices in community-based school and mental health settings.

Chanel Kealoha, Ph.D.
Chanel is a licensed clinical psychologist who has dedicated her career to improving the lives of children and families. She brings more than 15 years of experience in comprehensive psychological evaluation/testing, family crisis intervention, clinical program and policy development, and evidence-based child and adolescent therapy. Chanel received a full academic scholarship to the University of Southern California before obtaining master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from Pepperdine University. She completed doctoral internships at the UCLA Medical Center, Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD) before completing a post-doctoral fellowship at the Kapiolani Medical Center, where she received specialized training in the assessment and treatment of childhood trauma. Notably, Chanel has served as the lead psychologist for state developmental disability divisions in Hawaii and Washington, where she headed statewide crisis intervention teams and developed policies to reduce the use of restrictive interventions and increase community integration. She also carries her strengths-based approach to the therapy room, where she emphasizes the unique interests and abilities of each individual—as opposed to focusing solely on symptom reduction.

Joanna Kennedy, Psy.D.
Joanna is a licensed clinical psychologist at the Autism Discovery Institute. She completed her doctorate in clinical psychology, with an emphasis on child and family psychology, in 2017. While completing her undergraduate degree at UC San Diego, Joanna conducted research on naturalistic behavioral intervention and provided treatment to toddlers at-risk for an autism spectrum disorder. Her doctoral dissertation focused on the experience of mothers of children with ASD in a mindful parenting course. Joanna has experience providing cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to children with a range of presenting concerns, as well as using parent-mediated interventions to address behavioral concerns. She is certified in parent-child interaction therapy. Joanna also has provided developmental and psychological assessments in a variety of community mental health settings. At the Autism Discovery Institute, Joanna conducts comprehensive developmental and psychological evaluations, and provides CBT to school-aged children.

Vivian Oberling, Psy.D.
Vivian has been a licensed clinical psychologist since 2018 and has worked at Rady Children’s since 2019. She specializes in assessment of children and adolescents with developmental, behavioral, learning and other mental health concerns. This involves the diagnostic evaluation of autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, learning disorders and concerns in the areas of anxiety, mood and learning. She also has extensive experience working with children who have comorbid medical conditions and developmental delays. Vivian received her doctorate from the PGSP-Stanford Psy.D. Consortium. Prior to coming to Rady Children’s, she completed an internship at the California Pacific Medical Center, Sutter Health in San Francisco and postdoctoral training at Kaiser Permanente Oakland. Vivian has previously provided evaluation, treatment and consult-liaison services at Stanford Children’s Hospital. She is bilingual (English/Vietnamese).