The staff at Children’s Autism Center is a huge reason why we are so successful. Below you will find our directors, BCBAs, BCaBAs, and behavior therapists who help us provide the absolute best care for our clients.

Phyllis Sample, M.Ed, BCBA

Executive Director

Phyllis Sample has 19 years experience working with children with developmental disabilities and autism.  She received her Bachelor’s degree in Speech Pathology from Texas Christian University and her Master’s degree in Early Childhood Special Education with a concentration in Autism and Developmental Disabilities from the University of Texas at Austin.  She has worked in both the public and private sector of education as a Speech Pathologist and PPCD teacher.  After leaving the school system to raise her children, Phyllis returned to the field of early childhood to embrace Autism and Applied Behavior Analysis.

In 2005, Phyllis moved to Round Rock, where as co-director of the Autism program at Bluebonnet Trails MHMR she helped to create their autism program.  Recognizing the need and having the desire to further serve the early childhood autism population in Williamson County, she independently developed the Children’s Autism  Center in the Fall of 2008.

Dr. Bruce Weinheimer, PhD, BCBA-D

Licensed Psychologist

Bruce Weinheimer is a Licensed Psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst with over 30 years of experience in clinical and administrative positions. His primary areas of expertise include the fields of developmental disabilities, applied behavior analysis, and psychopharmacology. His experience has included provision of clinical treatment, assessment, and program evaluation and consultation within long-term care settings, psychiatric facilities, and community-based services.

Dr. Weinheimer was the Chief Psychologist at Austin State School for over 16 years and is the Coordinator of Psychological and Behavioral Services for State Supported Living Centers within the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. He serves on Institutional Review Board as part of this responsibility. He has experience applying a range of standards and regulations and has served as an expert witness within his areas of expertise. Dr. Weinheimer has post-doctoral training in clinical psychopharmacology and is a Diplomate-Fellow in Psychopharmacology with the Prescribing Psychologists Register.

Mary Matese, M.A., BCBA

Clinic Director

Mary has worked in the field of developmental disabilities for 25 years, starting as a respite provider for children with developmental disabilities while attending college (an experience which in turn inspired her career).  She grew up in the heart of Cajun county and graduated cum laude from Louisiana State University in 1989.  Mary received a fellowship from LSU and did research in the area of autism that was published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry as well as the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disabilities.  She went on to earn her Master’s degree in Clinical Child Psychology in 1992.

Ms. Matese received her certification as Board Certified Behavior Analyst in August of 2008. She has experience working with people with developmental disabilities of all ages in home, residential, and clinical settings and has a particular interest and expertise in treating challenging behaviors such as aggression and self-injury.  Mary currently serves as Clinical Director of Children’s Autism Center and is responsible for program oversight.  When she’s not at the Children’s Autism Center, she can be found puttering around in her garden or spoiling her rescue dogs Augie, Chester, and Sweetpea.

Courtney Wright M.Ed., JD, BCBA

General Counsel & Behavior Analyst

Courtney has the dual role of General Counsel and behavior analyst at CAC. In over nine years of practice, she has worked at law firms as well as for a national insurance company. Courtney came to CAC in December 2012 after leaving her position as partner in a Dallas law firm. After doing a great deal of volunteer work for autism awareness in Dallas and being inspired by her mother, Phyllis, Courtney decided to make a career change to work with children with autism.  Courtney has a Bachelor of Arts from Texas Tech University, Juris Doctorate from Baylor School of Law, and a Masters of Education from University of Missouri. Courtney enjoys spending time with her husband, David, their two year old son, and their Great Dane.

Carrie Williams, M.S., BCBA

Behavior Analyst

Carrie joined our team in 2012 after graduating with her Masters of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology. During her time in Florida, Carrie was able to gain experience in the field by working at an intensive early intervention clinic with ages 3-16 where she honed her skills as a behavioral therapist, and found a real connection with the school aged population. After obtaining her BCBA in September of 2012, Carrie became a specialist in direct instruction to teach academics, ARD meetings, IEP writing and teaching valuable reading, language and self-help skills. Carrie also has a strong verbal behavior background with ample experience developing and increasing children’s communication through vocal communication, sign language, and augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices. Originally from North Carolina, where she received her Bachelor’s in Special Education from UNC-Wilmington, Carrie now resides in Round Rock with her 2 ½ year old daughter Abigail, and their cat Mika.

Rebecca Donnell, M.Ed, BCBA

Behavior Analyst

Rebecca serves as our Preschool Teacher where she creates and develops a unique, individualized ABA-based curriculum for children on the spectrum, and supervises programs as a board certified behavior analyst.  In addition, Rebecca has extensive training in early childhood play-based therapy for children and parent training. Rebecca attended the University of Houston where she studied Communication Disorders, and was able to begin studying ABA therapy and working with children on the Autism Spectrum. Knowing the capacity of speech and language wasn’t where she was best used, in 2005 Rebecca enrolled at Texas State University and received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. The following two years were an eye opening experience in the Texas education system, which drove Rebecca to pursue and complete her Master’s degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis. Finally on the career path she has always dreamed of, Rebecca resides in Round Rock with her boyfriend of 5 years, Max, and their two children Kirby (a Yorkshire terrier) and Frankie (their rescue cat).

Meghan Marone, M.A., BCBA

Behavior Analyst

Meghan is originally from upstate New York; but is thoroughly enjoying living here in Texas.  Meghan earned her undergraduate degree in Elementary Education and Masters in Special Education, with a concentration in Autism and Developmental Disabilities from the University of Texas at Austin.  Her previous work experience includes in-home behavior therapy, teaching at a preschool, and running a day camp. Meghan sincerely enjoys working with children and helping them grow.

Ashlin Blum, M.S.W., BCBA, LMSW

Behavior Analyst

Ashlin joined our team in 2014 after graduating with his Masters of Social Work degree, concentration of Applied Behavior Analyis, from Saint Louis University. During his time in Missouri, Ashlin was able to gain an assortment of experiences in both Applied Behavior Analysis and Social Work. Ashlin’s behavior analytical work focused on in-home early intervention and severe problem behaviors. The behavioral programs served children ages 6 months to 12 years of age. During this time, Ashlin found a connection with infants and toddlers. Also during graduate school, Ashlin continued his work with children during his Social Work experience. Ashlin worked with at-risk mothers and children through Nurses for Newborns, and learned to fight for family rights at the political level serving on the Board of Directors at The Missouri Association for Social Welfare. It was during this time Ashlin began to specialize in applying Family System interventions to increase efficacy of his behavioral programs.  Although originally from Arizona, Ashlin has traveled the United States receiving his Bachelor’s Degree from The Ohio State University. Now he currently resides in north Austin with his fiancé Caitlin.

Mandi St. Romain, M.A., BCBA

Mandi St. Romain has worked with children with developmental disabilities for over five years, four of which have been spent working with children with autism spectrum disorders.  Mandi grew up in a small Cajun town in Louisiana and went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Louisiana State University in 2009.  During her final year at LSU, she began working at a clinic that provided ABA therapy to children with autism.  She was inspired to pursue her master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and knew that she wanted to make a difference in the lives of children with autism and related disorders.  After a year of living and working in Chicago, IL  she moved back to the boot state to pursue her passion of working with children with ASD.  In New Orleans she worked as a behavior therapist for nearly three years and provided home, school, and clinic based ABA therapy.  In 2014, Mandi graduated with her master’s degree in ABA with an emphasis in autism from Ball State University.  She has recently relocated to Austin from New Orleans, LA and joined our team as a BCBA.

Meghan Acuna B.S., BCaBA

Assistant Behavior Analyst

Meghan is our Clinical Assistant and a board certified assistant behavior analyst at CAC where she has been providing ABA therapy services for the past 2 years. Meghan has worked with children on the Autism spectrum for over 7 years. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders. When Meghan’s not working at the clinic, she enjoys running and playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Lilly.

Carolyn Peterson, M.A.

Director, The Bridge: Social Learning Center

Carolyn serves as our director of The Bridge: Social Learning Center where she works on the social, emotional and executive functioning components of ADHD, autism spectrum disorders, Asperger’s, related developmental disorders, and children and adolescents with executive functioning deficits. Carolyn received both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of St. Thomas in Minneapolis, MN graduating magna cum laude in the field of counseling psychology with an emphasis in developmental psychopathology. Carolyn draws upon her business experience and entrepreneurial spirit to develop our programs under The Bridge and coordinate marketing and scholarship efforts for CAC. Carolyn’s areas of interest and research include ADHD life course, outcomes, and interventions, executive functioning,  emotion regulation, coping skills, developing meaningful relationships, and parent support and training. In her spare time, Carolyn enjoys spending time with her husband, and two daughters. She is an avid reader, and enjoys being a contributing member to her family’s non-profit, Caring Together in Hope, serving caregivers of family members with dementia.

Suzy Albarran, M.Ed.

Lead Behavior Therapist

Suzy is originally from Houston and moved to Austin in 2002 to attend the University of Texas where she earned both her B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Child Development, and her M.Ed. in Autism and Developmental Disabilities.  Suzy has worked with children for over 12 years starting in the classroom setting, and moving to Early Childhood Intervention & Autism Services for Williamson County as a parent educator and direct service provider.  She has provided behavioral intervention services for children aged 2-15 and has experience with challenging behaviors such as aggression, self-injury, and food refusal.  Suzy spends her time away from CAC with her two boys, Luke and Andrew, and enjoys spending time with family and friends.    

Vanessa Freeman, B.A.

Lead Behavior Therapist

Vanessa is a Lead Therapist at CAC  with several years of experience teaching verbal behavior to children with disabilities. She first discovered her passion for working with affected children during her employment with an inclusion-based childcare facility in 2009. In addition to her Bachelor’s of Arts for psychology from Louisiana State University, Vanessa plans on furthering her understanding of applied behavioral analysis through upcoming coursework. Currently Vanessa lives in Round Rock and enjoys spending quality time with her daughter.

Jennifer Bacon

Behavior Therapist

Jennifer moved to Austin from Orlando, FL three years ago. She enjoys spending time with her husband, son, and dogs, exploring the city, trying new foods and restaurants, and of course listening to all the live music the city has to offer.  Jenn is currently pursuing her degree in Child Development and Cognitive Studies.   She has over ten years experience in the ABA field working with clients that range in age from 18 months to 24 years in school, home and community settings. She has a background working with clients that have challenging behavior including self-injurious and aggressive behaviors. Jenn also enjoys working and collaborating with her peers and the client’s family in order to give the client the best therapy possible.

Michael Bonagurio, B.A.

Behavior Therapist

Michael hails from Jersey Village, TX, which is in the northwest Houston area. He has a background in music and a BA in Psychology with a focus in counseling.  In college Michael worked in a Play Therapy clinic for young children. After graduation, he was hired as a Youth Worker in a Residential Treatment Center in Houston, providing crisis intervention and life skills for abused teens.  Some of his other interests include telescoping and paleontology. Michael continues to be an active musician in the Band of the Hills community band in Cedar Park, TX,  playing Clarinet and Bass Clarinet.

Michelle Martinez, B.A.

Behavior Therapist

Michelle joined the Children’s Autism Center as a therapist in 2013.  She relocated from Clarksville, TN, where she had worked as an ABA therapist for the previous two years.  Michelle received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Troy University.  She lives in Austin with her husband and two children, and enjoys drawing and painting in her spare time.

Chris Prickett, B.A.

Behavior Therapist

Chris received a Bachelor’s degree is international studies in 2009. After moving back to Austin, he changed directions and studied psychology at Texas State University, graduating with another B.A. in 2012. He worked as caregiver for two boys with autism before coming to CAC. He is currently working on a master’s in psychology and hopes to continue at the doctoral level after graduation, researching and working in the field of developmental disorders.

Virginia Hernandez, B.A

Behavior Therapist

Virginia Hernandez, B.A. graduated from Texas A&M Kingsville with a major in Psychology and minor in Sociology.  Her experience working with children started at a young age when she was a camp counselor in high school and continued after college when she was part of a cognitive training program for kids.  Last year, Virginia had the privilege of working for an elementary charter school in Houston, Texas as a Program Coordinator. Her interests include going to the park with her boyfriend, Blake and Pomeranian, Bella.