Meet our Team
The staff at Children’s Autism Center is a huge reason why our clients are so successful. Below you will find our team of directors, behavior analysts, and behavior therapists who help us provide the absolute best care for our clients and their families.
Phyllis Sample, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA – Executive Director, Founder
Phyllis Sample has over 20 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 Children’s Autism Center in the Fall of 2008.
Courtney Wright, M.Ed., JD, BCBA, LBA – CEO; General Counsel
Courtney serves as CEO and General Counsel at CAC, as well as a behavior analyst. 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. She went back to school to obtain a Master of Education and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2014. Courtney has experience with children of all ages diagnosed with ASD. Prior to working at CAC, Courtney had extensive legal experience in the insurance industry which she now uses to help families navigate the insurance process. Courtney received 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, and their two boys, Charlie and Jamie.
Dr. Bruce Weinheimer, Ph.D., BCBA-D – Psychologist
Bruce Weinheimer is a Licensed Psychologist and doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst with over 20 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 (now the Austin State Supported Living
Center) for over 16 years and was the Coordinator of Psychological and Behavioral Services for State Supported Living Centers within the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services. He served on Department’s 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.
Laura Saldana, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA – Clinical Director
Laura L. Saldana is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who began working with children with autism in 2004 while receiving her BA in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin. She went on to receive her Master’s Degree in Early Childhood Special Education with a concentration in Autism and Developmental Disabilities from the University of Texas at Austin. Laura has been leading intensive interventions for children with autism since 2007 when she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Utilizing the principles of applied behavior analysis and Skinner’s verbal behavior, Laura has successfully designed and developed many programs for the home, school, community, and clinical settings. Laura discovered her passion for teaching and training others when she worked as an Academic Associate teaching graduate level coursework in behavior analysis.
Laura has years of experience working with children of all ages, but specifically has extensive training in working with children 18 months to 10 years of age. She specializes in intensive early childhood programs with an emphasis in language development through extensive work with non-verbal children. In addition to designing programs, Laura has been certified in a range of specializations including the acclaimed Handwriting Without Tears. When she is not working. Laura enjoys traveling and spending quality time with her husband Oscar and their three children.
Meghan Acuna, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA – Assistant Clinical Director
Meghan is our Assistant Clinical Director and a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Meghan has been been working at CAC since 2012 in roles as a therapist and behavior analyst until becoming our assistant clinical director in 2020. Meghan has worked with children on the autism spectrum for over 10 years. She graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders and a master’s degree in education and curriculum from Arizona State. When Meghan is not working at the clinic, she enjoys playing with her Cocker Spaniel, Lilly and hanging out with her family.
Sumaiya Moledina, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA – Behavior Analyst
Sumaiya is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Houston and a Master’s degree in Special Education with a concentration in Autism and Developmental Disabilities from the University of Texas at Austin. Sumaiya came to CAC as a behavior therapist during her practicum and went through the Apprentice program. She is interested in early intervention programs with an emphasis in language development.
During her free time she enjoys hiking and exporting the city for local spots.
Izzy Riofrio, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA – New Orleans Assistant Clinical Director
Izzy, originally from Quito, Ecuador, is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who has been working in the field for over 7 years. She began working with children with autism shortly after graduating with her bachelor’s in psychology from Tulane University in New Orleans. Her experience working 1:1 in the home as well as in the school and clinic settings inspired her to pursue a masters degree in Behavior Analysis from Florida State University. Upon graduating Izzy began working at CAC, continuing to pursue her passion in language and functional skill development.
In her free time Izzy enjoys being outdoors as much as possible, crossword puzzles, and traveling abroad.
Cherilynn Blumenthal, M.S., BCBA, LBA – Behavior Analyst
Cherilynn, originally from the Boston, MA area, holds an undergraduate degree in psychology from Clark University, a master’s in non-profit management from Worcester State University, and most recently obtained a second master’s in ABA from Regis College.
Cherilynn has worked as a behavior technician in home based settings, as a special education teaching assistant and as a BCBA in a public day school setting prior to joining the Children’s Autism Center team. Cherilynn loves working with parents to help them understand their child’s abilities and how to advocate for their children using the principles of ABA and the data. She likes to problem solve and find solutions that are amenable to all involved. She has found success with the use of out-of-the-box ideas and methods, for which she is excited to call upon while advancing her skill set.
When not working, Cherilynn is an avid runner having completed several half marathons, and spends a ton of time running around after her toddler. She resides in Austin, with her husband Josh and son, Ethan.
Natalija Milutinovic, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA – Behavior Analyst
Tricia Espiritu, M.A., BCBA, LBA– Behavior Analyst
Tricia Espiritu is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and holds a bachelor’s degree in Human Biology from The University of Texas at Austin and her master’s degree in Professional Behavior Analysis. Tricia has completed the Apprenticeship program at Children’s Autism Center specializing in early childhood. Throughout her apprenticeship, Tricia has experience working with various age groups from 2-16 years old, collaborating with other professionals in client specific programs and training therapists in specific areas of behavior analytic programming.
Tricia is originally from Manila, Philippines, and moved to the States in 2005. In her free time, she likes to workout at Camp Gladiator, participate at various fun runs, going to church, and exploring coffee shops.
Breeze O’Briant, M.A., BCBA, LBA– Behavior Analyst
Breeze is a board certified behavior analyst who received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Houston – Clear Lake in 2001 and a master’s degree in I/O psychology from Walden University in 2005. Years later, she went on to complete the certification coursework with a focus in ABA at the University of North Texas.
Breeze has worked with children from ages 6 weeks to 18 years old in various settings, including public schools, early childhood education facilities and one-on-one care. In 2017, she decided to make a career change and began working specifically with children with autism at CAC. She is very passionate about the field of both personally and professional and constantly strives to improve the lives of the parents and children she works with. When she is not working, she loves spending time with her family, especially her husband Billy and their two daughters, Kylie and Avery.
Dakota Schiel, M.Ed., BCBA, LBA– Behavior Analyst
Dakota is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and certified Special Education, as well as General Education, Teacher. Dakota is a two-time graduate of the University of Texas at Austin; she received her bachelor’s in Special Education and her Master’s in Special Education with a concentration in Autism and Developmental Disabilities. Dakota worked as a behavior therapist at CAC while completing her master’s and has experience providing both in-home and clinic-based therapy. Dakota has been working with children with disabilities, ranging from 2 – 16 years of age, for over 5 years in public schools and clinic settings. In her free time, she enjoys playing video games, running through Hyde Park, and hanging out with her cat Clarence.
Rowan Kenagy-Valtair, M.S., BCBA, LBA– Behavior Analyst
Rowan has been in the field of behavior analysis, with an emphasis in verbal behavior since 2012. She has a passion for working with children with ASD and has experience in home, in community, and in a clinic setting. Upon graduating with a bachelor of arts in psychology from the University of Aberdeen in Scotland, Rowan moved back to her hometown on Austin Texas in 2015 and has been with Children’s Autism Center ever since. Rowan completed the Apprenticeship Program at CAC as part of her training and graduated with a Master of Science in Behavior Analysis from Simmons University. Outside of work, you will most likely find Rowan somewhere outside going hiking, camping, or rock climbing with her husband.
Antronette Little, M.Ed., BCBA – Behavior Analyst; Elementary Classroom Teacher
Antronette has a master’s degree in education (Lamar University) and an undergraduate degree in social work (Southwest Texas / Texas State). Antronette worked at CAC part-time during her summers off as a teacher and fell in love with ABA. Antronette decided to join CAC full-time and leave public education with over 6 years of experience as special education teacher. Prior to teaching, for nearly 5 years, she worked for a non-profit serving adults with intellectual disabilities.
Antronette lives in Pflugerville not too far from her parents, younger brother and adorable niece. Each week she looks forward to Sunday dinners with her family. Antronette enjoys random weekend road trips, eating out (love talking about new restaurants) and small DIY projects.
Katie Castro, M.A., CCC-SLP, BCaBA – Speech Language Pathologist; Assistant Behavior Analyst
Katie is a speech language pathologist who has been working in the field for over 10 years and recently received her certification as a board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA). She grew up in Indiana and double-majored in Spanish and Audiology & Speech Sciences at Purdue University. She then moved to Texas and received a master’s degree from University of Texas at Austin in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Katie was employed for the last 8 years as a bilingual SLP, providing assessment and early intervention in the areas of speech, language, play skills, and swallowing/feeding skills. She has provided speech and language therapy to children with a variety of developmental delays and disorders. Katie completed extensive family/caregiver training and education to aid in incorporating communication and feeding strategies into their child’s home routines. She spends her free time with her family and raising two young boys.
Alyssa Cavazos, B.S., SLP-A, RBT– Speech Language Pathology Assistant; Registered Behavior Technician
Alyssa has worked with children with developmental disabilities for 8 years, 6 of which have been spent working with children in speech, language, and communication disorders in outpatient clinics, in-home therapy settings, and in the school setting including Head Start, elementary and high school settings. Alyssa grew up in a small town in South Texas and obtained her license as an Assistant in Speech-Language Pathology (SLPA) with a Bachelor of Science in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Texas A&M University-Kingsville in 2010. Alyssa relocated to Austin, Texas from San Antonio in the fall of 2016 to gain more exposure to Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) therapy with children with autism. Since then, Alyssa has obtained her Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification and became a Lead Behavior Therapist. Currently, Alyssa provides speech and language services as an SLPA at CAC in addition to ABA services as an RBT.
During her free time, Alyssa enjoys outdoor activities such a hiking, going on picnics, playing tennis, volleyball, and softball, as well as attending major sporting events. Additionally, Alyssa enjoys traveling with her best friend, Steve, and spending time with their dog, Bela.
Bree Paul, B.S., SLPA, RBT – Speech Language Pathology Assistant, Registered Behavior Technician
Bree has worked with children who have developmental disabilities for almost two years. She worked with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder as a behavior therapist for one year and has been providing speech and language therapy for about a year as well. Bree grew up in Round Rock, TX but moved to Denton, TX to continue her studies at the University of North Texas, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in speech language pathology and audiology with a minor in child development in 2017. Go Mean Green!
Bree moved back home to Round Rock after she graduated to be closer to family and obtained her SLPA license. She accepted a position as a behavior therapist at CAC to gain more knowledge about the field of applied behavior analysis (ABA). Bree obtained her Registered Behavior Technician (RBT) certification shortly after being hired and provided services as a behavior therapist at CAC for one year. Currently, Bree provides speech and language therapy services as an SLPA to the children at CAC Round Rock.
During her free time, Bree enjoys going to the gym, hanging out with her friends and family, reading, collecting vinyl records, and traveling.
Amanda Hirl, B.A., RBT – Registered Behavior Technician/Pre-k/Kinder Classroom Teacher
Amanda Hirl serves as our Pre-k/Kinder classroom teacher where she enjoys combining her experience working in private school settings and as an ABA therapist. Amanda received her bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Texas Tech, Lubbock. Most recently, Amanda became a certified registered behavior technician and has been designing programs, curriculum and schedules for the pre-k/kinder classroom while also serving as the classroom teacher.
Amanda enjoys spending her free time hiking, being outside and spending time with her husband, young daughter, Adelyn, and their Never Ending Story Falkor-look-a-like dog, Toby.
Apprentices (learn more about CAC’s Apprentice Program here)
Vanessa Freeman, B.A.
Undergrad: Louisiana State University, 2007. B.A. in Psychology
BCaBA Coursework: Florida Institute of Technology, 2015
Rachel Fikac, B.A.
Undergrad: Texas A&M University, 2017. B.A. in Psychology
Graduate School: Arizona State University, 2020. M.Ed. in Special Education
Jillian Nguyen, B.S.
Undergrad: University of Texas at Dallas, 2015. B.S. in Speech Language Pathology & Child Development
Graduate School: Florida Institute of Technology, expected graduation: 2021. M.A. in Professional Behavior Analysis