East Los Angeles

Regional Clinic Director

Your Regional Clinic Director is responsible for ensuring FirstSteps program integrity. He oversees all client programs, ensures your treatment team is trained and supported, interfaces with your funding agencies, and communicates with our executive team daily to ensure your child's services run smoothly and are effective.

Please feel free to contact him at any time with questions, concerns, or to discuss your child's treatment progress.

Taira Bermudez, M.S., BCBA

Taira Bermudez

Taira Bermudez received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During this time, Ms. Bermudez worked with children and adults with developmental disabilities. After moving to the Los Angeles area, she began working in the field of autism, providing behavioral intervention to children and adolescents. She received her Master of Science Degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from California State University, Los Angeles.

Before beginning with FirstSteps, Ms. Bermudez served children diagnosed with autism and related disorders as an ABA Supervisor in the San Fernando Valley for over six years. In addition to providing and supervising comprehensive ABA intervention to children, Ms. Bermudez has expertise in conducting experimental functional analyses, assessing and treating challenging behaviors, treating feeding problems, and facilitating adherence to various medical procedures.

Ms. Bermudez joined the FirstSteps team in 2011 and continues her work providing behavior analytic services to children with autism. She is the Regional Clinic Director for our East Los Angeles center and specializes as the Director of Feeding Services. Ms. Bermudez is devoted to treatment evaluation, research, and the dissemination of behavior analysis. She regularly presents at autism and ABA conferences and is an author of a book devoted to behavioral feeding interventions, as well as several scientific papers and book chapters. 

Ms. Bermudez is an enthusiastic FirstSteps team member who values family involvement as well as collaboration with outside service providers. She is dedicated to the families that she serves and relishes in the everyday accomplishments of her clients.

Program Directors

Erin Herbe, M.S., BCBA

Erin Herbe

Erin Herbe initially joined FirstSteps for Kids, Inc. after graduating from Loyola Marymount University with a BA in Psychology and a Minor in English. During her time at FirstSteps, she entered a Masters of Special Education/Teaching Credential program at National University.

In 2008, Erin took a hiatus from FirstSteps to complete her teaching credential at The Help Group, Village Glen West in Culver City. During her time as an educator, Erin gained a wealth of experience in classroom behavior management, curriculum modifications, adaptive skill training, as well as the IEP process. After 2 successful years of teaching, Erin was promoted to Assistant Principal of the elementary program where she gained experience supervising staff, creating classroom behavior plans for middle and high school students with ASD, as well as collaborating with myriad professionals including teachers, LAS providers, OT providers, and a variety of Southern California school districts.

In 2012, Erin returned to FirstSteps, eager to jump back into ABA with a host of knowledge and experience to apply to our families. In 2014, she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Erin is currently involved in several projects at FirstSteps to include conducting research on first trial data collection, assisting in the development of the East Los Angeles Center Based Services program, as well as serving clients in the East Los Angeles region. She strives to provide the best quality of care for all her clients and is always seeking out ways to learn and grow as a behavior analyst.

Joh Zaporteza, M.Ed., BCBA

In January 2014, Joh Zaporteza joined FirstSteps for Kids as an Instructor and fell in love with the company’s approach to teaching children with Autism. Shortly after being promoted to Lead Instructor, she gained more experience in training instructors and parents during therapy sessions. Inspired by her amazing colleagues, families, and children, she pursued a career in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA). Now as a Program Manager she enjoys collaborating with Program Directors to design and implement effective treatment.

Ms. Zaporteza received a Masters in Curriculum & Instruction in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University in May 2016. In 2013, Ms. Zaporteza graduated from California Polytechnic University Pomona with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Liberal Studies. She has been working with children with Autism in the classroom setting since 2010.

Ms. Zaporteza’s areas of interest include parent training, communication training, increasing play skills, and social skills training. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, bowling, rock climbing, and being outdoors.

Amanda Groos, M.A., BCBA

Program Managers

Program Managers assist Program Directors in the management of their clients cases. Depending on the needs of the client, Program Managers may assist with case initiation, parent education and training, assessment and data collection/analysis, program modifications, and training and support for Lead Instructors, Instructors, and Trainees. Program Managers also provide direct intervention for their clients in the home, school, and community settings. All Program Managers hold masters degrees in psychology and/or applied behavior analysis and are Board Certified Behavior Analysts or are in the process of completing their certification as Board Certified Behavior Analysts.

Jenna Stauffer, M.S.

Jenna Stauffer graduated from the University of Nebraska in 2008 with a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Studies. Throughout high school and her undergraduate studies, Jenna worked as a volunteer tutor and mentor to elementary students in the inner-city. This work inspired her to pursue a career working with children. Before joining FirstSteps, Jenna worked with various non-profit organizations providing services to families, from local homeless parents and children, to children abroad in Uganda. These experiences continue to fuel Jenna's desire to help families reach their full potential, and led her to seek further education and training at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jenna graduated in 2012 with a Masters degree in Marital and Family Therapy.

After a number of years of working in marriage and family therapy, Jenna heard about First Steps for Kids. Jenna was curious to learn more about Applied Behavior Analysis and joined the First Steps team in 2014. Jenna quickly fell in love with the children and families she was working with, and the science of ABA. Jenna’s previous work experience and skills as an Instructor lead her to quickly be promoted to Lead Instructor, and then to Program Manger. As a Program Manager, Jenna loves collaborating with her Program Directors to design effective treatment programs for the children she works with. Jenna also continues to have a passion for working closely with parents and is assisting in the development of parent support services at FirstSteps. Jenna is currently pursuing Certification as a Behavior Analyst (BCBA).

Jennifer Hardin, M.S., BCBA

Vincent Campbell

Christina Arez

Lauren Olvera

Lead Instructors

FirstSteps Lead Instructors provide one-to-one behavior intervention services with your child in the home, school, and community settings. They also manage your child’s treatment program and team, while supporting the Program Director and Program Manager.

Lead Instructors - East Los Angeles

Alyssa Calimpusan
Bethany Capitanio
Corayma Garcia Almazan
Lucas Sanchez

Director of Training & Employee Development

Our Director of Training & Employee Development, Ms. Demi Contreras, epitomizes the heart and enthusiasm of our FirstSteps' clinical team. She is responsible for overseeing our FirstSteps Training Department and ensuring our Training Managers provide exceptional coaching and support to our new staff. Ms. Contreras personally guarantees that each clinical team member shares our FirstSteps values and mission to provide our clients with state of the art treatment and a brighter future.

Demetria Contreras, BCaBA

Demetria Contreras

Demetria Contreras began her career in the field of Behavior Analysis in 2001 after learning of her godson's diagnosis of Autism. Refusing to believe his doctors who explained that her godson would likely not talk or have friends, she researched the treatment options available at the time. She quickly determined that ABA was the only empirically validated and effective intervention and committed herself to becoming an expert. From 2001 through 2005, Demi worked as a senior therapeutic instructor, providing hundreds of hours of both direct intervention and parent training to families with children diagnosed with Autism.

In 2005, Ms. Contreras joined our FirstSteps team as a Lead Instructor. Not only did she work with countless FirstSteps children and families, she also partnered with other FirstSteps Program Directors and dedicated herself to recruiting, training, and assembling bilingual therapy teams with the mission to bring ABA services to non-English speaking families.

In 2006, Ms. Contreras was promoted to the position of Director of Training & Employee Development. In this capacity, Ms. Contreras continues to work directly with FirstSteps children and families while also leading the Training Department to training and providing ongoing support to our new instructors, ensuring they perfect their instructional technique and meet the specific needs of our children.

Ms. Contreras has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles and has also earned her certification as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA).

Consulting Behavior Analyst

Evelyn Gould, PH.D, BCBA-D

Dr. Evelyn Gould has over 15 years experience working with children and adolescents with ASD (and their families) across school, home, clinic and residential settings. Dr. Gould has fulfilled a variety of clinical, training, and research roles in the US, UK, and N.Ireland, and joined the FirstSteps team in October 2014. In December 2017, Evelyn accepted a position at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute (OCDI-Jr) at McLean Hospital, Harvard Medical School. She currently works as a Clinical Behavior Analyst and Research Associate, under the supervision of Dr. Lisa Coyne, Licensed Clinical Psychologist, Researcher, and world-expert in the treatment of childhood anxiety disorders. The OCDI-Jr program emphasizes evidence-based behavioral interventions, including ERP (Exposure and Response Prevention) and ACT (Acceptance and Commitment Therapy). Dr. Gould remains passionate about the provision of high-quality clinical services for children, adolescents, and their families. She continues to share her expertise with FirstSteps families and staff through clinical consultation, mentorship, research, and training.

Dr. Gould has a Ph.D. in Psychology (Behavior Analysis Specialization) from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology and is a Doctoral level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D). She is also a Licensed Behavior Analyst (in MA). Prior to completing her Ph.D., Evelyn received her B.S.(Honors) in Applied Psychology from the University of Ulster, N.Ireland, and her M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Wales, U.K.

Dr. Gould has published research articles in journals such as Behavioral Interventions, Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science, and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders. She has also written book chapters on parent training and curriculum development. Evelyn currently serves on the Editorial Board for Behavior Analysis in Practice (BAP), a peer-reviewed translational publication published by ABAI. Dr. Gould was also recently invited to be an Associate Editor for the Journal of Contextual Behavioral Science (JCBS). JCBS is the official journal of the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science (ACBS).