East Los Angeles
Regional Clinic Director
Your Regional Clinic Director, Erin Herbe, is responsible for ensuring FirstSteps program integrity. She 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 her at any time with questions, concerns, or to discuss your child's treatment progress.
Erin Herbe, M.S., BCBA
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.
Natalie Badgett, Ph.D., BCBA-D
Laura Greene, MSW, BCBA
Laura Greene has worked in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis since 2010. She graduated from Columbia University with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, with an emphasis in early childhood development. She initially joined the FirstSteps team after graduating from UCLA’s School of Public Affairs, with a Masters in Social Work. Pursuing her behavior analyst certification, Ms. Greene gained experience as a lead instructor, providing direct therapy in homes, schools, and the community. Through her time with FirstSteps, Ms. Greene fell in love with the field of Applied Behavior Analysis, seeing first hand the remarkable impact it had on children and families.
Laura continued her work within special education as a behavior consultant, providing parent education, school consultation, and functional behavior assessment. She is passionate about early intervention services, and the generalization of skills to the home setting. Ms. Greene is dedicated to individualizing each of her programs to fit the specific needs of a child. She loves her role as Program Director at FirstSteps for Kids, and the opportunity it provides to intimately connect with families.
Jennifer Hardin, M.S., BCBA
Jennifer Hardin has worked with individuals with special needs in various ways since 2004. She has worked in group homes for adults with developmental disabilities, has counseled children with emotional disturbances in group homes and educational settings, and has taught preschool for children with special needs. Ms. Hardin started working in the field of ABA in 2010 and has been passionately pursuing broadening her knowledge in the field ever since.
Ms. Hardin received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Child Development from San Diego State University. Her undergraduate research focused on the process of primary language acquisition. Ms. Hardin came to FirstSteps in 2016 as she was completing her Masters of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis at California State University, Northridge. While studying at Northridge, Ms. Hardin interned at the Autism Clinic as well as initiating a project researching the effects of using specific motivating elements in the educational setting.
Ms. Hardin is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who is dedicated to ensuring optimal care for her clients. This includes using method of intervention and instruction that supported by research as well as providing evidence for promising new methods.
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. During her time as a Lead Instructor and Program Manager, 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 Director she enjoys programming treatment plans with a focus on social skills and parent training.
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.
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.
Christina Arez, M.S. Ed.
In 2007, Christina Arez graduated from St. John’s University with a Bachelor of Science in Speech and Language Pathology in New York. She was first introduced to working with children with Autism during her undergraduate practicum.
Before joining FirstSteps, Christina worked as an instructor for various non-profit organizations in New York that provided treatment and educational services for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. This experience inspired Christina to pursue a career in teaching individuals with special needs, so she continued her journey and received a Masters Degree in Education and Special Education in 2012.
After receiving her degree, Christina continued her career as an ABA therapist at a center for children with Autism and was later promoted to assistant case supervisor. Christina’s experience as a case supervisor inspired her to pursue a Board Certification in Applied Behavior Analysis. She plans to sit for the exam this year.
In 2017, Christina was curious to learn about Applied Behavior Analysis outside of NYC and take her experience in the field elsewhere, so she moved to Los Angeles and joined the FirstSteps team as a Program Manager. Christina has gained more experience in training instructors as well as developing goals and programs for our clients. She really enjoys working with the FirstSteps team and looks forward to learning and sharing new experiences.
Guadalupe Curiel, B.A.
Guadalupe Curiel was first introduced to working with individuals with special needs in 2014 at a rehabilitation center for adults recovering from brain injury. It was at this time she developed an interest in behavioral sciences. After graduating with her Associates in Behavioral and Social Sciences in 2015, she transferred to California State University, Fullerton to continue her education in the field of Psychology, with a focus in neuropsychology. It was during this time that she was first introduced to the field of ABA, where she immediately fell in love with the field and decided to pursue Applied Behavioral Analysis.
Guadalupe graduated from California State University, Fullerton in May 2017 with a Bachelors of Arts in Psychology. Shortly after, she was hired at FirstSteps for Kids, Inc. in the West Los Angeles office. During her first year at FirstSteps, she transferred to East Los Angeles where her leadership and clinical skills were further developed. Through her extensive knowledge in treatment protocols and clinical work, she was quickly promoted to Lead Instructor and later a Program Manager. As a Program Manager, Guadalupe has developed a strong interest in parent training, focusing much of her work on parent programming and parent education sessions. In January 2019, Guadalupe earned her Master’s of Science in Applied Behavioral Analysis from National University. Currently she is the process of collecting her practicum hours and plans to sit for the BCBA exam this fall.
Lauren Olvera Servellon, B.S., BCaBA
In 2013, Lauren Servellon earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communicative Disorders at California State University, Long Beach. Shortly after graduation, Lauren joined the FirstSteps team as a behavioral technician, and quickly fell in love with the mission to help each child achieve his or her highest potential by providing the best possible evidence-based behavior analytic treatment. She was promoted to lead within the year, and transferred to the East Los Angeles to help open this office as the Regional Training Coordinator in 2016. As a member of the Training Department, Lauren began her Board Certified Assistant Behavior Analyst (BCaBA) coursework at Florida Institute of Technology, and earned her BCaBA credential in 2017.
As a member of the FirstSteps family, Lauren’s passion for helping families and training staff led her to pursue her Master’s of Science degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of Southern California. After completing her graduate coursework, Lauren became Program Manager and is excited to continue to her work with FirstSteps for Kids. Lauren’s interests include social skills, parent training, staff training, and early intervention.
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).
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, B.A., BCaBA
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).