FirstSteps is committed to achieving the best possible outcomes for the children and families we serve. Essential to this goal is effective and ongoing program supervision provided by our Program Directors. At FirstSteps, all Program Directors have a minimum of a Master's Degree AND are Board Certified Behavior Analysts (BCBAs), with at least 5 years of behavior analytic experience with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
As a client of FirstSteps, your child has a designated Program Director who is responsible for developing his or her individualized Treatment Plan which includes establishing clearly defined, objective, measurable, and appropriate treatment goals and ensuring you and your child's clinical team are prepared and able to implement the plan successfully. Your Program Director will educate and support your family in the Principles of Applied Behavior Analysis, therapeutic targets and strategies, and behavior management techniques to ensure proper generalization of treatment effects outside of the structured therapy setting. To further support your child's learning and generalization, consultation and collaboration with your child's school teachers and other service providers will be provided by your Program Director on an ongoing and regular basis.
Your Program Director is dedicated to ensuring your child's success as well as supporting you and your family along the way. Please feel free to contact your Program Director at any time with questions or concerns.
Laurie Deurmier, M.S., BCBA
Laurie Deurmier received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Communication from the University of California, San Diego. Her subsequent Master of Science Degree in Counseling with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) was completed at California State University, Los Angeles. While attending CSULA, Ms. Deurmier extensively studied methods of observation, schedules of reinforcement, and behavior management strategies as well as assessment research, including indirect, descriptive, and functional assessments.
Ms. Deurmier is one of our founding clinicians who helped establish FirstSteps in 2004. Prior to FirstSteps, Ms. Deurmier served children diagnosed with autism and related disorders as an ABA Therapeutic Instructor both locally and in Eastern Europe.
Today, Ms. Deurmier is a highly skilled Behavior Analyst with a particular expertise in school-based interventions. She enjoys collaborating with educators and is committed to teaching our children the skills necessary to succeed in any classroom.
Ms. Deurmier has also conducted numerous research projects and has presented her FirstSteps kids' successes at national ABA conferences including the California Association of Behavior Analysis convention and the Association of Behavior Analysis Autism conference.
Ms. Deurmier is dedicated to the children with whom she works and has an aspiration to see each child flourish. She looks forward to being part of each FirstSteps child's educational and social development today and for years to come.
Ms. Deurmier lives in Ventura county with her husband and daughter and serves FirstSteps families residing in Ventura and North Los Angeles Counties.
Courtney Lanagan-Tarbox, M.S., BCBA
Courtney Tarbox joined our FirstSteps clinical team in 2005 and has worked in a variety of positions, culminating in her current role as a Program Director. Prior to coming to FirstSteps, Ms Tarbox began her career in autism by working with young children in home-based behavioral intervention programs, while working toward her Bachelor's Degree in Psychology, with a minor in child development from California State University, San Luis Obispo. Ms. Tarbox's early work in developmental disabilities included working in respite, therapeutic, residential, and educational settings, with individuals diagnosed with a variety of developmental disorders and ranging in age from early childhood to adolescence.
As a Program Director at FirstSteps, Ms Tarbox is responsible for designing and supervising the implementation of comprehensive intervention programs for children with autism and related disorders. These responsibilities include creating intervention plans for teaching skills across all educational, social, and adaptive domains, as well as training and supervising staff in their implementation.
While working at FirstSteps, Ms Tarbox earned her Master of Science Degree in Counseling, with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis from California State University, Los Angeles. Ms. Tarbox is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and is actively engaged in treatment evaluation research. Among Ms. Tarbox's interests are language acquisition and the assessment and treatment of stereotypy and phobic behaviors. Ms. Tarbox is also a regular presenter at national autism and ABA conferences.
Ms Tarbox is inspired by the dedication shown by the families with whom she works and by the daily triumphs their children make. Whether it's a child graduating to a general education classroom without support, or an early learner acquiring the ability to communicate his or her basic wants and needs for the first time, the progress of our children provides an everyday source of motivation for her continued commitment to her Firststeps career in behavior analysis.
Ms. Tarbox currently resides in the Conejo Valley with her husband and family. She is delighted to serve FirstSteps families located in both Ventura and North Los Angeles counties.
Taira Lanagan, M.S., BCBA
Taira Lanagan received her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology with a minor in Anthropology from the University of California, Santa Barbara. During this time, Ms. Lanagan 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. Lanagan 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. Lanagan has expertise in conducting experimental functional analyses, assessing and treating challenging behaviors, treating feeding problems, and facilitating adherence to various medical procedures.
Ms. Lanagan joined the FirstSteps team in 2011 and continues her work providing behavior analytic services to children with autism. As a Program Director, she implements and supervises comprehensive programming, focusing on providing individualized behavior management and skill acquisition.
Ms. Lanagan is devoted to treatment evaluation, research, and the dissemination of behavior analysis. She enjoys presenting at various autism and ABA conferences and is an author of several scientific papers and book chapters.
Ms. Lanagan 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.
Ms. Lanagan lives in Ventura County and serves FirstSteps families residing in Ventura and North Los Angeles Counties.
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 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 Ms. deDomenico 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 & Staff Development. In this capacity, Ms. Contreras continues to work directly with FirstSteps children and families while also training and providing ongoing support to our new instructors, ensuring they perfect their instructional technique and meet the specific needs of our children. Additionally, Ms. Contreras has remained committed to our bilingual treatment programs and actively leads our Spanish speaking teams.
Ms. Contreras has a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles and is in the process of earning her certification as a Board Certified Assistant Behavior Anylst (BCaBA).
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.
|Jonathan Broker||Brynn Gordon|
|Cristina Moore||Nicki Williams|