Executive Team

Executive Director

Jennifer Harris, Ph.D., LMFT, BCBA-D

Jennifer Harris

Dr. Harris began her work with children diagnosed with ASD in 1991 at the Clinic for the Behavioral Treatment of Children under the direction of Dr. Ivar Lovaas while earning her B.A. degree in Psychology at UCLA. From 1992-2002 she worked at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, Inc. where she ultimately became Regional Director of the agency. She received her M.A. degree in 1997 from Pepperdine University with an emphasis in Marriage, Family, and Child Therapy. In 2003, she received her Doctorate in Educational Psychology from the University of Southern California where she was awarded Distinguished Dissertation for her study entitled Starting Out Strong: Early Treatment Intensity Predicts Outcome. In 2004, she became a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. In addition, Dr. Harris is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Dr. Harris has been a guest speaker for local parent groups including L.A.FEAT, the Autism Society of America, and the Autism Coalition for Creative Education and Social Services and has also presented at Parents for Early Autistic Children's Health in London. In addition, Dr. Harris has presented at national and international conferences including the California Association for Behavior Analysis, the National Association for Behavioral Analysis, and the Geneva Centre Autism Conference in Toronto, Ontario. She specializes in the diagnosis and treatment of pervasive developmental disorders, the training and development of executive functions for children with developmental disabilities, and the development and growth of the parental system in families with children diagnosed with ASD.

Dr. Harris and her husband and two children reside in the South Bay.

Executive Clinical Director

Lisa Stoddard, M.A., BCBA

Lisa Stoddard

Lisa Stoddard is thrilled to be a member of the FirstSteps family, where she oversees all clinical operations to include the development and implementation of Program Director training and evaluation protocols, curriculum and program development, and monitoring of research protocols. Ms. Stoddard also enjoys direct clinical work including consulting on the design and implementation treatment plans for our children, functional behavior assessments, school observations and consultation, and collaboration with IEP and IFSP teams, as well as conducting clinical research.

Ms. Stoddard began her career in Autism treatment in 1994. During her 10 years with the Center for Autism and Related Disorders (CARD), she enjoyed affecting change in various capacities, including supervising intensive in-home behavioral therapy programs, and traveling throughout the world to provide training and supervision for families and public agencies. Ms. Stoddard's area of specialization includes ABA as a treatment for Pervasive Developmental Disorders in childhood, with expertise in the development of comprehensive skill repertoires (including communication) and behavior management, and particular interest in the use of behavioral therapies to increase play skills, social behavior and perspective taking. To this end, she has designed a comprehensive curriculum for teaching complex social behavior, comprised of programs for teaching play skills (such as symbolic and imaginary play), perspective taking ("theory of mind") skills, and social skills (such as responding to social cues, sharing and turn-taking, and conflict resolution), and continues program development to date. In addition, she has developed and presented trainings on various specialized topics including ABA interventions for teaching complex skills to children with "high-functioning" Autism and Asperger's Disorder, play skills, perspective taking development, rule-governed behavior, and social behavior.

Ms. Stoddard is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and received her B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and her M.A. in Counseling Psychology, with an emphasis in marriage, family, and child therapy, from Loyola Marymount University. She is passionate about her work with children, and enjoys continuing to contribute to the field via research and presentations on complex language, social skill development, and typical child development, as well as observing the day-to-day triumphs of the children with whom she works.

Director of Research

Jonathan Tarbox, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Jonathan Tarbox

Dr. Tarbox is the Director of Research at FirstSteps, the Program Director of the Master of Science in Applied Behavior Analysis program at the University of Southern California, and an Associate Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Behavior Analysis in Practice. Dr. Tarbox’s early career included positions at the New England Center for Children and the Kennedy Krieger Institute. Dr. Tarbox received his PhD from Dr. Linda Hayes at the University of Nevada, Reno. Dr. Tarbox was a Clinical Lead Manager and the Director of Research and Development at the Center for Autism and Related Disorders, where he established and directed multiple programs of research on the assessment and treatment of autism. Dr. Tarbox’s clinical experience in his previous positions included working with children and adults with and without autism and related disorder, in home, community, school, hospital, and clinic-based settings. Dr. Tarbox is also a current member of the Association for Behavior Analysis, International, Practice Board, a past president of the Nevada Association for Behavior Analysis and a past Director of Research Development for the Southern California Consortium for Behavior Analysts.

Dr. Tarbox is an active participant in the autism and behavior analytic research communities and has published three books on autism treatment, as well as over 70 peer-reviewed articles and chapters in scientific texts. Dr. Tarbox is a past member of the editorial boards of the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis, The Analysis of Verbal Behavior, and Research in Autism Spectrum Disorders and a current member of the editorial boards of Behavior Modification and Behavioral Development Bulletin. Dr. Tarbox’s research focuses on treatments that make a real life difference in individuals living with autism. His specific research interests include teaching complex language, social, and cognitive skills, as well as the assessment and treatment of feeding disorder and severe challenging behaviors.

Dr. Tarbox values dissemination of practical information to families affected by autism as one of his primary career missions. Accordingly, Dr. Tarbox has presented at ASD parent conferences in the US and abroad, including Autism One, Arizona Autism United, Parents Helping Parents, International Autism and Asperger’s Association, Autism Society of America, Special Needs Network, Center for Special Needs, Los Angeles Families for Effective Autism Treatment, Fresno / Madera County Families for Effective Autism Treatment, North Texas Families for Effective Autism Treatment, Jordan International Autism Conference, Autism Association of Montreal, and the Istanbul International Autism Conference. Dr. Tarbox’s outreach and dissemination activities also include regular appearances on television and radio media, as well as publishing multiple articles in magazines and chapters in books intended for families affected by autism.