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Brigid McCormick, President

Brigid received her master’s degree in applied behavior analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and the founder of Precision ABA, LLC, Brigid currently works with children and adolescents in their homes and communities. She is an experienced precision teacher, and focuses her treatment under that lens. Before getting her master’s degree, Brigid graduated with her teaching certification with an endorsement in special education from Illinois State University, and blends teaching and ABA to produce exceptional outcomes for children and their families.

Rocco Catrone, Secretary

Rocco Catrone received his masters and doctorate at Southern Illinois University - Carbondale under Dr. Shane Koch. For the past 10 years, Rocco has served in a variety of positions within the field of behavior analysis working in schools, homes, hospitals, private practice (First Domino) and a DCFS-funded agency (Project 12 Ways). His clinical focus is on staff and parent training in order to create environments of success for the individuals he serves. Rocco is currently an assistant professor at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology (TCSPP) where he heads up a human research lab as well as receiving funds for an animal operant lab (ROAR). Informed by his time of being an Illinois LEND fellow, his research interests include parent support as well as behavioral applications to the reduction of stigma and prejudice towards people with disabilities. As a previous student representative of IL-ABA, Rocco is excited to be back on the board to enact diversity, equity, and inclusion-based initiatives for Illinois behavioral practitioners and collaborating professionals.

Nasiah Cirincione-Ulezi, Communications Coordinator

Nasiah is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, with a Doctorate degree in Education from Loyola University of Chicago. She holds a Master’s degree in Special Education from the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Master's degree in Educational Leadership from the American College of Education. She is a graduate of the Infant Studies Specialist program at Erikson Institute of Chicago. In addition to her BCBA credential, she is an Illinois licensed special education teacher and an Illinois Early Intervention provider and State evaluator. Professionally, she has served as a special educator, clinician, educational administrator and professor of special education. Her clinical experience spans infancy through adulthood. Currently, she is the CEO & Founder of ULEZI, LLC and serves as a court appointed special advocate, for children in the Illinois foster care system. She is a champion for diversity, equity and inclusion and is deeply committed to using her skills and experiences, paired with the science of applied behavior analysis, to assist, uplift and transform the lives of the people she supports and serves, in positive and meaningful ways.

Jessie Topalov, Conference Coordinator

The founder and CEO of Instructional ABA Consultants is Jessie Topalov, who is also a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA). Jessie has over 13 years of experience working with the disability community and she also has 9 years of experience in the field of applied behavior analysis. She has a wide range of expertise including, behavior reduction for high intensity behaviors, functional communication training, skill acquisition programming, teaching vocal-verbal behavior to non-verbal individuals, toilet training, and extensive knowledge in Organizational Behavior Management (OBM).

Additionally, Jessie has worked across ability levels serving individuals with autism, intellectual disabilities and chronic mental illness. Jessie has provided services to clients as young as 18 months, all the way to 70 years old. She founded Instructional ABA Consultants in June of 2012 with one core belief: every individual with a disability has the right to effective treatment regardless of their funding source.

Jessie has succeeded in creating an innovative community that reinforces effective ABA services across funding sources. She has learned that quality services come from quality staff focusing on enriching the lives of both the staff that support IABA and the individuals IABA supports. It is with great pleasure Jessie is able to oversee Instructional ABA Consultants. It is her life mission to bring quality ABA services to the underserved and to live in a world where having a disability does not mean to be disadvantaged.

Brad Zelinger, Treasurer

Brad is the Founder and CEO of Stride Autism Centers, a center-based ABA provider focused on enhancing the lives of children with autism and their families. Inspired by his adult sister who has a severe ASD-related disorder called Rett Syndrome, Brad is personally and professionally dedicated to supporting individuals with complex needs.

Brad began his career in investment banking at Moelis & Company in New York. Before founding Stride, Brad was a private equity investor at Madison Dearborn Partners and TZP Group, where he evaluated, executed and oversaw investments in growth-oriented companies.

Brad earned an MBA from Harvard Business School and a BBA with High Distinction from the University of Michigan Ross School of Business. In addition to serving as Treasurer of ILABA, Brad serves on the Boards of Rett Syndrome Research Trust and Aspiritech. 

Sara Baillie, Member at Large

Sara Baillie, Ed.D., BCBA currently holds a full-time faculty position at Trinity Christian College. In her role as an Associate Professor and the Director of the Graduate Programs in Education she is the ABAI Verified Course Sequence Coordinator and teaches both applied behavior analysis and special education courses. Sara's research has been focusing on behavioral interventions in the schools- including FBAs, BIPs, and specific interventions such as Positive Behavior Supports. She has presented at numerous conferences and has also been published in the Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions. In addition to holding the BCBA credential, she is licensed as both an elementary education teacher and a special education teacher in the state of Illinois. Prior to her faculty role, she has taught general education, special education, worked as a full-time school BCBA, acted as a school consultant, worked in Early Intervention, and has also provided therapy in a clinic. She would love to continue to disseminate behavior analysis, specifically focusing on the field of education and schools throughout Illinois..

Alison B. Carris, Member at Large

Ali is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor; she earned a Master of Arts degree from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology, in 2011, in Clinical Psychology with specializations in Applied Behavior Analysis and Counseling. Ali is currently the Clinical Director of LifeSpeed: Behavioral Support Services, where she provides essential support to individuals and families while also overseeing the work of dedicated team members. Through the techniques and principles of Acceptance and Committment Therapy, as well as other forms of Contextual Behavioral Science, Ali is passionate about helping clients and supervisees develop psychology flexibility and ultimately lead their best lives.

Ali has extensive experience working with adolescents and adults living with mental illness and/or developmental disabilities across a variety of settings. Ali’s areas of expertise include behavior management for the dually diagnosed, staff training and organizational development, family counseling and training, and clinical supervision. When she’s not chasing after her two little girls, you will likely find Ali either deep in a mystery novel or singing a little Karaoke with her husband.  

Natalia Baires, Member at Large

Dr. Natalia Baires (pronounced "by-res") is currently a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Behavior Analysis and Therapy program at Southern Illinois University. Natalia received her B.A. in Psychology and Chicano/a Studies from California State University Northridge, went on to complete her M.S. in Counseling/Applied Behavior Analysis from California State University Los Angeles, and earned her Ph.D. in Psychology/Behavior Analysis and Therapy from Southern Illinois University. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, Natalia has over six years of experience providing and supervising services based on behavior analysis for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other related Developmental Disabilities across a variety of ages and settings. Natalia’s scholarly work has included publications on the importance of distinctions between open- and closed-ended indirect assessments, sexism from a behavior-analytic perspective, and observational learning. Natalia's research interests include establishing and sustaining social diversity, equity, inclusion, and justice in and out of the field of behavior analysis; the study of language and cognition via Relational Frame Theory; enhancing behavioral flexibility and psychological well-being using Acceptance and Commitment Training; increasing compassionate care within behavior-analytic services, supervision, and education; and bridging theory and application of cultural responsiveness for underrepresented populations receiving behavior-analytic services. Natalia has conducted numerous symposia, poster presentations, and panels at national and international conferences within behavior science on topics such as pay disparity among behavior-analytic practitioners, contextual speech analyses of political discourses, increasing social skills in adults with autism via observational learning, and more. Additionally, Natalia has conducted invited presentations in Spanish for caregivers of individuals with autism on a variety of topics. Natalia completed the Illinois Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) fellowship program and is a current committee member of ILABA's Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion committee.

Melinda Miller, Member at Large

Melinda Miller is a BCBA and doctoral student in Applied Behavior Analysis at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Melinda received her master's degree in Special Education from Governors State University. She has experience working with individuals aged 2 - 70 years old. As a teacher, she worked at a cooperative as well as a therapeutic day school. As a BCBA, she has worked with clients in their homes (personal home, CILA and ICF/DDs) as well as in a pediatric clinic, schools, and developmental training programs. She recently opened her own ABA practice, Momentum Behavior Services. Additionally, Melinda has experience as a QIDP/case manager and program manager for adults who are dually diagnosed DD/MI. 

Most importantly, Melinda is the mother of two Autistic children. She has worked as a parent advocate for over a decade assisting parents through the IEP process and obtaining the services they both need and deserve. In her life and work, she aims to serve marginalized populations,  create a more culturally humble and diverse field, provide parent support and education, teach and mentor the next generation of behavior analysts, and advocate for change in the state of Illinois in regard to disability rights and the field of behavior analysis.

Melinda brings a unique perspective to the table. It combines that of a parent, an advocate, an educator, and behavior analyst. She brings a passion for change, knowledge, and inclusivity. She believes it is an honor to serve on the IL ABA board and bring IL ABA closer to succeeding in its purpose

Leannah Sheahan, Student Member

Leannah has recently graduated from Aurora University with a degree in psychology with a special interest in applied behavior analysis. Initially enrolled in an Applied Behavior Analysis Master Program at Aurora University, she has decided to take a gap year to further her undergraduate behavior analysis education, complete research projects, and consider additional educational opportunities in 2021. Leannah’s experience includes providing in-home and clinic -based ABA services to children with autism. She was ILABA’s Lead Student Ambassador at the annual state conference in 2020. She has a special interest in continuing her education by attending conferences related to psychology, diversity, and behavior analysis. Her current research interest includes barriers to parent training, applied animal behavior, diversity equity and inclusion, and social justice. During her time at Aurora University, Leannah helped cultivate successful student organizations including a university Pride Alliance and Student Association for Behavior Analysis (SABA). Her position in SABA has allowed her to connect other students with the field of behavior analysis. She has an interest in helping other students in the field expand their network and leadership opportunities.