Jennifer Dawson, Ph.D., BCBA, BS-L (PA) Clinical Director

Jennifer Dawson is a licensed clinical psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She earned her M.A. and Ph.D. in child clinical psychology from Louisiana State University. She completed her internship at the renowned Kennedy Krieger Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Dr. Dawson remained at the Kennedy Krieger Institute as a Case Manager on the Pediatric Feeding Disorders Program and as Faculty at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2006, Dr. Dawson returned to West Chester and began to work on the development of SPARC. Dr. Dawson's clinical and research expertise and interests are in the areas of behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorders, feeding disorders, parent training, treatment acceptability, and behavior problems. Dr. Dawson also serves as an adjunct professor in the department of psychology at West Chester University.

Cherie Fishbaugh, M.A., BCBA, BS-L (PA) Assistant Clinical Director

Cherie Fishbaugh is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She earned her M.A. in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Ohio State University. Cherie worked as a Case Supervisor at Children's Hospital's Intensive Behavior Intervention Clinic in Columbus, Ohio until 2006. She then served as an Education Consultant for the May Institute, Mid-Atlantic region. Cherie's clinical and research expertise and interests are in the areas of behavior analysis, autism spectrum disorders, behavior management, social skills training, and positive behavior supports. Cherie also serves as an adjunct professor in the department of early childhood education/special education at West Chester University.

Dena Kelly, M.A. LPC, Therapist

Dena is a licensed professional counselor. She earned her Masters degree from West Chester University in 2010. Dena interned at SPARC as a graduate student and upon graduation was hired as a staff therapist in January 2011. Dena works in many aspects of the clinic. She serves as an outpatient feeding therapist and one of the evaluators in SPARC's diagnostic testing evaluation. Dena also conducts interviews for potential student volunteers/interns, leads SPARC's parentauxiliaryand heads many of SPARC's local fundraising efforts including the annual 5k, Strides for SPARC.

Desiree (Dez) Heckers, B.A., RBT, Therapist

Dez is a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). She earned her Bachelor’s degree from West Chester University, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Autism Education. Dez started as an undergraduate intern at SPARC in January 2015. Dez was hired as a student therapist in May 2016. Dez is currently enrolled in Temple University’s ABA Master’s Program and plans to graduate summer 2019. Dez has gained experience working in a variety of settings- home based program and residential treatment for individuals with developmental disabilities as well as brain injury rehabilitation. Dez works in all of SPARC’s programs. She supervises social skills groups and SPARClers, provides behavioral consultation services for clients/ families, develops programs and goals for consultative clients, supervises feeding sessions, and is a part of the diagnostic team. Dez is Safety Care certified.

Alyssa Almond, LSW, RBT, Social Worker/Therapist

Alyssa is the licensed social worker at SPARC. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gwynedd-Mercy College in 2012 and her Master’s degree from West Chester University in 2018. Alyssa interned at SPARC as a graduate student and upon graduation was hired as a staff therapist. Alyssa provides support to families in all of our programs, leads parent support groups, and works as a therapist in feeding and behavioral consultations.

Kristen Schlotter, B.A., RBT, Therapist

Kristen is a registered behavior technician. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Communicative Sciences and Disorders from West Chester University in 2018. Kristen interned at SPARC as an undergraduate student in August 2017 and upon graduation was hired as a staff therapist in August 2018. Kristen currently works part time while she attends graduate school at Salus University to become a Speech-Language Pathologist. Kristen works in many aspects of the clinic. She sees patients for individual behavior session, patients within our feeding program, as well as conducts social skills sessions.

Anne Lawler, B.S., Patient Services Coordinator

Anne received her BS in Mechanical Engineering in 1992 from the University of Dayton. She spent 10 years as an instrumentation engineer at PECO, Ansaldo and ABB Inc. in the start-up and construction phases of power plants. In 2006, her middle son was diagnosed with ASD and she became the coordinator of all his services. In 2008, she went back to work part-time with children at Mount Hope Pre-school, her children’s preschool. This lead to a position for two years as an Assistant Preschool Teacher in Broomall. In 2014, she switched jobs to become a PCA in Springfield School District assisting life skills children in elementary and middle school. In the beginning of 2018, she decided to look for something more specific to an autism environment or early intervention and applied for the job as Patient Services Coordinator for SPARC where she has been employed since May 2018.

Our Undergraduate and Graduate Students

A talented group of West Chester University undergraduate and graduate students work with us to serve our clients and their families. These students are trained and supervised by our clinical staff. They conduct some therapy sessions and work in our social skills and peer buddy programs. Our students bring energy and enthusiasm to our therapy sessions. The majority of our student therapists come to us from the psychology, special education, and communicative disorders programs.

SPARC is a teaching clinic. SPARC's affiliation with West Chester University affords many opportunities for the training of new professionals. University students from a variety of majors serve as student therapists, peer mentors, and volunteers for our clients. Students are able to fulfill field experience, research, and volunteer requirements while gaining valuable training in the field of autism and behavior analysis. These experiences in turn allow for a highly qualified base of future professionals to graduate from West Chester University from many disciplines such as psychology, special education, communicative disorders, and adaptive PE.

Our Board of Trustees

SPARC Board Members/Affiliations

March 2017

  • Phillip K. Duncan, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Secretary
    Professor Emeritus of Psychology, West Chester University
  • Dr. Brad Dyer
    All Star Pediatrics
  • James Logan
    Director of Training and Business Development, 360Feedback
  • Rachel Lusk
    Attorney, Lamb McErlane PC
  • Lou Minella, J.D.
    Senior Vice President, Human Relations and Law, Bimbo Bakeries USA
  • Michael Parsons, President
    Project Engineer, CTDI, Inc.
  • Vincent Saccomandi
    The Boeing Company
  • Betsy Swope, Ph.D
    Assistant Professor of Psychology, Lehigh Carbon College Community
  • Matthew Tincani, Ph.D., BCBA-D
    Professor of Special Education, Temple University
  • Molly Wadyko, Vice-President
    Senior Benefits Manager, QVC