Meet the Spark Team!

Reena Naami BCBA - Owner - Spark Center for Autism

Reena Naami, M.S., BCBA

Reena is the owner and director of the Spark Center for Autism. Reena was first introduced to the field of behavior analysis during her undergraduate program at Central Michigan University, where she was a teaching and research assistant for the behavior analysis rat and pigeon lab. The principles of behavior had a huge impact on Reena, but she wanted to work with people so she pursued graduate studies in applied behavior analysis from Florida State University. Reena worked as a graduate assistant where she conducted direct therapy with children with autism spectrum disorders and various other developmental disabilities, in home and school settings, along with additional opportunities to conduct research and organizational behavior management implementation. After graduating and becoming a board certified behavior analyst in 2013, Reena began working with an in-home ABA company based in Dallas, Texas. Reena was responsible for a managing a full caseload of clients and their treatment plans, assessments, and supervision. Within six months, Reena became the regional director for the company. In this position, she was responsible for overseeing the case management, supervision, and clinical direction for the entire branch. In 2014, Reena relocated back to the metro-Detroit area with the intention of making Michigan a better state for children with Autism. Her areas of professional interest include emotional/behavioral disorders, verbal behavior, and the dissemination of the field, and she enjoys providing graduate training to individuals pursuing certification.

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Kristen Nelson, M.Ed., BCBA

Kristen is the clinical director at the Spark Center for Autism. She has over 18 years of experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. Throughout her career, Kristen has worked with individuals ranging from 18 months to 23 years old in public schools, clinical, community, and home settings. She taught for 10 years in an elementary self-contained ASD classroom, and she has conducted a variety of parent and staff trainings across Oakland County. Kristen specializes in individualized program development, school-based interventions, and Individualized Education Plan advocacy. Kristen earned her bachelor’s degree in Education with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Cognitive Impairment endorsement, and a Master’s degree in Special Education from Wayne State University, and she completed her BCBA coursework at Florida Institute of Technology. Kristen is passionate about creating sustainable change, and she is dedicated to increasing the quality of care and life-span supports for individuals on the autism spectrum and their families. In addition, Kristen is currently the district 5 Oakland County Commissioner, where her platform focuses on improving mental health, public education, and sustainability.

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Kristen Nelson, M.Ed., BCBA
Laura Plassey, M.Ed., BCBA

Laura Plassey, M.Ed., BCBA

Laura is a BCBA and Assistant Clinical Director at the Spark Center for Autism. Laura has a Master’s degree in Special Education from Oakland University, and earned her BCBA certification in March 2016. Previously, Laura worked as a secondary education teacher, focusing on math remediation for at-risk populations. After volunteering for the Spark Center, Laura became their first employee and decided to seek certification. Laura now enjoys implementing verbal behavior-based treatment packages that create meaningful change in her clients and their family’s daily lives. Her professional interests include addressing selective feeding, and creating opportunities for ABA to be delivered in small group settings and less restrictive environments. Laura helped develop the Spark Center’s STAR transition program, which was created to target the barriers associated with moving into a less restrictive setting, such as school, and increase opportunities for peer interactions.

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Krista DiPaola, M.Ed., BCBA

Krista began working with children with autism when she worked as an early intervention specialist at Children’s Hospital of Michigan. She soon realized that she wanted to pursue a career in the field, and began coursework at Wayne State University, where she received her Master’s in Education with a focus on Educational Psychology. She completed her practicum experience through the Children’s Hospital and certified as a BCBA since 2015. Prior to joining the Spark Center team, Krista worked as an in-home ABA provider. In addition to working with children with autism, Krista also has experience with traumatic brain injury, and working with adults with autism and other developmental disabilities.

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Krista DiPaola, M.Ed., BCBA
Jenna Kuhn, M.A., BCBA

Jenna Kuhn, M.A., BCBA

Jenna has 15 years of experience working with individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities, that was inspired by her mom being a special education teacher as she was growing up. As early as high school, Jenna sought out positions that fed her passion and offered her opportunities to work with individuals with special needs, including direct care-taking and as a camp counselor at SCAMP. Jenna completed her undergraduate study in psychology from Michigan State University and was a research assistant in a social psychology lab, where she became interested in studying the behavior of individuals. She was introduced to ABA halfway through her Master’s program in Special Education from a position she accepted as a behavior technician and decided to complete her Master’s degree in Autism Spectrum Disorders and pursue a BCBA certification from Florida Institute of Technology. Jenna has experience with ABA in the center, home, and community settings. Her professional interest in behavior analysis include intensive early intervention for autism spectrum disorders, play-based and natural environment teaching, pivotal response training, and teaching skills necessary to transition to less restrictive environments.

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