The Help Group’s 2019 Advance LA Conference, Square Peg - Round Holes: Dare to be Different featured internationally prominent experts whose research and practice support young adults with autism, learning differences, and ADHD. 2019's conference focused on neurodiversity, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), LGBTQ+ research and support, social skills, career paths, executive functioning, and more.
Steve Silberman is an award-winning science writer whose articles have appeared in Wired, the New Yorker, the MIT Technology Review, Nature, Salon, Shambhala Sun, and many other publications. He is also the author of the New York Times best-selling NeuroTribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity, which unearths the secret history of autism, long suppressed by the same clinicians who first became famous for discovering it, while also discovering surprising answers to the crucial question of why the number of diagnoses has soared in recent years. The book received a California Book Award as well as the Samuel Johnson Prize for Non-Fiction — the first popular science book to win the prize in its 17-year history. NeuroTribes is currently being adapted as a film by Paramount Pictures with Lorne Michaels producing.
Silberman speaks regularly at schools and universities, advocacy groups and organizations, and corporations including Microsoft, Google, and Apple.
In his book and his keynote presentations, Silberman shares little-known stories of the researchers and psychiatrists who pioneered the first autism diagnoses while also providing long-sought solutions to the autism puzzle. In an effort to shed light on the growing movement of “neurodiversity,” Silberman discusses the evolution of autism and explores the need for a more humane world in which people with learning differences and those who love them have access to the resources they need to live happier, healthier, more secure, and more meaningful lives.
Silberman’s writing has earned him numerous accolades and awards, including a 2010 Science Journalism Award for Magazine Writing from the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Kavli Foundation for his article titled “The Placebo Problem.” His writing on science, culture, and literature has been featured in a number of anthologies, including The Best American Science Writing of the Year and The Best Business Stories of the Year. His TED talk, “The Forgotten History of Autism” has been viewed more than 800,000 times and translated into 29 languages while his Twitter account, @stevesilberman, made Time magazine’s list of the best Twitter feeds for the year 2011. Silberman lives with his husband, Keith, in San Francisco.
Anthony L. Rostain, M.D., MA
Anthony L. Rostain is Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. His clinical focus is “lifespan neurodevelopmental psychiatry,” which includes patients of all ages with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Tourette Syndrome, Learning Disabilities (verbal and nonverbal), and related social learning disorders. He treats patients at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia where he is Co-Director of the Pediatric Neurodevelopmental Psychiatry Service, and at Penn Medicine / Behavioral Health where he is Medical Director of the Adult Development Disorders Unit which includes the Adult ADHD Treatment and Research Program and the Adult Social Learning Disorders Program.
Dr. Rostain’s research interests focus on improving clinical outcomes for patients across the lifespan with neurodevelopmental disorders, and on creating effective service systems for these patients and their families. He served as Vice Chair of Education for the Department of Psychiatry from 1998-2017 and as Co-Chair of the University of Pennsylvania’s Task Force on Student Psychological Health and Welfare from 2014-16. He has co-authored two books on adult ADHD, entitled The Adult ADHD Tool Kit: Using CBT to Facilitate Coping Inside and Out, and Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy for Adult ADHD: An Integrative Psychosocial and Medical Approach (Routledge, 2015). He is also co-author of an upcoming book on college mental health entitled The Stressed Years of Their Lives: Helping Your Kid Survive and Thrive During Their College Years (St. Martin’s Press, 2019).
B. Janet Hibbs, MFT, Ph.D.
B. Janet Hibbs. M.F.T., Ph.D., Contextual Therapy Associates, is a recognized authority on parent-child and family relationships and has held faculty positions for more than 15 years in graduate programs for psychologists and marital and family therapists. She is an Approved Supervisor for the American Association of Marriage and Family Therapists.
Dr. Hibbs completed her M.F.T. at Hahnemann/Drexel University and her Ph.D. at Bryn Mawr College. Her scholarly publications include book chapters and journal articles. She is the author of Try to See It My Way: Being Fair in Love and Marriage, and co-author with Dr. Anthony Rostain of The Stressed Years of Their Lives.
Most recently, her clinical focus has been on supporting parents and their children in reducing the stressors inherent in the launch to college and “adulting”. Dr. Hibbs is the mother of two millennials, one neurotypical and one neuroatypical. She has been in private practice for over 25 years in Philadelphia, where she treats individuals, couples, and families. An engaging speaker, she is a popular media guest and offers keynotes and presentations to the public and to professional audiences.
Lunch Guest Speaker
Rabbi Sherre Hirsch
Sherre Hirsch is a rabbi, author and spirituality expert dedicated to empowering individuals to be their own most trusted spiritual guides. She currently serves as Hillel International’s Senior Rabbinic Scholar, focused on developing a culture of wellness and spirituality on 550 campuses worldwide. She is also the Spirituality Consultant for Miraval Properties, where she organizes retreats and leads workshops focused on grief, healing, and spirituality.
Hirsch launched her rabbinic career as the first woman rabbi at Sinai Temple, Los Angeles’s largest and oldest conservative synagogue. During her eight-year tenure on the pulpit, she was instrumental in the founding of Friday Night Live and other nationally-recognized innovative programming.
Since then, she has published two books with Random House – We Plan, God Laughs: What to Do When Life Hits You Over the Head, an Amazon top 100 in all books, and Thresholds: How to Thrive Through Life’s Transitions to Live Fearlessly and Regret-Free – a Vanity Fair “Best Type.” She is the co-founder of NotAlone, a mobile app empowering 18-24 year-olds to connect consciously and enhance their social, emotional well-beings. Hirsch also served as the Spirituality Consultant for Canyon Ranch Properties for 15 years and was honored as Jewish Women International Women to Watch.
Hirsch’s modern approach to ancient Jewish wisdom and relatable framework for spirituality has made her a sought after speaker, teacher, consultant, counselor, and national media contributor. She is married to Dr. Jeffrey Hirsch and resides in Los Angeles with her four children, foster son and rescued dog, Latke.
Presenters (listed alphabetical by last name)
Rebecca Beam is President of auticon U.S., driving growth and overseeing operations for the company, domestically. As a veteran of California’s burgeoning tech sector since 1998, Rebecca’s career has included senior leadership roles sourcing and developing human capital with high-demand skill sets for the area’s leading tech firms, including Fortune 500. Through her experience in the dot-com era of the early century through Silicon Valley’s tech revival, Rebecca has been crucial in helping clients navigate the fluctuating tech-talent gaps that occur when jobs outpace available resources. As one of the founding members of MindSpark Inc.’s Advisory Board in 2014, she became passionate about improving the 80% unemployment rate amongst people on the autism spectrum and the need for these talented individuals to be employed. auticon – with headquarters in Germany and international in scope – acquired MindSpark in 2018 coinciding with Rebecca’s appointment as Managing Director, now President of auticon US.
Margaret Distler, M.D., Ph.D.
Dr. Distler earned her M.D. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Her Ph.D. studies focused on the genetic and molecular bases of anxiety. She completed her psychiatry residency at UCLA where she was the chief resident in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic and participated in clinical and basic research on anxiety and depression.
At present, she is a psychiatrist at UCLA and the West Los Angeles VA Medical Center. At both locations, she works in the Anxiety Disorders Clinics where she treats patients with anxiety disorders using psychopharmacology and cognitive behavioral therapy. In these clinics, she also supervises psychiatry residents. Dr. Distler has several clinical duties in addition to her work in the Anxiety Disorders Clinic. She treats UCLA students with mental illness and is the Associate Medical Director of the UCLA Aftercare program, where she treats patients with first-episode schizophrenia.
Sasha Ginsburg-Gutstein, LCSW
Sasha Ginsburg is an LCSW in the state of California and she holds a Masters Degree in Social Work from the University of Southern California. Currently, Sasha teaches at UCLA in the Department of Social Welfare, prior to which she spent four years working for the Department of Mental Health in Los Angeles County. She also worked at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where she specialized in using Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavioral Therapy in treating clients. Sasha co-founded Westside DBT in 2010 and currently works in the West Los Angeles and Studio City offices. Sasha is intensively trained by Behavioral Tech in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy.
Through the process of dialectics and mindfulness, she works with her clients to uncover their inherent skills and improve their overall quality of life. Working collaboratively is crucial in this therapeutic process and in the discovery of short and long-term goals.
She has a specialty and extensive experience working with individuals and personality disorders, relationship issues, depression, anxiety, and substance abuse.
Lara Honos-Webb, Ph.D.
Dr. Lara Honos-Webb is a clinical psychologist and author of The Gift of ADHD, The Gift of Adult ADD, The ADHD Workbook for Teens, Brain Hacks and Listening to Depression. Learn more at addisagift.com.
Her work has been featured in Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, Prevention Magazine, US News and World Report, The Chicago Tribune, and Publisher’s Weekly, as well as newspapers across the country and local and national radio and television.
Honos-Webb completed a two-year postdoctoral research fellowship at the University of California, San Francisco and has been an assistant professor teaching graduate students. She has published more than 25 scholarly articles.
Adi Jaffe, Ph.D.
Dr. Adi Jaffe’s work and research focus on changing the way people think about, and deal with mental health issues. He is passionate about the role of shame in destroying lives and aims to reduce the stigma of mental health. In this context, Dr. Jaffe has used his personal experience as an incredibly effective inspirational and motivational tool.
With a doctorate in psychology, he founded IGNTD, a wellness startup that offers a groundbreaking online course for addiction that is radically different than the one-size-fits-all model that fails 90% of addicts. He lectured in the Psychology department at UCLA and was the Executive Director and Co-Founder of one of the most progressive mental health treatment facilities in the country.
Dr. Jaffe attended UCLA, graduating with a B.A. in psychology. It was during his undergraduate career that Adi began struggling with drug issues himself, eventually leading to a 4 year hiatus from studies and into the Los Angeles drug-dealing world where he became quite successful. During that period of his life, Adi’s days looked more like a re-enactment of a beatnik novel or a Quentin Tarantino film than the life of an upper-middle class suburban kid. Following a SWAT team arrest in his apartment, an extended court case and a year-long jail sentence, Adi began rebuilding his life. This eventually led to his attainment of a Ph.D. from UCLA’s top-rated doctoral program in psychology where he graduated with honors. Even before he graduated, Dr. Jaffe’s name had become known through his online and academic writing.
His views on addiction and his research on the topic have been published in dozens of journals and online publications and he has appeared on numerous television shows and documentaries discussing current topics in addiction and the problem of addiction as a whole. Dr. Jaffe now writes for All About Addiction as well as Psychology Today, and several other online and print sources. His goal is to bring the latest knowledge about addiction to the people who could benefit from it most – those who are suffering because of it. His writing combines personal experience with a decade’s worth of fine-detail research regarding the mechanisms involved in the addictive process.
Dr. Adi Jaffe holds a Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). He teaches courses at UCLA that address addiction specifically, research statistics or biological psychology and behavioral neuroscience more generally. Well-known for his online and academic writing, Dr. Jaffe’s views on addiction and his research on the topic have been published on his own AllAboutAddiction.com as well as Psychology Today and dozens of other journals and online publications. He has appeared on several television shows including Good Morning America and in documentaries discussing current topics in addiction.
In Adi’s debut book, The Abstinence Myth that launched in August 2018, he challenges the current recovery system and discusses his own non-traditional approach. His goal is to help others overcome addiction without shame, judgment or rules.
Adi currently resides in Los Angeles with his wife, Sophie, their three children and their dog. Adi and Sophie are both running individual wellness businesses from their home. Sophie owns her own superfood company called Philosophie and together they host a podcast, IGNTD, where they explore all things relationships. Together they serve as daily inspiration for millions of readers and followers.
Elizabeth Laugeson, Psy.D.
Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson is an Associate Clinical Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at the UCLA Semel Institute and is a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Laugeson is the Founder and Director of the UCLA PEERS Clinic, which is an outpatient hospital-based program providing parent-assisted social skills training for individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorder and other social impairments across the lifespan. She is also the Training Director for the UCLA Tarjan Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) and Program Director for Dissemination, Outreach, and Education at the prestigious UCLA Autism Center of Excellence.
Dr. Laugeson has been a principal investigator and collaborator on a number of nationally funded studies investigating social skills training for youth with social difficulties from preschool to early adulthood and is the co-developer of an evidence-based social skills intervention known as PEERS. Since 2010, she has authored four books related to social skills training including, The Science of Making Friends: Helping Socially Challenged Teens and Young Adults, Social Skills for Teenagers with Developmental and Autism Spectrum Disorders: The PEERS Treatment Manual,The PEERS Curriculum for School-Based Professionals: Social Skills Training for Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder, and PEERS for Young Adults: Social Skills Training for Adults with Autism Spectrum Disorder and Other Social Challenges. She was a two-time recipient of the Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award from the National Institutes of Health in 2004 and 2006, the recipient of the Semel Scholar Award for Junior Faculty Career Development in 2008, and received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from Pepperdine University in 2010.
Having trained thousands of mental health professionals, educators, and families in the PEERS method, Dr. Laugeson is dedicated to developing and testing evidence-based treatments to improve social skills across the lifespan, and disseminating these empirically supported programs across the globe. At present, the PEERS manuals have been translated into over a dozen languages and the program is used in over 30 countries.
Dr. Laugeson has presented her ground-breaking research at international conferences throughout the world and her work has been featured on national and international media outlets such as People Magazine, USA Today, the LA Times, New York Times, Washington Post, CBS, ABC, NBC, Fox, CBC, NPR, and Channel 4 in the United Kingdom.
Erin Lotz, LCSW
Erin Lotz is an LCSW and holds a Masters Degree in Clinical Social Work from the University of Southern California. Erin has been part of the well-respected team of Psychotherapists and Psychiatrists at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center’s Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Neurosciences in Los Angeles and continues to be a trusted psychotherapist and teacher. Outside of Westside DBT of which she is the Founder and Clinical Director, Erin has a private practice, www.erinlotz.com, specializing in Mindfulness Psychotherapy. Erin has extensive experience working with adolescents and adults.
Erin specializes in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy and is trained in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy working with individuals and groups. Erin provides treatment for a variety of mood, anxiety, and personality disorders, as well as difficulties with addiction, impulsive behaviors, and chronic/persistent feelings that cause great amounts of suffering. Erin believes in each individual creating a quality of life worth living.
Erin is intensively trained in Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She was first introduced to DBT in 2000 at a Coping with Chaos training by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., the original developer of DBT. Since then, Erin has completed DBT 2 trainings and completed the Intensive Training through Behavioral Tech.
Angel Miles Nash, Ph.D.
Angel Miles Nash, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at Chapman University in the Donna Ford Attallah College of Educational Studies. Dr. Miles Nash’s 15 years of teaching and leading in K-12 schools and higher education institutions in Washington, DC, California, and Virginia galvanize her research endeavors examining the emboldening of Black girls and women in the K-20+ education pipeline, the professional intersectional realities of women of color, and the ways that educational leaders support underserved students in STEM education.
Angel earned her Doctor of Philosophy in Educational Administration and Supervision from the University of Virginia, where she served as a Graduate Research Assistant for the University Council for Educational Administration and the Jackson Scholars Network. She holds a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Science in Systems Engineering. Dr. Miles Nash’s research, teaching, and service commitments collectively and intentionally reify her belief in educational leaders’ influence on the historically underserved populations on whose behalf she champions.
Dave Mochel, M.A.
Dave has been studying the practices and principles of mindfulness, well-being, and leadership for more than thirty years. After a career teaching neuroscience and human development, he founded Applied Attention Coaching and Consulting. Dave combines modern science, enduring wisdom, and real-life application to help individuals, teams, and leaders focus their attention and energy where it will make the greatest positive difference.
In addition, he is a lecturer in The School of Health and Human Performance at Stanford University, the author of Good Life Practice: A Quick Start Guide to Mindful Self-Regulation, a two-time cancer survivor, and the proud father of two wonderful young men. Dave has degrees in biology and geology from Williams College, a Master’s in Humanistic and Multicultural Education from SUNY New Paltz, and a clinical internship in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) from the University of Massachusetts Medical Center.
Jenara Nerenberg, M.S.
Jenara Nerenberg is a journalist and founder of The Neurodiversity Project, an event series and community platform hosting bestselling authors in science and medicine who push for innovation in research and advocacy. She is a professional interviewer and writes for the UC Berkeley Greater Good Science Center, Garrison Institute, Susan Cain’s Quiet Revolution, Elaine Aron’s HSP, and elsewhere. She is an alum of CNN, Fast Company, UC Berkeley, and the Harvard School of Public Health and is the author of the forthcoming book, Divergent Mind, addressing empathy and gender bias in mental health. You can find her on Twitter and Facebook, subscribe to The Neurodiversity Project newsletter for event announcements, or contact her directly on her website.
Aydin Olson-Kennedy, LCSW
Aydin Olson-Kennedy, LCSW, is the executive director of the Los Angeles Gender Center where he provides therapy for gender-nonconforming and transgender youth, adults, and their families. He has spoken internationally on the importance of an informed-consent model of care, identifying and acknowledging domains of privilege, and broadening clinicians’ and families’ understanding of gender dysphoria and its impact on the psychosocial well-being of gender-nonconforming and transgender individuals.
Johanna Olson-Kennedy, M.D.
Johanna Olson-Kennedy, M.D., is an Adolescent Medicine physician specializing in the care of gender non-conforming children and transgender youth. Board certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, Dr. Olson-Kennedy has been a clinician-researcher at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles for the past eleven years. She has been providing medical intervention for transgender youth and young adults including puberty suppression and cross-sex hormones for the past eleven years and is considered a national expert in this area.
Dr. Olson-Kennedy is an Associate Professor at USC Keck School of Medicine and is the Medical Director of The Center for Transyouth Health and Development at Children’s Hospital in Los Angeles. The Center for Transyouth Health and Development is the largest transgender youth clinic in the United States. Dr. Olson-Kennedy has appeared frequently on national television, and spoken all over the country to educate providers, parents, and other communities about the needs of transgender youth.
Kyler Shumway, M.A.
You might assume that Kyler Shumway, M.A., was one “the cool kids.” After all, he’s an author, former Division 1 athlete, and soon-to-be psychologist. But in reality, Kyler was a target. Bullied for his weight, his second-hand farm boy clothes, and his social anxiety, Kyler was made to believe that he did not belong.
As rejection, humiliation, and isolation became “normal” for him, he began to change. Kyler became the bully. After a painful journey of reconciliation and healing, Kyler swore to make things different – because he knows he is not alone.
Today, Kyler is on a mission. He believes that, together, we can bring an end to the bullying problem by creating a world where everyone can belong. To learn more about Kyler, check out his personal website at KylerShumway.com
Matthew Smith, Ph.D., MSW, MPE, LCSW
Matthew J. Smith, PhD, MSW, MPE, LCSW, received his PhD from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and completed post-doctoral fellowships in psychiatric epidemiology and biostatistics at Washington University in St. Louis and in translational neuroscience at Northwestern University.
His primary research interests focus on developing and evaluating technology-based interventions that can be delivered in high schools and community mental health centers to improve community-based outcomes for transition-age youth with educational disabilities and adults with severe mental illness and/or other disabilities.
He is also interested in developing and evaluating technology-based tools to enhance the clinical education of social work students. He is interested in studying the social neuroscience and community-based functioning of individuals with schizophrenia.
Lance Steinberg, M.D.
Lance Steinberg, M.D. has taught psychopharmacology internationally using humor and emphasizing clinical relevance. As Assistant Clinical Professor at UCLA (Geffen) School of Medicine, he has taught Fellows in Child Psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, and has received two Golden Apple Awards for “Outstanding Teaching”. His seminar “Child Psychopharmacology” was awarded ‘Highest Rated Course” from 2000-2010.
Dr. Steinberg graduated from Dartmouth Medical School and was designated a Rock Sleyster Scholar by the A.M.A. as one of the top ten medical students in psychiatry for the United States. He completed a full residency in pediatrics at UCLA and Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, then a fellowship in adolescent medicine with an emphasis on medical-psychiatric interface at Stanford University Hospital and Clinics. Dr. Steinberg then trained in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center where he has taught advanced child psychopharmacology, CBT, and self-hypnosis for over twenty years.
Dr. Steinberg’s specialties include Tics, Tourette’s, OCD, ADHD, mood & anxiety disorders, Asperger’s, and Autism. Dr. Steinberg has offices in Calabasas, Encino, and Valencia.
Mellissa Toler, M.S.
Mellissa obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in wellness and then went on to obtain her Master of Science degree in Developmental Disabilities from Nova Southeastern University. Mellissa took her knowledge and passion gained through personal experience and academics and applied it to helping adults with disabilities find and maintain employment through her work as a certified supported employment specialist and job skills trainer. Mellissa has earned an Autism Specialty professional endorsement from the University of North Texas and a Leadership and Advocacy in Developmental Disabilities professional endorsement from Nova Southeastern University.
Mellissa has worked as a Registered Behavior Technician, working with transition-aged individuals diagnosed with ASD to increased independent living skills and improve possibilities and opportunities for individuals with ASD as they move into adulthood. Mellissa continues to push the possibilities for individuals diagnosed with Autism.
Daniel Wendler, M.A.
Daniel Wendler M.A. never fit in, no matter how hard he tried. His quirky personality and awkward behavior meant that his childhood was full of rejection, bullying, and loneliness. But Daniel never stopped yearning for a place to belong, and when he was diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome he began to teach himself social skills from the ground up, the way you would learn a foreign language.
When he used these skills to reach out to other “outsiders,” Daniel discovered that he was not alone in his search for connection, and that the best way to find a place to belong was to create that place for someone else.
Today, he works to help others make that same discovery. He is the author of the website ImproveYourSocialSkills.com, two books on social skills (“Improve Your Social Skills” and “Level Up Your Social Life” both available on Amazon), a two time TEDx speaker, and a graduate student in his final year of a doctorate in clinical psychology. Daniel is thrilled to be a part of Advance LA along with his best friend Kyler Shumway and looks forward to sharing a simple truth with everyone: It’s never too late to find a place to belong, and all of us have the power to change a life simply by being a friend.
Speakers from The Help Group
Jason Bolton, Psy.D.
Dr. Jason Bolton has over 25 years of experience working with children, adolescents, and families with histories of abuse and neglect, social-emotional challenges, and developmental disabilities including autism spectrum disorder and learning differences. He holds a B.A in Psychology from the University of Oklahoma, an M.S. in Applied Behavioral Studies from Oklahoma State University, and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology in Alameda.
He is The Help Group’s Vice President of Programs and previously served the agency as its Clinical Director and Chief Psychologist. In addition to clinical work, Dr. Bolton’s expertise includes effective leadership of diverse work groups, innovative program development, and responsible fiscal oversight of quality programs. He is a member of the Board of Directors and Finance Chair of the California Association of Private Special Education Schools and Agencies, known as CAPSES. Dr. Bolton is a proud father of triplet girls and, as a parent-consumer of developmental and special education services, frequently refers to his family as a glowing example of the power of early intervention.
Ellis Crasnow, Ph.D.
Ellis Crasnow, PhD, is a Los Angeles-based educator, innovator and entrepreneur engaged in transforming lifelong opportunities for special needs students. A pioneer in developing new teaching models for empowering students across the autistic spectrum, Dr. Crasnow is a specialist on issues surrounding STEM, technology and special needs. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from USC, with a focus on the philosophy of science. He is the Director of STEM Education at The Help Group, and Founding Director of STEM3 Academy. Dr. Crasnow is a frequent speaker at conferences, nationally and internationally, on the importance of STEM education, special education, emerging technologies and neurodiversity in the workplace.
In 2012, The Help Group began a pilot program at Village Glen High School, which Dr. Crasnow led. The success of that program and its expansion to include STEM infusion into the middle and elementary schools’ curriculum provided the impetus to start STEM³ Academy. Prior to teaching, Dr. Crasnow was a successful entrepreneur, and is an avid hiker and photographer. Dr. Crasnow is a frequent speaker at conferences, nationally and internationally, on the importance of STEM education and its benefit to those with social and learning differences.
Heather Humphrey, M.A., LMFT
Heather Humphrey is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with extensive experience providing services to children, teens, and adults with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs. Heather currently supervises The Help Group’s adult and vocational programs, which include Advance LA, Project Six Adult Residential Program, the Community Employment Program, the WorkAbility 1 Program, and the We Can Work Program.
A Pepperdine University frequent flyer, earning Master’s degrees in both Applied Psychology and Clinical Psychology, she has worked with a wide variety of populations including individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other learning challenges, individuals with complex trauma needs, individuals that identify as LGBT+, and forensic clients. Heather is currently the State Chair of the Business, Education and Labor committee as part of the WorkAbility 1 program, through the California Department of Education.
Bryan Scheihing, LMFT
Bryan is the Program Coordinator for The Help Group’s Kaleidoscope LGBTQ+ Program. He is a licensed psychotherapist with experience working in community mental health agencies to provide individual, family, and group services to clients with special needs, including providing affirmative care to marginalized minority groups to promote awareness, acceptance, and empowerment.