Deborah Bilder, MD

Deborah Bilder, MD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychiatry in the Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at the University of Utah. She also holds adjunct appointments in the departments of Pediatrics and Educational Psychology. She completed the triple board residency program (Pediatrics, General Psychiatry, Child & Adolescent Psychiatry) at the University of Utah and maintains board certification in all three specialties. Following residency, she participated in the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (URLEND) and is now a consultant for this program. She treats individuals across the lifespan with neurodevelopmental disabilities at the Neurobehavior HOME program. She is the Principal Investigator for the Utah Autism and Developmental Disabilities Registry and co-Principal Investigator for the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention’s Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network Utah site. Her research efforts currently focus on identifying prenatal autism risk factors and developing clinical paradigms to inform distress evaluation in teenagers and adults with severe developmental disabilities.

Power Point

Captain William A. Cannata, Jr.

Captain William A. Cannata, Jr. Westwood Fire Department (Retired)
Bill is a retired member of the fire service after 35 years. Bill was an officer with the Westwood Fire Department for 15 years. He was also a Massachusetts Fire Academy instructor for 15 years. Bill became a member of Autism and Law Enforcement Education Coalition (ALEC) in November 2003.  In January of 2006, he became the statewide coordinator of ALEC.  ALEC currently educates first responders in Massachusetts and other states about Autism Spectrum Disorder and how to better understand a person who is on the spectrum. ALEC has trained over 42,000 first responders. 

Bill is also the parent of a child with ASD.

Jane Carlson, PhD, BCBA-D

Dr. Jane Carlson Dr. Carlson is a licensed psychologist and Board Certified Behavior Analyst with more than 35 years of experience working with children and adults with autism and other developmental disabilities. Dr. Carlson began her career as a special education teacher and received her PhD in clinical psychology from the State University of New York at Stony Brook.  Dr. Carlson has held leadership roles at a number of programs serving individuals with ASD, including, The Groden Center in Providence, RI, and The May Institute in Randolph, MA. She served as an expert panelist on the National Standards Project, a review of evidence-based practices in the treatment of autism, produced by the National Autism Center.  She served as Education Director of the Autism Center at Virginia Commonwealth University and as Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the Medical College of Virginia/Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition, she has served as Director of the Autism Inclusion Project at the Developmental Disabilities Institute in Smithtown, NY, providing technical assistance and training to public schools to build capacity to serve students with autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Carlson is currently Director of the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism as well as Assistant Professor and Verified Course Sequence Coordinator for the M.Ed. in Applied Behavior Analysis Program. She also serves as the President Elect of UtABA.  Dr. Carlson has presented her work at national and international conferences and her publications have been translated for international audiences.

Julia Connelly, PhD

Dr. Julia Connelly graduated with bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and German from the University of Utah. She later received her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Utah’s Department of Educational Psychology. Her interest in Autism started while working with young with children with autism during her undergraduate career and became engaged in autism research. Dr. Connelly’s graduate research focused on better understanding effective treatments for difficult to manage behaviors in autism. She completed an internship and post-doc at the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) where she broadened her clinical experience beyond autism. She also worked as a school psychologist for three years in Jordan School District. After working at UNI as a staff psychologist in the department of psychiatry, she became the clinical director of the University’s Autism Spectrum Disorder Clinic, which she grew from a one-psychologist-clinic to a clinic with 4 full-time clinicians and an early intervention and behavior support program serving children, adolescents, and adults with autism. In January of 2018, she founded her own outpatient autism clinic and is hoping to build a community clinic with emphasis on individuals’ strengths and gifts while providing therapeutic support for everyone to reach their full potential in life.

Karen Deysher, MSW, MPA

Karen Deysher (pronouns: they/them/their) is a critical social worker committed to intersectional justice and cross-movement building. They hold a Master of Social Work and Master of Public Administration from Kutztown University of Pennsylvania. Their professional experience has included working with individuals, groups, families, and communities in the fields of mental health, public housing and homelessness, LGBTQ advocacy and support, and higher education. Presently, Karen is the inaugural program director of LGBT Student Services at Utah Valley University and serves as a co-chair to USHE’s College Access Network of Utah: LGBTQ Student Advocacy Committee.

Crystal Emery, B.S.

Crystal Emery is a child development professional with 19 years of experience working with young children and adolescents. She is certified as an early intervention specialist, a PLAY Project Consultant, an RBI Trainer, a Coach for Early Childhood Professionals, an Employment Specialist, and a Customized Employment professional. She is currently enrolled in the Master’s of Special Education with emphasis in transition through Utah State University. She worked in Early Intervention for 15 years and has spent the last 7 years working with young children and adolescents with autism with Easter Seals-Goodwill (ESGW) Northern Rocky Mountain. She is currently the program manager for ESGW’s youth and children’s programs. She has been active in the community for several years as a trainer and coach in the fields of early childhood and adolescent transition services for children and youth with autism. She has extensive training in human development and enjoys presenting to organizations throughout the state.

Karen S. Fairchild, LCSW

Karen S. Fairchild is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) at Utah Valley Psychology in Orem, Utah where she provides mental health counseling for individuals and families living with Autism. She has been serving as Co-Chair of Autism Resources of Utah County (ARUCC). Three of Karen’s 5 children have disabilities, including Autism Spectrum Disorders, anxiety, and depression. After spending 20 years at home with 5 children, Karen completed a Master’s degree at BYU so that she could better serve other families dealing with the challenges that come with children with special needs. She has taught many local workshops on topics to support families who have members with disabilities. She worked for almost 10 years in Early Intervention at both Kids on the Move and Kids Who Count as well as almost 9 years for Wasatch Mental Health's GIANT Steps Autism Preschool program. While raising her children, she was actively involved at both the state and county level in promoting autism awareness, supporting autism legislation, and linking families to supports and services. She has been married to and supported by Don Fairchild for 38 years and is the proud grandma of four beautiful, blonde grandsons.


Vanessa Feola, M.Ed.

Vanessa Feola, M.Ed. Vanessa is a school psychology doctoral student at the University of Utah. Her professional and research interests are in applying behavior analytic principles to school and clinical settings. In addition, she is passionate about serving the autism community through evidence-based assessment/intervention, training, and research.


Ms. Sarah Heuser B.S.

Ms. Sarah Heuser graduated with a Bachelor's in Psychology from UVU, where she also served as president of the Neurodiversity club. She currently works as the Benefits Specialist at ScenicView Academy in Provo, and presents on Autism-Spectrum issues at conferences throughout the state.

Thomas S. Higbee, PhD, BCBA-D

Dr. Thomas S. Higbee is a Professor and Assistant Department Head in the Department of Special Education and Rehabilitation at Utah State University and Director of the Autism Support Services: Education, Research, and Training (ASSERT) program, an early intensive behavioral intervention program for children with autism that he founded in 2003. He is a doctoral-level Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Utah. He is also chair of the Disability Disciplines doctoral program at Utah State University. His research focuses on the development of effective educational and behavioral interventions for children with autism spectrum disorders and related disabilities as well as the development of effective training strategies for teaching parents and professionals to implement effective interventions. He is a former associate editor for the Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis (JABA) and a current associate editor for the European Journal of Behavior Analysis. Dr. Higbee is committed to the dissemination of effective behavioral interventions and has helped to create intensive behavior analytic preschool and school programs for children with autism and related disorders in Brazil, Russia, Portugal, and throughout his home state of Utah. He is the past president of the Utah Association for Behavior Analysis (UtABA) and currently serves as a member of the Practice Board of the Association for Behavior Analysis International (ABAI) and the Psychologist Licensing Board of the state of Utah.

Katerra Miller Johnson, M.Ed.

Katerra is a school psychology doctoral student at the University of Utah. Her professional and research interests include autism assessment, intervention, and parent training.

Marette Monson, LCSW, MBA

Marette Monson, LCSW, MBA is considered an expert at mental health care for individuals with autism. Her private practice in Midvale, Utah has been recognized as the Best in State. She has over 13 years experience providing mental health care for individuals with autism.

Dennis Reid, PhD, BCBA-D

Dr. Dennis Reid has over 40 years experiences as a clinician and supervisor in educational, residential, and community support settings for people with autism and other developmental disabilities. He has consulted in the majority of states in the US as well as Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. He has published over 140 journal articles and chapters focusing on applied behavior analysis and positive behavior support and 12 books. He is the founder and current director of the Carolina Behavior Analysis and Support Center in Morganton, North Carolina. His company has employed people with severe disabilities including autism in a supported work capacity for over 20 years.

Power Point

Dorothy Simister, MSW

Dorothy Simister (pronouns: she/her/hers) has had the privilege of working with individuals living with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in different capacities over the years.  Most recently, she has worked as an adjunct professor at UVU with the Passages program, and as a psychotherapist at ScenicView Academy providing support for transitioning adults with ASD and their families. She developed a passion for working with neurodiverse individuals during her undergraduate studies, which led her to pursue a Master of Social Work from Brigham Young University.  Currently, Dorothy works as a clinician helping college students with autism and program development at the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism at Utah Valley University.   

Laura Smith, B.A.

Laura Smith received her B.A. degree in English from Westminster College in 2001 and earned her Special Education licensure from BYU in 2008. She taught in a Special Class Autism kindergarten for 8 years, during this time she received the 2012 Spirit of Excellence Award and a 2015 PTA Educator Award. She has been an Elementary Special Education Teacher Leader for the last 2 years mentoring Special Education teachers and supporting teams. Having 2 children of her own on the Autism Spectrum, Laura takes a special interest in improving the educational experience and outcomes for students with Autism and their families. She enjoys learning from others and spending time with her husband and 3 children.

Jared Stewart, M.Ed.

Jared Stewart, M.Ed., was named the 2018 Presenter of the Year by the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs and the 2011 Educator of the Year by the National Association of Private Special Education Centers.  He is a Program Director for Provo Utah’s ScenicView Academy— a transitional school for adults with autism and other neurodiversities targeting functional independence— and is an adjunct professor at Utah Valley University, where he is one of the primary instructors and curriculum developers for the Passages program at the Melisa Nellesen Center for Autism.  He was recently elected Vice Chairperson of the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council and serves on numerous state committees and advisory boards.  Jared has shared his views on the techniques and mindsets that lead to improved outcomes for individuals on the autism spectrum with many local and national audiences.  His passion for the subject arises from personal experience: he has family members with ASD and was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome himself as an adult.


Eric Stoker

Eric Stoker is a speaker for the Advocates as Leaders, Self-Advocacy Speakers Network in addition to being a part of the Utah Regional Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities (URLEND)as the consumer faculty at Utah State University. Eric works for the State of Utah as the Information Specialist for the Utah Developmental Disabilities Council.

Mikle South, PhD

Mikle South is Associate Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Brigham Young University. He received a BA from Yale University followed by a PhD in Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Utah, then returned to Yale for postdoctoral training in neuroimaging and autism. He has presented in many countries about how the brain and behavior interact in anxiety and autism. Dr. South likes to play soccer, go for walks in beautiful places with his wife and sons, and eat proper pizza.


Amy M. Wadsworth, M.S.

Amy M. Wadsworth is the director of the NextWork Program at Columbus Community Center and helped build the program to be based on current research and data collection methods. Amy earned her MS degree at the University of Utah in Human Development and Social Policy with a certificate in Disability Studies. Before earning this degree, Amy took 17 years off school to raise her daughter, who is on the autism spectrum. Amy received assessment training from Specialisterne in Philadelphia during the beginning of Autism at Work programs in the U.S. and is thrilled to see this endeavor finally come to Utah and her fabulous clients.