Hopebridge Regional BCBA Sam Sardone Finds her “Family” and Clinical Joy by Supporting Other Behavior Analysts
May 30, 2023
May 30, 2023
As a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA), what fills your cup? For Hopebridge Regional BCBA Sam Sardone, it’s the ability to expand her reach to help even more children – and their therapy teams – succeed while working toward their own goals.
That’s because the clinical joy doesn’t end for BCBAs who advance their careers within Hopebridge, even though they no longer have their own caseloads.
“Supporting clinicians while they reach these mini wins with their patients is so rewarding,” said Sam. “I just help them get the ball rolling, and it’s great when I circle back to a center and they tell me that a child is thriving because of one of my suggestions.”
We recently connected with Sam to share more about what it’s like to grow a career within Hopebridge and serve our children, families and each other as a regional BCBA.
Sam’s introduction to applied behavior analysis (ABA) began in graduate school, where she was working on her master’s degree to work in special education. The BCBA credential was relatively new at the time, but it piqued her interested and she added courses to pursue that route, not fully knowing where this career path would take her in the future.
Following graduate school, she worked in the school system as a special education teacher for a few years. There she applied what she was learning about ABA in a classroom setting to make positive change in her school. After that, she worked in ministry for a few years, where she found value in developing the leadership and relationship-building skills that would benefit her future career.
Fast-forward a few years and Sam decided to make a career change. Her friend, Janelle Stawasz, who is now Hopebridge’s director of ABA clinical operations, previously worked with her in the school system and encouraged Sam to look into the therapy provider’s open positions. There were a couple centers in her area, but it was Hopebridge’s brand new location in Cumming, GA that grabbed her attention.
“I was the first hire at our Cumming location and helped build it from the ground up,” said Sam. “Navigating what the initial startup to a clinic looked like was insightful for me, as I learned the ins and outs of the company and partnered with different leaders to make the launch successful.”
Nearly two years after starting at Hopebridge, Sam had the opportunity to move to South Carolina with her husband, but she wanted to remain on board with Hopebridge. To do so, she ended up working in teletherapy.
“Working in telehealth helped me gain a bigger perspective for the network of Georgia,” said Sam. “While in that role, the opportunity for a regional BCBA position opened, so I went for it to continue making a greater impact on this region. I loved working in the Cumming location, which will always be home to me, but playing a part in fostering the other center cultures over time has been incredible.”
Since becoming an RBCBA, Sam remains closely connected to the centers and was reminded last summer why she got started in ABA. The Cumming center hosted an outdoor graduation ceremony for many of the patients, several of whom she worked with one-on-one or remembered from her days in the center.
“It was such a special day to see everyone rally around these patients who were transitioning to their next endeavors, onto success in school or at home. Local media teams came to give news coverage and support to the overall mission and this center that I poured so much of my heart into,” said Sam.
The core purpose of the RBCBA role is to bridge and align the operational and clinical perspectives of the organization to carry out the Hopebridge mission.
To do that, RBCBAs primarily support the behavior analysts from various centers in their region. Sam currently works with approximately 40 BCBAs, serving as a source of daily support and encouraging them through challenging cases during the case review process and grand rounds.
“It’s fun to watch the growth of the individual clinicians over time, especially new BCBAs who are just entering our field. It’s exciting to cheer them on as they come into their own, cultivate their style and impact their centers,” said Sam. “I enjoy sharing my experiences and stories about relatable patients and have them absorb the feedback to apply it in their own ways, then come back a couple weeks later and see the development come to life.”
In addition to providing direct support to BCBAs, Sam also collaborates with center managers to make sure clinical perspectives remain a top priority for Hopebridge.
“Many positions must work together to make a center successful. Part of my role is to bring out the strengths of everyone to keep everything running effectively and efficiently,” said Sam. “I break down what certain things mean and what needs to occur from the clinical angle, as well as the why behind them.”
For others interested in pursuing a leadership role in autism therapy like a regional BCBA, Sam shared her top 3 tips for success with us.
“Not only will these efforts stand out to others, but they are also practical ways to impact the quality of the organization no matter your position,” said Sam.
“Being part of the regional team at Hopebridge makes a big company feel smaller. I now have a network of individuals I know closely in Kentucky, Florida, Tennessee, Arizona and all across the country,” said Sam.
“I don’t feel like I work for an organization that is the largest autism therapy provider with more than 100 centers—because I consider everyone here my family. These are the people I interact with on a day-to-day basis. They’re only a phone call away. That’s what keeps me going.” If opportunities like Sam’s sound exciting to you, we hope you’ll consider joining our mission with a job at Hopebridge. At Hopebridge, there’s not only one way to grow as a BCBA and we want to lift you up as you discover your strengths and embark on your journey in ABA.
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.