Senior and Lead BCBAs Find Growth in New Roles with Hopebridge BCBA Career Pathway
August 10, 2023
August 10, 2023
As a BCBA, you spend your days working with children and families to build new skills, big and small. You look forward to the “wow” moments and constantly work to enhance the lives of others, from your kids to your RBTs. While the memories you will make with these children are incredible and life-changing, do not forget to set your own goals, too.
Whether you are just starting out as a board certified behavior analyst (BCBA) or have a decade of experience in applied behavior analysis (ABA), at Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers, we know it is important to have opportunities to keep your own knowledge and professional development rolling.
As such, we recently launched the BCBA Career Pathway program as another way to foster clinical quality and ongoing career growth within our team. With a clear path, guidelines and resources for advancement at Hopebridge, these roles aim to build the career outlook for BCBAs. This tiered system offers the prospect for increased leadership, professional development and influence over the future of autism therapy, while also tying back to the Hopebridge mission by enhancing the quality of services we provide to our families.
The new BCBA career path roles at Hopebridge include:
Do you wonder what it is like to move into one of these positions at Hopebridge? What new skills have these BCBAs gained and what have they been recognized for along their journey? What was the process like and what are their goals? To share their perspectives, we connected with some of the first to receive promotions as lead BCBA and senior BCBA.
Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Cumming, GA
Practicing 19 years as a BCBA
With nearly 25 years in the field of behavior analysis, Jessica Spies has worked with a range of populations and settings, originally drawn to the science that ABA is based on but loving the art of its implementation.
Even before her promotion to senior BCBA, Jessica made it a point to pursue opportunities to develop her professional skills, so aiming for this new role seemed like the natural progression for her.
“I’m a lifelong learner. This practice is constantly evolving so I feel passionate about continuing to grow my skills and maintain relevancy. I’ve taken it upon myself to get more training centered around compassionate care, for instance,” said Jessica. “In the three years I’ve been here, there has been a lot of growth in the opportunities Hopebridge provides and I like that I don’t have to look externally to get access to this type of content.”
Jessica said the competency checks she completed followed along with the tasks she does every day. Regional BCBAs evaluate consistency in implementation of consultations and POD meetings and review assessment choices. Then, they provided feedback as it relates to Hopebridge’s policies and procedures.
With her level of experience within her career, Jessica appreciates the recognition that comes with the senior BCBA title, as well as the vehicle for becoming more valuable to the organization. This is especially important to her since developing others is one of her passions. She also looks forward to working towards becoming an assistant clinical director or clinical director as the next “stops on the pathway. She is already identifying ways she can help her center get where it needs to be operationally in order to meet those next steps.
In addition to recognizing her own contributions, Jessica likes the impact the BCBA Career Pathway can have on newer behavior analysts.
“I’ve been in the field a long time and see the value in understanding the expectations Hopebridge has of its clinicians. With the BCBA Career Pathway, those newer to the field can have a better hold on their own career growth projection,” said Jessica. “It provides more structure, accountability and a path for BCBAs to understand the ‘Hopebridge way’ of being a BCBA to increase standardization across all our locations.”
Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Woodstock, GA
Practicing 7 years as a BCBA
With a combined 16 years of experience working with children with autism through special education and ABA, Kim Heinemann has always gravitated toward the kids who required extra support with their challenges, as she also found reward through their outcomes.
Now, after years of finding her own success by launching new center locations and providing mentorship opportunities, she felt honored to become a senior BCBA through Hopebridge’s BCBA Career Pathway program. Just as she finds joy in helping her kids reach new heights, she finds the chance for growth within her center and the ability to take on more responsibility to be rewarding for her career.
“I enjoyed the open conversation with Jana and the regional team throughout the process. They put so much value into our work and let us know we are appreciated.” said Kim, speaking of her role and time with Chief Clinical Officer Jana Sarno and Regional BCBAs Bri Sebastian and Janelle Stawasz.
“The team guided us through the expectations, which were things we already do as part of the day-to-day, but it is nice to receive the acknowledgement. They also provided feedback and helped us set additional short-term goals to improve as an organization and collaborate across centers and states.”
Kim is extremely passionate about training and disseminating information. In addition to her own growth, Kim is looking forward to sharing these opportunities with others, whether it is by helping other BCBAs through the process or continuing to share her knowledge and experience with others through more formal routes, like training and supervision.
Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Snellville, GA
Practicing 1 year as a BCBA
Having only a year behind him as a behavior analyst, Nick Mineo did not expect to be eligible for a promotion, but Hopebridge’s BCBA Career Pathway aims to open opportunities for outstanding BCBAs across experience levels.
“When the regional team shared the criteria for the position – competencies, training and assessments – I thought, why not try?” said Nick, who is now a lead BCBA. “In general, the BCBA career is not traditionally known for having a lot of chances for vertical growth, so it was appealing to have this chance for professional development at Hopebridge. It’s a nice stepping-stone and encourages me to become the best BCBA I can be.”
Nick called the process “seamless” in that he did not need to go beyond his day-to-day activities to complete the competencies and work towards the promotion. He especially enjoyed the collaborating with regional BCBAs Janelle and Bri. They overlapped with him during a consultation and POD meeting, where they listened in and provided feedback. He believes the training modules served as good reminders and encouraged self-reflection.
“The feedback I received was awesome. Getting to collaborate with someone with more experience helped my growth mindset and shows Hopebridge wants to invest in our development as clinicians,” said Nick. “The BCBA Career Pathway is something that separates Hopebridge from other companies. Our clinical leadership and supervisors want to see us grow personally and professionally.”
Next up for Nick? In addition to continuing his supervision for Fellows, he looks forward to more growth as he strives for the senior BCBA position in the future.
Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Mt. Juliet, TN
Practicing 1 year as a BCBA
After serving as a board certified assistant behavior analyst (BCaBA) for three years, Lauren Fairand became a BCBA at Hopebridge a year ago. After working in the Brentwood clinic as a Fellow, she transferred to the Mt. Juliet center, where she spent some of her first year teaching behavior technicians who were brand new to ABA, so she was excited to progress her leadership skills even more when Hopebridge announced the BCBA Career Pathway.
“Hopebridge’s pathway is unique in our field,” said Lauren. “I’ve always been one of those people who said, ‘What else can I do?’ This is important to me not solely because I get to move into a new role, but also so I can become a better clinician. It encourages me to continue to learn, grow and push myself.”
“They set me up for success by letting me know what to expect. It felt more like a discussion than a test. Meg and Nia supported me so much that I never felt alone while going through the process,” said Lauren.
Looking ahead, Lauren is excited to use her role as a lead BCBA to further the knowledge of Fellows so they can become great BCBAs. She wants to help move the field in an even better direction with more compassion by guiding other budding behavior analysts.
As a lead BCBA, Lauren also looks forward to building upon her skills and navigating other areas of the ABA process, such as around topics like insurance. The extra support she received from the regional BCBAs motivated her to get even stronger at showcasing medical necessity within plans of care so she can best advocate for her children.
Hopebridge Autism Therapy Center in Woodstock, GA
Practicing 1 year as a BCBA
When Maddi Raye originally came across Hopebridge during graduate school, she was drawn to the organization’s support and supervision, even before she began her fieldwork hours. A year since she became a behavior analyst, she now plans use her new role as a lead BCBA to give it back.
“I am interested in providing supervision for Fellows. My experience was so great and the mentorship I received from Kim meant so much to me that I’d love to be able to pay that forward,” said Maddi. “I also want to help onboard BCBAs who are new to Hopebridge, as this process has enabled me to become fluent in all things Hopebridge.”
As a newer BCBA, Maddi values not only the recognition that came with her promotion to lead BCBA, but also the feedback and soft skills she was able to work on with the regional team as part of the BCBA Career Pathway program.
“The tasks in our competency checks were things we do daily, but having someone come in and watch me helped me see my staff a little differently. Giving feedback is something that challenges me and Bri’s feedback enabled me to make tweaks in the process. The observations and assessments felt like additional support and guidance. It allows for self-reflection and sets us up for success,” said Maddi.
“Since becoming a BCBA, I’ve struggled with imposter syndrome. Becoming a lead BCBA was a confidence booster and an affirmation that I know what I’m doing, my documentation is good, and I know the policies and procedures. I still feel it some days, but this type of feedback and ongoing support and training ensures I’m always learning something or gaining a fresh perspective to better serve our kids and families.”
This is just a sample of the possibilities available through Hopebridge’s BCBA Career Pathway. By offering a clear bridge to each step along the path – with the resources to support them – Hopebridge aims for clinicians to find joy while increasing their expertise and providing even higher quality services for its children.
The BCBA Career Pathway is one of the many offerings that fall under the broader BCBA experience. Other perks include free continuing education hours (CEU), conference presentations, grand rounds and research participation.
Professional development initiatives at Hopebridge are not limited to current BCBAs. RBTs and aspiring BCBAs can advance their own skills and titles through the RBT leveling program or apply for the industry-leading Fellowship Program for behavior analysis. Programs like LEAD and the Next Step Academy nurture team members’ leadership skills and provide operational opportunities, no matter which discipline they work in at Hopebridge.
We hope the stories and experiences of these lead and senior BCBAs encourage even more passionate individuals to pursue their own goals at Hopebridge. If you are interested in growing your career while helping others reach their full potential, please look at the open positions for BCBAs, RBTs and more across the country.
*Informed consent was obtained from the participants in this article. This information should not be captured and reused without express permission from Hopebridge, LLC.