Clinical Staff – California

Carmela B. Sanford, M.A., BCBA
Clinical Director

Carmela has been in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis since 1999 using discrete trial teaching approach with children with Autism, in-home and at school. She has several years of experience with program development, program implementation, data interpretation, functional assessment, employee training and parent training. Carmela received her B.A. in Psychology from San Diego State University and received her M.A. in Teaching as well as ABA Certification from National University. She is fluent in Tagalog.

Carmela has attended training workshops for:

  • PECS by Dr. Andrew Bondy
  • TEACCH Fundamentals Training by the Greenville TEACCH Center
  • Level 1 Training: Pivotal Response Treatment by the UCSB Koegel Autism Center
  • In-service Instructors in Professional Assault Crisis Training
  • Social Stories by Carol Gray
  • Wrightslaw Special Education Advocacy Training by Peter and Pam Wright

“Our children are God’s greatest gift to us. No matter how they are packaged, this truth does not change. Be grateful; love, honor, and cherish them. If your child is not perfect or what you hoped for, God has not punished you for past deeds. He has given you an opportunity that you may not yet understand. Make the most of the situation, for you are in it for a purpose, and there are rewards, that you never imagined possible.” — author unknown

E-mail Carmela Sanford at cboton@bestautismservices.com.


Monica Bernaldo, M.A., BCBA
Regional Manager

Monica Bernaldo began her employment with B.E.S.T Services, Inc in 2004 after completing her education from California State University Northridge where she finished with a Bachelors of Arts in child development with an emphasis in special education. Monica has a solid background in Discrete Trial Teaching and TEACCH methodologies and has a true passion for working with children on the autism spectrum. Monica’s passion for her work is apparent in the community as she was one of the lead volunteers for several years for the Autism Walk and served on the board of directors for the local autism society.  Monica completed a Masters degree in Teaching with a specialization in Applied Behavioral Analysis at National University and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2009. Monica received a Certificate of Completion for a two-day training workshop for PECS facilitated by the Co-founder of PECS, Dr. Andrew Bondy. Additionally, she completed the level 1 Training for Pivotal Response Treatment at the UCSB Koegel Autism Center. Monica is now serving the Middle Tennessee region as of January 2022.

E-mail Monica Bernaldo at mbernaldo@bestautismservices.com.


Kristi-MaherKristi Maher, M.A., BCBA
Program Developer

Kristi Maher has worked in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis since 2002. She received her B.A. in Liberal Studies from CSU San Marcos in 2000 and her Multiple Subject Teaching Credential (Grades K-12) in 2001. Kristi later returned to school to earn her M.A. in Teaching from National University in 2011 followed by BCBA certification in January 2012.

Kristi joined B.E.S.T. Services, Inc. in 2002 working as a 1:1 tutor for the San Diego and Temecula regions, working within the home and school settings. In 2005 she became a Case Supervisor for San Diego County. Kristi has extensive work experience with children on the autism spectrum and continues to focus on expanding proficiency with developing social skill concepts. Kristi’s present position with B.E.S.T. Services additionally focuses on initial assessment and program development.

Additional training workshops Kristi has attended include:

  • The Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS) by Dr. Andrew Bondy
  • Social Stories™ by Carol Gray
  • Pivotal Response Training (PRT) by Drs. Robert and Lynn Koegel
  • Social Thinking by Michelle Garcia Winner

E-mail Kristi Maher at kmillen@bestautismservices.com.


Monica GarciaRachael Donahue, M.S., BCBA
Regional Manager

Rachael grew up in Boston, in a home that was very involved in Special Education. With a mother in the field and a close family friend with Autism, Rachael’s love and knowledge for this population began at an early age. Rachael has four years experience working as a teacher’s aide in a classroom for children with Autism. In 2010, Rachael moved to San Diego and began working at B.E.S.T., as a direct tutor. Rachael also spent a few years practicing as a BCaBA prior to starting coursework to become a BCBA. Rachael was promoted to Regional Manager of the San Diego area in 2016. She earned a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Southern New Hampshire University in 2018, with a focus on Child and Adolescent Development, and became a BCBA the following year.

E-mail Rachael Donahue at rdonahue@bestautismservices.com.


Al KlughAl Klugh, BCBA
Behavior Consultant

Al came to BEST Services in 2012 via Virginia where he retired with 20 years of special education classroom experience, which included being the classroom teacher for the first autism program in the region, along with 10 years of administrative experience. His educational background includes earning his B.S. degree in Exceptional Children from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, Pennsylvania, and later earning his M.Ed. in Educational Leadership from Lynchburg College, Virginia. Al’s training has included a 2-week training by TEACCH in Chapel Hill, NC, attended 5 annual workshops by the Virginia Autism Resource Center in Winchester, Virginia, attended workshops by T/TAC, Virginia’s Training and Technical Assistance Centers, and PECS Level 1 training. Along with serving on committees at the state level, including the steering committee for Virginia’s Alternate Assessment, Al also helped form and co-led the county’s core autism group made up of parents, teachers, local businesses, and community leaders focused on autism education and training. Al is also preparing to sit for his BCBA certification exam.

E-mail Al Klugh at aklugh@bestautismservices.com.


Leticia Flores MartinezLeticia Martinez, M.S., BCBA
Case Supervisor

Letty has been in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis since 2017. She started her experience working in the special education setting as a behavior aid for Imperial County Office of Education. She worked primarily with children who have Autism in the preschool setting, however was also assigned to work with school age children. She also worked part time doing ABA in-home services and was certified as an RBT in 2017. She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2016 and further pursued her Masters degree in Psychology with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2018. She graduated from her program in December 2020 and recently sat for the BCBA exam in which she became certified in April 2021. Letty started with BEST Services as an RBT and has worked her way up to Case Supervisor position by completing the training and education requirements outlined within BEST Services. As a new BCBA she has received PECS level 1 training via Pyramid Consultants of America. She is also fluent in Spanish.

E-mail Leticia Martinez at lmartinez@bestautismservices.com.

 


Lucia DuronLucia Duron, M.S., BCBA
Case Supervisor

Lucia completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology at California State University San Bernardino in the winter of 2018. While completing her program she learned about Applied Behavioral Analysis in one of her courses and through one of her professors who also practiced as a BCBA. Lucia became highly interested in learning more about the field, she began her employment with BEST Services in September of 2017.  She has since practiced in the field as a Registered Behavior Technician. Lucia furthered her education in ABA by completing a Masters degree in Applied Behavior Analysis through National University in 2021. Lucia currently holds the position of Senior Registered Behavior Technician and serves families as a case supervisor in the Coachella Valley. She is currently working towards becoming a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and strives to continue to serve many families for years to come.

E-mail Lucia Duron at lduron@bestautismservices.com


Chelsea ShephardChelsea Shephard, M.A., RBT
Senior Registered Behavior Technician

Chelsea began her journey with BEST Services in August of 2013. While working as an RBT she quickly discovered her passion for working with children on the spectrum. Chelsea also went on to work part time as a paraprofessional for a local school district to further help children with special needs. Chelsea received her Bachelors in Liberal Arts with a concentration in teaching in 2020. She then went on to receive her Masters in Special Education with emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2022 from Arizona State University. Chelsea currently serves as a Senior Registered Behavior Technician in the Desert and Riverside region and is currently working towards attaining her BCBA certification.

E-mail Chelsea Shephard at cshephard@bestautismservices.com