Our Team

Willowcrest provides a holistic immersive program delivered by people who are the best at what they do; both by training and because they hold high expectation and bring consistent, deliberate and exceptional support. We know how difficult it is to find good help. Effective therapy. Kind and empathetic therapists.

Being a parent is difficult. Being a parent of a neurodivergent child is a nuance only other parents of similar children can really comprehend. Willowcrest appreciates those challenges, meets children and parents where they are, and offers support that help both children and their parents succeed.

 

Get to know us below.

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Helen Chicas

Teacher

Helen earned her B.A in Psychology from California State Channel Islands University in 2015. After graduating, she pursued an opportunity as a Behavioral Instructor, providing in-home and school-based support for children with autism, ADHD, and other learning differences. Her responsibilities included providing direct behavioral services and treatments for children and adolescents, which she soon realized was her passion. Helen then pursued her paraprofessional certification in behavior analysis as a Registered Behavior Technician (RBT). Additionally she worked for a year as a teacher’s aide and was quickly promoted to Teacher for an early intervention day treatment clinic for children with special needs. 

 

Helen believes that any child can succeed with the correct support and early intervention. She is passionate about helping others and facilitating positive change in children’s lives. She is currently earning her M.S. in School Psychology at National University to expand her knowledge and skills.

Roberta Fields Poster

Speech-Language Pathologist

Roberta Fields Poster is a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist in private practice since 1980. Her practice has specialized in the evaluation and treatment of children from 16 months to young adults with challenges in articulation, language, social communication and literacy challenges. The scope of her practice has included children with medical, physical, psychological, cognitive and developmental challenges as well as those from bilingual and trilingual homes. Her work has involved direct work with parents, caretakers and extended family and in consultation with teachers, other related professionals and school administration. Her work has included participation in multiple individualized education plans through the school districts, independent assessments requested by families and school districts well as team meetings with other professionals working with individual children. 

 

Roberta has consulted and provided treatment to families throughout the English speaking world. Their homes of origin have ranged from Canada to England and Australia. Throughout her career, she frequently lectured to parents, teachers, undergraduate and graduate students, educational therapists, occupational therapists, social workers and psychologists on language development and disorders and their relationships to academic learning and social development. Over the past 20 years, Roberta has spent over two thousand hours training and supervising graduate students who’ve come to her practice to observed and participate in treatment with clients.

Leeanne Mallel

Speech-Language Pathologist

Leeanne Mallel CCC-SLP is a licensed speech Language Pathologist with the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association. She has training and experience working as a behaviorist with ABA behavioral therapy as well as Floortime therapies. In addition, she is PROMPT trained and certified through the PROMPT Institute. Leeanne specializes in working with children with Autistic Spectrum Disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, Phonological Disorders as well as a variety of Expressive and Receptive Language Disorders. She also works with children on their pre-literacy skills, phonological awareness, fluency and reading comprehension.


Leeanne conducts testing in all areas of language and speech acquisition, creates therapeutic plans and goals, and implements all strategies in therapy. She is experienced in working with infants as young as eighteen months, and children and adolescents from the ages of 2 and beyond. She has led numerous social skill groups from young children to adolescents, and believes in a strength-based approach to support each child‘s individual needs and focuses on their strengths and areas of interest.  She is currently working in private practice with Roberta Poster Fields & Associates and is proud to be a part of the team at Willowcrest School.

Sara Beth Kaufman

Behavior Analyst

Sara Beth Kaufman is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. She has over 19 years of experience working with children with autism, ADHD, anxiety disorders, developmental delays and their families. Following her graduation from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a BA in psychology she immediately began working in the field of autism and behavior analysis. She later continued her graduate training and received her Masters in Counseling with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) from California State University-Los Angeles. While studying, she worked for a behavioral agency and ultimately became the clinical director. Working with staff, parents, schools and collaborating with other professionals Sara was able to help children increase positive behaviors and decrease challenging behaviors. 

 

Sara has been in private practice for over 8 years specializing in program development, parent education, school and home consultation. She is passionate about making positive changes for children and their families. 

Cheryl Ecker

Occupational Therapist

Cheryl Ecker, MA, OTR/L, BCP, SWC is a national board certified pediatric occupational therapist. She has also acquired specialty certification for feeding and swallowing through the California Board of Occupational Therapy. She is a graduate of the Medical College of Georgia and the University of Southern California. She has been practicing in occupational therapy for over 30 years in clinic, home, and school settings. She is an author of the Sensory Processing Measure (first and second editions), a standardized rating scale for sensory processing. She has been adjunct faculty and an invited guest lecturer for several university programs and community outreach programs, and has presented for several national and international conference events including the American Occupational Therapy Association and the World Federation of Occupational Therapy.

Gaye Pettibone

Educational Therapist

Gaye Pettibone, founder of Learning Made Possible Through Educational Therapy, is a Board Certified Educational Therapist through a post-graduate doctoral program at the University of California, Riverside, and she holds a Masters in Special Education. She studied at UCLA and received her bachelor’s degree in child development and her master’s degree in special education from California State University, Los Angeles. Gaye has completed her doctorate in clinical psychology at the Chicago School of Professional Psychology. With over 20 years of teaching experience, she has made learning
possible for hundreds of children in the Los Angeles area.

 

Gaye is a firm believer in empowering children to learn about themselves as learners. Because of her extensive experience in education, she is able to address the social, emotional and academic aspects that impact student learning. Her teaching career has included regular and special education instruction in elementary and middle school levels. Gaye is certified in the Orton Gillingham and Wilson Reading Programs. She has served as a Curriculum and Resource Specialist, a literacy and math teacher for neurodiverse students, and she is a member of the Association of Educational Therapists.

Laura Fonseca

Board-Certified Music Therapist

Laura Fonseca is a Board-Certified Music Therapist and Neurologic Music Therapist. She earned her B.M in Music Therapy at Berklee College of Music and is currently completing her M.M. in Music Therapy from Colorado State University. Laura has provided in-home, and academic based music therapy services to a diverse range of children since 2016. She has also provided consultative services to organizations looking to incorporate music therapy informed programming for all ages. Through this work, she developed Stepping Tones; a music therapy informed program to promote development, connection and learning for every child.

 

Laura utilizes a person-centered approach infused with music neuroscience knowledge to support neurodivergent children. She is passionate about creating equitable and accessible spaces for music and learning for every child.