Director, UW Autism Center
Annette Estes, PhD, is the director of the University of Washington Autism Center (UWAC), an organization committed to clinical services, research, and training to improve the lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders and their families across the lifespan. She holds the Susan and Richard Fade Endowed Chair, is a Research Professor in the Department of Speech and Hearing Sciences, and an Adjunct Research Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Washington. She is also a licensed psychologist in the state of Washington. Her research is carried out at the UW Autism Center and Center on Human Development and Disability.
Over the last decade, Dr. Estes has served as principal investigator on a series of intervention studies for very young children with early signs of autism. These collaborative, multisite, studies have investigated innovations in naturalistic, developmental, behavioral intervention and ask the question, “how can we improve outcomes for very young children with ASD.” In collaborations with scientists and clinicians at University of California, Davis, University of Michigan, Vanderbilt University, Harvard, and University of California, Los Angeles, she has worked to expand the evidence regarding efficacious interventions and how to best support parents of very young children with autism.
Dr. Estes is also the co-principal investigator of the Infant Brain Imaging Study Network (IBIS) with Dr. Stephen Dager the University of Washington. She directs the behavioral assessment core of the multi-site IBIS Network with clinical sites at University of North Carolina, Washington University, Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, and UW. The aim of the IBIS is to improve early recognition of infants at risk for autism and identify brain mechanisms that may lead to new strategies to prevent or ameliorate autism symptoms.
Dr. Estes is especially interested in the role of the family in supporting positive outcomes for children with disabilities and improving the lives of people with ASD.
Director, Tacoma Clinic
Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Patricia Matestic, Ph.D., serves as a licensed clinical psychologist and clinic director at the UW Autism Center in Tacoma. Dr. Matestic received her Ph.D. in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh and completed her internship at Seattle Children’s Hospital. She received additional postdoctoral training at the Child Study and Treatment Center in Lakewood through the University of Washington Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and completed a two year APA accredited pediatric psychology fellowship at Madigan Army Medical Center in Tacoma.
Currently at the UW Autism Center Tacoma, Dr. Matestic provides diagnostic evaluations, family and school consultations, and training and community engagement through autism specific presentations and involvement in local support networks such as the South Sound Autism Partnership. Dr. Matestic has a broad range of clinical expertise working with both children and adults including individuals with comorbid medical diagnoses, developmental disabilities and genetic disorders, chronic sleep difficulties, toileting problems, and mood and behavior problems.
Director of Operations
Kathryn Larson joined the UW Autism Center as the Director of Operations in the Fall of 2016.
A Seattle native, Kathryn lived and raised her children in Michigan for 18 years before returning to the Northwest where she is surrounded by much of her family.
She enjoys the outdoors, reading, puzzles and spending time with family and friends.
Kathryn is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of a team who loves what they do and are dedicated to caring for children with autism and their families.
Director of Training & School Services
Behavior and Education Consultant
Robin Talley, M.Ed, BCBA, is the Director of Training and School Services and a behavior and education consultant at the UW Autism Center.
Robin has provided services to children with autism spectrum disorders since 1999. She received her M.Ed. and teaching license from the University of Washington in 2004 and became a board certified behavior analyst in 2005. Robin is a certified Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) and Reciprocal Imitation Training (RIT) therapist, naturalistic strategies based on the principles of applied behavior analysis.
During graduate school Robin, completed her practicum training and student teaching at the Experimental Education Unit and worked as an ABA therapist at the UW Autism Center. Upon completion of graduate school, she became Early Childhood Autism Consultant position at the UW Autism Center and managed home programs for a variety of children with ASD. In 2006, Robin moved to Denver and began working at The Joshua School, a private school for children with ASD, where she was the early childhood and educational director for 4 years. In 2010, she returned to the UW Autism Center to provide services to both children and community professionals through training and workshops.
She is passionate about providing evidenced-based trainings and consultation to the greater community, specifically school professionals and parents of individuals with ASD. She has experience in applied behavior analysis, challenging behaviors, early intervention, functional behavior assessment, school consultation, and teaching workshops.
Director of Clinical Services
Associate Director of TADPOLE Study, PATH Study, and Early Steps Follow-Up Study
Jessica Greenson, Ph.D. is a licensed psychologist and the director of clinical services at the UW Autism Center. She completed her doctoral work in at Utah State University, a predoctoral internship at Children’s Memorial in Chicago, and a joint post-doc at the University of Washington and Mary Bridge Hospital in Tacoma. She has been a staff psychologist at the University of Washington since 2001. Dr. Greenson has devoted her career to understanding autism across childhood via the longitudinal study of children with ASD. She has expertise in the diagnosis and treatment of ASD, with a particular emphasis and interest in the toddler years.
In addition, to her role in the clinic, Dr. Greenson has served as the associate director of the UW Autism Center of Excellence (ACE-II) NIH grant-funded study: TADPOLE (Toddlers with Autism: Developing Opportunities for Learning), as well as the NIH funded Early Steps Follow-up Study and the PATH Project (Parents and Toddlers at Home) funded by Autism Speaks. In her role as associate director of these three studies, Dr. Greenson supervised the recruitment, screening, diagnosis, and follow-up assessments of children with autism ranging in age from 12 months to 8 years. In addition, Dr. Greenson is certified an the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM) of therapy and has worked with parents as a coach on the PATH study and in the clinic.
Dr. Greenson supervises the clinical issues that arise for families, children, and staff in the clinic and research. She is passionate about providing empirically validated treatments to the families being seen at the UWAC and the interface between the research and clinical programs.
Director of ABA Services
Ashley Penney, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is the Director of ABA Services and a behavior and education consultant at the UW Autism Center.
Ashley received her PhD at the University of Washington in Special Education in 2016. Her dissertation was on the effects of a naturalistic, behavioral parent-implemented intervention with very young children with or at-risk for autism. Ashley became a board certified behavior analyst in 2009. She is also certified in Reciprocal Imitation Training (RIT), a naturalistic behavioral intervention for young children with autism. Ashley has experience in early intervention, applied behavior analysis, challenging behaviors, supporting children with autism in a variety of educational settings and providing workshops and trainings.
Ashley is passionate about providing high quality ABA services to individuals with autism and believes that parents and families are an integral part of success. Ashley is a member of Applied Behavior Analysis International (ABAI), the Association for Professional Behavior Analysts (APBA), the Washington Association for Behavior Analysis (WABA), and the Association for Contextual Behavioral Science.
Director, APEX Program
Ben Aaronson, Ph.D. directs the Advanced Peer Experience (APEX) Program at the UW Autism Center. His primary focus is the development and execution of programs that provide advanced social skills opportunities for individuals with autism spectrum and related disorders. He received training at the NYU Child Study Center, the Yale Child Study Center, and has been at the UW Autism Center since 2007. Dr. Aaronson has been involved in research focusing on intervention, mirror neurons, and genetics, and served as a clinician across a variety of projects. He holds a Ph.D. in Educational Psychology from the University of Washington and is an Affiliate Assistant Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, Division of Developmental Medicine. He has served as director of the APEX program since 2013. For more information about Apex Summer Camp, visit apexsummercamp.org.
Director of Technical Services
Dr. Munson studies variability in the development of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). His research contributes to the identification of the genetic basis of ASDs and to the development of more accurate prognoses and interventions. Currently, he is developing methods to analyze social skills and language comprehension in children with limited abilities to communicate. In these studies, he uses eye-tracking and other technologies to measure the responses of children to real-time 3-D graphics. Munson also uses various statistical methods to analyze patterns of development in children with ASDs.
Licensed Psychologist and IEE Specialist
Kawena Begay, Ph.D., NCSP, is a licensed psychologist and the IEE specialist at the UW Autism Center.
Dr. Begay received her Ph.D. in school psychology from the University of Washington, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the UW Autism Center. Prior to receiving her Ph.D., Dr. Begay worked as a teacher, counselor, and school psychologist in culturally diverse regions of New Mexico, Washington, and Hawai’i.
Dr. Begay’s current work at the UW Autism Center includes conducting assessments for several research studies, providing clinical assessment and therapy services to children and adolescents and parent coaching services for parents of young children. She also develops and conducts trainings around the topic of autism spectrum disorder to schools, parents, and community groups. Dr. Begay is passionate about effective teaching and therapy strategies for children from diverse backgrounds as well as best practices for ASD identification and treatment across different racial and ethnic groups.
James ‘Jim’ Engracia, M.A. CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
James ‘Jim’ Engracia, M.A. CCC-SLP, is a licensed and ASHA certified speech-language pathologist at the UW Autism Center – Seattle and Tacoma Clinic. He received his master’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders from St. Louis University in Missouri. Jim has worked in schools and private practices, predominately with the ASD population and other neurodevelopmental disorders. He has presented his research on the Educational Diagnosis of Language Impairments in School-Age Children at the state and national levels. Additionally, Jim has completed additional training in Social Thinking, Beckman Oral Motor Training, and Sequential Oral Sensory (SOS) Approach to Feeding. Jim’s clinical interests include: ASD, feeding disorders, providing diagnostic evaluations, social communication, and culturally and linguistically diverse populations.
Behavior & Education Consultant
Robin Finlayson, M.Ed., BCBA, is a behavior and education consultant at the UW Autism Center.
Robin received her M.Ed. in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Washington. She has provided services for individuals with autism and related disorders since 2009.
Prior to joining the UW team, Robin was selected through the Australian Aid Development Program to travel to Vanuatu and develop an early intervention program for the Vanuatu Society for People with Disabilities and serve as a consultant to the Vanuatu Ministry of Education. She has also provided ABA services in her home town of Sydney, Australia, the San Francisco Bay Area, and Seattle.
Robin is passionate about providing high quality ABA services to individuals with autism and their families. Robin’s areas of interest include early intervention for young children with autism, the assessment and treatment of challenging behaviors, parent and staff training, and providing evidence-based treatments to families who are culturally diverse.
Charu Gupta, M.Ed., BCBA
Behavior & Education Consultant
Charu Gupta, M.Ed., BCBA is a behavior and education consultant at the UW Autism Center.
Charu received her M.Ed in Special Education from the University of Washington in 2006 where she specialized in Early Childhood Education. As a student teacher, she taught preschool at the Experimental Education Unit, and during her graduate program she obtained additional practicum experience working with students with autism. Charu began working with individuals with autism in New Delhi, India, in 1999 and has since held several volunteer, student and work positions.
In addition to her role in the clinic, Charu served as the team lead for the structured intervention group of the UW Autism Center of Excellence (ACE-II) NIH grant-funded study: TADPOLE (Toddlers with Autism: Developing Opportunities for Learning)
Charu is passionate about providing high quality services to individuals with autism and their families. Charu’s areas of interest include early intervention for young children with autism and parent coaching.
Kelly A. Johnson, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist at the UW Autism Center.
Dr. Johnson received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology with child clinical subspecialty from Loyola University Chicago, and received further postdoctoral training at the University of Washington’s Center on Human Development & Disability.
At the UW Autism Center, Dr. Johnson’s provides diagnostic evaluations, individual therapy, and family consultation. Dr. Johnson is also involved in research as well as training activities. She brings a broad range of clinical experience working with individuals with special needs and their families, including very young children through adults.
In addition to working with gifted/highly capable populations, her clinical and supervisory experience has also involved involved individuals with co-occurring developmental disabilities, psychiatric, medical, and/or genetic conditions.
Behavior & Education Consultant
Jennie Kahl M.Ed., BCBA is a behavior and education consultant at the UW Autism Center.
Jennie has been providing services to individuals with autism spectrum disorder since 2004. A graduate of Rutgers University, she became a Certified Behavior Analyst in 2011. Jennie’s areas of expertise include behavior and classroom management, skill acquisition programming, and staff training.
Wayne Lynch, M.Ed., BCBA
Behavior & Education Consultant
Wayne received his M.Ed in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Washington.
After entering the field in 2011, he gained an interest in evidence-based practices for effective treatment design, with a focus on communication and community access. His experience ranges across school, community, and clinic-based settings, serving a diverse population.
Tanya St. John, Ph.D.
Dr. Tanya St. John is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist and Research Scientist at the University of Washington Autism Center. She completed her doctoral work at Seattle Pacific University, predoctoral internship at City of Hope National Medical Center, and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Washington Autism Center. Dr. St. John has devoted her career to understanding autism across the lifespan, with a particular emphasis on toddlers and young children. Dr. St. John has served as project manager and diagnostic clinician on various NIH-funded studies including the Infant Brain Imaging Study and is an independent ADOS trainer.
Ella Vanderbilt-Adriance, Ph.D., is a licensed clinical psychologist at the UW Autism Center and the Director of Student Training.
Dr. Vanderbilt-Adriance received her Ph.D. in clinical and developmental psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Seattle Children’s Hospital Autism Center.
At the UW Autism Center, she provides diagnostic evaluations across the lifespan and individual therapy to parents of children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) to address issues related to stress management and improving quality of life. In addition, Dr. Vanderbilt-Adriance provides individual therapy to adolescents and adults with ASD focusing on anxiety and depression.
Behavior & Education Consultant
Hayley Waltz, M.S., BCBA, CCC is a behavior and education consultant at the UW Autism Center. She has been working in the field of autism for over a decade in the Seattle area. She has vast experience with children, adolescents, and young adults in a variety of settings. She is fluent in many different behavioral technologies and is well versed in challenging behaviors, providing child and family support in a multitude of educational settings, and consultation/collaboration with other providers, school districts, and vocational services.
Developmental Behavioral Pediatrician
Samuel Zinner, MD, provides developmental-behavioral pediatrics (DBP) consultation to address a range of medical issues for children, youth, and their families at the UW Autism Center. The DBP subspecialty focuses on psychosocial and neurologic influences on behavior and development.
Dr. Zinner is a professor of pediatrics and a board-certified developmental-behavioral pediatrician, and serves as the fellowship program director of developmental and behavioral pediatrics at the University of Washington and Seattle Children’s Hospital. He completed medical school at the University of California San Diego, residency training in general pediatrics at Kaiser Permanente in Los Angeles in 1997, and fellowship subspecialty training in general academic pediatrics and in developmental-behavioral pediatrics at Boston Children’s Hospital in 1999. He joined the faculty at Saint Louis University School of Medicine in 1999 followed by the University of Washington School of Medicine in 2003.
Dr. Zinner’s clinical, research, and advocacy interests focus on tic disorders and their associated conditions including autism spectrum disorders, as well as on medical training in his subspecialty of DBP. His clinical activities include outpatient consultation at the UW Autism Center and the Seattle Children’s Hospital Neurodevelopmental Clinic.
Dr. Zinner is a member of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Developmental & Behavioral Pediatrics.
Tacoma Satellite Clinic
Cassie Borges, M.Ed., BCBA
Behavior & Education Consultant
Cassie Borges, M.Ed., BCBA, is a behavior and education consultant at the UW Autism Center in Tacoma.
Cassie graduated from the University of Washington in 2016 with a teaching certification and Masters in Education focusing on early childhood special education and Applied Behavior Analysis. During the program, Cassie obtained her practicum and student teaching experience at the Experimental Education Unit. Cassie became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and licensed in the state of Washington in 2018.
Cassie’s areas of interest include early intervention, community outreach, as well as, parent and teacher training with the goal of empowering children, families, schools, and communities with the tools for success. Cassie is excited to provide evidence based and high quality ABA services in the Tacoma area.
Sara Gratz, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Sara Gratz, M.S., CCC-SLP, is a licensed and ASHA-certified speech-language pathologist at the University of Washington Autism Center. She received her M.S. in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Washington in 2016.
Prior to joining the UWAC, Sara provided speech and language services in outpatient clinics in the Seattle area, during which she developed a particular interest in serving children with autism. She has completed additional training in the SOS Approach to Feeding as well as PROMPT. Sara especially enjoys conducting play-based therapy with toddler, preschool, and school-age children. She is passionate about working with children, families, and other therapists to provide functional and collaborative evaluation and treatment services.
Behavior & Education Consultant
Kathryn Holley M. Ed., BCBA is a Behavior and Education Consultant at the UW Autism Center.
Kathryn has been working in the field of ABA in Pierce County since 2010. Kathryn started her work as a behavior technician working 1:1 with children and families impacted by Autism and went on to receive her BCaBA and her BCBA. Kathryn has advanced training in Pivotal Response Training and Social Thinking.
Kathryn is passionate about implementing high quality, intensive in home ABA services that include collaboration from patients, their families, and other providers. Kathryn has a special interest in working with teens and young adults.
At the UW Autism Center, Kathryn is supervising intensive in home ABA services and participating on the training team by providing school consultations and group trainings pertaining to ABA and Autism.
Behavior & Education Consultant
Stephanie received her M.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2012. She has provided ABA services since 2008.
Prior to joining the UW team, Stephanie has provided ABA services in-home, schools, community, and ABA clinics.
Stephanie is passionate about providing high quality ABA services with clients, families, and other providers. She has experience in serving early intervention up to young adults. Stephanie’s areas of interests include early intervention, skill acquisition, assessment and treatment of challenging behaviors, and parent/staff training.
Sara Woods, Ph.D. (née O’Neil) is a clinical psychologist at the UW Autism Center in Tacoma. She received her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the APA-accredited University of Windsor in Windsor, Ontario, Canada. She also completed an APA-accredited predoctoral internship at LSU Health Sciences Center in New Orleans. She completed a 2-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Washington Center for Human Development and Disability Child Development Clinic in the Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program.
At the UW Autism Center, Sara provides comprehensive diagnostic evaluations to people of all ages, as well as providing individual therapy, consultation, and education. Sara has published articles on autism, parenting, reading, and emotion regulation, and has presented at national and international conferences. Her research interests include ways in which parents teach their children about emotions, the meaning of autism from multiple perspectives, effective communication of diagnoses, and social development.
Sara brings a strong lifespan approach having worked with infants through elderly in a variety of settings, including schools, outpatient clinics, inpatient hospitals, emergency departments, and university clinics. In addition to autism spectrum disorders, Sara has experience with a range of other presenting issues including trauma-related problems, anxiety, mood disorders, personality disorders, ADHD, intellectual disabilities, and learning disorders. She is passionate about helping children and families to improve their lives by equipping them with knowledge and skills while helping them to discover the strengths that they already have.
Kate has worked in a number of fields including healthcare, IT, leadership development, and education. As a child, at 9, she spent a year in the Dominican Republic with her family working to provide healthcare for people living in extreme poverty. Today, she’s an avid traveler who values curiosity, joy, adventure, complexity, intersectionality, and socioeconomic justice. She graduated from Seattle University in 2014 with two degrees in biology and interdisciplinary studies, and spent two summers as an outdoor educator in the Pacific Northwest. She enjoys skiing, writing, painting, bright colors, and petting any and all dogs.
Joyce Bolz started working in billing when she joined the University of Washington Autism Center in 2007.
Her current responsibilities as billing assistant are specializing in posting insurance and patient payments and performing other billing functions as assigned.
During her free time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, as well as hiking and traveling.
Amany Eskandar was born and raised in Cairo, Egypt, and moved to the United States in 1991.
She earned her bachelors degree in accounting.
She joined the UW Autism Center in April 2007 as a fiscal coordinator.
Her responsibilities include electronic claims, patient statements, and credentialing providers with payers.
Amany enjoys cooking world cuisines and traveling.
Technical Services Manager
Dr. Frederick “Fritz” Reitz is a Research Engineer/Scientist serving as Technical Services Manager for the UW Autism Center (UWAC). With a background in electrical engineering, protein biochemistry, and research instrumentation development and prototyping, Fritz provides systems, software, and instrumentation as needed in support of UWAC research as well as seeing to the day-to-day technical needs of the center.