Our Team

At Aspire we believe in building a supportive community around each child. Only through direct interaction between parents, therapists and program managers can the best outcomes be reached for your child.

Aspire culminates in a network of over thirty Early Intensive Behaviour Intervention (EIBI) practitioners lead by our highly experienced team of Behaviour Support Practitioners (BSPs) and Program Managers

Our Aspire Family is continually growing, we are striving to work cohesively with our parents and children, as well as develop professionally. Our team is at the forefront of Aspire and are all valuable in all that they do!

Founder

Dianne Verstappen
MA. (Linguistics), BCBA

Dianne is a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA), and is an NDIS registered Specialist Behaviour Support Practitioner, and has worked with children since 1995 as a paediatric physiotherapist and remedial teacher. Dianne has supported practitioners in their chosen career path as behaviour analysts and provided internal and external supervision to over 40 BCBAs and BCaBAs both in Australia and internationally with a 100% pass rate.


Dianne frequently consults with schools in the Asia Pacific region (Hong Kong, China and Singapore) and provides teacher and staff training for international schools throughout Asia.


Dianne has lectured at Monash University for the Masters of Education. Her specialty area is working with children under 4, and her current research interests are in Relational Frame Theory, its practical applications and complex human behaviour such as perspective taking and Theory of Mind Skills.

Clinical Director

Dr Leaora Wagner
M.A., BCBA, LBA, Ed.D.

Dr. Leaora L. Wagner has been in the field of behavior support for 21 years with experience teaching at universities such as John Hopkins University, hospitalization units including The Kennedy Krieger Institute, early intervention programs, public and private school programming, social skill development, residential programs, and caregiver training.


Dr. Leaora L. Wagner has managed clinical teams providing coaching and support to maintain high quality clinical programming across small and large teams with a focus on using trauma responsive practices. Dr. Leaora L. Wagner has published peer reviewed literature and presented across America and Europe on best practices for children and organizational behaviour management.


In her 21 years, Dr. Leaora L. Wagner has impacted the lives of thousands of children, adults, staff, and families to produce socially meaningful outcomes for the families we serve. Dr. Leaora L. Wagner received a Master degree in Applied Behaviour Analysis and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management.


When Dr. Leaora L. Wagner is not working, she is traveling with her husband and enjoying anything that involves sunshine.

Our Canberra Team

Sumit - Clinical Manager
B.Sc. (Physiotherapy), M. Ed (Applied Behaviour Analysis)

Sumit is an experienced Behaviour Analyst, who has 7 years’ experience of working with children ranging from the age of 14 months to 13 years of varying abilities. She specialises in teaching diverse skill-sets including, toilet training, independent and self-help skills, functional communication training, using PECS or AAC devices, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy, and play skills. She is experienced in conducting VBMAPP, ESDM, PEAK and VINELAND assessments and writing individualised Behavioural Intervention Plans for problem behaviours of varying severities. She takes great interest in coaching parents and supervising staff and people who are passionate to learn. At Aspire Early Intervention’s Clinic in Canberra, Sumit manages the clinic, oversees all the clients, provides supervision to all clinicians and RBTs, and supports clients for their NDIS funding on a regular basis.


Sumit started her career in ABA as a Registered Behaviour Technician in 2013. Since then, she has worked her way up to be a Clinical Manager at Aspire through gaining valuable and diverse experience, and constant up- and cross-skilling. Sumit values different cultures and ethnic backgrounds, and respects individuality while working with all her clients.

Darcy - Behaviour Support Practitioner
B.Sc. (Applied Behavior Analysis), B.Sc. (Human Development and Family Science), RBT

Darcy is a Registered Behaviour Technician (RBT) with over six years of experience working with children with autism. She completed two bachelor's degrees (Applied Behaviour Analysis and Human Development and Family Science) in 2018 from The University of North Texas and is currently enrolled in Cairn University's Master of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis program. She hopes to receive a BCBA certification after she completes her Masters' program.


During Darcy's time as an clinician, she has worked in various clinical environments and a private school setting with children ages 2 to 13. She is passionate about advocating for children with autism along with teaching them important new skills to gain more independence.

Rabani – TBC
TBC

Rabani has a Bachelor of arts in psychology and a masters in MSC in Clinical Mental Health Sciences from the University College of London. After working with the neurodiverse population in India, she found her calling and went on to volunteer at a centre practising Applied Behaviour Analysis in Ghana, Africa. Over the past couple of years, Rabani has shown a particular interest in exploring play therapy, gaining a diploma in Neuro-Dramatic Play.


Rabani has immense gratitude and passion for the field and wishes to contribute more by learning and growing through collaborative and community work.


Rabani has a happy-go-lucky personality and is a big Bollywood fan. When she’s not at work, you can find Rabani making Instagram videos or trying out new restaurants.

Nicole – Behaviour Support Practitioner
BSc (Management Information Systems), RBT

Nicole is a Registered Behaviour Technician and has been working at Aspire since August 2020. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Management Information Systems from Ateneo de Manila University (Philippines) and is currently completing her Assistant Behaviour Analyst Graduate Certificate at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Having worked in early intervention from 2020, Nicole discovered her passion for helping children develop functional skills in a play-based setting. She loves how her role allows her to support her clients, along with their parents and other technicians as well.

In her free time, Nicole loves spending time with family and friends, going on picnics, and watching movies or TV series.

Maria Therese – Program Manager
TBC

Marie Therese is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) with over 15 years’ experience working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She earned her BA (2005) and MA (2008) in Psychology from the American University of Beirut.

Marie Therese founded the ABA program at the Special Kids Clinic, part of the Pediatric Neurology Department at the American University of Beirut Medical Center (AUBMC), creating a team of ABA supervisors and therapists and expanding ABA services across the country. The services provided included: initial assessments, therapies, parent training, and school and nursery support. She coordinated the team of Speech, Feeding, Occupational, Psychomotor and Physical therapists at the AUBMC Special kids Clinic. Marie Therese also completed the training course in the administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Schedule-2 (ADOS-2).

Marie Therese is fluent in English, Spanish and Arabic. Born to parents from different countries and cultural backgrounds, she thrives in a multicultural and dynamic setting. She is passionate about making a difference in the lives of children with special needs and their families.

Our Sydney Team

Emily – Behaviour Support Practitioner & Program Manager
B.Sc. (Speech and Hearing), M.A. (Speech Language Pathology)

Emily completed a Bachelor’s degree in Speech and Hearing Sciences in 2010 and a Master of Arts majoring in Speech and Language Pathology in 2012 at Macquarie University. She has also completed a Certificate III in Disability in a Pre-Vocational Program with Cerebral Palsy Alliance (2011).


Emily’s prior experience consists of 3 years of private tutoring covering all areas of the school curriculum, with young adolescents with special needs, including Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Emily has also worked in the disability sector as a Direct Support Professional for adults with a variety of disabilities for 2 years.


Emily started working at Aspire in 2013 and has been part of the Aspire team for 9 years. Emily has experience in working with children from 2-10 years of age in the clinic, at home, in school settings and in the community, as well as experience in providing parent training and conducting various assessments.


Emily is passionate about teaching her clients language, functional communication, daily living skills and increasing their independence.

Alexandra – BCBA Program Manager

Alexandra received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Liberal Studies from the University of Redlands in 2017. Following graduation, she found her love for working with children and parents in the field of ABA. She started her career as a behavior technician and then became a training coordinator for a company in the United States. She completed her Masters of Science in ABA from Drexel University in 2021. A few months later, she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.


Alexandra has experience working with children ages 2-16 in the home, school, and community settings. She is passionate about the importance of parent training, functional communication training, and helping children increase their independence.


She is excited to continue learning and to start working as a BCBA for Aspire Early Intervention in Sydney!

Syeda Sarah – Program Manager
M.A. (Applied Behavior Analysis)., BCBA

Sarah is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and has a Masters of Art in Applied Behavior Analysis with a focus in Autism from Ball State University, Indiana, USA.


She has been working in the field of ABA for the past 4 years supporting children with special needs ranging from the ages of 2 to 11 years in Saudi Arabia and Pakistan. She is consistently working to spread the positive value ABA services have to offer with the hope of bringing a socially significant change in the lives of her clients and their families in diverse settings (home, clinic, school).


Some of Sarah experiences with ABA include performing Functional Behavior Assessments (FBA), designing and implementing function-driven Behavior Intervention and Skill Acquisition plans and supervising professionals and colleagues in multiple settings as well as in different countries.


Sarah is passionate about what she does and takes great interest in coaching and supporting clients, parents and guardians in the best way possible.


In her free time, Sarah loves finding adventure in nature with her family, listening to music, learning, and exploring new things in life.

Kaitlyn – Program Manager
M.A., BCBA

Kaitlyn McCluney completed her B.A. in Psychology in 2013 from San Diego State University and started working as a Behavior Technician in 2014. During her time as a Behavior Technician she participated in a Pivotal Response Training research project with University of California San Diego. She then graduated with her M.A. in Education Learning Technologies from Pepperdine University in 2015 and completed her ABA coursework at Florida Institute of Technology in 2017. Kaitlyn became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in 2018 and has loved being a part of the BCBA community.


Kaitlyn has worked in many roles, settings, and age groups while working in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis. Her passion is spreading love, understanding, and knowledge to the children and families she works with. She joined Aspire in January 2022 and is excited to gain and share knowledge with the Aspire team.

Liora – Program Manager
M. Ed, BCBA

Before becoming a Board Certified Behaviour Analyst (BCBA) in 2021, Liora completed her Bachelor of Science at Monash University and her Masters of Education in Applied Behaviour Analysis also from Monash University.


Liora began her career in ABA supporting children with additional needs in a pre-school environment in 2016. In 2018, she began working as a Behaviour Technician in clinical, home-based, and community settings and later as a Senior Clinician and Program Manager. She is most passionate about not only teaching but also empowering the children she works with. Her areas of interest include functional life skills and independence, functional communication and play. She is also interested in using Acceptance & Commitment Therapy (ACT) across her practice.


Liora loves being creative, particularly painting large colourful abstract pieces and is always up for an adventure.

Ashley – Behaviour Support Practitioner
BSpHLSc

Ashley is a Registered Behaviour Technician and holds a Bachelors Degree in Speech, Hearing and Language Science at Macquarie University. She is currently working on completing her Masters of Speech Pathology at UTS.


Ashley has been working at Aspire since 2019 and has experience working in a wide range of environments including school, home and clinic. She loves working with her clients and teaching them new skills that will be functional in their everyday environment, particularly in regards to language development. She is passionate about creating a fun learning environment for her clients so they are engaged and enjoy everything ABA has to offer!


During her free time Ashley likes cooking, spending time with her family and hiking.

Kimberley – Behaviour Support Practitioner
BPsychSci

Kimberley is a Registered Behaviour Support Practitioner and has been working at Aspire since July 2020.


Having completed her Bachelor's in Psychological Science at the University of Wollongong in 2021, Kimberley is currently completing a Graduate Diploma in Psychology (Advanced) at Monash University. Kimberley has therapy experience across multiple settings including clinical, home-based and school, and wishes to deepen her knowledge in the area of ABA therapy as she strives to achieve her BCBA. She is passionate about developing children’s functional and communicative skills as well as parent training.


During her free time, you can find Kimberley in the gym, spending time with her friends and family, dreaming about travel or watching Netflix.

Jessica-Lily – Behaviour Support Practitioner
BSpHLSc

Jessica-Lily completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Speech, Hearing and Language Sciences at Macquarie University. Starting 2023 she will be working towards gaining her Masters of Applied Behaviour Analysis at Griffith University in order to become a BCBA.


Jess started working in ABA in 2016 during her bachelors degree to grow her knowledge and practical experience but quickly fell in love with the fun and energetic nature of the role. During her time as a therapist, she has worked in home, school and clinical settings in Sydney as well as Cape Town, South Africa. She is passionate about creating group learning experiences for children to foster social and school readiness skills.


During her free time, Jess loves all things water; kayaking, swimming and scuba diving regularly with friends and family.

Raihan – Behaviour Support Practitioner
BSc (Hons), M. Ed. (ABA), Dip in Special Education

Raihan graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Sports Science and Management in 2015 and a Diploma in Special Education in 2017. She started working with children with special needs in Singapore 7 years ago which deepened her interest in the field.


She went on to complete her Masters in ABA (Applied Behaviour Analysis) in 2021 and joined Aspire in the same year. At Aspire, Raihan works with a diverse group of clients and seeks enjoyment in facilitating her clients’ development in functional skills that support independent living in their everyday lives. She is always keen on learning new teaching strategies especially from her peers.


In her free time, you won’t find Raihan as she will be travelling, hiking or at the boulder gym.

Kumari – Scheduling Coordinator

Kumari completed her high schooling in Sri Lanka. After moving to Australia, Kumari completed a Bachelor of Management at the University of Western Sydney. She has experience working in the not-for-profit sector where she has worked with UN agencies, international donors and many disadvantaged communities in Sri Lanka.


Kumari has also completed a Certificate III in Childcare and owned and operated a childcare business prior to joining Aspire. Kumari joined Aspire in September 2021.


In Kumari’s free time she loves being a mother, reading, traveling and eating chocolate.

Kerry-Anne – Speech Pathologist
B.App.Sc.(Speech Pathology); M. Inclusive Education (Autism); MSPA, CPSP

Kerry-Anne studied Speech Pathology at the University of Sydney and graduated in 2008. Kerry-Anne began working at a busy Western Sydney private practice in 2009. Soon after starting, she developed a keen interest in working with children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, their families and their educators. This interest led Kerry-Anne to complete her Masters of Inclusive Education in Autism through the University of Canberra, graduating with a Dean’s Merit in 2010. Kerry-Anne started Cheeky Speakers Speech Pathology in the Newington area in 2015.


Kerry-Anne assesses and delivers speech pathology services for children aged 18 months to 18 years with communication difficulties including: articulation; phonological disorders; receptive language; expressive language; literacy and fluency. She has experience working with children who have a range of diagnoses including: specific learning impairments; ASD; Down’s Syndrome; ADHD/ ADD; ODD; VCFS and Foetal Alcohol Syndrome as well as families from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds.


Kerry-Anne enjoys working with families at the Aspire Early Intervention Centre, Newington Medical Centre, their preschools/ schools and their homes to assist them with improving their communication skills.

Amos – Behaviour Support Practitioner
B Psych

Amos is a Registered Behaviour Technician and has been working at Aspire since September 2021. He is currently completing his bachelor's in Psychology at Macquarie University and is working towards becoming a Behaviour Support Practitioner.


Amos has experience working with young adolescents and children with special needs, formerly as a swimming teacher. He has worked in multiple settings including, clinical, home-based and schools, and wishes to further develop his knowledge of ABA. Amos is passionate about helping children build their social skills with others, and creating opportunities for them to enjoy the time they get to be as 'kids'.


During his free time, you'll find Amos either swimming, jamming on his guitar or baking something sweet.

Justyn – Operations Manager

Justyn joined the Aspire admin team in September 2020. Justyn started her professional career working in Disability Law in the US. After a period in law, she trained and worked as a teacher for six years. Upon moving to Australia, Justyn started working in the non-profit sector, learning the infrastructure of government funded supports through NDIS, My Aged Care, iCare and Veterans Affairs.


Justyn has a passion for communication, organization and creative problem solving. She loves working in tandem with clinicians and clients to support therapeutic outcomes.


Justyn enjoys traveling, vegetarian cooking and creating art.

Shilu – Accounts Administrator

Joining the Aspire team in December 2021, Shilu has completed her Bachelors in Technology with specialisation in Electronics and Instrumentation from India. During her college days, she volunteered for social services as part of an NGO, which focused on the education and upliftment of socio-economically challenged communities. The experience encouraged her to deviate from the technical stream and take up the job of a tutor, working with children.


After moving to Australia, she worked in the retail sector as part of a fast-paced customer relations team before completing her Cert-III & Cert-IV in Accounting and Bookkeeping in 2021. Her role with Aspire is very close to her heart as this where she can put her skills to use along with the passion she always carried.


Outside of work, Shilu loves travelling and spending time with family and friends.