The ACN team works to maximize the potential of children with autism through our administrative, therapy, and development departments–get to know us!
Tiffany Fresher, Chief Executive Officer, comes to ACN with an extensive background working for and with non-profits. She was most recently the CFO at the Jewish Federation of San Antonio/Holocaust Memorial Museum, previously the Vice-President of Operations and CFO at the Tobin Center for the Performing Arts, and the Parish Administrator/Mother’s Day Out Director at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church. She also worked in public accounting and management. Tiffany has a business and finance degree from The University of Texas at San Antonio. Tiffany and her husband Mike live in Fair Oaks Ranch and have five kids between the two of them.
Jessica Alvarez, Billing Specialist, has been with ACN since 2009. She studied and received her certified Medical Office Specialist certification from Southern Career Institute. Mrs. Alvarez has several years of experience in customer service and enjoys helping our families that have autism concerns.
Vanessa Amaya, Referral Coordinator, received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She has worked with autistic individuals since 2012, first as a Registerd Behavior Technician (RBT) to provide quality based Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to children who diagnosed with autism. After 6 years as and RBT, while also serving various leadership roles, Vanessa has served children and families from an administrative role. During her free time, she enjoys making memories with her husband, 3 children, and extended families.
Alan Carney, Chief Financial Officer, joined ACN in June, 2021. Born up east and raised largely in Tennessee, he found his way to Texas. Alan earned a BBA from The University of Texas at San Antonio. In his freetime he enjoys binge watching excellent television. He is a long time fan of the late virtuoso Prince and we hear he is a "Swifty" though there is no confirmation on that from Alan at this time.
Robert Ramos, Front Desk Coordinator, brings 25 years of medical experience to Autism Community Network in the following areas: mental health, children with disabilities, and oncology. He is the parent to four dogs and one cat. He loves spending time with his family and friends. When not working, he can be found riding through the hill country checking out local Texas wineries.
DEVELOPMENT AND OUTREACH TEAM
Patricia "Patty" Vela, Chief Development & Outreach Officer, holds a Bachelors degree in Psychology from Southwestern University and a Masters degree in School Psychology from Trinity University. After 14 years of practicing as a Licensed Specialist in School Psychology for NISD, Ms. Vela entered her second career, non-profit development and fundraising. Prior to ACN, Ms. Vela worked for a large non-profit in San Antonio. However, she always missed working alongside children with disabilities and their caregivers which made her excited when this opportunity became available. She joined the ACN team in March, 2017. Ms. Vela is a daughter, mother, friend, bibliophile, frustrated artist, lover of music and enjoys Gilmore Girls and HGTV a little too much! She has also developed a passion for gentle or conscious parenting as she has spent more time at ACN and can often be found down internet rabbit holes of leaders in this field.
CLINIC, TRAINING, AND THERAPY TEAM
Dr. A Patricia Del Angel, MD, Chief Medical Officer, graduated from medical school at the Universidad Autonoma de Tamaulipas. She did her pediatric residency training Lincoln Hospital and Mental Health Center/New York Medical College, where she also served as chief resident. In addition, she completed a fellowship in child development-behavioral pediatrics at King Drew Medical Center in Los Angeles, and received her specialist certification in infant mental health from the Early Childhood Center at Cedars Sinai in Los Angeles. Dr. Del Angel has most recently served as a pediatrician at People’s Clinic in Austin and as a developmental-behavioral specialist in the pediatric residency program at UTMB Austin. Previously, Dr. Del Angel was the clinical director of the Southwest Area Children’s Hub in Los Angeles for thirteen years. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics.
Dr. Carrie Alvarado, Ph.D., OTR, Chief Operating Officer, serves as the Chief Operating Officer for Autism Community Network (ACN). Carrie has a PhD in Infant and Early Childhood Development with an emphasis on Infant Mental Health and Developmental Disorders. Dr. Alvarado is the creator and director of the Earliest Connections Clinic, our diagnostic program geared toward early identification and therapeutic intervention for high-risk infants and toddlers (prematurity, trauma/neglect, siblings of children on the spectrum). Additionally, Carrie leads the DIRFloortime and PACT (Pediatric Autism Communication Therapy) therapy/teletherapy programs- intensive intervention programs supporting families impacted by autism through dyadic coaching using both in-vivo and reflective video feedback modalities.
Dr. Alvarado's primary research interests are in Sensoriaffective Integration and attachment, clinical use of reflective video feedback, and in optimizing parent-mediated interventions via the modality of telepractice. She completed her dissertation on establishing preliminary validity of a new clinical assessment and coaching tool, the Sensoriaffective Interactional Attunement Scale (SAIAS) geared toward promoting enhanced use of sensoriaffective signaling between caregivers and their children. Carrie is also currently engaged in development of another scale, the Emotional Intelligence and Praxis in Play Scale (EIPPS), focused on evaluating the presence, sophistication, flexibility and organization of themes of emotional intelligence in child-led, symbolic, dyadic play.
Dr. Alvarado was the first in the United States to become a Pediatric Autism Communication Therapy (PACT) Accredited Practitioner and she serves as an Associate with PACT UK. Carrie is a DIR®Floortime™ Certified Expert Clinician, and she serves as an Assistant Faculty for the Profectum™ foundation. Dr. Alvarado also serves as the lead for the Clinical Advisory Committee for STAR Institute, in Colorado. Dr. Alvarado is passionate about building bridges where none yet exist, about innovating and expanding the boundaries of our knowledge, and about meeting families and fellow clinicians where they are and empowering them to find the gifts they all have to give.
Karyn Collins, MOT, OTR comes to Autism Community Network with over 30 years of clinical experience. She is a pro-neurodiverse therapist specializing in neuro-developmental and strengths-based approaches to treatment. Prior to joining ACN, Karyn spent several years working in outpatient clinic settings devoted exclusively to provision of services for Autistic children and their families. In addition to direct care, throughout her career, Karyn has held a multitude of administrative, operational and management roles. Her absolute passion is in program development and coaching/mentoring students, clinicians, and families,
When not OT-ing, Karyn spends much of her time following the creative muse. Her most long-standing disciplines have been drawing, and portrait and fantasy-composite photography. Most recently she has been deep diving into the worlds of watercolor and calligraphy. Karyn is mom to an amazing young man, two dogs, two cats and a large number of said young man’s friends who also call her “Mom”.
Adrienne Gaither, OTR, C-SIPT, C/NDT is the Director of Caregiver Empowerment at ACN and has been a pediatric occupational therapist for 25 years. She received her degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio and began her pediatric therapy career, eventually gaining experience in every setting available for the provision of children’s occupational therapy services. Adrienne has had the opportunity to serve as a member of ACN’s team since it opened its doors. She holds specialty pediatric certification in the Sensory Integration and Praxis Tests (SIPT) and has completed advanced training in Neurodevelopmental Treatment (NDT) for children as well as in the Sequential Oral Sensory (S.O.S.) feeding approach. Locally, Adrienne had the privilege of serving on the planning team for the development of Morgan’s Wonderland; in particular, contributing recommendations for the Sensory Village portion of the park. Prior to joining the ACN team, Adrienne worked at a multi-disciplinary therapy clinic for children with autism and was the occupational therapist serving The Foundation School For Autism during its inaugural year. In addition to her work with ACN, Adrienne is a part-time Program Director and Sensory Consultant with Kinetic Kids, Inc., a local non-profit agency providing sports and recreation activities for children and teenagers with special needs.
Lisa M. Martinez-Jimenez, M.A., BCBA, holds her Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Ball State University, completed her BCaBA graduate course work from the University of North Texas and received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Our Lady of the Lake University. She has worked within the field of ABA for over 10 years and is dedicated to providing quality applied behavior analytic services to families affected by autism and or other related disabilities. Mrs. Jimenez strongly believes that training in the principles of ABA and treatment delivery, can enhance each client’s ongoing progress when offered to parents, direct care staff and interdisciplinary teams.
Dr. Diana Rodriguez, MD, was born and raised in South Texas. She is board certified in neurodevelopmental disabilities with more than 25 years of experience. Upon completion of her training in neurodevelopmental disabilities in the early 1990s at the Baylor College of Medicine - affiliated Texas Children's Hospital in the Texas Medical Center in Houston, Dr. Rodriguez remained on faculty at Texas Children's Hospital where she practiced in the departments of Child Neurology, The Meyer Center for Developmental Pediatrics and Autism, and General Pediatrics before her recent relocation to San Antonio. Recognized as a "Top Pediatric Neurologist" by the US News and World Report, Dr. Rodriguez has a fondness for, and special interest in, caring for children with neurodevelopmental differences and looks forward to serving ACN families, and their youngsters - one child at a time.
Anna Paola Smith, LMSW attended The University of Texas at Austin where she received her BA in Psychology and her Masters degree in Social Work. She has had the opportunity to work with children and families in the school, hospital, and clinical settings. Anna Paola's interests lie in family system and how the development of one child may impact the entire family unit. After living in Austin for 6 years, she relocated to San Antonio with her husband, Daniel. During her free time she enjoyes creating recipes for her Paleo-based Instagram account, exploring the culinary scene in San Antonio with her family and friends, and living an active, healthy lifestyle.
Marie “Toni” Wilson, M.S., CCC-SLP received her Master of Science in Speech and Language Pathology at Texas Women’s University and her Bachelor of Arts in Communication Disorders at Our Lady of the Lake University (OLLU). She is a bilingually certified SLP and certified in the More than Words Program for children impacted with social communication disorders and Autism Spectrum Disorders. Toni has provided assessment, intervention, supervision, and training in school-based, clinical, and medical settings throughout her 30-year career. She previously provided clinical supervision for graduate level clinicians at OLLU and was clinical co-instructor of the Communication Disorders Master's program practicum course. Toni served as Diagnostic Coordinator for the Harry Jersig Clinic at OLLU and collaborated with university supervisors to present at the Texas Speech and Hearing Association Conferences for "Ethical Guidelines in Supervision of Bilingual SLPAs" and "Autism & the Bilingual Child." She is the recipient of the Virginia A. Lindskog Clinical Supervisor of the Year Award at OLLU (2011). Toni has worked as a teacher of children diagnosed with severe behavioral and emotional disorders at Edgewood ISD and collaboratively with the Children’s State Hospital. Areas of expertise include Culturally and Linguistically Diverse populations, Autism (assessment, treatment, parent education, parent training, and parent mediated tele-speech therapy), and professional training in Autism: language development (Spanish & English) and intervention. Toni enjoys painting, gardening, and cooking foods from the Middle East and Mexico. Her passion is staying current with research, resources, pilot projects, and intervention programs to help parents create more positive language learning interactions to support their child’s communication goals. Their success is our success!