The Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) is comprised of faculty and staff from UC Davis and California State University Sacramento.
Dr. Stahmer is an expert in the translation of evidence-based autism research to community-based practice and delivery. The main goals of her research include developing ways to help community providers, such as teachers and therapists, help children with autism and their families by providing high quality care. She is an internationally respected expert in the use of naturalistic developmental behavioral interventions which are validated treatments for autism. Dr. Stahmer has conducted extensive research in the areas of parent coaching, early intervention, inclusive education and services research in autism spectrum disorders. Dr. Stahmer leads several grants funded through the U.S. Department of Education that involve adapting evidence-based practices for children with autism in collaboration with teachers and community providers. She is also interested in examining key ingredients of efficacious interventions to help with use in the community and in understanding how to conduct early identification and intervention for autism in a manner that support neurodiversity. Dr. Stahmer is part of the Autism Intervention Research Network in Behavior (AIR-B) a multi-site network using community-partnered approaches to increase access to culturally and linguistically relevant evidence-based care to families of children with autism in rural and underserved areas. She is widely published and a frequent presenter at annual professional meetings in the field of services to children with autism. She is an editor of Autism: International Journal of Research and Practice. In addition, she is very involved in the autism community, participating in the California Best Practice Guidelines Committee and the National Standards projects, developing guidelines for autism treatment.
Janice Enriquez, Ph.D., Associate Director
Janice Enriquez is a clinical psychologist and Associate Clinical Professor in the Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics as well as the current Chair of the MIND Institute’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee. She is committed to the diversity and clinical training efforts within the MIND Institute. She currently serves as the HRSA funded Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and other related Disabilities (LEND) Program Training Director, the CDC funded, Maternal Child Health Career Research Initiative for Student Enhancement -Undergraduate Program (MCHC- RISE-UP) Co-Director, and the University Centers for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (UCEDD) Associate Director of Community Engagement and Training. She in on leadership team of Multicultural Council for the Association for University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) through 2021. She serves in the Massie Family Clinic at the MIND Inst. as a clinical child psychologist who provides evaluation and behavioral intervention for children with/at risk for neurodevelopmental disabilities. She is committed to serving all children and their families in an effort to achieve health equity and supports clinical training for the next generation of providers.
R. Scott Akins, D.O., Associate Director
Dr. Akins is a developmental and behavioral pediatrician specializing in the care of children with neurodevelopmental disorders. He is the Chief of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics and Director of Clinical Programs at the UC Davis, MIND Institute. Prior to joining the MIND Institute, Dr. Akins was a developmental pediatrician in the US Navy, where he served a community leader for developmental pediatrics and as the Pediatrics Specialty Leader. He has special clinical interest in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Intellectual Disabilities and Trisomy 21. Dr. Akins' research has focused on telehealth supports to families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders in remote communities, partnerships between pediatric specialty providers, schools and medical home providers and utilization of complementary and alternative medicine in families of children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.
Robin Hansen, M.D., Founding Director
Dr. Hansen is the Founding Director of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD). She plays a lead role in numerous CEDD projects, including the Developmental Behavioral Pediatric Fellowship program, the interdisciplinary graduate-level training program, community training, the Neurodevelopmental Disorders Clinic, autism research, and the annual summer conference.
Dr. Hansen is a board-certified developmental behavioral pediatrician with vast experience in treating children with neurodevelopmental disorders as well as in clinical research. She is a Professor of Pediatrics at the UC Davis School of Medicine and the Director of Clinical Programs at the UC Davis MIND Institute. She heads a multidisciplinary clinic that provides diagnostic services, plans/initiates intervention strategies, and works closely with patient families. Her clinical research has focused on children's temperament and its effects on parenting, long-term effects of prenatal drug exposure, gene-environment interactions related to causes and early identification of autism spectrum disorders, and biomedical treatment for neurodevelopmental disorders. She is currently a co-investigator on several grants investigating gene-environment interactions and immune dysfunction in autism spectrum disorders. She is also a governor's appointee to the State Council on Developmental Disabilities.
Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D., MIND Institute Director
Leonard Abbeduto, Ph.D., is the Director of the MIND Institute and the Tsakopoulos-Vismara Endowed Chair of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at the University of California, Davis. His research is focused broadly on the development of language across the lifespan in individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders and the family context for language development. Dr. Abbeduto is the editor of the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities and is a fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. He is also the Past-President of Division 33 (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) of the American Psychological Association. Dr. Abbeduto has received numerous awards and honors, including the Kellett Mid-Career Research Award (2008) and Emil A. Steiger Award for Distinguished Teaching (1996) from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Enid and William Rosen Research Award from the National Fragile X Foundation (2010). He earned his PhD in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago in 1982.
Faculty & Staff
Cecilia Corral has been hired to work for the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disability (CEDD) as a Community Education Specialist. Cecilia has been helping families as a Special Education Mentor for many years and is very excited about her new role at the MIND Institute. As a mother with a son with special needs, she understands the importance of early intervention and ongoing support for families. Cecilia will be assisting Spanish speaking families along with Maribel Hernandez.
Amber Fitzgerald, M.A., B.C.B.A.
Amber Fitzgerald is a Project Manager at the UC Davis MIND Institute. She has a Master’s Degree in Special Education, holds an Education Specialist teaching credential for students with moderate to severe disabilities, and is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Amber coordinates the Autism Intervention Research Network on Behavioral Health (AIR-B 4) grant, working with community agencies to support families with newly diagnosed children understand how to access services. In addition, Amber is a trainer for the TEAMS project providing Classroom Pivotal Response Teaching training for educators as well as a trainer for Project ImPact, providing training to clinicians in an early intervention parent-coaching intervention. She is a member of the UC Davis MIND Institute ECHO Autism team, a tele-mentoring program that connects a multidisciplinary team of autism experts at the UC Davis MIND Institute with practitioners in remote locations. As a member of the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) team, Amber coordinates the Student Study Module Course (Intellectual & Developmental Disability in the Community), a joint effort between the CEDD and the UC Davis School of Medicine. Amber is also one of the coordinators of the annual MIND Summer Institute conference.
Kelly Heung, Ph.D.
Dr. Kelly Heung is the Program Manager for the Northern California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (LEND) training program at the UC Davis MIND Institute. As part of the CEDD team, she is one of the coordinators of the annual MIND Summer Institute conference and a member of the UCEDD Consumer Advisory Committee at University of Southern California. Dr. Heung received her Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of California, Davis. Past research interests include regression in autism and the effectiveness of applied behavior analysis on self-stimulatory behaviors. Dr. Heung has been a researcher and project coordinator for different studies at the MIND Institute examining social relationships in school-aged children with autism, the development of speech in nonverbal preschool children, and the epidemiology of autism in California. She is an active volunteer with the Davis Joint Unified School District and sits on several committees including the Davis Parent University, DJUSD Strategic Planning Committee, Superintendent Parent Advisory Committee, and the Davis Schools Foundation Board.
Maribel Hernandez is a Community Outreach Specialist in the MIND Institute’s Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) Resource Center. Maribel provides resources, support, and education to families, ensuring that resources are culturally and linguistically appropriate. Among her many roles, Maribel facilitates the parent-group Vamos a platicar (Let’s Talk), which is a six-week series conducted entirely in Spanish for parents of children with disabilities to share their experiences, learn about their child’s diagnosis and needs, and help them achieve their full potential. She also facilitates the group Meeting in the Community and is the coordinator of the MIND Institute’s annual Spanish language conference “Aprendiendo Juntos.” Maribel is a parent of 2 young adults living with autism and has been with the Center for 8 years.
Patrick Hugunin, B.A.
Patrick Hugunin graduated from San Jose State University in 1992 with B.A. in Radio, Television, and Film Production. He worked for KOFY-TV in San Francisco and for KCRA-TV in Sacramento. At KCRA he was nominated for 5 Local Emmy awards for his Promotion work for the station. He began his position at the UC Davis MIND Institute in 2011 and is the Director/Producer of Video production. His work for the CEDD and the MIND Institute focuses on video production, website editing, and social media postings.
Robert has been the CEDD's Self-Advocacy Specialist since 2011. Robert is a member of the Statewide Self Advocacy Network, Alta Regional Center's Coordinated Future Planning group, and attends numerous trainings and workshops where he both contributes and learns about issues related to current disability legislation and services. In addition to his advocacy, Robert also has also presented at national, state and local conferences and workshops.
Elizabeth Holliday Morgan, Ph.D., Ed.M.
Elizabeth works as a program coordinator for the UC Davis Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities at the MIND Institute. Her area of focus includes Early Childhood and Early Intervention Services with a specific interest in under-represented populations. Elizabeth is also an Assistant Professor in the Doctorate of Educational Leadership program at California State University Sacramento (CSUS). An educator by training, she holds a Master's in Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and has supported Early Childhood practitioners in utilizing developmentally appropriate practice and inclusion strategies since 2004. Her area of research focus includes Early Childhood and Early Intervention Services with a specific interest in under-represented populations. She has co-authored publications titled "Narratives of single, Black mothers using cultural capital to access autism interventions in schools" in the British Journal of Sociology of Education and "Caregiver Voices: Cross-Cultural Input on Improving Access to Autism Services" published in the Journal of Racial and Ethnic Health Disparities and has several additional publications under review. In 2020, Elizabeth completed an NIH T36 Training grant with the Global Alliance for Training in Health Equity Research (GATHER) program where she spent a month interning for the African Population Health Research Center in Nairobi, Kenya. In 2019, Elizabeth was the lead writer and project manager for a $92,000 grant awarded to the CEDD from the Department for Developmental Services Disparity Grant Funds to create video modules to address disparities in access to early intervention services for families in the Black and Latinx communities of Northern California. Other CEDD projects she leads includes the California Early Start Network (CESN), AT Consortium, and the Sankofa Family support group for Black families of children with developmental disabilities. She's also an elected Board member for the Association for University Centers in Disabilities (AUCD) and Warmline Family Resource Center from her work as an ASD parent activist. When she isn't thinking about autism service equity, Elizabeth enjoys the theater and spending time with her family and their dog, Billie Jean.
Steve Ruder works in the MIND Institute’s Resource Center. He assists families and people with disabilities who have questions regarding high school transition, adult services, and employment. Steve is the facilitator for the Northern California Business Advisory Council. He also assists families with questions regarding supported decision-making before considering conservatorship. Please contact Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
Benita is a proud mother of two young men. She has two Associate’s of Arts Degree (one in Human Services and the other in Drug and Alcohol Counseling) and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology and Ethics. Benita works as a Community Education Specialist at UC Davis MIND Institute in the Resource Center and a facilitator for Sankofa parent support group at the MIND. She is a board member for Supported Life Institute, The Fly Brave Foundation, as well as the Disability Right Education and Defense Fund (DREDF). Benita serves on the advisory committee’s for State Council on Developmental Disabilities, Alta Regional Center Self-Determination and Sacramento City Unified School District CAC. After many years of advocating for her son in 2017, she founded the GIFTS Foundation (Give Information and Support For Families to Triumph Successfully) which is a 501(c)3. Benita reminds herself everyday that with GOD all things are possible as long as she stays His course and keeps the Faith.
Robin Stewart, L.C.S.W., Ed.M.
Robin Stewart is a licensed clinical social worker at the UC Davis MIND Institute. She holds Masters' degrees in Social Work and Special Education, specializing in family support for young children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. Robin is currently the Community Programs Coordinator at the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) and coordinates community outreach and family support programs including Family Navigator, ECHO Autism, and the Baby Steps High Risk Infant Clinic.
Kristen Wallman, M.S.W., M.A.
Kristen Wallman is a Program Manager in the Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities (CEDD) at the UC Davis MIND Institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Interdisciplinary Studies in the Social Sciences and a Master of Social Work degree. She is the Data Coordinator for the CEDD, reporting to our national partners on the Center's research, community training activities, information dissemination, and clinical services. Additionally, Kristen coordinates the Partnerships for Inclusive Research (PAIR) project, which is developing a framework for sustainable partnerships between researchers, people with differing abilities, providers, and parents to increase the relevance of research related to improving access to health care services.
Community Advisory Committee (CAC)
The CEDD Community Advisory Committee includes people with disabilities, family members, advocates, and professionals from the community.
Current Advisory Committee members include:
Christine Bottrell Mirzaian