Staff Bios

Message from the Director

Nearly twenty years ago I visited a home in rural Wisconsin to provide therapy for a 3 year old newly diagnosed on the spectrum. When I arrived at their home my interview consisted of playing for a half hour. In those 30 minutes I discovered what I would spend the rest of my life working toward. What drew me to this profession so many years ago remains the same: Teaching, learning, and playing. Our Center opened its doors in 2004. In that time we have grown steadily from our first two students to over 70 today. The Rochester Center for Autism works with families, schools, and other therapies to provide a seamless thread of services. Therapies include but are not limited to individual and family skills training, crisis assistance, workshop and consultation as well as presentations. Our goal is to provide a safe and nurturing environment for our students. Whether in the home, community, or on-site our students will enjoy their time as they learn critical skills. Please join me, our staff, and our board in providing the best possible services for children with autism. Thank you for visiting our website, we look forward to helping you in any way we can.

~Jon Sailer

Supervisors


Name: Molly Hill
Title: Manager/HR Director
Month/Year Started at RCA: : April 2004
Education/Experience: University of Minnesota- Twin Cities (Psychology)
Describe yourself using one word: Caring
Hometown: Wabasha, MN
Why I work at RCA: I have always loved working with kids and helping others and working at RCA helped me accomplish those goals. It was also important for me to work in a family oriented environment with people who shared the same values and had the same passion for the field.
Hobbies/interests: Playing sports, traveling, spending time with family and friends, boating, skiing
Family/Pets: Husband (Barry) and 5 kids


Name: Steve Bingner
Title: Clinical Director
Month/Year Started at RCA: 2004
Education/Experience: Southern Illinois University- Masters in Behavior Modification, Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified Behavior Analyst
Describe yourself using one word: Encouraging
Hometown: Sioux Falls, SD
Why I work at RCA: I wanted the opportunity to support early intervention with children.
Hobbies/interests: Play the trumpet in a Big Band and Brass Quintet
Family/Pets: Wife of 35 years (Karel), Raised two daughters in Rochester that were born in 1983 and 1986


Name: Kelli Branstad
Title: Program Supervisor
Month/Year Started at RCA: June 2004
Education/Experience: Bethel College- Psychology, St. Mary's University- Marriage and Family Therapy
Hometown: West Concord, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love being around the contagious energy of kids and knew I needed that as part of my day! Building relationships with all of the kids at the Center and their families and watching them grow and succeed is the most rewarding thing. It makes me excited to come back each day!
Hobbies/interests: Camping, being outdoors, spending time with family scrapbooking, reading
Family/Pets: Wonderful husband (Paul) since 2008, two beautiful daughters (Sophia and Eleanor).


Name: Katie Meyer
Title: Administrative Coordinator
Month/Year Started at RCA: September 2004
Education/Experience: University Center Rochester- Human Service Specialist, PCA, Recreation Therapy at Rochester Park and Rec, Special Olympic coach
Describe yourself using one word: Organized
Hometown: Stewartville, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love making a difference in the life of a child! Team RCA is amazing! All of our therapists work hard daily to help each child we serve reach their highest potential in life. It is fabulous to be a part of so many children's and families lives as they grow and learn new skills. Every day a child makes me smile or laugh!
Hobbies/interests: Traveling, spending time with my family and friends, camping
Family/Pets: Husband (Nate), Sons (Carson and Corbin), Daughter (Avery)


Name: Jaclyn Burton
Title: Lead Supervisor, New Client Intake Coordinator
Month/Year Started at RCA: June 2007
Education/Experience: (College) Elementary Ed
Describe yourself using one word: Motivated
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I enjoy working with kids and being able to make a difference in the life of families and children. It's great helping students learn new skills.
Hobbies/interests: Running, sports, decorating, hanging out with family and friends, shopping
Family/Pets: Husband (Tyler)


Name: Kris Helfer
Title: Business Officer
Month/Year Started at RCA: August 2004
Education/Experience: Winona State University- Recreation Therapist, Possibilities Youth Recreation, Certified American Sign Language instructor
Describe yourself using one word: Incredible
Hometown: Zumbrota, MN
Why I work at RCA: I enjoy watching the children grow and learn day to day. I love knowing that what I do everyday helps them be successful. It means so much to touch their families lives.
Hobbies/interests: Spending time with family and friends, attending my boys numerous activities, camping, vacations and coffee
Family/Pets: Husband (John) Sons (Ben and Tommy), Dog (Vader)


Name: Katie Dolan
Title: LeadTherapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: June 2015
Education/Experience:  University of Wisconsin- La Crosse, Worked as a Behavior Therapist in La Crosse since 2013
Describe yourself using one word: Energetic
Hometown: New Ulm, MN  
Why I work at RCA: I chose to work at RCA because I love watching the children we work with learn and progress.
Hobbies/Interests:  Craft projects, spending time on the lake in the summer, cooking and baking 


Name: Hannah Demmer
Title: Lead Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: August 2012
Education/Experience: Luther College - BA in Biology, Utah State University- BS in Communication Disorders & Deaf Education
Describe yourself using one word: Genuine
Hometown: Hartland, MN
Why I work at RCA: I wanted to help children positively grow and learn and make a meaningful difference in their lives. Working at RCA has been so very rewarding and a blast!
Hobbies/interests: Music and performance, reading, hiking, Crossfit, golfing, and spending time with friends and family on the river in Red Wing. 
Family/Pets: Older sister, dog (Bo), and cat (Olive)


Name: Lisa Hanson
Title: Lead Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: December 2008
Education/Experience: Worked with children with autism for over 15 years
Describe yourself using one word: Patient
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I enjoy working with children and seeing their progress. RCA has a great work environment.
Hobbies/interests: Spending time with my family, going for walks and hikes, reading
Family/Pets: Husband, Two kids


Name: Edie Koch
Title: Lead Therapist/FST Coordinator
Month/Year Started at RCA: September 2010
Education/Experience: University of Minnesota- Child Psychology, Counselor at a summer camp for people with disabilities
Describe yourself using one word: Loyal
Hometown: Crivitz, WI
Why I work at RCA: I love the family atmosphere and passion for helping every student reach their highest potential. Being a part of helping our students has been the most rewarding experience and job.
Hobbies/interests: Cooking, traveling, thrift shopping
Family/Pets: Bulldog (Daisy)


Name: Alyssa Krampitz
Title: Lead Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: June 2013
Education/Experience: University of Wisconsin- La Crosse- Psychology, University of St. Thomas- Special Education
Describe yourself using one word: Dependable
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I interned at RCA in the summer of 2011 and fell in love and was happy to be welcomed back as a therapist.
Hobbies/interests: Hanging out with friends and family, dancing, boating
Family/Pets: Two younger brothers


Name: Megan Mestad
Title: Lead Therapist/Behavior Consultant
Month/Year Started at RCA: January 2012
Education/Experience: University of Minnesota--BA Psychology, St. Cloud State University--MS Applied Behavior Analysis, Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)
Describe yourself using one word: Caring
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: My professor at the U of M recommended RCA for an internship and I enjoyed my internship so much, I began working as a full-time staff. The kids are fantastic and all of the staff are so dedicated.
Hobbies/interests: Attending concerts, listening to music, painting, eating ice cream
Family/Pets: Dogs (Charlie and Jack)


Name: Stephanie Schmidt
Title: Lead Therapist/In-Home Coordinator
Month/Year Started at RCA: July 2010
Education/Experience: University of Wisconsin- La Crosse- Psychology, Helping youth with emotional and behavioral challenges at the Family and Children's Center
Describe yourself using one word: Caring
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I wanted a job where I could make a difference in a child's life, be surrounded with great co-workers and share my passion for helping kids on the autism spectrum
Hobbies/interests: Spending time with family, running and hiking, serving as the secretary on the Board of Directors for the RT Autism Awareness Foundation
Family/Pets: Family pet sheepdog (Sarah)


Name: Cassie Strauss
Title: Lead Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: February 2013
Education/Experience: RCTC- Human Services
Describe yourself using one word: Dedicated
Hometown: Janesville, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love being with kids and watching them grow & learn. It is amazing to watch them succeed every day. 
Hobbies/interests: Family, running, volleyball
Family/Pets: Daughter (Jalyn), Son (Jaxon)


Name: Adam Will
Title: Lead Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: September 2006
Education/Experience: Luther College
Describe yourself using one word: Friendly
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: During my internship I immediately fell in love with the kids and the atmosphere of learning, compassion and growth.
Hobbies/interests: Video and board games, paintball, Vikings football
Family/Pets: Wife, two living sons

 

Behavior Therapists


Name:  Ryan Bierbaum
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Oct. 2016
Education/Experience:  University of Minnesota (Child Psychology)
Describe yourself using one word: Caring
Hometown:  Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love working with children and helping them any way I can!
Hobbies/Interests:  Music, playing guitar, video games, watching hockey
Family/pets: 4 Older sisters, 3 dogs (Ally, Lexi and Cracker), Parrot (Blue)


Name: Adam Branstad
Title: Behavior Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: September 2013
Education/Experience: St. Cloud State University, Assistant Director at University of the Child an inclusive childcare center
Describe yourself using one word: Passionate
Hometown: Owatonna, MN
Why I work at RCA: Making a difference in the life of a child is amazing. Being able to teach, explore and laugh with them is a great feeling.
Hobbies/interests: Going up north to the lake, Minnesota Twins and Vikings, running, summer


Name: Jessica Brown
Title: Behavior Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: February 2016
Education/Experience: University of Minnesota (Psychology, Sociology), Certified personal care assistant, Experience working with children with Autism and developmental delays, volunteered at homeless shelter serving those with mental illnesses and substance abuse issues
Describe yourself using one word: Enthusiastic
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I was immediately attracted to RCA because of the positive atmosphere and sense of community you feel as soon as you come in the door. I also wanted to gain experience in my field and RCA seemed like the perfect place to do that as well as to help kids learn and progress toward their goals.
Hobbies/Interests:  Spending time with friends and family, traveling, reading, hiking, camping, watching/playing sports, photography
Family/Pets: Dad (Jim), Mom (Deb), Sister (Jenny), Brother (Andrew)

Name: Samantha Daniels
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Aug. 2015
Education/Experience: University of Minnesota (Psychology/Pre-Occupational Therapy focus), Direct Service Professional at Cardinal of Minnesota, Volunteer at Rideability, Early Head Classroom Aide in the U.S. Virgin Islands
Describe yourself using one word: Passionate
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love working with children and am passionate about helping them learn and grow.
Hobbies/Interests:  Reading, video games, dance, horseback riding, swimming, movies, spending time with family, friends and my dogs
Family/Pets:  Two dogs (Gilligan and Finnigan), 3 sisters (Tiffiany, Patricia and Helen), Mom (Kaylin)


Name: Leah Etchason
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Sept. 2015
Education/Experience: Human Services Program, PCA for a boy with autism for four years and work in a group home with adults with developmental disabilities
Describe yourself using one word: Motivated
Hometown: Dodge Center, MN
Why I work at RCA: I chose to work at RCA because I love to help others succeed. I enjoy teaching others and seeing the smile on their face after they learn and obtain new things.
Hobbies/Interests: Outdoors, being active, helping others, hanging out with family and friends
Family/Pets:  Mom and dad, younger brother, Pitbull/Staffordshire Terrier (Axel), American Bulldog (Klutch)



Name: Lindsey Hanson
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: April 2015
Education/Experience: University of Wisconsin- La Crosse (Psychology/Sociology)
Describe yourself using one word: Dedicated
Hometown: Sheboygan, WI
Why I work at RCA: I have always desired to work with children with Autism and help them achieve their potential.
Hobbies/Interests: Reading, swimming, volleyball, fishing.
Family/Pets: Husband (Herb), Dog (Eddie)


Name: Elizabeth Hoskins
Title: Office Manager
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2006
Education/Experience: Minnesota Bible College, 7 years at REM River Bluffs, 3 years of ABA Therapy, 7 years of scheduling
Describe yourself using one word: Caring/Loving
Hometown: Arlington, IA
Why I work at RCA: RCA has a positive atmosphere and the staff are great to work with. I love seeing the kids faces every day! This job is so rewarding seeing the kids achieve their goals.
Hobbies/interests: Spending time with friends and family, traveling, ridding on the pontoon, riding motorcycle and playing volleyball
Family/Pets: Husband (Lewis), Son (Lantz), Daughter (Liberty), Dogs (Oreo and Bailey), Cats (Milkyway, Dexter and Buster)


Name: Katie Jech
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: August 2016
Education/Experience:  Winona State University (Social Work)
Describe yourself using one word: Understanding
Hometown: Chatfield, MN
Why I work at RCA: I want to gain experience in my field and to continue my passion of working with children in the mental health field. Hobbies/Interests:  Being with family and friends, reading a good book, going on walks, watching and playing sports.
Family/Pets:  Mom, Dad, Brother and cat (Cuddles)


Name:  Keisha Kidder
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2017
Education/Experience:  Winona State (Social Work)
Describe yourself using one word: Caring
Hometown:  Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love watching children grow and learn!
Hobbies/Interests:  Running, spending time with family and friends, crafting, being outside
Family/pets: Mom, dad, 2 brothers, 1 sister, two dogs (Lilly and Bella)


Name:  Abbey Kollenbroich
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Oct. 2016
Education/Experience:  UW-Madison (Rehabilitation Psychology), Grad student at UMR  for Occupational Therapy. 4 years experience in ABA at the Wisconsin Early Autism Project.
Describe yourself using one word: Compassionate
Hometown:  Burlington, WI
Why I work at RCA: I enjoy working with children and am grateful for every opportunity I get to see them learn, grow and succeed!
Hobbies/Interests:  Reading, working out and all Wisconsin sports
Family/pets: 4 siblings, 3 family dogs, 2 nephews and 1 niece


Name: Jenny Kruse
Title: Neurologic Music Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA:
Education/Experience: St. Olaf College- Music and Psychology, University of Iowa- Music Therapy, Colorado State University- Neurologic Music Therapy
Describe yourself using one word: Creative
Hometown: Sherwood, WI
Why I work at RCA: RCA is one of those magical places to work where everyone is dedicated to the well-being of others, because it's the children and families we serve, or our co-workers. The work is hard, but the rewards are exponential.
Hobbies/interests: Singing in Choral Arts Ensemble, playing various instruments, reading, cooking yummy food, traveling
Family/Pets: Wonderful husband (Scott) and beautiful son (Aidan)


Name: Shauna Mayer
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Apr. 2017
Education/Experience:  St. Mary’s University (Elementary Education), I am currently teaching preschool and work at a daycare in Winona.
Describe yourself using one word: Adventurous
Hometown:  Winona, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love making a difference in Children’s lives. I want to help each child grow by teaching him/her and by being a positive influence.
Hobbies/Interests:  Hunting, fishing, traveling, going to concerts, trying new things
Family/pets: 2 brothers (CJ and Chase) 1 half brother (Chris)


Name: Tea Mirkovic
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Oct. 2016
Education/Experience: University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee (Psychology), Caregiver at UWM Children's Learning Center  
Describe yourself using one word: Compassionate
Hometown: Franklin, WI
Why I work at RCA: It has a very friendly environment with a very kind and welcoming staff. I also enjoy playing with children and watching them learn and grow
Hobbies/Interests: Hanging out with friends and family, working out
Family/Pets:  My dog Bella lives at home with my parents and sister. I moved to Rochester with my boyfriend.


Name: Kelly Miller
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: April 2015
Education/Experience: Minnesota State University- Mankato (Speech Communication), Special Education Para in the public school setting.
Describe yourself using one word: Caring
Hometown: Bloomington, MN
Why I work at RCA: I enjoy seeing each child learn and progress. It is a privilege to walk each step of the way with them.
Hobbies/Interests: Writing, speaking, reading, cheering on my children’s sports teams.
Family/Pets: Husband (Eric), 4 children, Dog (Brittany Spaniel named Maggie)


Name:  Matt Mulvihill
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2016
Education/Experience:  Elementary Education- Worked in Rochester Public Schools as a substitute teacher, Cognitive skills trainer for 5 years at Learning Rx
Describe yourself using one word: Fun
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I enjoy working with kids and to help anyway I can.
Hobbies/Interests:  I love the Pittsburgh Steelers, music and bird watching.
Family/Pets:  Wife (Lindsay), Son (Garrett and Crosby)


Name: Jessica Pitzen
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: July 2015
Education/Experience:  University of Minnesota- Twin Cities (Kinesiology), Volunteered at a pediatric therapy clinic, worked in a day treatment program at Fraser in Minneapolis for children with Autism.
Describe yourself using one word: Gregarious
Hometown: Adams, MN
Why I work at RCA: I chose to work at RCA because of the overall great feeling I got as soon as I first stepped in the door. Everyone is so friendly and they make it easy to continue my love of working with kids! Hobbies/Interests: Reading, eating and trying new foods and restaurants, volleyball, going to sporting events (Especially the Minnesota Twins)
Family/Pets:  Husky/Lab mix (Maia), White German Shepherd/Collie (Hoss)


Name:  Courtney Rausch
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2017
Education/Experience: University of Minnesota-Rochester (Health Science)
Describe yourself using one word: Dedicated           
Hometown:  West Salem, WI
Why I work at RCA: I really love working with kids and at RCA, we have great goals for kids with disabilities.
Hobbies/Interests:  Boating on the Mississippi River, playing board games, spending time with loved ones


Name:  Rachel Rem
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2016
Education/Experience:  Luther College (Psychology)
Describe yourself using one word: Passionate
Hometown:  Winona, MN
Why I work at RCA: I have always enjoyed working with children. Watching them learn and grow is truly rewarding.
Hobbies/Interests:  Drawing, reading, spending time with family and friends.
Family/pets: Mom, dad, younger sister, 2 birds, a dog & fish


Name: Sam Restad
Title: Behavior Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: June 2011
Education/Experience: Human Services Specialist, A.A. Degree
Describe yourself using one word: Friendly
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love teaching and love to play! I feel proud to be a part of a child's positive progression.
Hobbies/interests: Being outside, reading, cooking, boating with the family
Family/Pets: My family all lives in Rochester


Name: Lauren Riess
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: August 2015
Education/Experience:  University of Wisconsin- River Falls (Communicative Disorders)
Describe yourself using one word: Happy!  
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I love kids and have always enjoyed working with children and families impacted by Autism.
Hobbies/Interests:  Being with my husband, traveling, photography
Family/Pets:  Husband (Nathan), Cat (Frankie), German Shorthair (Gus)


Name:  Jessie Schoh
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Jan. 2017
Education/Experience:  Minnesota State University, Mankato (Communication Disorders), Worked in Mankato Elementary School as an Autism Paraprofessional, ABA therapist for 2 years in Chicagoland
Describe yourself using one word: Goofy
Hometown:  Colfax, CA
Why I work at RCA: I want to learn, share, teach, play and see the smiles of the kiddos faces.
Hobbies/Interests:  Running, camping, music and I'm a foodie
Family/pets: Husband (Kyle), Cat (Jack)


Name:  Katie Schnabel
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2016
Education/Experience:  University of Wisconsin- Stout (Psychology Major, Human Development Family Studies Minor). I also worked with the Wisconsin Early Autism Project.
Describe yourself using one word: Passionate
Hometown:  Kasson, MN
Why I work at RCA: I fell in love working with children with Autism during college and RCA seemed like a great fit for me upon graduation. I love what the children have to offer!
Hobbies/Interests:  Crafting, decorating, spending time with friends and family
Pets: 2 cats (Tiger and Felix)


Name: Meggan Sprout
Title: Behavior Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2006 (original) or Aug 2009 (restart date)
Education/Experience: University of Wisconsin - Eau Claire, BA Sociology, Minor: Family Studies; prior to RCA worked at an assisted living home for residents with Alzheimer's & Dementia
Describe yourself using one word: Kindhearted
Hometown: Edina, MN
Why I work at RCA: After working with the elderly population, I wanted to be able to help and make a difference in the younger population; helping make the best life for them and their families.
Hobbies/interests: Boating, waterskiing, swimming, snowmobiling, ATVs, reading, scrapbooking
Family/Pets: Husband (since 2004). I'm the mom of two very energetic, funny, loving boys. Dog (a Schnoodle named Sampson)


Name: Alesia Sprung
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: July 2014
Education/Experience: Franciscan University- Social Work
Describe yourself using one word: Calm
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I grew up in a daycare home and have always loved kids. I also knew from a young age that I wanted to work with kids in some way. When I heard about RCA, I knew that it would be something I would really love.
Hobbies/interests: Reading, watching movies, hanging out with my siblings.
Family/Pets: Cat (Patches)


Name: Hannah Sterling
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Sept. 2016
Education/Experience: University of Wisconsin- Madison (Psychology and zoology), Certification in Environmental Studies. Currently attending the University of Minnesota for Masters in Occupational therapy
Describe yourself using one word: Outdoorsy!
Hometown: Watertown, WI
Why I work at RCA: I love working with children. I worked at the Wisconsin Early Autism Project for a couple of years and found this work to be extremely rewarding.
Hobbies/Interests: Traveling, reading , riding my bike and any activities in and around water
Family/Pets:  I have an older brother in Los Angeles and a younger sister in Madison. I hope to get a puppy soon!


Name: JoAnn Tottingham
Title: Behavioral Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: Sept. 2015
Education/Experience: I've worked with disabled adults since 2003.
Describe yourself using one word: Fun
Hometown: Rochester, MN
Why I work at RCA: I chose to work at RCA because I find this field enjoyable and I like to make a difference in people's lives.
Hobbies/Interests: Making jewelry, reading, gardening, spending time with family and friends
Family/Pets:  Cat (Jade Dee)


Name: Cassandra Tri
Title: Behavior Therapist
Month/Year Started at RCA: May 2013
Education/Experience: PCA/Nanny for 4 years for a family of 4 children (2 of the children had special needs), I then started working at a facility as a behavior therapist and was there for 3 years
Describe yourself using one word: Caring
Hometown: Mazeppa, MN
Why I work at RCA: I chose to work at RCA because I wanted to work with children with disabilities and be a positive influence in their lives.
Hobbies/interests: Anything outdoors, skiing, snowmobiling, 4 wheeling, fishing, spending time with family
Family/Pets: Currently married and living in Mazeppa with my husband, 2 children and dog (Daisy)