Program Directors

 Kendra MKendra McDonald, MA, BCBA,

Kendra began her career in behavior analysis after her son was diagnosed with autism in 2002. Following the successful implementation of his home program, she worked as an in-home ABA therapist for other families affected with autism. She completed her behavior analysis coursework at UMASS Lowell and she has a Master’s Degree in Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology.  She secured her BCBA in June 2014. Kendra emphasizes the principles and teaching procedures of verbal behavior across all teaching opportunities including communication, social skills, and academics.  Her interests also include analysis of complex behavior such as remembering, teaching mediating behaviors, and other private events.



Jessica Podlaskowich MSW, BCBA

Jessica has been working in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis since 2004, in a number of school, home, and community settings.  She earned a Masters of Social work at Virginia Commonwealth University in 2008.  Her experience includes working with students at the Sarah Dooley Center for Autism and the Faison School in Richmond.  Over the past several years she supported a student with autism by tailoring school curriculum and facilitated social relationships with same age peers.  During this time, Jessica completed her BCBA certification through the Florida Institute of Technology’s certificate program.  She is interested in natural environment teaching and developing functional academic skills that extend to practical settings.


Jordan Fries, BCBA

Jordan started working with children with autism and related disabilities in high school teaching adaptive swim lessons. After high school Jordan received her Bachelor’s degree in Community Health and minored in Psychology from George Mason University. She was inspired to continue working with children with special needs and began taking applied behavior analysis classes. In 2011, Jordan started working at Aurora  while finishing up her degree.  Since she started at Aurora, she was promoted from ABA therapist to Team Leader and then in November 2014 received a promotion to Program Director. In December 2014 she finished her Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis, is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and licensed in the state of Virginia


Liz Simons

Liz began formally working with children with autism spectrum disorder in 2010 and in special education classrooms in 2012.  She earned a masters degree in Psychology with a concentration in Behavior Analysis at James Madison University.  She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Licensed Behavior Analyst in Virginia.  Since 2010 Liz has worked in a variety of settings including an autism diagnosis clinic, a behavioral clinic, public schools, and an inter-professional autism clinic.  Liz’s primary interest is developing inter-professional merge in educational settings to make therapy and academics as effective (and fun) as possible.


Maureen GamacheMaureen Gamache 

Maureen received her undergraduate degree from the University of Notre Dame with a focus in Accounting.  After an eight year commitment to the field of Accounting, she  decided it was time to pursue her true passion of helping others and have been working in the Applied Behavior Analysis field since 2012.  Before working at the Aurora School she provided research assistance to a PhD candidate at the Kennedy Krieger Institute in Baltimore She is in the final year of a Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology in Washington D.C..   Maureen has also been accepted to the UVA graduate program for Special Education.   Her  goal is to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. Maureen thoroughly enjoys working one on one and in group settings with students with disabilities and developmental delays. She finds great satisfaction in helping them to reach their full potential.


Emily Vidt

Emily is originally from Pittsburgh, PA and moved to the area in 2013. She received her Bachelors’ degree in Elementary Education and Special Education from Point Park University in Pittsburgh. She taught in the public school system for two years prior to coming to The Aurora School in 2015. She finished her Masters’ degree at Shenandoah University in Applied Behavior Analysis in December of 2015 and received her BCBA in May of 2016! She is very excited to be at the Aurora School as a Program Director!