Our Team

OUR TEAM

Michelle Macrorie, PsyD

Chief Executive Officer, Founder

Licensed Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Michelle headshot

Dr. Michelle has over 17 years experience as a psychologist working with young children and their families.  She graduated summa cum laude with both her masters and doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Neuropsychology.  After completing her pre-doctoral internship and post-doctoral fellowship with the Pediatric Psychology Service at Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington, Vermont, she served as the in-house psychologist for a large pediatric practice in Thomasville, Georgia.  Here, a strong and distinct passion for autism spectrum disorders grew and in 2008, Dr. Michelle and her family returned to her hometown of Kansas City setting out to develop a practice focused exclusively on evaluating young children suspected of having autism. From this experience it became clear that much more was needed for these families and in 2013, the interdisciplinary team of Autism From The Start® (AFTS) was born.  In June 2016, Dr. Michelle opened the AFTS Children’s House so she can now provide a ‘therapy home’ where children with autism, their families, our providers, and community partners can now all come together.

Kari Nietzel, BCBA, MEd, LBA

Administrative Director, Team Leader

Licensed Board Certified Behavior AnalystKari headshot

With an undergraduate degree in Communication Disorders and a masters degree in Special Education with an emphasis in Autism from the University of Missouri, Kari was hooked on working with young children on the autism spectrum. Kari went on to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and has been licensed as such since 2014. Her work experience includes serving as a home therapist for children with autism, as a lead teacher in special education classrooms, and as a developer and implementer of a proprietary social skills curricula for the University of Missouri. Through these experiences Kari has developed a love for working with children on the autism spectrum and their families in order to address problem behaviors, develop social skills and provide positive behavior supports across all environments. Kari serves as one of the Team Leaders at AFTS and also wears the hat as our Administrative Director, helping to organize our processes and activities and being the supportive point person for our parents. Kari is a positive spirit and a cool, laid-back mom. She enjoys her family time, staying active, and finding the fun in most everything she does.

Amy Sanner, BCBA, MA, LBA

Clinical Consultant, Team Leader

Licensed Board Certified Behavior AnalystAmy headshot

Amy’s history with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is a long and rich one that began in 1996. Amy has used ABA to teach children and young adults with autism and other developmental disabilities in their homes, to teach academics to typically developing preschool and elementary school children, to teach oral language to young children with severe hearing impairments, and to teach the English language to Chinese-speaking children in a Montessori preschool in Taiwan. In 2002, she became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and has since worked in center-based and home-based autism programs. In April 2016, Amy completed the advanced training in the Early Start Denver Model (ESDM). With that, she is excited to be a contributor to the development of our early intervention programs based on the principles of the Early Start Denver Model. Amy has a warm and calming nature about her and couples that with an analytical and astute approach. She is continually learning–whether it be in the field of ABA and autism or to learn Spanish. She loves to bake and to enjoy desserts of all kinds. Amy also commits a great deal of herself to her family of three children and husband-extraordinaire.

Rachel Ferbezar, BCBA, MA, LBA

Campus Director, Team Leader

Licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst

Rachel started her journey in ABA as an in-home therapist and immediately fell in love with working with children with autism. She graduated with her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from Truman State University in 2009. She then went on to earn her Masters of Art and Sciences in Applied Behavior Analysis from Western Michigan University in 2016, where she specialized in early intervention ABA services for young children diagnosed autism and other developmental disabilities. She has worked in the field of ABA as a behavior technician and as a BCBA for 6 years in both school settings and in center-based settings. She believes the key to success is building positive and successful relationships with each individual child and capitalizing on those relationships to promote language, communication, and social skills.

Madelyn (Maddie) Holcomb, MS, CCC-SLP

Licensed Speech-Language Pathologist

Maddie graduated from the University of Kansas with her Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences in Speech, Language and Hearing.  She then went on to get her Masters in Communication Sciences and Disorders from Rockhurst University. As a speech-language pathology graduate student, Maddie had the privilege of working in a variety of settings including an outpatient rehabilitation clinic, schools, and in a private practice. After completing her clinical fellowship in an elementary school setting working with children in preschool, kindergarten, and elementary grades, Maddie joined the AFTS team as our beloved Speech Pathologist. She has knowledge and experience with autism spectrum disorders, developmental language delays, articulation disorders, apraxia of speech, fluency, social skills, augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) devices and systems, and Down syndrome.  She is a warm-hearted and playful therapist who easily connects with children and their parents.

Megan Hoffman, OTR/L

Licensed Occupational Therapist

Megan graduated with her Bachelor of Liberal Arts and Sciences degree in Occupational Studies, or Pre-Occupational Therapy, from the University of Kansas in 2011. She continued her education as a Jayhawk at the University of Kansas Medical Center, earning her Master in Occupational Therapy in 2013. As an OT student, Megan co-presented a poster presentation at the AOTA national conference titled “Preparing for Practice in the Ever-Changing Health Care Environment through Service Learning Innovations” and served as the School of Health Professions Student President. She also obtained invaluable experience from her time spent on a developmental feeding team during her training years.  Megan is currently in her 4th year of practice as a licensed occupational therapist. She has spent the last 3 years working for a local school district at the elementary level providing services to students in the general education setting and students with developmental delays, autism, and sensory processing challenges in center-based programs. Megan is joyful person and skilled clinician whom the children (and team) at AFTS love.

Kaleigh Watts, BGS

Senior Technician

Registered Behavior TechnicianKaleigh headshot

For over 15 years, Kaleigh has been working with children in a variety of capacities–as a babysitter, a nanny, a Montessori school classroom educator, lead teacher for a special needs preschool, and a para-educator in a public elementary school. In 2012, Kaleigh graduated from the University of Kansas with a degree in Applied Behavioral Sciences and is a lead behavior technician at AFTS. The only thing that trumps her love for the children with whom she works, is her own son. Kaleigh is one of our Senior Technicians and serves as a mentor and model for others. She is an energetic, hard worker who goes above and beyond what is expected and asked of her and she is gifted with an innate ability for connecting with the children, reading their cues, seeing them as a whole, and making their ‘work’ fun and playful.

Colleen Huettenmueller, BS

Senior Technician

Registered Behavior Technician

Colleen Huettenmueller earned her college degree in 2001 and has since worked for over 8 years in the  field of Applied Behavior Analysis.  She has worked as a para-educator and behavior technician with children in both preschool and center-based programs.  Her favorite way to teach is through the use of play, songs, and fun.  She focuses on building a positive connection to each child and building on the strength of that relationship to incorporate work on language and learning throughout a child’s entire day.  Colleen is a Senior Technician and serves as a leader and model for our group of behavior technicians.  Outside of her time at AFTS, Colleen loves running, enjoying a great dessert, and spending time outdoors with her boys.

Talley Friesen, BA

Registered Behavior Technician

Talley is a homegrown Kansas girl and grew up in a small town in southwest Kansas.  She graduated from the University of Kansas with a major in Applied Behavioral Science and a minor in Psychology. She has had enriching and life-changing opportunities to work with children locally and internationally. Talley has always enjoyed working with children and every day at AFTS, it shows just how much she still loves it.

Jordan Hopper, BGS

Registered Behavior Technician

Jordan graduated from the University of Kansas in 2015 with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Applied Behavioral Sciences.  Since then, he has worked as a para-educator for an elementary school and a care facilitator at a psychiatric residential treatment facility for children.  Jordan loves working with kids and finds joy in seeing them make progress.  When he is not working with the children, he spends time playing board games with his wife and friends.

Lauren Mize, BS

Registered Behavior Technician

Shelby Bridwell, BS, BA

Registered Behavior Technician

Madelyn “Maddie” Cullings, BA

Registered Behavior Technician

Madeline “Maddie” Cullings graduated from Benedictine College with an undergraduate degree in psychology.  Maddie has always had a passion for working with kids in many different capacities, from volunteering for many child-centered organizations to working as a nanny each summer. Maddie has had the privilege of working with children facing a variety of challenges ranging from preschoolers at Head Start to school-aged kids in Belize. Maddie exhibits a consistently warm and positive demeanor.  It is evident that she loves working with our children in this intimate and direct way, as she takes joy in forming special connections with each child and such pride in seeing them progress and succeed.

Sarah Gregar, BS

Registered Behavior Technician

Samantha Clark, MA

Registered Behavior Technician

Hannah Morris, BHS

Behavior Technician

Alex Fultz, BGS

Registered Behavior Technician

Lizzie Kaman

Billing Manager

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