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Atlas Foundation For Autism

Atlas Staff

Atlas Leadership


Amanda Friedman
Amanda Friedman, MSEd, SBL
Executive Director

Featured Articles By or About Amanda

Amanda is the founder and Executive Director of the Atlas Foundation for Autism and a special education teacher with over 18 years experience within the educational field. She is a SUNY New Paltz alumni and has completed the Administrative Certification Program from the College of Saint Rose/CITE. Amanda has worked with students ranging in age from 3 – 25 years old with an array of differences including Autism, Cognitive Delays, Emotional Disturbances (PTSD, Schizophrenia, Oppositional Defiance Disorder, etc.) and other learning and developmental challenges. Prior to Atlas, Amanda had co-founded and run the Emerge & See Education Center polishing the framework for the integrative model that now is the baseline for the Atlas' program philosophy. Amanda has been through certified trainings in ABA, TEACCH, BART, and multiple trainings in DIR/Floortime. She is proud to act as a liaison within the NY ASD and special ed community sharing resources, support, and heart with our incredible students, families, and other community leaders.


Alex Rivera
Alex Rivera,
Program Supervisor & Educational Instructor

Alex has been working with children & young adults with diverse developmental differences for over 3 years now.He is a certified CPI (Crisis Prevention Intervention)instructor. Alex truly respects the neurodiversity of the individuals he works with and hopes to be a driving force in bringing about more acceptance and positive change to our community.


Matthew Cohen
Matthew Cohen, MA, EDTC
Office Administrator

Matthew is a native New Yorker and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Brandeis University and a Master of Arts degree in Educational Theatre in Colleges and Communities from NYU Steinhardt. Matthew has worked in various offices in an administrative capacity for over a decade. The combination of his office experience and his background in education makes Atlas an ideal setting! While not at Atlas, Matthew can be seen on stage as a professional actor and singer.


Erica Rahavy
Erica Rahavy, MS
School Director

A member of the Atlas community since 2015, Erica is proud to serve as Atlas’ School Director. With over 20 years of experience working with children with special needs in a variety of settings, including inpatient psychiatric, BOCES, and non-public schools, Erica has a long history of helping students and families through investing in relationships. Erica received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Boston University, and her Masters in School Psychology from Rochester Institute of Technology. In addition to her certification as a School Psychologist, Erica became a certified RDI Consultant in 2009, and has also received certification in Strategies for Crisis Intervention and Prevention, Cornell University's Therapeutic Crisis Intervention, and clinical training in administration of the Autism Diagnostic Observation Scale (ADOS). Erica has presented at the Annual Relationship Development Intervention Conference, for the New York Association for Applied Behavior Analysis, and the Keyspan Lecture Series. One of Erica's most humbling positions is as the mother of two growing boys.

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Laura Kielek
Laura Kielek, M.S., OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

Laura received her master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from Springfield College and her bachelor’s degree in Business Administration with a minor in Psychology from Roanoke College. She has worked with children between the ages of 18 months and 23 years old with various diagnoses including autism spectrum disorder, sensory processing disorder, Prader-Willi syndrome, cerebral palsy, and heart conditions. She is dedicated to providing an individualized, holistic approach when helping each child enhance their occupational performance in their school setting and other everyday environments. She also believes in the importance of promoting the carryover of skills and techniques by effectively communicating with other disciplines and families. Laura enjoys reading, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Dolores Ruiz
Dolores Ruiz, COTA/L
Occupational Therapist

Dolores received her Associates of Applied Science Degree from Mercy College, graduating from the Occupational Therapy Assistant Program, followed by her Bachelor’s in Science. She has worked in the pediatric field for over 15+ years, as well as worked with the adult and geriatric populations. Dolores has a passion for helping children be able to participate in everyday activities. She continues to broaden her knowledge on various topics and diagnosis through continuing education classes including; sensory integration/processing, implementing play based therapy, an introduction to DIR/Floortime as well as strategies for various behaviors. Dolores’ interests are working with kids of all ages on their fine, visual motor, and executive functioning skills to increase success within their school and community settings, as well as provide ADL training. Additionally, Dolores collaborates with teachers as well as related service providers, in an effort to positively impact the students' achievements for optimal success and performance throughout the day.


Justine Parrinello
Justine Parrinello, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist

Justine Parrinello received her bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders at Queens College. She received her master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Long Island University Brooklyn Campus. She is a New York State licensed Speech-Language Pathologist and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA as well as a professional certificate as a Teacher of Students with Speech and Language Disabilities (TSSLD).

Over the past 7 years, Justine has had the opportunity to professionally work with children 0-21 with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Developmental Delays, Feeding/Oral Motor Disorders, Apraxia, Hearing Impairments, Fluency Disorders, Medically Fragile Children, Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Cognitive Delays, Receptive & Expressive Language Impairments, Pragmatic Language Deficits, Emotional and Behavioral Disorders. and Articulation/Phonological Disorders.

Justine is passionate and excited about working with all her students to reach their highest potential and communicate in the most functional and effective manner possible!


Alyssa Fisher
Alyssa Fisher, M.S., CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist

My name is Alyssa Fisher and I am the new speech therapist joining to wonderful team at Atlas. I am a New York native and I earned my masters degree at New York University (Go Violets!). I have always had a passion for the Autism population and I have been lucky enough to work with kids of all ages on the Autism spectrum throughout my time in undergraduate and grad school. I am a lover of all things coffee, chocolate, and all dogs! In my spare time, you can find me brunching outdoors or soaking up the sun in Central Park.



Michael Marsalis
Michael D. Marsalis

Michael D. Marsalis holds both a BA in Philosophy and a MSEd in Early Childhood Special Education from Hofstra University. Mr. Marsalis has a combined total of more than 20 years of professional experience in teaching/social services. He also is a co -author of research that was published in the book entitled, Person- Centered Planning Research Practice and Future Directions, by Steve Holburn and Peter M.Vietze. Mr. Marsalis is new Teacher at Atlas and looks forward to working in the school.


Lynn Azeez
Lynn Azeez,

Lynn received her bachelor's degree in Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology from Long Island University C.W Post. She is currently working on obtaining her master's in Special Education. She has been working with children with special needs for the past 5 years as a Teacher's Assistant and an ABA Therapist.


Taylor Nelson
Taylor Nelson

Taylor is a college graduate from University at Buffalo with a bachelors degree in Education. She has worked with children of all ages and volunteered at many different organizations since the beginning of her high school career. She loves working with children and hopes to pursue a masters degree in special education. She is very excited about working at Atlas and hopes to gain more experience as the years go by.


Rona Neman
Rona Neman

Rona received a bachelor's degree in English literature from Binghamton University in 2018. She worked as a substitute teacher and a student teacher at the local school district with students in a multitude of grade levels within both general and special education. After graduating, she moved on to teach in Dwight School's Early Childhood Division, alongside working towards a master's degree in adolescent English education at Hunter College. She has a genuine passion for teaching and providing children the best possible environment to suit their individual needs, educational and otherwise. Her hobbies include painting, watching sunsets, writing, learning, exploring new places, and spending time with loved ones.


Perry Moskowitz
Perry Moskowitz

Hello, my name is Perry Moskowitz and I am a head teacher at Atlas. I received my bachelor’s degree in Recreational Therapy from Ithaca College. I received my master’s degree in General and Special Education grades 1-6 from Hunter College. I have been working with children of all ages since high school. In my free time I enjoy listening to music, being outdoors, seeing my friends and family and playing with my dog. I am excited and honored to be working at Atlas.


Zoe Wiggins
Zoe Wiggins

Hi! My name is Zoe Wiggins and I am a teacher at Atlas. I grew up between Los Angeles, California and Bristol, England, and I moved to New York City to attend The New School in 2009. I have been working with kids for over 10 years and became a special education teacher through the New York City Teaching Collaborative in 2020, earning my Masters of Science in Special Education in May 2022 from Pace University. I worked in District 75 for two years and am excited to continue helping neurodiverse students reach their full potential at Atlas. In my spare time I love to scuba dive, draw, paint, sculpt, make prints, read, cook, go to museums and take my dog Moose to the park.


Atlas Staff
Rey Rivera,
Skills/Recreation Instructor

Rey Rivera has 10 years’ experience working with special needs children and adults ages 5- 20. He has worked in multiple capacities in serving our young people. His experience includes designing music and art activities and providing teacher assistance, and behavioral support. His main focus is the music and art program. He comes with 20 years of experience of music production in Hip Hop, R&B, dance, and electronic music. He is also a very talented artist whose style is very diverse allowing each student to express themselves freely because he firmly believes that art and music should flow naturally and organically. He says “You cannot force open the petals of a flower. When the flower is ready it will open itself up to you.”


Ariel Solano
Ariel Solano
Fitness Instructor

My name is Ariel Solano. I’m live in Yonkers, NY in Weschester and attended and graduated high school there. I’m out going, upbeat, funny, and I love working with children. I’ve worked with children from a young age, from teaching martial arts to sports, then academics, social skills, coping skills and life skills.


Loredana Tapia
Daniel Pierre-Pierre
Educational Instructor

I have worked with children of different backgrounds for several years and it has been an ever-rewarding and ever-challenging experience. Between a bachelors in speech language pathology, a masters in psychology my education and my own life experience, I have seen the need to being a pillar of strength and advocacy for children, especially in this community. I believe that with the support and guidance of others, anyone is capable of achieving success. I have a love for working with children and I look forward to bringing my experience to Atlas and to continue being an individual who supports others to be their best.


Rodney Edwards
Rodney Edwards
Educational Instructor / Program Assistant

Rodney Edwards has a BFA in Media Arts and Art Education from the School of Visual Arts. He is a Brooklyn NYC native. Rodney has been working with children and young adults with special needs, for 15+ years. His background consists of a Juvenile Counselor, Special Education Substitute Teacher, Psychosocial Assistant, and Crisis/ Behavior Specialist. He is well versed in Conflict Mediation, Classroom Management , and Crisis Prevention Management. Rodney is a self-taught visual artist, who has had several Art Exhibitions in the NYC area. He continues to welcome all opportunities and to learn new strategies, in promoting a positive and cohesive learning environment.


Tiffany Eliasi
Johanna Minaya
Educational Instructor

Johanna Minaya has been working with children for 13 years. While she was working towards her bachelor's degree in Speech Pathology (with a minor in Early Childhood Education), she worked as a teacher for infants and preschoolers, as well as in ABA therapy. She is just as passionate about teaching as she is about learning. She wants to bring her passion and dedication to her position as an Educational Instructor at Atlas, because she believes that every child can reach their fullest potential.


Patrick Holaday
PJ Holaday
Educational Instructor

PJ has been bringing his inexhaustible enthusiasm for Music Education and Performance all over the Northeast for over a decade. From off-Broadway tours, to luxury cruise-liners to stages and classrooms near and far; he has played it all! PJ believes that music is for EVERYONE! Specializing in "Adaptive Music Instruction," a novel and expanding approach to Music Education/ Therapy, has given PJ the expertise and eclecticism to bring the importance of Arts Education to each and every student regardless of age, experience or neuro-typicality. PJ is so excited to bring the joy of music-making to the Atlas family!


Tyler Scher
Tyler Scher
Educational Instructor

My name is Tyler Scher and I'm excited to be a part of the Atlas team! I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a bachelors in psychology and also hold an RBT certification to practice ABA therapy. I look forward to pursuing a Master's in Education to further develop my capacity for teaching. As the oldest child of 4, I have always had a passion and presence in helping children to both navigate through life and to achieve their goals. Some of my hobbies include playing sports, listening to music, hanging out with friends, and going to the beach.


Junisa Carr
Junisa Carr
Educational Instructor

My name is Junisa Carr, I am from Harlem New York, received a Bachelor's Degree In child development from Empire State College. I worked with children since I was 13 years of age and teaching Is my passion.

I have a true passion for working with all types of learners !! Helping each child progress in all areas of their development—academic, social, language, and motor—is a challenge that I am honored to accept daily. I strive to create a community of learners that nurtures this growth in a positive, fun environment.


Ty Thompson
Ty Thompson
Educational Instructor

Ty Thompson is a native New Yorker living in Bergen County, New Jersey. A graduate of Virginia Union University, he is an educator with nineteen years experience in the field. His prior work history includes being a one-to-one, tutor, behaviorist, SAT test examiner, camp coordinator and SACC coordinator. He is also a published author of two works of fiction and a book of poetry. Ty is a consummate professional and team player who loves his students and strives for excellence in all endeavors. His hobbies include writing, music appreciation, sports card collecting and gaming.


Angela Lavelle
Angela Lavelle
Educational Instructor

I'm Angela. I began working with students with autism in 2022 and most enjoy the relationship-building aspect of my job! My hobbies include writing short stories, poetry, and reading.


Donovan Persaud
Donovan Persaud
Educational Instructor

Donovan Persaud is an aspiring educator and a mental health professional. Born and raised in New Jersey, Donovan is a third generation Guyanese American whose parents immigrated from Guyana in the 1980s. With 8+ years of experience, Donovan dedicates his service in assisting students and people in the community. As a special education instructor and case manager he is persistent, compassionate and mentors others in a variety of ways to improve their lifestyle. Donovan continues to guide each generation of students and adults in achieving success for the future.

News & Featured Content

  • Atlas Summer Camp

    When schools are closed, Atlas is open! Program days run from 9:00am to 6:30pm with early drop off and late pick up available. Atlas programs adhere to both social and educational standards for students to build joyful relationships and gain the ultimate learning experiences while schools are not in session.

  • Angels of The World - Lyrics by Amanda Friedman

    A beautiful song about children with autism written by Amanda Friedman and performed by Crucial Bridge.
    This song is for the angels of the world...

View All Featured Content

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