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Atlas Foundation For Autism

Atlas Staff

Atlas Administration


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.


Jennifer Fiorentino
Jennifer Fiorentino,
Assistant Director

My position at Atlas includes school admissions, human resources, interfacing with families and lawyers, billing, board development, strategic planning, budgeting, etc. I have an MBA in Finance and 25 years experience in the non-profit sector. I love working with Atlas because it provides an invaluable educational setting for its students where they are respected and valued and each child is supported to grow to his/her greatest potential.


Christine Arias
Christine Arias,
Educational Supervisor

My core principal belief is that every child no matter their challenge, has the ability to learn. My M.A in Teaching and Special Education is from Adelphi University. I hold NYS permanent certification in Special Education. I worked as a NYCDOE Special Education teacher for over a decade. Throughout my career I have had experience with children ages birth to 21 with a myriad of challenging disabilities.

Before coming to Atlas, my position was Regional Director of Special Education of an organization that serviced almost 1800 children in Early HeadStart, Head Start, UPK, and school age children located throughout the south Bronx, East New York, and Staten Island. My position encompassed the supervision of 13 locations. That included pedagogical staff and children, coaching and supporting administrators in best practices. Initiating referrals and assisting families in retaining individualized services, as well as creating and modifying curriculum to help all children in becoming successful.

Personally, I am beyond blessed to have my own four children who have made my life complete. I thank them for all they have given me. Without them, I would not be here. On this new journey, I feel honored to become part of the professional, compassionate and warmhearted team at Atlas for Autism.


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.

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Kristein Lenzo
Kristin Lenzo, M.S., OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

Kristin is a licensed and registered occupational therapist who earned her Master’s of Science degree in Occupational Therapy from Seton Hall University. Prior to earning her master’s degree, she studied at The College of Staten Island and received a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Psychology. Throughout the past eight years she has gained experience with children of all ages that have been diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) while working at The GRACE foundation, a non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing support, education, and direct services to individuals and their families that are impacted by ASD. Kristin is a motivated team player and believes that with support, each child has the potential to meet their individual goals, improving their quality of life.


Shaina Benrimon
Shaina Benrimon, M.S., OTR/L
Occupational Therapist

Shaina received her Master of Science in Occupational Therapist from Columbia University and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Clark University in Worcester, MA. She has worked with children ages 0-21 in various settings for the last 10 years, including private preschools, Early Intervention, and elementary public schools in New York City. She is trained in AEIOU Feeding Therapy, and Primitive Reflex Integration. When she is not at work, Shaina enjoys trying new recipes and hosting dinners for friends and family. Shaina truly believes that with a positive and motivating environment, each and every child will reach their highest potential and goals.


Erica Rahavy
Erica Rahavy, MS
School Psychologist

Erica has been the Atlas School Psychologist for since 2015. Erica received her undergraduate degree in Psychology from Boston University, and her Masters in School Psychology from Rochester Institute of Technology. She has worked with children with special needs in a variety of settings, including inpatient psychiatric, BOCES, and non-public schools. 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 young boys.


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!


Jennifer Caron
Jennifer Caron,
Speech Language Pathologist

Jennifer received her bachelor’s degree in Speech/Language Pathology from Loyola University Maryland and her master’s degree in Speech/Language Pathology from Northeastern University. She is a New York State licensed speech-language pathologist and holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence (CCC) from ASHA. Jennifer has experience working in early intervention, private practice, and private school settings with children aged 0-21 with Autism Spectrum Disorder, developmental delays, expressive and receptive language disorders, pragmatic language disorders, feeding disorders, articulation disorders, cognitive delays, and genetic disorders. She is passionate about working with children to improve their communication skills and ability to functionally interact with others in their homes and communities.



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.


Marcellus Fairley
Marcellus Fairley

Marcellus, father of one and native to NYC, is attending Lehman college to obtain his masters degree in early childhood education with a sub focus of science. He is excited to be a teacher and is determined to make change!


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.


Dave Janovsky
Dave Janovsky

David “Mr. J” Janovsky is the definition of one of a kind/ This Internationally Ranked Irish Dancing, Musical Theatre loving, Cat Dad has been teaching since 2014 (in CT, NYC, Israel, and Long Island) and and infuses his Bachelors in Music and Masters in Education to add flare to every room! You will always see him singing, dancing, and bringing joy wherever he goes. You can alway count on him for a laugh, but first and foremost he will always go above and beyond for those he loves, and that whole heartedly means his students and staff! Mr. J loves to make an impact and strives to be the person he needed when he was younger! He is a hands-on teacher and believes in experiencing in order to learn. He is all about tailoring every instructional goal to fit the need of the scholar so that they can achieve any standard regardless of any obstacle. Mr J. takes a restorative approach to all actions so that every side is viewed. He is ready to go to any measure to help his students succeed! He knows that every student will remain is his roster on his heart forever. In the words of Mr. J “Make today a great day because everyday is a great day!”


Atlas Staff
Rey Rivera,
Art & Music Educator

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.”


Loredana Tapia
Loredana Tapia
Educational Instructor

Hello, my name is Loredana Tapia and I am an Educational Instructor at Atlas. I was born and raised in a small town in the Dominican Republic in a rather large family. After graduating High school I moved to New York to pursue a career in taking care of life’s important gift “children”.

I started from a very young age working with kids and I grew to love their different behaviors. I enjoy every aspect of teaching and have realized in my years they can teach us as much as we teach them.

I had five-year experience in the Applied Behavioral Analysis Model also, certified in Therapeutic Crisis Intervention. I am dedicated to the social and emotional development of each child and made it my goal to make sure each child receives the best care and love they all deserve. I am humbled and honored to be working at atlas. I am always open to meet and engage with parents and community members to support the school.


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

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.


Krystle Smith
Krystle Smith
Educational Instructor

I am a Queens native with over 10 years of experience with working in special Education and love working with all children.


Ariel Solano
Ariel Solano
Educational 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.


Tiffany Eliasi
Tiffany Eliasi
Educational Instructor

Tiffany graduated from Queens College with her bachelors in psychology and minor in studio art. She has worked with a variety of children during her experience as an aba therapist as well as volunteer work at a preschool. She is determined to work hard in order to best help students thrive in their academics as well as self esteem.


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.


Lynn Azeez
Lynn Azeez,
Educational Instructor

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.


Tamara DaCruz
Tamara DaCruz
Educational Instructor

Tamara’s educational philosophy is “My responsibility is to the students. We all are here to learn and to be the teacher.” She has been working with children for fourteen years and children with special needs for the past six years. Tamara enjoys bringing fun into the classroom by singing and dancing and building relationships with each of her students. Tamara recently graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Speech Language Pathology, Audiology, and Hearing Sciences; and is looking forward to continuing her education in that field. “At the core of my educational beliefs is the belief that education goes beyond what is taught in a classroom, building a relationship is the goal.”

News & Featured Content

  • Autism Infographics UPDATED

    Fun, information packed graphics that help to educate, raise awareness and foster acceptance of autism and the special needs community in general.

  • Atlas & Sesame Street Featured in Al Jazeeras Segment on Autism

    The popular childrens television series Sesame Street is looking to remove the stigma attached to the disorder by introducing a new character to coincide with World Autism Day. Watch Al Jazeeras video which features Atlas.

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