Les Burgess, BCBA

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Les has been working with Hope Reach since October 2012. Prior to coming to Hope, he spent time working with high school students in the public school system. His experience with ABA has come from working with Hope Reach.

Les’s favorite part of working with Hope is getting to witness meaningful change for both the children and their families. He says “every day spent working with Hope Reach is an extremely fulfilling experience; there is no better feeling than seeing a child get excited to see you each day and knowing that you are there to make a difference in that child’s life.”

Degrees: B.A. in Political Science from the University of South Carolina
M.A.T. in Secondary Social Studies from Converse College and currently pursuing his BCBA from Florida Institute of Technology.

Hobbies: spending time with friends, trivia games, and proudly cheering on his beloved Gamecocks.

Meg Foster, BCBA

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Meg Foster joined the Hope Reach staff in May 2009. Her experience with ABA has come through Hope Reach. Prior to joining the Hope Reach team, Meg worked as a preschool teacher/administrator.

Meg's favorite parts of her job are working with families and getting to see her kids grow and learn.

Degrees: B.M., Vocal Performance, Converse College, 2006; M.A., Professional Behavior Analysis, 2015

Hobbies: When she isn't at work, you can probably find Meg performing in a local musical, reading, or hanging out with family and friends.


Marisa Griswold, BCBA

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Marisa has been working with Hope Reach since August of 2010. She always knew she would would work with children every day. There is never a day at work that she doesn’t laugh.

 Her favorite part of working for Hope is seeing the children overcome their obstacles and grow into their own personalities. It is so rewarding to watch the progress in a child’s life.

 Degree: B.A. in Psychology from Converse College in Spartanburg, SC.

Hobbies: Volleyball, biking, reading, hiking, camping, playing with my puppy.


Joanna Haynes, BCBA

Joanna has been with Hope Reach since July 2009. Her experience with ABA has come through working at Hope Reach, but she has always loved working with and being around children.

Joanna feels privileged to be a member of such an amazing organization. She loves being apart of the lives of the children she works with as well as their families. “There is nothing more exciting than watching a child take pride in their accomplishments and no better feeling than receiving an unexpected smile or hug during a session.” She has worn several hats throughout her time at Project Hope Foundation including: line therapist, senior therapist, BTG preschool teacher, PDD Consultant, and is now thrilled to be a case supervisor and Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA)!  Joanna is Co-Coordinator of the BTG Program.

Degrees: B.A. in Psychology, minor in music from Converse College, 2012

M.A in Professional Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology, 2015

Joanna is actively involved at the Spartanburg Little Theatre and also enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends.

Andrea Hudspeth, BCBA

Andrea began working for Hope Reach in July of 2008.  Her first experience working with individuals on the autism spectrum was in high school through a peer mentorship program, but she continued to work with both typically developing and special needs children through college.  Andrea joined the Hope Reach team as Line Therapist, working both in one-on-one and classroom settings.  She transitioned into a Senior Therapist position in December of 2010.  Andrea received a B.A. in Pschyology from Furman University in 2008, and a M.A. in Professional Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology in September 2015.

In addition to working with Hope Reach clients, Andrea serves as Coordinator for the Bridging the Gap (BTG) program.  In June of 2011 Andrea, along with Alaric Gwynn, launched the first BTG classroom as a summer pilot.  She taught with Alaric for the first 3 years of the program before moving to the BTG Coordinator position.  BTG now has 6 classrooms ranging from preschool to middle school.  As BTG Coordinator, Andrea works with Hope Academy to oversee the admissions process as well as training and development of BTG teachers.  She is highly involved in the development of classroom curriculums and setup, working closely with the teachers to maintain positive and productive classrooms.

Andrea enjoys working with children and staff to make positive and functional changes in the lives of Hope families.  She also enjoys working on special Hope events because they bring together staff, families, and friends to further community awareness about autism.

Kayla Lilly, BCBA

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Kayla began with Hope Reach in November of 2009. She first gained an interest in the field of autism in high school when she babysat and worked with a young boy with autism who attended her church. Kayla's experiences with this child let her to pursue a B.S. in Psychology.

Kayla's desire in her career is to not only to change the lives of her children but to also enhance the lives of their families and others who come into contact with the children she works with.

Kayla enjoys seeing her children gain new skills throughout their time at Hope Reach. She also loves seeing them being proud of themselves when they are successful at a new task.

Even though Kayla has taught her children many things at Hope Reach, she feels that could never amount to what the children teach her everyday through their determination, personalities and genuine hearts.

Degree: B.S. in Psychology from North Greenville University, M.A. in Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology

Marley Olejnik, BCBA

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Marley Olejnik joined the Hope Reach staff in June of 2010. Her experience with ABA has come through Hope Reach.

Marley’s favorite part of her job is seeing her children learn new skills and the improvement in the family’s home life with the child’s new skills. Marley finds something special in every child and loves to watch the children blossom.

Degree: B.A. in Psychology from Coastal Carolina University, M.A. in Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology

Hobbies: Traveling, shopping, live music and spending times with friends and family.

Niki Porter, BCBA

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Niki began working with hope in January of 2012 as a line therapist, after graduating from Clemson in December of 2011. In April of 2013, Niki became a lead therapist. In the summer of 2014, Niki taught the K5/1st grade Bridging the Gap program. 

Before coming to Hope, Niki had an internship in Colombia, South America at a school for children and adolescents with Autism, Down Syndrome, and Cerebral Palsy which is what truly sparked my interest for working in this field. Niki has completed the FIT program and received a Masters in Professional Behavior Analysis in 2015. 

Niki enjoys working not only with our children, but also their families and other caregivers involved in their lives and seeing the impact that the training they receive has on their entire family's everyday life.

Katie Pyhala, BCBA

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Katie has been with Hope Reach since January 2011. She gained her experience in ABA through Hope Reach.

Katie finds it rewarding to work with families, and to help them overcome the everyday obstacles that they face. She loves working with children and helping them to reach their full potential. She enjoys teaching them how to play and interact with others.

Degree: B.S. in Psychology from North Greenville University

M.A. in Professional Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology in September 2015


Amanda Rafkah, BCBA

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Amanda Rafkah joined Project HOPE as a line therapist in May 2010; her passion for autism and ABA has continued to grow through her years at Hope Reach. She graduated with her bachelor's degree in Interdisciplinary Studies with a concentration in Psychology and Christian Studies from North Greenville University in 2011. By 2015 Amanda had completed her master's degree in Professional Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.

Amanda moved to Charleston, SC in July 2015 to expand Hope Reach's services to families in the coastal region. Amanda has experience working in the school systems, in homes, in clinics, and providing ABA training to various individuals. She loves her job and gets excited every day to see the progress in her clients and to have the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of individuals with autism.

When she isn't at work, Amanda enjoys to travel, drink coffee, and explore Charleston's beaches.

AnnaMarie Stoudenmire, BCBA

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AnnaMarie has been working with Hope Reach since March 2013.  Her experience with ABA has come through Hope Reach.

AnnaMarie loves her work at Hope Reach and learns as much from her clients as they learn from her. She loves to play with her clients and teach them in the natural environment as well as seeing the skills they learn in therapy generalize at home. The most rewarding part of this job for her is helping non-vocal children learn to talk.

Degree: B.S. in Psychology from North Greenville University
Degree (in progress): Masters in Professional Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology

Hobbies: drinking coffee, baking/cooking, spending time with family


Kelsey Stroud, BCBA

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Kelsey has worked at Project Hope since June of 2015. Her experience with ABA has come from Hope Alive Junior and Hope Reach.

Kelsey loves working with clients of all ages and is thrilled to continue working closely with clients everyday.  Her favorite parts of her job include watching her clients' successes, as well as helping them work through challenges. She is looking forward to continue making a difference in the lives of the clients and families served.

Degree: B.A. in Psychology from Clemson University; M.Ed. in Behavior Analysis from the University of Cincinnati

Hobbies: exercising, traveling, cooking, and cheering on the Clemson Tigers!


Shannon Thompson, BCBA

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Shannon began working at Hope Reach in June of 2012. After being introduced to Applied Behavior Analysis through a college course, she has pursued further experience in ABA at Hope Reach. 

Her favorite part of working at Hope is the opportunity to learn each child's individual personality and sense of humor. She also enjoys being able to see the children take pride in their accomplishments. 

Degree: BS in Psychology from North Greenville University
Degree:: Masters in Professional Behavior Analysis from Florida Institute of Technology 

Hobbies: Spending time at the lake and beach, reading, cooking, hiking, and being active.

Jon Todd, BCBA

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Jon joined the Hope Reach Staff in February 2010. His ABA experience has come throughout his time at Hope Reach. Prior to joining Hope Reach, Jonathan has worked as a counselor at special needs camps in South Carolina and Pennsylvania.

Jonathan’s favorite part of his job is working one-on-one with the kids and watching them grow on a daily basis. Having a parent tell you about the positive changes they see in their kids is what makes this job the best.

Degree: B.M., Psychology, University of South Carolina Upstate, 2012 and pursuing a masters in ABA from Florida Institute of Technology.

Hobbies: Traveling, road trips, and watching the Atlanta Falcons and Carolina Gamecocks win!

LeAnn Weathers, BCBA


Shelly LeAnn Weathers received her Masters Degree in Moderate to Severe Special Education with certifications in Autism Spectrum Disorders and School-wide Positive Behavior Support from Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona in 2015. She obtained her Board Certified Behavior Analyst certification in 2016. Although she has been working with individuals diagnosed with developmental disabilities since 2006, she entered the field of Applied Behavior Analysis in 2013.

LeAnn worked Behavioral Consultation Services of Northern Arizona in Flagstaff, Arizona from 2013-2015 as a behavior therapist under the supervision and mentorship of Trina D. Spencer, Ph.D., BCBA-D, Andrew Gardner, Ph.D., BCBA-D, and Susan Marks, JD, PhD, BCBA-D. She provided Early Intensive Behavioral Intervention services and worked with young adults aged 18-22 in community and university environments. She provided 1:1 instruction and recorded data on ongoing behavioral and academic goals. In 2014, she was promoted to Education Manager and spearheaded a social group for clients to attend each week where individualized goals were embedded in social settings while simultaneously conducting parent training. During this time, she helped facilitate a 2-week summer social camp that welcomed all individuals to attend an intensive, goal-oriented program that focused on increasing self-determination and independence across all domains.

From 2015 to 2016, LeAnn continued to provide 1:1 ABA therapy for individuals ranging from 2-16 years old while continuing to develop professionally.  

Currently, LeAnn is a behavior analyst for Project Hope Foundation, where she conducts initial and on-going assessments, provides parent training, and works directly with clients and caregivers in accordance with funding requirements. Additionally, LeAnn is a Behavior Analyst for Dorchester County School District, a public school that provides services children diagnosed with autism. At Dorchester County, she writes behavior plans, conducts assessments, provide behavior management for students from elementary to high school, implements behavior skills training with faculty and administration, and assists with the development of skill acquisition programs for the students.