Jessica Garcia, M.A., BCBA, LBA

Jessica Garcia, M.A., BCBA, LBA, (Center Director at Columbia) is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Licensed Behavior Analyst with over 10 years of experience working with children with autism spectrum disorders and other developmental disabilities. Prior to joining the Little Leaves team, she was the Clinical Director for a center-based ABA program in North Carolina and previously worked at the Kennedy Krieger Institute’s Neurobehavioral inpatient and outpatient units. Jessica earned her B.S. in Psychology from Towson University, and her M.A. in Human Services Psychology with an emphasis in Behavior Analysis from the University of Maryland Baltimore County.

Facts About Jessica

  • Originally From: Baltimore, MD

  • Time with Little Leaves: 3 years

  • Educational Background: Bachelor’s in Psychology and Human Development; Master’s in Psychology with a concentration in ABA

  • Favorite Hobby: Going out for walks; game nights

  • Dream Vacation: Anywhere with a hammock, sunshine, and a warm breeze!

We spoke to Jessica about her new role as center director in Columbia, how she will leverage her experience from three years at Little Leaves to grow into a leadership role, and more!

Why did you choose to pursue ABA therapy as a profession?

I love the ability to use a scientific and effective method, that allows for creativity and individualization, to help young children with disabilities learn and connect with their communities.

ABA is an AMAZING science, and we have a great responsibility to use it while keeping the individual on the receiving end in mind when making decisions.

What is the most rewarding part of your role with Little Leaves?

Witnessing our clients make some “firsts” (e.g., words, greetings, learning new skills) and seeing how our staff share our clients’ successes as their own successes.

For example, we have been working with a child who has a history of engaging in challenging behavior for over two years and have been helping him with appropriate skills to replace his challenging behavior. He was recently able to vocally communicate with a peer that he could not play “chase” with him and appropriately communicated with his peer and staff that he wanted to play a different activity to avoid the possibility of engaging in challenging behavior. The self-awareness, restraint, and communication was amazing and something he has been working so hard on. It was great to see it happen so independently and to see how proud he was of himself afterwards.

I am excited to take what I have learned as center director at Silver Spring, with 30+ staff and 25+ clients, and help start a brand new center from the ground up!

Jessica on what it means to be a director at a new center

How has Little Leaves fostered a community for growth that has given you the pathway to become a center director?

There are so many opportunities for learning and growth at every level at Little Leaves, with support from Leadership and Operations staff.

What challenge excites you most about opening a new center?

Taking what I’ve learned so far and applying it a new location to continue to help myself, our clients, staff, and company grow.