Maria believes the greatest joy in life is to dedicate yourself to something you believe in. For her, that has been bringing Applied Behavioral Analysis to the special needs families of South Florida.
Her journey began years ago, when she immigrated to the United States from Colombia and worked as a nanny for a child with autism in Parkland. The experience changed her, and since then, she knew her mission was to help bring independence to special needs families.
Maria is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst with almost 20 years of experience working with special needs children in home, school and group settings. In 2007, after working for several ABA providers in South Florida, Maria saw the need for a different kind of company that put special needs families first and she created Progressive Behavioral Science. Although the company has grown to over 100 therapists with a wide range of families throughout South Florida, it still operates by her core values of empowering families through individually-tailored and needs-sensitive behavior interventions, one by one.
Maria’s studies include an undergraduate degree with honors in psychology from Florida Atlantic University and a master’s degree with honors in Behavior Analysis from Florida International University under Dr. Jacob Gewirtz, one of the pioneers of behavior analysis. Maria has taught behavior analysis to the next generation of practitioners at Florida International University, worked in all capacities in the field, and has also pursued a wide range of charitable activities in pursuit of aiding children with autism and other developmental disabilities.
Maria is fully bilingual in English and Spanish and her practice has included clients all over Latin America. She has presented at numerous academic conferences, including conferences in Guatemala, Brazil, and Panama about Autism and ABA. In 2013, Maria was invited by the United States Department of State to present on behavioral analysis to overseas personnel in Central America and asked to serve on a regional panel to discuss behavior analysis international outreach.
Maria’s work for the special needs community has been honored by many respected Florida institutions. In 2015, Maria was chosen by UM-CARD (University of Miami Center for Autism and Related Disabilities) as the year’s most outstanding clinician. Maria has also been honored several times by Autism Speaks for her work in the community, and in 2017, Maria was chosen as one of the “Top 40 Professionals Under 40” for her community and business work by the South Florida Business Journal. Also in 2017, Maria was featured by the Miami Herald as one of South Florida’s top CEOs.
Maria is the mother of two little girls who are not perfectly behaved.