Our Staff

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Jeanne White

Jeanne White, LMFT
Director

For over 25 years, Jeanne has worked with families and their children to help them achieve their highest developmental and emotional outcomes. Jeanne is a licensed MFT who has also worked in private practice and worked with child development specialist teams providing services to young children with autism. In addition, Jeanne was Program Director for a children's mental health program called A Childs Path which provided therapeutic support and case management for extremely high-risk children and their families.  Since 2007, Jeanne has been Co-Director of CDPL, and is DIR®Assistant Faculty through Profectum organization.  

Most recently, in February of 2021, Jeanne became the sole Director of the Center for Developmental Play and Learning.  Jeanne and the entire staff at CDPL are inspired by Patricia's legacy and lifelong work to carry on the important developmental work of CDPL in her honor.

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Kendra Wessling

Kendra Wessling, M.S. 

Assistant Director

 

Kendra Wessling has worked with children and families affected by autism and related developmental delays for the past 10 years. Because she values partnering with parents and families, she pursued her master's
in clinical pyschology ('09). This has allowed her to work with many different children, such as at-risk youth, foster children, and other emotionally/socially impacted children. She has undergone training in a variety of methodologies for children and has found DIR/Floortime to be an integrative, family-centered, individualized approach that can be
applied to a wide array of neurodiverse populations! She is pleased to have been part of the CDPL team since 2011, soon after she moved to Santa Barbara.  Currently Kendra is the Program Manager of CDPL, assisting in all aspects of the administration of CDPL's program,  training of staff, presentations and outreach.  Kendra is also one of our DIR Clinical Supervisors.

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Becky Todd
Senior Child Development Specialist and Trainer
 

Becky joined the CDPL team in 2009.  She was an Early Childhood Educator before working for the Learning Enrichment Autism Program (LEAP) for the Santa Barbara County Special Education Office.  This is where she had the opportunity to be trained in the DIR/Floortime Model by Pat Marquart.  She continues to work in the Early Start Infant and Preschool Plus programs for SBCEO, where she is able to use the DIR Model in her work with children ages 0-6.  She is a co-facilitator for our CDPL Summer Playgroup Program.  Currently Becky is providing services to CDPL families and is mentoring newer practitioners in the methods of DIR/Floortime. 

Becky Todd

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Nitaña Rey
DIR Trained Clinician

Nitaña joined CDPL in 2020. She is grateful to have worked with and learned from Pat Marquart before she passed away. Nitaña is currently working towards her master’s degree in counseling psychology at Pacifica Graduate Institute. She earned her bachelor’s degree in World Arts and Cultures from UCLA. Nitaña has worked as a transitional kindergarten teacher’s aide, a dance instructor, a camp counselor, and a mentor at afterschool programs. She has completed parent trainings at the Autism Treatment Center of America, professional development trainings at the Northern California Regional Play Therapy Conferences, in addition to other parent and child classes and courses in neurodiversity. Nitaña loves connecting with children and celebrating their unique gifts and personalities. She feels very fortunate to work with the dedicated team of professionals at CDPL. 

Nitaña Rey
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Elizabeth Segura, SLPA
Bi-Lingual Speech and Language Pathology Assistant

Liz joined the CDPL team as a Developmental Specialist in 2017. She completed her undergraduate education in Communication disorders and Sciences at Cal State Northridge and is currently working toward becoming a licensed Speech-Language Pathology Assistant at Loma Linda University. Liz has a passion for working with children and their families and building relationships together. Liz has worked helping children since 2012 and has worked as a Respite Provider, Early interventionist as well as ABA. She feels fortunate to have found the CDPL and their amazing staff and been trained by both Jeanne and Pat in the wonderful DIR/Floortime model.  As of January 2022, Liz has been certified as a Speech and Language Pathology Assistant.

Liz Segura
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Noemi Reyes

Noemi Reyes 
DIR Certified Bi-lingual Developmental Clinician

Noemi joined the CDPL Team in the beginning of 2018.  She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Guadalajara (UDG).  Noemi mostly works with the Latino community in Santa Barbara.  She is grateful to provide DIR/Floortime therapy for children with special needs in our community.  Noemi became a DIR certified clinician through Profectum in 2019.  Understanding a child’s sensory profile, following their lead, and the importance of emotions and affect during all interactions with a child has totally changed Noemi's perspective on children.  It has also enhanced her ability to tailor individual intervention plans for her clients and their families.  Noemi loves being part of the CDPL team and providing a developmental therapy based on playful interactions.  

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Blanca Moreno-Covarrubias
Bi-lingual Child Development Specialist

Blanca has worked with children for over 30 years, first working as a preschool teacher in Mexico City. After getting her BA in Special Education, she started working with children with special needs.  In 2016, Blanca enthusiastically joined the CDPL team where she has since worked with children and their families as a Bilingual DIR Child Development Specialist.  Blanca was trained by Co-Directors, Jeanne White and Pat Marquart. Blanca has a proud history of working with children and their families and loves using the DIR/Floortime model to help build their development and relationships.  Blanca started working for Santa Barbara County Education Office in the Special Education department with infant, preschool and elementary school aged students in 2007 and also continues her work there today

Blanca Moreno-Covarrubias
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Ann Bentajado
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Ann Bentajado 

DIR Trained Bi-lingual Child Developmental Specialist 

Ann joined the CDPL team in mid-2021 and is a proud Santa Barbara local. Since 2013 she has enjoyed exploring various avenues of healthcare, public health, and social justice. She interned at various hospital departments, rehabilitation, and geriatric centers across California. She attended the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) and earned her BS in Psychobiology from the College of Life Sciences Department of Psychology. In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, she served as the original Co-Community Outreach Director for a public health and social justice non-profit called Heart in Hand LA. Ann also received post-grad introductory education in occupational sciences and global occupational intervention from the University of Southern California (USC) Chan Division of Occupational Therapy.

 

Currently, at CDPL, she is grateful to collaborate with a diverse community of professionals and be a part of its ground-breaking approach to developmental intervention. Through DIR Floortime, Ann finds joy in celebrating and empowering both neurodiverse children and their families of various backgrounds. She embraces the process of cultivating a safe environment for children and their families to support their development, explore individuality, and deepen their relationships with each other and the community.

Megan Holmes
DIR Trained Child Developmental Specialist 

Megan is a Santa Barbara local, who began working at CDPL towards the end of 2021. She has worked with children for 15 years as a babysitter, youth care instructor, after-school program leader, and homework tutoring club volunteer, to name a few. From an early age, Megan realized her true passion lies in working with children and families. In 2019, she started working in early intervention as a child development specialist and fell in love this type of work. She is extremely passionate about creating a positive, safe, playful, and nurturing environment when working with children using the Floortime approach. Megan has an associate degree in Sociology, a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a postbaccalaureate degree in Speech Language Pathology, and is excited to use her education and vast experience while working with the neurodiverse population.
 

Megan Holmes
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Sarah Kaplan

Sarah Kaplan
DIR Trained Child Developmental Specialist 

Sarah joined the CDPL team in August of 2021, and has been a grateful Ventura County local for the last 10 years. Her experience includes working with children as an arts educator, camp counselor, music/drama teacher, preschool teacher, and professional nanny. Her previous experience also includes working for a non-profit, where she was able to teach art to children in the foster care system within Ventura County. Sarah is passionate about cultivating a loving, accepting, and creative space to help neurodiverse children be able to thrive and express themselves fully. Her extensive background in the creative arts, with a particular focus on process-art, is naturally weaved into her Flootime approach. She is currently earning her B.A. in developmental psychology, with her goal aimed at becoming a licensed marriage and family therapist. She is thrilled to be working with her colleagues on the CDPL team, helping support children and their families towards deeper connection, understanding, and joy with one another.

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Michelle Wong, M.S.
Occupational Therapist / DIR Clinician 

Michelle Wong graduated from the University of California, Santa Barbara, completing his bachelor’s degree in International & Global Studies, and his Master’s degree in Occupational Therapy from California State University, Dominguez Hills. He is currently working in pediatrics under the DIR Model. He has experience working with various populations including preschool children in a community living setting, adolescents in after school programs, adults in an inpatient and outpatient hospital and the geriatric population in home health care.

As an Occupational Therapist, his focus is on helping people access meaningful activities across their lifespan using evidence-based interventions to achieve their goal directed pursuits.

Michelle Wong
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Catherine Balboni, M.S., CCC-SLP

Speech-Language Pathologist/DIR Clinician

 

Catherine joined the CDPL team in October of 2021. She completed her undergraduate and graduate education in Speech-Language Pathology at Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts in 2017. She has been interested in working with children for most of her life, and has previously worked as a personal care assistant for children with disabilities and as a teaching assistant at Perkins School for the Blind. After moving to the west coast, Catherine worked in a variety of settings from public schools to private clinics providing speech therapy services to children, teenagers, and young adults throughout California. She feels passionate about supporting children in their communication development, as well as their families. Catherine feels passionate about working within the DIR/Floortime model and continuing to expand her clinical skills within a framework that supports relationship building, child development, and families.

Catherine Balboni
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Grace Brandmaier

Grace Brandmaier

DIR-Floortime Certified Clinician 

 

Originally from Vienna, Austria, Grace’s family moved to Portland, Maine when she was seven years old. She experienced a range of cultures and educational models growing up. Grace received her bachelor's degree from Bard college in 2015 in the Division of Social Studies. She also served as a New York State Certified EMT-B, resident assistant, mehndi art club founder, and meditation group leader throughout her undergraduate education. Grace moved to New York City after graduating and began working at the Rebecca School in Manhattan, a school designed and co-founded by Stanley Greenspan, developer of DIR/Floortime, for children with ASD and developmental delays. She spent four years working primarily in the lower school, with preschool-to-elementary-school-aged children with a range of neurological and physical differences. Grace was trained and certified through the Interdisciplinary Council of Development & Learning (ICDL) as a Floortime Practitioner in May 2018 while working at Rebecca School. She has continued serving families as a Floortime provider outside of a school setting and, upon moving to Santa Barbara in 2020, found CDPL! Grace has been working with CDPL since June of 2021 and is overjoyed to continue learning and growing with her new Floortime team and their families.

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Rosie Gates-Bowes
Therapy Associate

Rosie Gates-Bowes joined the CDPL team in 2018 and is a registered Associate Clinical Social Worker working towards licensure. She holds a Master's Degree and Bachelor of Arts Degree in Social Work and has a background of working with children, individuals and families in a variety of mental health and community settings. Rosie is passionate about the power of the DIR/Floortime model in supporting children and families in promoting the development of social, emotional and intellectual capacities.

Rosie Gates-Bowes
 
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Barbara FitzSimons
Administrative Support

Barbara joined CDPL in 2022. She attended University of California Santa Barbara and earned a BA in Sociology and a minor in Speech and Hearing Sciences. After undergrad she went on to pursue a professional career in track and field and reached her goal of qualifying for the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio De Janeiro. During that time she has shared her knowledge and experience as a coach to 600+ youth in the community. Now that she has retired from her athletic career, she is excited to join a new team at CDPL and help with the administrative work behind the scenes.

Barbara FitzSimons