2023 Summit Schedule

(Subject to Change)

Welcome Reception
April 17, 2023
5:00 pm - 7:00 pm

Welcome Reception

Meet fellow attendees while enjoying your favorite beverage. The event will focus on creating meaningful connections in small groups to facilitate networking and learning.

Sponsored by Infinity, a SimiTree Company

Day 1
April 18, 2023
8:00 am - 8:30 am
Marble Terrace

Coffee with Sponsors

Wake up with fresh coffee, smoothies and light breakfast treats with our sponsors!

Note: a full breakfast for Summit attendees staying at The London Hotel is included at The Boxwood Restaurant.

8:30 am - 8:45 am
Kensington Ballroom

Welcome & Introductory Remarks

Sara Litvak
CEO, Behavioral Health Center of Excellence

Sara Litvak, Behavioral Health Center of Excellence CEO and Co-Founder of the Autism Investor Summit, welcomes everyone to the 2023 Autism Investor Summit!

8:45 am - 9:30 am
Kensington Ballroom

Keynote: Dexter Braff

Dexter Braff

Autism Mergers and Acquisitions: A Market in Flux

Speaker: Dexter Braff, The Braff Group

9:30 am - 10:30 am
Kensington Ballroom

Session 2: A Conversation with Love on the Spectrum Cast on Hearing Autistic Voices

Dani Bowman

Speaker: Dani Bowman, Danimation. Additional cast members to be announced.

10:30 am - 10:45 am
Albert Foyer


Sponsored by Waller Law

Session 3A: Storytellers

Rajashree Balasubramanian
Doreen Samelson
Rob Nicolai
Lori Ann Dotson


  • Better Outcomes, Better Business, Lori Ann Dotson, Senior Director of Strategic Vision and Innovation, Institute for Applied Behavior Analysis
  • Data Analytics as a Critical Component of Operations Management, Rob Nicolai, Chief Strategy Officer, Autism Behavioral Institute, LLC
  • It's Not Just About Goal Attainment: WellBeing as an Outcome Measure, Doreen Samelson, Chief Clinical Officer , Catalight Foundation
  • Journey of an Autism Company in the Middle East, Rajashree Balasubramanian, Behaviour Enrichment, Dubai
10:45 am - 11:30 am
Kensington Ballroom

Session 3B: Autism Care Trends Amid Uncertain Economic Conditions and Industry Constraints

Chris Sullens

Speaker: Chris Sullens, Central Reach

Even with unprecedented pressures such as a global pandemic and the Great Resignation, the ABA industry has continued to experience rapid growth with no signs of slowing down. In 2022, providers saw a 39% year-over-year increase in the demand for autism services and a 21% year-over-year increase in services billed. Will the ABA industry remain resilient in 2023 with uncertain economic conditions and continued industry constraints ahead?

Based on a dataset of nearly 1,000+ ABA providers, Chris Sullens, CEO of CentralReach, will deep dive into the factors impacting the industry at a macro level and how providers, and their clients are responding to those pressures. Sullens will discuss the:

- Outlook on growth in the demand for autism services
- Evolution of care delivery and the settings where care is provided
- Trends in service composition and which providers are seeing the most growth
- And, more.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Screening Room

Session 4A: Digital Health Start-Ups for Autism Treatment: Challenges and Opportunities

Oliver Wendt, PhD.

Speaker: Oliver Wendt, PhD, Director of the Potsdam Augmentative and Alternative Communication Research Lab, Associate Professor and Chair in Cognitive and Emotional Disabilities at the University of Potsdam, Germany

This session will focus on the technology transfer process of bringing innovations in digital health from the research lab to the autism market. The last decade has seen an explosion of new technologies aimed at assessing and improving behavioral and health related outcomes in the autism population. Examples include Mobile device applications (“apps”) to aid communication, social media platforms that can help connect to caregivers, health or medical services, or eye tracking technology to identify and monitor gaze responses. Many of these inventions originate in university-based autism research labs and follow the current trend in research-based entrepreneurship. This session will start with an overview on the market for digital health innovations in autism which includes about 5M affected families nation-wide and 85M world-wide. The market is highly segmented into caregivers, clinics, educational institutions, professional societies, state advocacies, and support groups. A multi-faceted marketing and sales strategy is necessary to penetrate these tightly knit communities. The session will discuss business model options based on securing insurance funding, subscription versus in-app and one-time purchases, and site licenses for large networks. Fundraising strategies to support university start-up creation will be compared including non-dilutive federal funding through Small Business Research Innovation grants or autism foundations versus traditional angel investment and/or venture capital funding.

Dr. Wendt will speak from his experience as a research entrepreneur and former chief science officer of a technology start-up; he is currently not associated with any commercial entity but serves as an advisor to two autism software companies.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Kensington Ballroom

Session 4B: Building a Winning Strategy for New Market Expansion and Growth (and lessons learned along the way!)

Dennis May
Josh Yelsey
Rick Loewenstein

Moderator: Rick Lowenstein, CEO, TeamGame Advisors


  • Josh Yelsey, CGO, Caravel Autism Health
  • Dennis May, CEO, Hopebridge Autism Therapy Centers

Outstanding clinical quality, leadership, and clear communication are key factors to building a successful ABA practice. Leveraging those qualities with a strategic, operational-focused growth initiative will ensure expansion plans are executed with success and become the lifeblood of an organization.

This presentation will explore various operational growth strategies that can be standardized and replicated. It will explore the de novo vs. acquisition discussion, how to build a winning implementation team, and ways to develop internal capacity to meet your growth goals. And it will provide attendees an opportunity to hear about some lessons learned along the way!

The following topics will be discussed;
1. The importance of clinical quality
2. Types of growth
a. Internal (service lines)
b. External (geography)
3. De novo vs. acquisition
4. Center-based v. Home-based v. School-based
5. Site location, size, and hours of operations options
6. Referral partner outreach and collaboration strategies
7. Operational readiness

Clearly defining organizational goals and executing on expansion plans are the cornerstone of building a winning ABA organization.

12:00 pm - 5:30 pm

"Speed Dating" — One-on-One Meetings with Investment Bankers

*Must be registered for speed-dating in advance of the Summit. Onsite appointments are not available.

Sponsored by Intrepid

12:30 pm - 1:30 pm
Hampton Court

Lunch Break

1:30 pm - 2:30 pm
Kensington Ballroom

Session 5: Can Offshoring Benefit the ABA Field?

Offshoring dates back to the 1970’s in the US economy … but it’s a relatively new phenomena in ABA operations. Offshoring can provide strategic value to the ABA field (in addition to reducing labor costs): from building a 24/7 operating environment to addressing perennial staffing shortages and more. But the lure of efficiency and cost reduction comes with its own costs and infrastructure necessary to be successful. This presentation will explore all of these issues from panelists who have direct experience with the good, the bad, and the ugly of their offshoring experience.

Session 6A: Raising Capital: Options for Self-Financing

Brett DiNovi, BCBA
Patrick Bunt
Yvonne Bruinsma, Ph.D., BCBC-D

Moderator: TBD


  • Patrick Bunt, MeBe
  • Brett DiNovi, BDA
  • Yvonne Bruinsima, In STEPPS
2:30 pm - 3:30 pm
Kensington Ballroom

Session 6B: Using Clinical Standards, Data & Technology to Drive Better Outcomes

Mike Miller

Speaker: Mike Miller, CEO, Caravel Autism Health

Clinical excellence is at the heart of autism treatment and organizations continue to strive to achieve the best outcomes for clients served. This presentation will provide an overview of how an Outcomes Platform founded upon a quality improvement framework can be used to drive the delivery of quality care and best outcomes. Clinical standards and a clinician centered approach served as the foundation for the development of leading and lagging indicators of quality care. Using cloud-based data collection that can be evaluated using advanced analytics and machine learning, the outcomes platform provides visibility into ‘near-real-time’ clinical KPIs, access to program recommendations via Artificial Intelligence algorithms with objective to improve care quality and allow for more responsive treatment. Data Insights are provided that enhance the clinician’s ability to differentiate learning styles and design the most effective treatment package. The impact the development of quality framework and outcomes platform has had on the delivery quality care will be discussed.

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Kensington Ballroom

Session 7A: Evolving Payment Models: The Role of Self-Insured Employers in the Future of ABA

Rob Paczkowski
Ling Shao
Melissa Reilly
Justin Funches

Moderator: Ling Shao, CEO, SpectrumAi


  • Justin Funches, President, LEARN Behavioral Health
  • Melissa Reilly, Chief Growth Officer, Evernorth
  • Rob Paczkowski, Senior Director, Global Benefits, eBay

The ABA industry’s explosive growth and change in funding sources has been a wild ride during the last two decades. While a large opportunity still exists to penetrate untapped markets for commercial, Medicaid and TRICARE reimbursement, ABA providers should familiarize themselves with another new funding source: self-insured employers.

Over the last 20 years, ABA went from cottage- to mainstream behavioral health specialty, as school district and private pay funding gave way to commercial insurance reimbursement. During that same period, self-insured employers have driven many of the breakthrough innovations in healthcare benefits. The reasons are simple: 1) employers are the ultimate payors for most Americans, and, 2) self-insured employers are less-encumbered by regulations that govern benefit offerings, structure, payment and steerage than insurance companies can offer to their fully-insured membership. As such, large, brand-name self-insured employers have catalyzed adoption of significant innovations like price transparency, centers of excellence, value-based purchasing, narrow networks, telehealth and expansion of behavioral health benefits.

A highly-expert panel will discuss how employers and payors work with service providers to find solutions to employees’ evolving needs to attract and retain talent, the role insurance companies play in broad adoption, and how market leaders should think about delivering employer-based ABA solutions.

3:30 pm - 4:30 pm
Screening Room

Session 7B: Healthcare Transaction Deal Killers: How to Avoid Them

Rachel Boynton

Speaker: Rachel Boynton, Vertess

Although there are always situations where deals fall apart, there are those potential deal killers that can be avoided. This discussion will make references to the diligence process as well.

These include:
- Knowing your P&L and financial landscape. Offers are made based on financial numbers that are sometimes incorrect or misrepresented. There are steps to take to clean up your financial picture and to help improve the likelihood of a close.
- Find strong and knowledgeable representation – Lawyers with M&A experience and regulatory knowledge is key, while an M&A advisor and an accountant/tax advisor can also be very helpful. A bad lawyer can cost not only time and a lot of money, but bad advice can kill a deal.
- Be completely truthful and honest from the beginning of the discussions because any skeletons you might have will be found during diligence.
- Recruit a trusted and discrete team member to help with diligence, as it’s time consuming and involved
- Commit to the process- diligence is painstaking. But taking too long to get this done can kill a deal. A seller needs to keep their eye on the daily operations while getting the diligence done.
- Chose your buyers (don’t let them choose you) since a cultural fit is as important as the purchase price

Takeaways from this session include:
- Understanding your financials and their importance to the deal.
- Knowing what the deal process is like and how important the diligence piece is.
- Successful completion involves a team of knowledgeable people - from inside and outside your organization.

4:45 pm - 5:00 pm
Marble Terrace


5:00 pm - 6:00 pm
Kensington Ballroom

Fast Pitch Session

Jon Stout

Startups will pitch their Autism Innovation Idea with Celebrity Judges

Jon Stout, Optum Ventures
Other judges to be announced.

6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Rooftop Pool Deck

Networking Reception

Sponsored by Ziegler

Day 2
April 19, 2023
8:30 am - 8:45 am
Kensington Ballroom

Opening Remarks

Sara Litvak
CEO, Behavioral Health Center of Excellence
8:45 am - 9:30 am
Kensington Ballroom

Keynote Speaker: Allison Kluger

Allison Kluger

Reputation Management and Branding During Times of Distress

Speaker: Allison Kluger, Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business

9:30 am - 10:30 am
Kensington Ballroom

Session 2: Advancing Whole-Child Value-Based Autism Care

Mark Mintz
Jia Jia Ye
Neil Hattangadi
Kathleen Stengel, MS, BCBA, LBA
Chief Executive Officer, NeurAbilities Healthcare

Moderator: Kathleen Stengel, CEO, NeurAbilities Healthcare


  • Neil Hattangadi, Co-Founder & CEO, Cortica
  • Jia Jia Yes, Founder & CEO, Springtide Child Development
  • Mark Mintz, Pediatric Neurologist, Chief Medical Officer, Founder, NeurAbilities Healthcare
10:45 am - 11:30 am
Kensington Ballroom

Session 3A: Brand Development, Design and Culture

Tara DeVeaux
Oliver Walsh
Ian Schatzberg
Peter Knell
  • Tara Cevaux, EVP and CMO, Wild Card
  • Oli Walsh, Founder and CEO of ASYSTEM
  • Ian Schatzberg, Founder of General Idea Group, Partner
  • Peter Knell, CMO for Raven Health

In the current landscape of ABA all you have to do is scroll through social media sites like LinkedIn to see countless posts, videos and articles criticizing various aspects of the field. The criticism can range from PE involvement, sudden closures of offices, high levels of staff turn over, and even the therapy itself. The message is loud and clear, the current national image of ABA is tarnished. During this panel our expert speakers will explore and discuss the value of brand development and its importance to build community, authenticity (both internal and external) and employee loyalty/ retention. The diverse panel comes from outside the ABA industry with backgrounds in helping companies speak to their audiences through personal connection. Applying this mindset and skillset to the work in the ABA industry can be effective in driving greater positive impact for the industry no matter the issue or the size of the organization. The panel will lay out methods the audience can adopt to help their agencies with bringing outsiders in and improving their outward message. The success they have had with other industries can have practical applications in behavioral health. The presentation will be brought to life with meaningful examples both visually and through an engaging conversation around relevant topics that incorporate inclusiveness, community development practices, corporate culture growth and navigating retention through brand.

10:45 am - 11:30 am
Screening Room

Session 3B: The ABC's of Insurance Collections

Chris Lowe
Michele Silcox-Beal

Speakers: Chris Lowe and Michele Silcox-Beal, ABA Therapy Billing & Insurance Services

The ABC's of Insurance Collections: A = Accounts Receivable (A/R) B= Best Practices C= Compliance

As a provider or ABA Business owner, working with insurance companies can be complicated and time-consuming. A healthy Accounts Receivable (A/R) is critical for the viability of a practice. This presentation will cover navigating best practices for analyzing A/R and managing common denials and appeals with real life case scenarios and how to address some of the issues through monitoring and auditing in your compliance program.

11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Kensington Ballroom

Session 4A: What is Culture Without Core Values?

11:30 am - 12:30 pm
Screening Room

Session 4B: Negotiating Reimbursement Rates: Changing the Payor-Provider Narrative from Transactional to Relational

Jonathan Mueller
Rick Loewenstein

Co-Presenters: Jonathan Mueller, Ascend Behavior Partners, Element RCM and Rick Loewenstein, TeamGame Advisors

Want to negotiate better reimbursement rates? Learn best practices focused on identifying the right Payor contact, understanding Payor policies around rate increases, how to collect and provide data to justify your requested increase, benchmarking, and more.

It all starts with investing in the Payor relationship, then building a strong Payor Relations Platform. This disciplined approach impacts almost every department of your autism therapy practice and is often the most overlooked. Whether it’s rate negotiation contracting, credentialing, VBC, APMs, clinical excellence, accounts receivable, growth, or just creating open lines of communication, developing a rock-solid working relationship with your Payors is imperative to growth and success.

12:30 pm - 12:45 pm
Pacific Time