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Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) 

Building Bridges provides ABA Therapy for young children with special needs such as Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD), Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD), and other similar verbal, social or behavioral challenges. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the application of behavioral principles to the improvement of socially significant behavior. ABA is the most widely approved treatment for Autism Spectrum Disorders. We use the fundamental principles of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) to best prepare your child for success in the home, classroom & community.

We help your child with skills such as:

  • Communication
  • Self Help
  • Social and Play
  • Self regulation and self-advocacy
  • Joint attention and referencing
  • Visual discrimination, matching, and tracking
  • Teaching socially-appropriate replacements for problematic behavior

Board Certified Behavior Analysts

The behavior analysts of Building Bridges manage the treatment of each client. They conduct assessments, craft treatment plans, coordinate with insurance carriers, work directly with clients, supervise behavior technicians, and provide parent training and support to families.

Building Bridges has eleven phenomenal Board Certified Behavior Analysts, licensed by the State of Oregon, practicing at our clinic in Portland. Brief biographies are listed below.


Elizabeth Mishler, MA, BCBA, LBA

Co-Owner - Executive Director

Elizabeth (Beth) earned a master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis and Behavior Disorders from Columbia University and a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Boston University. She has over 20 years of experience supervising ABA programs for children with autism and related disorders and has worked in a variety of environments including homes, schools, and residential facilities. Beth worked in New York, Boston, and London prior to moving to Portland. She was given the Margaret Bauman award for Excellence in Serving the Autism Community in 1998. In 2000, she co-founded Building Bridges with Emily Hoyt, who shares her passion for using behavioral practices to help children reach their true potential. When not at Bridges, she enjoys exploring the Northwest with her husband and two children.


Emily Hoyt, MA, BCBA, LBA

Co-Owner - Executive Director

Emily is native to Oregon and the Pacific Northwest. She studied psychology and social work at the University of Portland, and behavior disorders and Applied Behavior Analysis at Columbia University in New York. Emily has worked in the field of autism and ABA therapy since 1998.  She has practiced in home-based settings, clinics, universities, public schools, private schools, and in the community. In 2000 she co-founded Building Bridges with Elizabeth Mishler, and together they have grown the business from a small home-based therapy service, to the highly respected clinic it is today. Emily currently lives in Ridgefield, Washington with her husband and two young children.


Melissa Gard, PhD, BCBA-D, LBA

Clinical Director

Melissa Gard is a graduate of the University of Kansas where she received her PhD in Behavioral Psychology and her master's degree in Human Development and Family Life. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst-Doctoral (BCBA-D). Her clinical work is focused on the treatment of autism using the principles of ABA and she has worked with families across settings (home, school, community) and internationally to this end. Melissa joined the Building Bridges team in 2012.

In addition to her clinical work, Dr. Gard is a professor at the Oregon Institute of Technology (OIT) where she teaches graduate students pursuing their BCBA certification. She also teaches at the National College of Naturopathic Medicine within the Department for Integrative Health Research, where classes are focused on the planning and implementation of behavioral interventions and measurement of behavioral outcomes. She is on the board of the Oregon Association for Behavior Analysis and is committed to the organization's efforts to promote community education in the area ABA and the further establishment of professional networks for behavior analysts in Oregon.

She fully enjoys living in the Pacific Northwest and finds restoration in yoga, hiking, and exploring the beauty of the coast, mountains, and gorge.


Kaylee Ruiz, MA, BCBA, LBA

Kaylee is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Oregon. Kaylee joined the Bridges team in 2014. She has been working with children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and their families, since 2008. She earned a Master of Arts in Teaching with a specialization in Applied Behavior Analysis from National University. Her professional experience includes the assessment and treatment of individuals with autism and other developmental disabilities using the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis. Her current interests center on improving the quality of services delivered to clients and their families through staff training and program development.

In her spare time, Kaylee enjoys spending time with her family, learning how to play the violin, and training for her first Ironman.


Jessica Chan, MA, LPC, NCC, BCBA, LBA

Jessi is both a Licensed Professional Counselor and Board Certified Behavior Analyst in the state of Oregon. After receiving her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacific University, she decided to further pursue her career in Behavior Analysis through Arizona State University. Since entering the field of Applied Behavior Analysis in 2011, she has gained experience working in clinical, school, and community settings. Jessi also provides direct oversight of our intervention teams and believes in a comprehensive approach to therapy. This includes collaboration with parents and team members, and coordinating care with outside providers in order to reach optimal success. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, backpacking, and exploring the Portland food scene.


Lauren Gatten, MA, LPC, NCC, BCBA, LBA

Lauren is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst, and has been employed with Building Bridges for six years.  She earned her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Portland State University, followed by her Masters degree in Counseling Psychology from Pacific University, becoming a Licensed Professional Counselor.  Lauren then went on to receive her certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis at Florida Institute of Technology and obtained her license and certification as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst.  In her free time, Lauren enjoys knitting, crafts, and exploring nature.


Erin Clark, MA, LPC, NCC, BCBA, LBA

Erin studied Psychology at the University of Oregon, and then pursued her Masters in Counseling Psychology at Pacific University before attaining her counseling license with the state of Oregon.  Both during her Masters program and after completion, Erin worked as a Behavior Therapist at Building Bridges utilizing a variety of evidence based practices with children with autism and related disorders.  These included: discrete trial training (DTT), incidental and naturalistic teaching (NET), and functional communication training (FCT).  Erin completed Arizona State University’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) certificate program after working as a Behavior Therapist for four years.  Erin now works as a BCBA at Building Bridges where she is dedicated to providing evidenced based practices in home, community, and clinic settings.  Erin believes in individualizing ABA programs to meet each child’s specific needs and in enhancing communication between the child’s therapy team and family to increase generalization of skills and maximize progress.  In her leisure time, Erin enjoys hiking with her husband and two dogs, running, and completing projects on her home.  


Molly Dwyer, MA, LPC, NCC, BCBA, LBA

Molly has been working with children on the Autism spectrum for 5 years, and she has been with the Building Bridges team for 3 years.  She received her Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Colorado, her Master’s in Counseling Psychology from Pacific University and her Applied Behavior Analysis Certificate from Florida Institute of Technology.  Molly currently practices as a Board Certified Behavior Analyst in Oregon and is a Licensed Professional Counselor in Oregon.  She enjoys hiking in the Pacific Northwest and reading as much science fiction as possible.


Emily Kearney, MA, BCBA, LBA

Emily has worked in the ABA field since 1999 using evidence-based practices with children and their families in homes, schools and the community. She received her master’s degree in special education from Sonoma State University in 2008, focusing on using ABA to increase prelinguistic communication among young children with atypical language development. When she lived in California, she used operant conditioning to train rehabilitated but unreleasable water birds permanently housed at a wildlife hospital. 

Since joining the Building Bridges team in 2009, Emily completed the advanced ABA coursework at Florida Institute of Technology and became a Board Certified Behavior Analyst and a Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Oregon. She is interested in generative learning and Relational Frame Theory, especially as they relate to children with emerging verbal repertoires. In her spare time Emily is on the board of the Oregon Association for Behavior Analysis, and enjoys running, reading, knitting and modern art.


Nicole Olson MA, BCBA, LBA

Nikki has been a part of the Building Bridges team since 2008. She received her Bachelor’s in Child and Family studies and Masters in Early Childhood Special Education from Portland State University. Nikki completed Oregon Institute of Technology’s Board Certified Behavior Analyst certificate program and now works as a BCBA at Building Bridges. Nikki believes in a collaborative approach that involves the family and other providers in the child’s life to maximize skill acquisition and generalization. In her free time, she enjoys staying active by walking her dog, going on hikes, and taking cycling classes. 


Niquelle Schenbeck, MA, BCBA, LBA 

Niquelle Schenbeck is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and Licensed Behavior Analyst in the state of Oregon. Niquelle began her journey in ABA in 2003 as a Behavior Therapist in Bend, Oregon, providing in-home therapy for children and adolescents diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder. She moved to Portland in 2006 and became part of the Building Bridges team as a Behavior Therapist. After completing Ball State University’s Applied Behavior Analysis program, specializing in Autism, Niquelle earned a Master of Arts degree in ABA. In 2016, Niquelle began her new role as BCBA at Building Bridges. Throughout her career, she remains passionate about ABA and values working with children in their homes and communities to apply and generalize skills. In her free time, Niquelle spends as much time as she can with her family, traveling and exploring the Pacific Northwest.



The majority of our clinicians have master’s degrees and many years of experience in the field. Our behavior technician level interventionists are highly educated, dedicated, responsible, compassionate people. Our standards are much higher than those mandated by the state. We believe top quality interventionists provide the best results.