Board of Directors
Gerard Costa, PhD
Gerard Costa is the founding director of the Center for Autism and Early Childhood Mental Health at Montclair State University. He is a Professor in the Department of Early Childhood, Elementary and Literacy Education (ECELE) in the College of Education and Human Services and is a member of the faculty of the Infant and Early Childhood Development (IECD) Ph.D. program at Fielding University (formerly the ICDL Graduate School). He serves as a trustee and President of the International Council on Development and Learning and serves as a consultant to ZERO TO THREE. He sits on several state and non-profit boards and was appointed by two New Jersey Governors to serve on the New Jersey Council for Young Children, where he headed the Infancy and Early Childhood Mental Health committee. He received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University. He is a New Jersey licensed psychologist, was one of the first 16 recipients of the DIR certificate by Dr. Stanley Greenspan and Dr. Serena Wieder, is a trained faculty member in the Brazelton Touchpoints Model, and holds an endorsement as an Infant Mental Health Clinical Mentor, through the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health. Dr. Costa has been honored with numerous awards including the Christian Kjeldsen Champion for Children Award by the NJ Child Care Advisory Council, the Lucille Weistuch Early Childhood Special Education Award, by the New Jersey Division for Early Childhood (NJDEC), and the Golden Bell Leadership Award, by the New Jersey Mental Health Association. He has a small consulting and training practice, is the author of many articles and book chapters on autism and infant mental health and has presented throughout the United States and the world.
Amanda Kriegel, PsyD
Amanda Kriegel received her Doctoral of Psychology degree (PsyD.) from APA accredited Argosy University, Atlanta, in December 2010. She received her Master’s of Arts in Clinical Psychology from Argosy and has a B.A. in Psychology from Tufts University and a B.F.A. in Studio Art from The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Amanda began training and working at Floortime Atlanta in the spring of 2006. She is certified as an Expert DIR®/Floortime Provider™ and Trainer. Amanda currently provides services to children and families in Atlanta and North Fulton County through Floortime Atlanta. Dr. Kriegel is working towards licensure and provides services under the supervision of Dr. Kathleen Platzman.
Tina McCourt, LCSW, M.S. Ed, SAS, SDA
Tina received her Master’s in Social Work from Wurzweiler School of Social Work and her Master’s in Education from Baruch College. Before coming to the Rebecca School, Tina was the Program Director at the Early Intervention Center of Brooklyn. She first began attending DIR® trainings in 1994 and has continued to participate in the annual ICDL conference for the last eight years. She received intense ongoing training from Dr. Greenspan from September 2005 to March 2010.
Emile Gouws is a Ph.D. candidate, so soon he will be Dr Emile Gouws. He is a specialist educator, Autism self-advocate, executive member of the Commonwealth disability forum, and NEC member of Autism South Africa. He is a sought-after speaker and an advocate for people on the autism spectrum. His MA thesis was an auto-ethnographic study – in other words, a study of the first 18 years of his life as an autistic person in a neurotypical society. His doctoral thesis is a continuation thereof, focusing on his early adult life as a student.
Derrick Knighton was born in West Palm Beach, Florida. He was raised in San Bernardino, California, and San Antonio, Texas, due to his father’s career in the military. From middle school through college, he was very active in sports (basketball, baseball, and football). His talent in basketball led him to New Jersey, where he was a student-athlete at Kean University. After receiving his BA in Political Science with a minor in Criminal Justice, Derrick continued as an Assistant Basketball Coach for Kean.
Derrick joined the field of Human Services as a Youth Worker for troubled and addicted males at Ogden Residential Group Home for Boys in Newark, NJ. Soon after, he became a professional mentor, working for the Essex County Youth Advocate Program in East Orange, NJ for over 15 years.
Derrick began his work at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey (UMDNJ) as a Mental Health Specialist working with kids who had both psychological and behavioral problems. Derrick is currently the Program Coordinator for Children Services for the Rutgers Behavioral Healthcare Center in Newark (formerly UMDNJ, now Rutgers).
Derrick founded U Are Worthy, LLC in 2006. This program provides youth mentorship that encourages self awareness, self expression, sense of worth and positive peer relationships that will promote healthy personal, family, and community-oriented growth.
Derrick was married and worshiped at Kenilworth Gospel Chapel for 20 years before joining Agape Family Worship Center in Rahway, NJ where he actively participates in the Men’s Ministry and currently serves on the Security Ministry Team.
Derrick is happily married to his wife Stephanie of 28 years and has two beautiful adult daughters.
Robert Naseef, PhD
Dr. Robert Naseef became a typical father in 1979. It was a dream come true—those magical first smiles, first steps, first words. Then in 1981, his son stopped talking, stopped playing normally, and began flapping his arms. From those first red flags of autism until now, he has not stopped living and learning about autism and the family—the central theme of his life and work—counseling, speaking, teaching, and writing about the impact of autism on families.
Dr. Naseef practices at Alternative Choices which was founded in 1990 with Cindy N. Ariel, Ph.D. They have a general practice with a specialty in helping families of children with autism and other special needs, including Autism Spectrum evaluations for all ages. Alternative Choices provides monthly support groups for fathers and families. Dr. Naseef serves as a consultant to school districts, special education parent organizations, attorneys, Pennsylvania Bureau of Disability Determination, and other groups. He has authored 3 books as featured on the home page.
Dr. Naseef’s speaking and writing utilize a singular voice as a psychologist and father of an adult son with autism. His latest book, “Autism in the Family: Caring and Coping Together” (2013) by Brookes Publishing includes praise from autism experts, parents, and people with autism such as Temple Grandin and Stephen Shore. His writing combines and integrates professional and personal perspectives focusing on helping families navigate the emotional landscape and the controversial issues of raising a child with an autism spectrum disorder through the lifespan. One of his special interests is the psychology of men and fatherhood.
Zachary Simmons-Glover is the Chief Operating Officer and Owner of Project99, a privately owned Child and Adolescent Behavioral Health Care Agency. Zachary Simmons-Glover and the late Patrick Pasteur founded Project 99 in January of 2004; Realizing the importance of success through leadership and positive partnerships, these gentlemen made a vow to dedicate their lives to developing innovative programs and services that would bring change to disadvantaged youths. In keeping to their pledge: Project 99 continues to be a pillar in various communities as their initial stride toward uplifting families one at a time.
Zachary's constant need for professional and personal growth inspired him to cofound and create NAOMI Software Solutions in 2015, a software consultation, engineering, design, and development company. Through this venture, Zachary vigorously partners with health and social service agencies to achieve their missions and client service outcomes, and their needs. NAOMI Software Solutions continues to evolve to adhere to the accountability and reporting requirements and deliver the best experience possible to their customers via Naomi's SaaS Technology platform.
In his off time, which comes far and few, Zachary enjoys studying entrepreneurship, firing up his grill, and spending time with his family and friends.
Stanley Greenspan, MD
Dr. Stanley Greenspan was the founding president of the International Council on Development and Learning and founding president of Zero to Three: The National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families. He was Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Pediatrics at George Washington University Medical School. As a foremost authority on clinical work with infants and young children Dr. Greenspan was a recipient of many national and international awards, including American Psychiatric Association's highest award for child psychiatry research. He is the author or editor of over forty books which have been translated into over a dozen languages.