Experts. Collaborators. Adventurers.
Meet the team of ABA professionals who are ready to embark on this adventure with you, with equal parts clinical expertise and genuine compassion.
Andrea Macken embodies what it means to be a crusader for children and families living and thriving with Autism. As an impassioned, seasoned Board Certified Behavior Analyst with more than 20 years’ experience in the field of autism and Applied Behavior Analysis; she has travelled the world working with individuals with autism and the families that love them. Her ability and expertise is in designing and applying individualized, multifaceted research based ABA programs for children with autism that encompass Adaptive Living Skills, Functional Communication, Motor Planning, Social Perspective Taking, and Executive Functioning. She works tirelessly to create unique programs utilizing Verbal Behavior, Natural Environment Training, Discrete Trial Training, Visual Supports, Parent Training, and Augmentative Communication so that each individual acquires practical living skills to access a life of meaning. Recognized by her peers as an innovator; she collaborates with other professionals and universities and is a sought after speaker.
In 2008, her perspective changed and she began to see the limitations of many of the providers servicing families; many were treating the diagnosis and not the individual. She began to see the need to focus on the family as autism was truly a family diagnosis that demanded compassionate, clinical care. Andrea decided to form her own company with a different perspective; the perspective of looking at the family unit and developing programs taking into consideration the unique needs of everyone involved closely with the individual with autism. When a family thrives, the individual with autism soared and the skills acquired generalized with consistency and measurability. Andrea, along with her husband and business entrepreneur Chris Macken, founded Comprehensive Autism Center (CAC) with the goal of providing uninhibited and unencumbered ABA programs and services with integrity and innovation, with equal parts compassion and clinical expertise. She and her husband built CAC on a strong ethical foundation that puts the needs of children and families first and foremost. Since launching, CAC has grown from the couple’s home office to three centers serving hundreds of families across San Diego and Riverside Counties.
As CAC’s founder and president, Andrea leads and mentors a team of exceptionally committed and talented professionals who guide families on their journey from diagnosis to hope. Andrea and her team are also dedicated to raising awareness and understanding for autism across the broader community, which is why she donates her free time towards community grass roots education and trainings. CAC seeks out and continues to actively foster partnerships with agencies, non-profits, and organizations who share her passion for improving lives impacted by autism.
Not surprising from someone whose favorite movie is Miracle — the story of the ‘80s US Olympic hockey team that beat the Russians — Andrea always roots for the underdog. A chance encounter with a young boy with autism in her early years as a pre-med student was a moment of impact that forever changed her trajectory and focus of her career; she seeks out and celebrates these moments of impact that these families discover on their journey living and embracing Autism. Her greatest reward is seeing a child smile after struggling to acquire a new skill or a parent hear their child’s first word after tireless, hard work; Andrea feels blessed to be so intimately involved in the moments of impact for these amazing families.
A morning person and animal-of-all-kinds lover, Andrea enjoys spending her free time with her husband Chris, her two children Pierce and Ella, and the family’s dog Benny, cat Louis and three goldfish.
In 2008, Chris was approached by his wife Andrea, a Board Certified Behavior Analyst who had been working in the fields of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and autism for over 12 years. Andrea shared with Chris her realization that families living with autism needed a more comprehensive approach to supporting not only their children’s development but also their entire family’s growth. She asked Chris if he would help her in creating CAC to meet this need. Chris didn’t hesitate to say yes.
With a degree in accounting from St. John’s University and an extensive professional background in commercial real estate and sales, Chris didn’t have the clinical expertise or experience of his wife. But he does have a passion for providing exceptional customer care. He brought this passion with him to CAC, and continues to make sure every parent and family member who receives services also receives the highest level of care, compassion, and support. Chris’s commitment to client service has helped to shape CAC into a thriving company that puts people before profit.
Chris continues to support Andrea in her vision to provide comprehensive services and programs that strengthen and empower the whole family. He does this by overseeing CAC’s financial department, operations, and strategic relationships with community partners and funding resources. By managing the logistics of running CAC, Chris enables Andrea and her team of dedicated clinical supervisors, behavior therapists, and technicians to focus on the children and families learning to live with autism.
Chris thanks the day he first met Andrea in a sushi restaurant in La Jolla, and that he was persistent enough to finally convince her to go out with him. In addition to growing CAC together, they’re also raising two wonderful children: Pierce, age 10, and Ella, age 8. It seems appropriate that Chris’s favorite super hero is Batman — a business man without any real super powers, just a drive to protect people. Chris is living proof that you don’t need special powers to help others and change lives. Seeing families and children learn to embrace the adventure of autism is better than any super power, any day.
Clinical Dir. of Quality Assurance
When Susie learned that her former colleague and friend Andrea Macken was starting CAC, she didn’t hesitate. Packing up her home and worldly belongings, Susie and her husband Chris moved from North Carolina back to her original home in Southern California and joined Andrea’s team. It was the best move she ever made.
Seven years later, Susie now serves as CAC’s Regional Director. In that role, she supervises, mentors and guides CAC’s interns and students who are pursuing their master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis with the goal of becoming Board Certified Behavior Analysts. Susie also oversees CAC’s quality assurance with a focus on making sure CAC maintains an exceptional level of care for children and their families.
Clinical Dir. of Training and Dev.
Monique’s 20-year experience with Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) extends from the west coast to the east. After earning her MA in Education from San Diego State University with a focus in Special Education, Monique moved to New York during the on-set of winter. There, she joined a leading nation-wide ABA provider as a therapist.
Monique then moved to Austin, TX where she worked for the same company for two years, advancing to become Managing Supervisor. Using her experience, Monique opened her own ABA agency in Austin which she ran for five years before returning to California to be closer to family.
Her move also brought her to CAC. A former colleague of CAC founder Andrea Macken, Monique knew that she had found in CAC a team who shares her genuine love for working with children and families living with special needs and abilities. Monique was particularly drawn to CAC’s center-based services that provide children a dedicated, stimulating learning environment designed specifically for learners with autism.
As CAC’s Director of Training and Development, Monique provides monthly training and mentorship for CAC’s new as well as experienced clinical supervisors to help them grow as effective leaders and mentors themselves. She also develops CAC’s clinical policies and procedures that guide therapists as they help children with autism build critical skills for life.
In the time she’s been with CAC, Monique is most impressed by the deeply rooted commitment Andrea and her team have for the families they help. While CAC continues to grow, Monique points out that this growth is done thoughtfully and with the highest care for quality. She loves CAC’s people-first philosophy.
She also loves seeing the children in the center light up when they accomplish something new, and the expressions of pride on the parents’ faces. She takes great satisfaction in knowing that the services and programs CAC provides are making a meaningful different in the lives of families.
A morning person (though not necessarily by choice), Monique finds her happy place with her family, including her daughter Avery and husband of 10 years Jack, who followed her from New York to the beaches of San Diego. Now she lives just a short drive from the ocean, her other happy place.
Clinical Dir. of Early Start Serices
Charmaine joined CAC in 2009, when the company was operated out of founder Andrea’s home office. Staring as a behavior skills trainer, she has continued to grow alongside CAC, earning her master’s in experimental psychology from CSUSB, completing Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) coursework through the Florida Institute of Technology, and becoming a Board-certified Behavior Analyst.
In addition to her extensive training, education and field experience, Charmaine brings her personal experience as the sibling of a sister living with special needs and brother who was diagnosed with mild Asperger syndrome. Charmaine credits her sister for giving her true perspective on all aspects of life. Now a senior in high school, Charmaine’s brother is preparing to graduate with honors and attend college. Seeing him overcome his obstacles has also been an empowering force in Charmaine’s personal and professional life.
Charmaine calls on her personal experiences with her own family as the Director of CAC’s Early Intervention program for children under 36 months of age. From her family’s experience, she understands the overwhelming challenges faced by parents who want the best care and therapy for their children but may not know how to go about getting it.
For this reason, Charmaine was drawn to CAC’s unique approach that places an emphasis on the whole family. As the Director of Early Intervention, she serves as a family advocate. In this role, she meets with families to assess their needs, helps connect them to the right resources, and guides them as the take the appropriate next steps in their journey. Charmaine also facilitates communications with the regional center for faster access to needed services. She additionally trains and evaluates the program’s supervisors to ensure they support CAC’s whole-family approach to early intervention.
Already considered a hero by her CAC colleagues and clients, Charmaine wishes she had one super power: to heal others emotionally and eliminate their pain. Charmaine has one fur baby named Maddie, a rambunctious poodle who shares affections with Charmaine’s first baby boy. She and her husband David are looking forward to the adventure of parenthood.
Deborah knew CAC was a different type of organization when, during her hiring interview, Vice President Chris Macken walked in and introduced himself. At that moment, she understood that CAC wanted only the most talented, dedicated and compassionate people on their team working for families. The passion and personal commitment of founders Andrea and Chris came through loud and clear, and Deborah instinctively knew this was the place for her.
As CAC’s HR Administrator and Recruiter, Deborah supports Andrea’s and Chris’s mission to hire, retain, and develop the best and brightest in the field of Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and autism. Using her experience in recruitment and marketing, Deborah identifies the right people with the right experiences and heart to round out CAC’s exceptional team.
This includes working closely with college career centers to locate and connect aspiring and emerging therapists to a company that empowers them to grow professionally as well as personally. Deborah carefully assesses not only each candidate’s academic and professional qualifications, but also their capacity for compassion for children and families. Once new team members come on board, Deborah provides clear goals that help employees advance their careers and become outstanding professionals.
When interviewing potential employees, Deborah makes sure candidates understand CAC’s collaborative culture, where no one is afraid to work hard, embrace change, and learn new things. Her favorite part of her job is seeing the people she’s helped hire create meaningful, life-changing bonds with children and families. Hearing a child refer to her therapists as her “best friend” never fails to bring a smile to Deborah’s face.
Adept at seeing the hidden talents inside people, not surprisingly Deborah is a huge fan of the movie Wizard of Oz. She watches it to remind herself not to accept limits but to call on inner strength to accomplish amazing things. She sees this inner strength in the children and families who come to CAC every day.
When not building the top-notch team at CAC, Deborah spends time with her husband James, whom she met at Disneyland one month before the joined CAC. She and James enjoy spoiling their Pomeranian Sweetpea. Her favorite adventure to date (aside from working at CAC) is a trip she and her husband took to Germany, where they visited the castle that inspired Sleeping Beauty’s royal home in Disneyland.