311 Professional Center Drive
Suite 100
Rohnert Park, CA 94928

Phone: 707.591.0170
Fax: 707.591.0171

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Early Intervention

Staff – Early 2017-07-21T09:23:38+00:00

Ila Sherman, OTR.

Clinical Director, Feeding Specialist
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I have been an occupational therapist for over 30 years and have worked in a variety of settings.
My true passion has been working in the field of Early Intervention, and I have been fortunate through the past 15 years to be able to follow my passion at ELI. Besides evaluating and treating infants and children in their home environments, I am also a co-teacher in the group program.
In addition to being the clinical director at ELI, I also provide consultations and treatment for high risk infants at Sutter Regional Medical Center.

“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others”

Jamie Lynn Schenone

Early Intervention Operations Manager
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I started working at ELI in 2002, right out of High School. I fell in love with everything ELI did for my community. I now have a wide range of experience interacting with children of all ages. Starting out as a receptionist, I have worked my way up to the Early Intervention Coordinator and have learned so much in these past 13 years working with such educated and amazing coworkers! I work closely with the families, making important assignments and always want to make sure all children and their families get their needs met. Outside of ELI I love to dance and have a close relationship with my family. If I am not at ELI you can find me teaching dance to young children, youth and adults with special needs at Love2Dance or hanging out with my family.

Aimee Perez

Referral Specialist
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I am a new member to the ELI Team. I will be a part of the Early Intervention Program as a Referral Specialist as well as an administrative team member. I currently finished school at the Santa Rosa Junior College and received my Associates Degree in Business of Administration. I plan to further my education in the near future. I also look forward to starting this amazing new journey with ELI. I am eager and willing to learn all the aspects needed in order to help families and their children find the necessary components to their needs. On my free time I enjoy relaxing at home watching baseball or being with my family and friends. 

“Life is not a problem to be solved, but a reality to be experienced.”

Alma Machuca, BA.

Early Intervention Specialist
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Hello my name is Alma Machuca, I am happily married and have a two year old daughter which keeps me very busy. At eighteen in college, I decided to get a part- time job at an elementary school as an instructional assistant and yard supervisor. As years went by, I became the school site English Learner Technician. I then got married and moved to Las Vegas, there I started working for a childcare center as a preschool teacher. Once our daughter was born my husband and I moved back to Santa Rosa to raise her here. I am very fortunate to be part of the Early Learning Intervention team. I love what I do and enjoy working with children and their families.

Anyela Perez-Ayala

Early Intervention Specialist
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I am a bilingual (Spanish/English) Early Interventionist. I graduated from Sonoma State University with a B.A. in Early Childhood Studies. As a student at SSU, I volunteered and made observations in multiple elementary school classroom settings, including inclusion classrooms.  I was also part of a 1 year course/internship, learning and working one-on-one with children on the Autism spectrum, which was a great experience. Currently, I’m a graduate student at California State University, Sacramento working to pursue a Master’s degree in Child Development. I enjoy working with children and I’m excited to be part of the Early Learning Institute supporting children’s development and their families. 
“Creativity is inventing, experiencing, growing, taking risks, breaking rules, making mistakes, and having fun” – Mary Lou Cook– 


April Davis-Harris, M.S., OTR/L, SWC

Occupational Therapist
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I’ve been an occupational therapist since 2008. Soon after graduating from San Jose State, I was hired at ELI and have been working in early intervention for the past 7 years.  I completed my speciality certification in feeding and swallowing in 2013.  I divide my time between treating occupational therapy clients, co-teaching playgroups, and consulting with community preschools through the Consultation Project.  I especially enjoy working with young children in the areas of fine motor and sensory development, as well as the acquisition of feeding skills.  My undergraduate degree is in psychology from UC Berkeley allowed me to work in the child development lab there and sparked a lifelong fascination with learning about attachment and cognitive development.  I recently became the mother of a baby girl and so am continually experiencing the joys of child development both at home and through my work at ELI.


“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” -Albert Einstein

Barbara Jimenez

Early Intervention Specialist
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My name is Barbara Jimenez and I am a Bilingual Intervention Specialist. I was born and raised in Turlock, California. I received my Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and my Master’s Degree in Counseling with my PPS Credential from Sonoma State University. I have been working with ELI for a couple of years now and I truly love my job. I am able to work with wonderful children and their families. I believe that children learn through play. Even though it may seem that they are just playing, they are learning valuable skills. I believe each child should be treated with respect, care a sense of independence, awareness of diversity, and parent home involvement.

Carolyn Gonzalez

Early Intervention Specialist
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My name is Carolyn Gonzalez and I am a Bilingual Intervention Specialist and Playgroup Teacher at ELI. I was born and raised in Santa Rosa, California. In 2013 received my Bachelor’s Degree in Public Health with a minor in Special Education and in 2016 I graduated with my Masters and Credential in Early Childhood Special Education from San Francisco State University. Supporting children and families is my passion as I am a sibling of a sister with special needs. I believe that children learn best through play and families are the first and most important teacher in a child’s life. I started with ELI as a student-teacher and feel completely in love with the support we provide. I hope to be a strong support for each family and respect every child by meeting them where they are developmentally and building on each strength.

In my free time I love to hang out with my husband and son. I also love to travel and volunteer. 


“Sure, there’s bad stuff in the world, but there’s also you. You can be anything that you want today, so be bold, be kind, be awesome, repeat. It’s like shampoo but with your life”- Kid President 

Christie Thomson

Early Intervention Specialist
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Erika Malfavon-Alvarez

Early Intervention Specialist
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Evelia Lacalle

Early Intervention Specialist
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Howard Termo

Early Intervention Specialist
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My early studies and career path centered on physical education, specifically growth and development, with a special interest in Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders.   As I pursued my Bachelor’s Degree I worked in a Kindergym motor exploration program where I found that I loved working with infants and parents. However, as these children seemed to be doing well, I wondered about those families and young children for whom life was not going so smoothly. I partnered with the Agency for Infant Development, the first early intervention program in Sonoma County, and developed a Kindergym program for very young children with developmental needs. It was this partnership that led me to my work as an Early Intervention Specialist. Since then I have worked with families for over 35 years. I received additional training through the Napa Infant Parent Mental Health Fellowship of 2006-7 which helped me focus even greater attention on supporting parents in their relationships with their children. My final project for the Fellowship led me to establish PEAS, A Specialized Parent Support program for parents with young children birth to 5 years in developmental services. For my work with families I am very proud to have been honored by the Napa Fellowship as the 2014-15 recipient of the Bruce D. Perry Spirit of the Child Award.

Janine Acevedo

Early Intervention Specialist

Passionate about early intervention, social justice, and peace, Janine Acevedo has a BS in Communicative Disorders and a MA in Early Childhood Special Education. Bilingual, she is fluent in American Sign Language and English. When not helping babies learn, or spending time with her husband and daughter, Janine can be found with her nose in a book, her dog on her lap and her cat demanding her attention.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful citizens
can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.”
— Margaret Mead


Jayne Phillips

Early Intervention Specialist
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Jayne graduated from Chico State with a bachelors degree in Physical Education. She went on to get her single subject teaching credential in Physical Education and Adapted Physical Education. She taught Adapted Physical Education in Hollister California and was involved with special olympics. She then moved to Sonoma County where she taught Physical Education and Adapted Physical Education. Soon after becoming a new mom, she began in Early Intervention. She has been a home visitor, a group teacher and a mentor to new staff over the last 16 years. Jayne began here at ELI in September 2011. Jayne likes the outdoors a great deal and can be found gardening, hiking and backpacking in her free time.


“Play is the highest form of Research” Albert Einstein

Jeanne Gaskin, BA.

Early Intervention Specialist
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I work as a bilingual Early Intervention Specialist at Early Learning Institute. With each day, with each family, and with each child, my learning continues. The learning is shared between teacher, family and child and is unique with each partnership that is formed. This relationship-based and family centered approach to teaching is why I find myself doing this work for over twenty years. Before becoming an Early Intervention Specialist I studied early childhood education and was a preschool teacher. This was valuable preparation for my early intervention work. My Bachelor’s degree in Deaf Studies from Cal State Northridge also prepared me well for working with children with speech and language challenges. I continue to have a strong interest in communication and language which I get to practice as one of the teachers in our Speech and Language Parent Education Groups. I am grateful for the opportunity to teach and play with children and families in their homes. It is a personal and intimate way to get to know each other. This provides a deeper perspective of the family unit and family culture. And lastly, where there is play, there is joy. How many people can say they laugh and sing (badly) every single day at work?

Jeramy Dominguez.

Early Intervention Specialist
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Kathryn Thom, M.S., SLP-CCC

Early Interventionist
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I have worked as a speech and language therapist in early intervention for the last 10 years. I have also managed a family resource center and taught English as Second Language to adults in the U.S. and abroad. A Santa Rosa native, I recently returned after raising my two wonderful daughters in Seattle. My professional passion is in supporting children to achieve their best and caregivers to be empowered teachers and advocates.

“Making the decision to have a child -it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body”  Elizabeth Stone

Lindsay German 

Early Interventionist
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As the daughter of an Early Childhood Educator, I have developed a deep passion for benefiting the lives of children. I chose to pursue a college degree in Human Development and Early Childhood Education from Sonoma State University. I gained knowledge about the field through my coursework and put it into practice at Sonoma State Children’s School as a Student Teacher. I graduated in 2011 and was hired as a Children’s School Professional Teacher to further my experience with 0-5 year olds. During my career, I discovered the key to supporting a child’s developmental growth was intentional collaboration with the child’s family. These strong relationships are what really made an impact. I’m excited to continue focusing my efforts and skills on this truth as an Early Intervention Specialist at ELI. Outside of ELI, I have a love for cooking, event planning, travel and photography.


Maria Ayala, BA.

Early Interventionist
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I attended school in Santa Rosa, graduated from SSU with a degree  from The Hutchins School of Liberal Studies, with the intention of becoming an elementary school teacher, but infants and toddlers RULE, so here I am. I have worked with children of various ages and backgrounds in different settings. My desire to teach and a lucky encounter landed me here, at ELI in 2005.   I have found that in this field I am constantly learning from, and amazed by the families and children that welcome me into their homes with open arms.
“We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today.” -Stacia Tauscher-

Mayra Naranjo, BA.

Early Interventionist
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I began working with children in San Mateo County shortly after I completed my B.A. at UC Santa Barbara in Spanish and Chicana/o Studies. After two years in San Mateo County working with preschool aged children in group settings I applied to Sonoma State for their Master’s program in Early Childhood Education. I am currently a thesis away from my degree. I have had the privilege of being with ELI for three years now as an Early Intervention Specialist and group teacher. I enjoy working with children and their families and being able to support their development.  It is such a joy to see a child meet a goal and see the excitement in their faces as well as their families.

“Learn as much as you can, but always be open-minded to anything, don’t allow what you learn to keep you from learning things you might object to. “ -unknown

Rachel Anderson, BS.

Early Interventionist
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The child of missionaries, I grew up in Nigeria. I knew from a young age that I wanted to help people like my parents. I moved to the United States for college. Where I majored in child development and family theory at the University of Montevallo. During that time I also served as the supervising afternoon teacher for an NAEYC accredited school. As part of my program I was fortunate to intern in the Alabama early intervention system. I learned that this was my passion and would have stayed except I moved from Alabama with my husband to be closer to his family. I am fortunate to be working at the Early Learning Institute and am excited to work with the children of Sonoma County.

Rachel Rich, M.Ed., ECSE

Early Interventionist, Group and Preschool teacher

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From a young age, my mom always taught me to “follow my bliss”. When I went to college, I took courses that inspired me and traveled whenever I could. A few degrees, teaching credentials and countries later, I am right where I want to be, working at ELI. Several years ago, I spent a summer at ELI as an intern and fell in love with the place right away. I worked as a preschool special day class teacher for Sonoma County Office of Education (SCOE) for five years and quickly learned that my students bring out the best in me. Being a teacher means the learning never stops! I am grateful to be working in such a positive environment that supports children and their families.

“While we try to teach our children all about life, our children teach us what life is all about. “

-Angela Schwindt

Rosa Martin, M.A.

Early Interventionist
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Almost 20 years ago I began volunteering with children who have special needs at an after school program in downtown Richmond. This is where my passion for service and advocacy truly began, which inspired me to receive a bachelors degree in Liberal Studies-Teacher Preparation with a focus on Special Education. I then moved to The Netherlands where I taught and received my masters degree in North American Studies with my thesis being on the discrimination against children with disabilities in the American school system and the need for adaptive education. Upon returning to California I worked as a Behavioral Therapist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorders. After an exciting move to Sonoma County, I am very lucky to be a part of the Early Learning Institute family and love the children I get to work with!
“How wonderful it is that nobody need wait a single moment before starting to improve the world.” – Anne Frank


Tina Moss

Early Interventionist
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Since I was a young girl, I had always wanted to work with children who needed a little extra help with their development. As I grew, the passion never wavered. Eventually, I worked my way through college as a physical therapy aide in a neurologic and post-acute rehabilitation hospital in Santa Rosa; later taking on jobs as a student worker at California Children Services, Medical Therapy Unit and as a pediatric medical assistant in Southern California. In 1990, I received my degree in Health Education and entered the world of early intervention. Here I have stayed for 25 years, expanding my role into the program manager for our Watch Me Grow program and our High-Risk Infant Follow-up program. When not at work, I spend my time with my husband of 21 years and our three wonderful daughters. As a family, we enjoy sports, hiking and kayaking.

“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again!”

Yesica Espinoza

Early Interventionist
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As a child my dream was to become an elementary school teacher. I graduated from Elsie Allen High School and continued my educational path by attending SRJC. I got married a few years later and transferred to Sonoma State University. I earned my Bachelor’s Degree in Liberal Studies and was accepted in the Teaching Credential program at SSU after that. While in college I had a variety of jobs working with children and families in my community.  As my education and work experience grew, so did my family. I was a full time student at SSU with a newborn baby boy. I first learned about ELI’s programs from my “Families First” home visitor in 2003. My home visitor gave me great tips and answered all my parenting questions. A couple of years later I applied for a job at ELI. I knew then, that ELI was a great place to continue to work with children and their families.  I had no idea what Early Intervention was about but remembered my experience as a client.
Since becoming a part of ELI in 2005, I have learned a lot about the Early Intervention field and continue to learn something new everyday. My family got even bigger with the birth of my second son and my daughter. Throughout these years it has been rewarding to see children reach important milestones and support parents along the way. Even though I did not become an elementary school teacher (as my career path shifted along the way) I am a teacher, a very different kind of teacher!
Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive, that is youer than you!
— Dr. Seuss

Yamy Farias

Early Interventionist
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I am a bilingual (Spanish/English) substitute teacher for groups and preschool. I have been with ELI since 2013, and I have been supporting families with children with special needs since 2009. I earned a bachelors degree in Human Development from Sonoma State University. I am currently a full time student working towards becoming an Occupational Therapist.

“No Matter what sort of difficulties, how painful the experience is, if we lose our hope, that is the real disaster. “ –Dalai Lama

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