WMU psychology specialists tapped by governor to serve on new board

Contact: Cheryl Roland Molly Goaley
Photo of Dr. Stephanie Peterson.


Photo of Dr. Luchara Wallace.


KALAMAZOO, Mich—Western Michigan University's reputation in the field of behavior analysis has led Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to appoint multiple people with University ties to a new board that will help license and regulate the profession.

Five of nine inaugural appointees to the Michigan Board of Behavior Analysts have direct ties to WMU and will represent various constituencies. The new body was created to assist the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs with the regulating and licensing of behavior analysts in the state of Michigan.

"These individuals are highly qualified, and I thank them for their commitment to ensuring the standards of behavior analysts are upheld in Michigan," Snyder said of the initial appointees.

The individuals with links to WMU, their roles on the board and terms of service include the following.

  • Dr. Stephanie Peterson, professor and chair of the WMU Department of Psychology, will serve a four-year term ending in December 2021. She just completed two terms on the Behavior Analyst Certification Board of Directors, a national organization that provides certification credentials for those who implement behavior analytic interventions. She will represent behavior analysts engaged in providing clinical services. Peterson holds a bachelor's degree, master's degree and Ph.D. from the University of Iowa.
  • Serving a three-year term that ends in December 2020 will be Ian McElfish, a current graduate student at WMU. He is an assistant behavior analyst and supervisor at Braintrust Behavioral Health LLC, and he previously served as a volunteer subject matter expert for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board. He holds a bachelor's degree and is completing his master's degree in applied behavior analysis at WMU. He will represent assistant behavior analysts.
  • Conny Raaymakers is director of ABA services at Developmental Enhancement and previously served as a behavior specialist for Grand Rapids Public Schools. She also will serve a three-year term and represent behavior analysts engaged in providing applied behavior analysis services to the Medicaid population in addition to providing clinical services. She holds a bachelor's degree from Central Michigan University, a master's degree from WMU and is completing her Ph.D. through the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.
  • Dr. Luchara Wallace, associate professor of special education at WMU, will serve a two-year term expiring in December 2019. She will represent the general public. Wallace holds a bachelor's degree from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, a master's degree in Catholic Studies and a master of education from Loyola University, and a Ph.D. from the University of Kansas.
  • Another two-year term will be filled by Dr. Jessa Love, a clinical supervisor for Building Bridges Therapy Center in Plymouth, Michigan. She serves as a coach for the Behavior Analyst Certification Board Code Compliance Committee, and she will represent behavior analysts engaged in providing clinical services. She holds a bachelor's degree from the University of Michigan and a master's degree and a Ph.D. from WMU.

Formation of the board grew out of recent legislation to create an occupational license in Michigan for behavioral analysts and assistant behavioral analysts to ensure proper reimbursement for services families receive under autism insurance reform enacted in 2012.

"Licensing of behavior analysts is important to families of individuals with autism because it helps protect consumers," Peterson says. "The licensing board will set standards for training and conduct required for practice, and will likely investigate cases of suspected misconduct. Since insurance companies expect service providers to be licensed, provider access will also likely increase for families seeking services."

The appointments are subject to the advice and consent of the Michigan Senate. All future appointees to the board will serve four year terms.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit wmich.edu/news.