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Leadership & Clinical Team

Executive and Administrative Staff

Joe Hess

Joseph J. Hess, Jr.


Matthew J. Hess

Chief Executive Officer

Kristen Daneker

Kristen Daneker, MS, BCBA, LBS

Vice President of Clinical Services

Kathy Gorski

Kathleen McCarthy Gorski, MEd

Principal, First Children School

Ellen D’Amato, PhD

Ellen D’Amato, PhD

School Psychologist and Clinical Administrator, First Children School

Alison Stevens, SHRM-CP

Human Resources Manager

Stephanie Colon

Stephanie Colon

Director of Revenue Cycle Management

Caitlin Summers Motta

Caitlin Summers-Motta MA LPC ACS

Director of Business Development

Erin Devera


Clinical Leadership

Stephanie Sigler, M.S., BCBA, LBS-PA

Stephanie Sigler, M.S., BCBA, LBS-PA

Director of Training, PA

Georgia Efthimiou

Georgia Efthimiou, BCBA

Sr. Director of School Based Programs in NJ

Brandon Sierchio

Brandon Sierchio, BCBA, MA

Director of Quality and Training

Devon Garfio

Devon Garifo, M.Ed., BCBA, LBS-PA

Pennsylvania Regional Director

Kelly Mieczkowski, M.Ed., BCBA, LBS-PA

Assistant Director, Pottstown STRIVE Clinic

Mana Ebrahimi

Mana Ebrahimi, MA, BCBA

NJ STRIVE Clinical Director

Lynn Roba

Lynn Roba, M.Ed, BCBA, LBS

Assistant Director, Montgomeryville PA

Jenessa Creal

Jenessa Creal, M.S. Ed., BCBA, LBS-PA

Assistant Director, Pottstown PA STRIVE Center

Joe Hess, Jr. is president and co-founder of First Children Services. Joe has spent over thirty years managing for-profit and not-for-profit provider organizations. Prior to starting Mountain Eagle Group in 2004, Joe was CFO, COO, and then President of a national behavioral health provider serving children and adults with a wide range of severe disabilities. In the 1980s, Joe was CFO at Holy Redeemer Health System and oversaw all of their home care and related ancillary services. Joe taught accounting in the MBA Program at LaSalle University and prior to that, taught at Temple University and Holy Family College.

Joe has been instrumental in developing a number of innovative changes in programs and operations over his years in the field, ranging from helping to create a one-of-a-kind neurobehavioral unit for children in severe behavioral crisis to using tax-favored financial instruments to fund the development of new facilities for provider organizations. As a consultant, Joe’s clients have ranged from large public organizations like the Virginia Department of Rehabilitation to smaller, community-based non-profits providing vital services to people with special needs.

In 2009, Joe acquired a school for children with complex medical, intellectual, and behavioral conditions in Fanwood, N.J. and named it First Children. In 2011 with his son, Matthew Hess, he founded First Children Learning Services to provide a wide range of services to children in their own homes and schools. In 2013 Joe acquired Regional Enrichment and Learning Centers and made that a part of the First Children Family of Services.

Over his career, Joe has been active in a number of provider and professional organizations, has published in professional journals, and has made numerous presentations to professional groups.

Matthew is the chief executive officer of First Children Services, responsible for operations, business development, financial management and human resources for the organization.  Before transitioning to his current role in 2017, Matt had been the chief operating officer and vice president of operations since the company’s inception in 2009.  Under his leadership, First Children has grown from a single educational program serving 65 children to become a diversified behavioral health and special education organization serving over 1000 children through 17 counties of New Jersey.  Matt is a strong advocate of quality assurance and quality improvement throughout the company, ensuring a continued focus on driving positive outcomes for children, families and the payer community.

Before joining First Children, Matt had various entrepreneurial pursuits in the entertainment and manufacturing industries.  He advises several technology, educational, and healthcare startups in the tri-state area.  Matt studied Economics at Temple University and holds a Pennsylvania Real Estate license since 2009.

As the Regional Director of Pennsylvania, Kristen oversees all clinical programming and operations in the state. Kristen has extensive experience with analyzing and restructuring organizational systems, developing and implementing quality assurance standards to ensure best practice within clinical programming, and leading initiatives to grow and develop staff. 

Kristen is a state-licensed Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) and has 15 years of experience in the field of ABA. Kristen received her Bachelor’s degree in Sociology with a concentration in Criminology from Millersville University in 2008 and her Master’s degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Applied Behavior Analysis from Saint Joseph’s University in 2011. Prior to starting with First Children Services in January 2021, Kristen previously worked as an Assistant Director of Educational Services at an Approved Private School in Berwyn, PA and the Executive Director of an ABA organization in Schwenksville, PA.  

Kristen is an avid lover of all outdoor activities. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking and camping with her 7 year-old-son, Jack, and her 4 year-old-daughter, Alex.  

Kathleen began her career in education teaching for 17 years with Bayonne Public Schools.  She then went on to become an administrator with Millburn-Short Hills Public Schools, serving as Vice Principal of the middle school in the district.  She later moved on to Cranford Public Schools where she served as a Principal for 8 years before joining First Children in 2010. Kathleen is a certified school superintendent, principal, supervisor, teacher of the handicapped and elementary school teacher. She holds a Master’s degree in Teaching from Marygrove College and a Master’s in Educational Administration from Kean University. Some of her accomplishments/awards are state model of the Olweus Bully Prevention program, assistant director of the Association of Supervision and Curriculum Development-northeast region, Principal of the Year-Cranford Public Schools 2003/2004 and NCASES board member and commissioner. As a certified mediator Kathleen has been appointed by the New Jersey Supreme Court to be a fee arbitrator for attorney conflicts.  Kathleen is a passionate educator and visionary of academic excellence for all children.

Ellen has devoted her entire career to the delivery of services to students with developmental disabilities. As a special education teacher, learning disabilities teacher-consultant (LDTC), and currently as a school psychologist, she has developed and implemented intervention programs for students ranging in age from infancy through high school. Her area of expertise is the education of students who have significant cognitive, communication, physical, and medical challenges. She is experienced in the identification and provision of individualized supports to students who have multiple disabilities.

Ellen earned her Ph.D. in educational psychology from Fordham University where her research focused on the needs of families of students with disabilities. She is the co-author of Tips for Teaching Infants and Toddlers– a resource for parents and early intervention teachers/therapists.
As the school psychologist at First Children School, Ellen coordinates a multi-disciplinary team of speech, physical, occupational, and behavioral therapists, serves as liaison to local child study teams, and provides educational and therapeutic support to the students, staff, and families of First Children School. She is a member of the Council for Exceptional Children (Division of Early Childhood) and the American Psychological Society- Division 33 (Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities) and Division 16 (School Psychology).

Alison serves as First Children Service’s Human Resources Manager. In her role, she oversees all HR functions including employee relations, organizational development, benefits and compensation, and HR operations. She is a wellness and people first HR professional with an emphasis on servant leadership.

She finds passion in all things people oriented and thrives in creating supportive and efficient systems for First Children Services and its employees. With a foundation in childcare and psychology, Alison has a multitude of experiences in supporting teams providing services to children. Throughout her career, she has used the power of positivity, innovation, and a value centered mindset to create successful outcomes for the employees and the children she supports.

Alison received her Bachelor of Psychology from West Chester University and is currently pursuing her Masters in Human Resources Management from West Chester University. Alison is a strong believer in continuous education and holds interest in other up and coming HR topics such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, and People Analytics. In her spare time, Alison enjoys spending time with her toddler, reading, and traveling.

Caitlin Summers is a Licensed Professional Counselor (LPC) and currently serves as the Director of Student Focused Services at First Children Services. Caitlin comes to the agency after serving as a clinician working with children, adolescents, and families in the NJ foster and adoptive care system. She has an extensive background working with youth suffering from various mental health diagnoses, behavioral difficulties, trauma, and crisis’. Caitlin currently holds a certification as a Trauma Focused-Cognitive Behavioral therapist. Ms. Summers sees the high importance of acknowledging and addressing the unresolved trauma of the individuals she serves.

Caitlin has received numerous trainings on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Nurtured Heart approach, mindfulness, ASD and I/DD, and positive behavioral support interventions as well as behavioral modifications. Currently, she is working on obtaining her certification as a CBT clinician. She believes strongly in the continued need to grow programming with the goal of providing the most therapeutically and ethically appropriate services to families served always taking a mindful and individualized approach with the individuals she is working with.  Caitlin is a creative, passionate and out of the box clinician. Ms. Summers received her Bachelors of Art in Psychology from The Richard Stockton College of NJ and her master’s degree in community counseling: marriage, couple, and family counseling and therapy from The College of New Jersey.

Steph is a state-licensed and Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) who holds a master’s degree in psychology and an undergraduate degree in social sciences. She has over nineteen years of experience in ABA, which includes working with individuals from 2- years- old through 22- years- old with Autism Spectrum Disorder in the home, school, and clinic settings. She has a background in working with children dual diagnosed with ASD and genetic disorders such as Fragile- X, Williams Syndrome, Downs Syndrome, and SATB-2/Nance- Horan Syndrome.

Steph prioritizes understanding and spreading awareness of cultural differences, family training, a whole-team approach to therapeutic services, and and building trusting relationships with families to increase the success of parent involvement.

Georgia is the NJ state’s ABA director, overseeing more than 35 BCBAs and behavior technicians in the field.  She reviews programming, data, and scheduling to confirm that the organization is providing consistent and quality services across the board, ensuring First Children’s goal to not only provide quality services but also provide meaningful and lasting change.  She also makes monthly site visits to our school district clients to help support our staff and confirm that they are being provided with the support they need to deliver quality services to the districts.

Georgia joined First Children Services in October of 2011, starting as a BCBA in the field working in school districts and providing services in home/community environments.  Additionally, she has been a program supervisor of First Children’s Strive center, helping to run clinic-based programs for children with autism as young as 2 years old.  She received her master’s degree from Rowan University in Glassboro, NJ and has been a BCBA since August 2014.

Brandon provides consultation for school districts and also provides in-home ABA services in the Southern New Jersey region.  He believes in the benefit of ABA for the clients he works with and knows that the work he does every day is giving his clients the tools to achieve their greatest potential.  Brandon has worked with individuals with developmental disabilities for the past 12 years in a private school setting and in-home services.  Brandon holds a Master’s degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Florida Institute of Technology.  He has a strong interest in fitness and believes in incorporating fitness, sports, and exercise into the repertoires of the clients he serves.