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About Our Team

Shining Brighter, Together. ™

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About A Gem of Joy’s Team

Thoughtfully designed ABA experience that fosters a warm and authentic environment with palpable joy! At A Gem of Joy, we not only pride ourselves on providing superior quality and client-centered care but we are also keenly focused on the unique experience at every touch point! We aim to create collaborative and meaningful communities that support applied behavior analysis (ABA) across the state of Maryland. Take this opportunity today to learn more about A Gem of Joy’s team in Maryland.

About A Gem of Joy’s Leadership Team

Yaffa Atias, M.S., HCMN

Founder and CEO

Yaffa Atias starting at a very early age, shared her compassionate heart with children and young adults with special needs. Being a true calling, Yaffa often found herself devoting her time to volunteer opportunities that centered around empowering and enriching the lives of those with special needs. She not only served in the capacity of her volunteer roles but was also often known to be an influential and favored counselor or volunteer. Yaffa stands out from the crowd because of her sympathetic and unique energy and her understanding of the population she serves.

Yaffa still serves in various volunteer-based roles for her community, as she believes in the power of togetherness. Naturally, her volunteer work transformed into a career path of pursuing her dream of making an impact on the healthcare industry. While Yaffa considered pursuing a career that directly client faces, she thoughtfully chose and was encouraged to combine her superior business talents and expertise with her innate abilities to bond and work hand in hand with the human heart. Yaffa earned her Master of Science in Healthcare Management, where she conducted her Capstone for Mosaic (a division of Sheppard Pratt) and graduated with honors.

She has made her impressionable mark during her diverse and various healthcare business leadership experiences. She has led, coached, and developed operations and interdisciplinary teams such as information technology, business intelligence, mergers and acquisitions, human resources, compliances and licensing, revenue cycle management, and utilization review—just to name a few. Yaffa has been referred to as an “Inspiring leader” who achieves results while remaining committed to her integrity and gold-standard quality.

It was in her most recent leadership position working for a corporate office of an ABA organization that she was intimately exposed to the inner workings of ABA and quickly gained alacrity with her purpose—to be a role model and an inspiring leader committed to permeating the ABA landscape with a culture of authenticity and genuine joy.

A message from Yaffa

“I invite you in on this unique experience with A Gem of Joy ABA. I am eager to welcome you to our family!”

Erica VanDerLinden, M.S., BCBA, LBA

VP of Clinical Operations

Erica VanDerLinden always knew she loved working with and helping children and families and began doing so at a young age. Her first experience supporting individuals with intellectual or developmental disabilities (I/DD) was when she volunteered for a peer leadership program at her high school in New Jersey. It was then that she understood that she wanted to spend her career in a role that could have a positive and lasting impact on the lives of individuals with disabilities and their families.

This passion brought Erica to Maryland, where she received her bachelor’s degree in special education from Towson University. During her second year of teaching, Erica began working in a non-public school setting in Baltimore, Maryland, where she had the opportunity to work directly with a Board Certified Behavior Analyst® and really learned about the magic of ABA! She immediately enrolled in Drexel University’s master’s program in applied behavior analysis. She continued teaching throughout graduate school, utilizing her newfound knowledge to support her students’ progress and increase independence as they were prepared to transition to a less restrictive setting.

Erica’s professional experience includes working in centers, schools (public and private), and home and community settings with individuals from age two to adulthood. Over the past decade, she has served in the role of teaching assistant, teacher, behavior technician, supervisor, clinical manager, clinical director, and vice president of clinical operations, with the bulk of her experience serving the autism community.

Her passion for helping has expanded over the years. Broadening in scope to empowering families as they harness the power of behavior analysis to support their children, developing other professionals in the field of ABA, and advocating for learners and their families to receive the services and support that they deserve in a manner that is equitable, compassionate, and accessible. Erica has attributed the success of her learners, families, and mentees over the years to the genuine relationships she has built throughout her career, demonstrating true care, understanding, and compassion for those who cross her professional and personal path.

A message from Erica:

“I’m looking forward to changing the world together with A Gem of Joy!”