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Michelle Wagner, M.A., BCBA - CEO/President

Ms. Wagner holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Psychology from California State University, Sacramento, and a Master of Arts in Teaching and Applied Behavior Analysis from National University. As a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA), she works diligently to promote Applied Behavior Analysis and ensure that those working with her organization are qualified professionals. She is currently an adjunct professor of graduate courses in ABA for National University and sits on the Public Policy Committee for CalABA. Ms. Wagner has been working with individuals with a variety of developmental disabilities for more than 20 years. She has provided behavior intervention services in public school settings, family homes, center-based programs, and non-public schools for consumers ages 18 months to 45 years. She has worked most extensively with individuals with autism, providing in home programs, center based programs and a non- public preschool. In 2001, Ms. Wagner established Advance Kids with the intention of changing the course of the future for young children with autism without forgetting the needs of adolescents and adults who still need support and intervention.

Ms. Wagner was featured in The Business Journal and was also awarded "Business Woman of the Year" by the National Association of Women Business Owners in 2008.

Most importantly, Ms. Wagner is the proud parent of five adult children: Jake, Clayton, Dylan, Gavin and Morgan.

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Sarah Jacobs, LMFT, BCBA - Clinical Director

Sarah received her Master´s degree in Counseling Psychology from the University of San Francisco in 2006 and a certificate in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2009. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (since 2009) and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (since 2015). She began working with children on the autism spectrum in 1998 and within the field of ABA in 2005. Sarah has worked in a variety of settings, including a local high school where she worked as part of an interdisciplinary team, providing individual, family, and group counseling for teenagers. She joined Advance Kids in 2005, starting as a school aide and in-home paraprofessional. Sarah has worked in all departments and held varying clinical positions within Advance Kids.  Currently, she holds the position of Clinical Director, in which she works closely with the CEO and department Directors aiding in overall quality control.  She has a strong sense of dedication to her patients, students, and staff, with the goal of motivating each and every individual to their highest potential.


Joel Wenell, M.A., BCBA - Behavior Consultant

Joel has a long history with Advance Kids, and the company’s various departments. He first joined Advance Kids in 2001 as a Behavior Technician, working with families in their home, and in the public-school environment. In 2003, Joel was promoted to Lead Technician, which allowed him to train current staff members and support a variety of clients and students. From 2005 until 2016, Joel held the position of Director of Training, which included hiring new employees and providing the initial 30 hours of training. In 2016, Joel was promoted to Clinical Director of Opportunity Acres, a sister company of Advance Kids. Opportunity Acres is an adult day program/non-public school, dedicated to assisting individuals diagnosed with ASD in increasing self-sufficiency, leading toward greater community integration and vocational preparedness. It was during this time, Joel graduated with his Master’s Degree in Teaching with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis and obtained his Board Certified Behavior Analyst (i.e. BCBA) credential.  

As the Kala program came to fruition at Advance Kids in 2018, Joel transitioned into the role of Behavior Analyst and onto a multidisciplinary team aimed at supporting individuals who engage in severe problem behaviors live in the residence of their choosing rather than hospitals or institutions. Joel is passionate about improving the lives of the clients and caregivers he serves and training caregivers on the science of Applied Behavior Analysis.

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