Executive Director: Anna Villa-Bager (Founder)
Anna Bager holds a BS in Dance with an emphasis on Psychology from the State University of New York at Brockport. Anna’s experience in the entertainment industry spans over twenty years in all aspects of entertainment including corporate show production: from initial concept to completion; music and book development, costuming, casting, and choreography. In the large corporate arena, Anna co-developed and produced national and regional industrial shows for many companies including Johnson & Johnson, Cooper Vision, and Becton Dickinson. She served as a spokesperson and performer with Adidas USA for International Super Shows worldwide. Her portfolio includes an extensive theatrical performance career. As an original cast member of Jerome Robbins Broadway, Anna performed and assisted Mr. Robbins in the reconstruction of dance pieces from notation and old film archives. Other performance credits include Broadway, International and National Tours, Regional and Children’s Theatre, film and television. Her vision for a creative arts therapy center came out of a need for afterschool programs that meet the needs of children with autism. Anna manages the operations of the organization and is responsible for program development and fundraising. She is also involved in her community and volunteers her free time for her child's local school district.
Clinical Supervisor: Julie Wien, MS, LCSW, ACSW
Julie Wien is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) with 20 years’ experience working in diverse social and medical environments as a director, supervisor, and practitioner for individuals and families. She is skilled and certified in a number of approaches including cognitive behavioral therapy, mindfulness, psychoeducational, and is insight oriented utilizing progressive and holistic tools of visualization and breathing exercises. Julie's very eclectic multisensory approach is open and entirely based upon the client's needs. She specializes in serving teens in difficult situations including teenage pregnancy, mental health concerns, eating disorders, ASDs, ADHD, anxiety, depression, chronic illness, self-injurious behaviors, PTSD, substance abuse, identity/gender issues, women's health issues, divorce and domestic violence. In addition to being a family support practitioner, she offers advocacy of the special child in educational environments and is committed to each child, youth, or young adult to meet their academic potential. Julie utilizes a chart progress to let the client see their advancement thereby allowing them to feel empowered by the therapeutic process. Julie received her MSW from Yeshiva University Clinical Wurzweiler School of Social Work and her undergraduate degree from University of Michigan. She has developed programs for the state based upon mental health services for the underserved population. Julie is an approved clinical supervisor for the State of NJ and has worked with many school districts and CST throughout Bergen County.
Drama Therapist/ Program Coordinator- Sarah Rose Olsen, MA, RDT
Sarah received her BA in Arts Administration from Hobart and William Smith Colleges in 2011. After working with Roundabout Theatre Company and then traveling in South America for several months, Sarah went on to receive her MA in Drama Therapy from New York University in May 2016. During her time at NYU, Sarah wrote and directed a 30 minute one act play about the experiences and trials a therapist might face when working with a disabled client, becoming one of her most memorable graduate experiences. Sarah has experience working in numerous settings. While at NYU, Sarah worked at Kidesteem in Long Island, Kings County Hospital in Brooklyn, and Creative Alternatives of New York in Manhattan. Sarah works with kids, adolescents, and adults utilizing drama therapy techniques such as projectives (puppets), play, improv, and story telling to build social skills and empower individuals in self expression. Sarah also has a background as a pre-professional ballerina and often utilizes movement and breath in her work.
Art Therapist: Saadia Parvez, MPS, ATR-BC
Saadia Parvez is a masters level creative arts therapist trained at school of visual arts in New York, with a focus in trauma and recovery. She completed advanced trauma training at Institute of contemporary Psychotherapy in New York and is trained as domestic violence and addiction counseling by the State of New Jersey. In her practice, she uses integrated and eclectic approach to healing including Sand Tray Therapy, breath work, EMDR, play therapy, art therapy and meditation. Saadia believes in the holistic healing of body, mind and spirit focusing on providing a safe and nurturing space for the client to facilitate growth and healing.
Music Therapist - Lucas McCarren, BS, MT-BC
Lucas McCarren is a nationally credentialed Board Certified Music Therapist. He completed his undergraduate degree in music therapy at Molloy College in Rockville Center NY, and is currently completing his Masters of Science degree in music therapy at Molloy College. He views the work through a person centered and humanistic lens, while incorporating a music centered approach. His clinical experiences include working with a variety of diagnoses including medically fragile children, children with a variety of developmental delays, and geriatrics with Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.
Adaptive Fitness Instructor, Educational and Behavioral Consultant - Suzanne Schwarz, MS
Suzanne is a New Jersey and New York State Certified Special Education Teacher and School Administrator. Suzanne acquired her Master’s degree in Special Education in 1994 with a focus on Behavior and Learning Disabilities and acquired a Master’s Degree in School Administration and Supervision in 1997 from Hunter College. Professionally, since 1991, education has been Suzanne’s primary interest as well as the development and planning of effective schools. Suzanne is a tenured New York City teacher as well as a former Transition Coordinator for the Superintendent of New York’s Alternative High Schools. Suzanne is also a certified Zumba instructor and has been studying dance since childhood. Suzanne is the parent of two amazing children. Suzanne’s older son and her brother have autism. Her goal is to try to educate and train families and educators dealing with autism so that we can try to help overcome the issues that many special needs individuals may have already faced or will face in the future. We are truly excited to have Suzanne join our team at MJKids!
Photography Instructor & Fine Arts Curator: Timothy Dingman
Timothy Dingman is an "autodidact" photographer and curator with 20 years of experience in commercial, event and fine art photography. His degree from William Paterson University with majors in English Literature and Philosophy is the foundation of a lifelong pursuit of the arts and a commitment to education. He regularly shows in venues in NYC, Newark and the region. Timothy has worked with individuals with special needs in a variety of learning environments. Current projects include Artfront Galleries, a project based on the ideas of Jane Jacobs and Jeanine Alfieri: one, a 1960's "urbanist" and the other a contemporary sculptor both of whom saw vacant storefronts and blighted urban blocks as opportunities.
Art Instructor & Educator: Teresa DeFabrizio
Artist, educator, and creator, Teresa DeFabrizio, is happy to share her enthusiasm and creativity with Marble Jam Kids! Ms. DeFabrizio is a working artist, art educator, art history professor and illustrator. Her instruction provides in depth exploration of character design and skill building in all genres of art. Artists learn history of this artistic style, its cultural significances, including the styles of Manga and sequential storytelling. Ms. DeFabrizio holds her MFA From William Paterson University, is a NJ State Certified Art Teacher, and a Professor of Art at Bergen and Passaic Community Colleges. She also was part of the original group that started up MANGA NEXT and is a fan favorite for 13 years with the Bergen Teen Arts Festival where Manga 101 is packed. Join us for fun, creativity, and discovery!
Yoga Instructor: Cristy Sycip
Crisy Sycip has been providing yoga instruction with therapeutic approaches at MarbleJam Kids for the past 2 years. She specializes in circus yoga utilizing props to make a connection as well as touch yoga, an approach used to help a child follow movement with direct contact for better communication between the instructor, peers, and therapist. She has a background in all forms of dance and is Reiki Master Practitioner (the practice of healing the body, mind and spirit). She continues her teacher trainings for “Family CircusYoga” and “Anusara” this spring time. A few of her new found creative expressions are in handcrafted jewelry, mixed martial arts and Belly dancing. She also provides community workshops to therapists and volunteers all ages. She deeply honors all her teachers: Chaya Spencer, Dorothea Grant, Vishali Varga, Hillary Freeman and Thomas Clifford.
Film Instructor: Raul Barcelona Alvarez, MA, Ph.D
Devoted educator and versatile, award-winning filmmaker, editor and digital artist with a background in Digital Filmmaking, Motion Graphics and Visual Effects. Recognized for bringing a wealth of historical and technical knowledge to the classroom and for
contributing a wide range of technical skills and an efficient storytelling vision to every production. Fluent in Final Cut Pro, Premiere Pro, Avid, After Effects, Photoshop, Flash, Maya, Dreamweaver, Illustrator, Sketchbook, Encore, DVD Studio Pro, HTML and CSS. Ph.D in Creative Practice Transart Institute, Plymouth University, Plymouth, UK (Expected 2018) Master's, in Digital Imaging and Design. New York University.
Artisan Crafts Instructor: Debra McGauley-Eichhorn, CL. A.
A mother of two wonderful boys, is believer in the therapeutic benefits of knitting, crochet and other crafts. Passionate for advocating for children and adults with special needs, she is certified Paraprofessional/Special Education/Autism. An experienced instructor in art, crafts, meditation, and social skills with adults and children with autism, developmental disabilities, and special needs. Debra is a graduate of Pace University School of Law. She is also a certified meditation teacher (Transformation Meditation) and certified clinical aroma therapist. Certification in Herbalism pending.
Fitness Instructor: Kente Blount, Certified Instructor
Kente brings over 20 years of experience in a wide range of subjects that cover Athletic/Personal Training to Behavioral/Special Education. Outside of these professions Kente also works as a football coach with teams from Pop-Warner to professional levels. Kente is very passionate about the development of youth and is the founder of The Playmaker University Organization along with his wife and educator Jemara Blount. Kente has 3 children Kendra, Keziah and Kaden Blount.
Support Staff: Nancy Valentino
Nancy has 25 years’ experience working in social services and support services for children in crisis and with special needs including autism spectrum disorders, developmental disabilities, and medical fragilities. As a case manager and trainer, Nancy has worked with various state agencies and most notably Spectrum for Living, providing travel training to adults with disabilities as well as compliancy oversight for facilities and operations. She has managed caseloads of up to 50 individuals and supervised program coordination on all fronts. Nancy currently works with the Bergenfield School System as a classroom support staffer. She is certified and trained in 3 tier crisis intervention management and ABA in school teaching approaches. Nancy graduated with honors from Middlesex Community College with an associate’s degree in science.
Additional Support Staff - Annette Tucker - Ricardo Amador
Administrator: Robin DiPrimo
Always an innovative go-getter who is eager to achieve, Robin DiPrimo brings to MarbleJam Kids a professional background that is both diverse and valuable. After graduating college with an associate’s degree in business administration she began as an entry level administrator to a position of project manager in the very detailed and demanding field of wireless construction and site acquisitions, coordinating and overseeing some of the largest wireless site builds in the industry to include Sprint, AT&T, Verizon and T-Mobile. Her entrepreneurial spirit led her into finance management within the industry as well as launched new businesses and to this day maintains budgets and financial records for different businesses throughout NJ. On top of her career, her passion has always been her four children whom are now successful adults is pleased to be a part of such a worthy organization such as MarbleJam Kids.
Agnes Sullivan, Ph.D, LCSW - Therapeutic Supervisor
Agnes is a warm, compassionate highly skilled practitioner with over 20 years of experience working with adults, children, couples and families. She has a doctorate in human services, a Master of Social Work (MSW) from Fordham University in New York and a Master’s Degree in Counselling and Psychotherapy from the University of Surrey. Agnes is an Advanced Schema Therapist and Supervisor, one of 12 international trainees under Dr. Jeffrey Young in New York, and is a member of the International Society for Schema Therapy (ISST). Agnes practices in New York City and London and she directs counselling and training organization’s in both cities. She is a qualified trainer, training others to use Schema Therapy in their professional practice. She has over 18 years’ experience in counselling education and is the Principal of the Schema Institute in London where she supervises clinicians in monitoring patient outcomes and clinical effectiveness. Over recent years Agnes has been involved in initiating various government projects on domestic violence and addiction prevention, both in the United States and in England.
Valerie Gancarz - Behaviorist
Melissa Levine - Occupation Therapist
Nicole Turon Diaz - Behavioral Consultant