About AHFA

We serve the community by providing evidence-based treatment to kids with ASD to help them reach his or her highest potential, regardless of their caregiver’s financial situation or insurance plan.






Our Treatment Approach

A Hope For Autism Foundation (AHFA) is a highly respected and supported non-profit organization providing behavioral therapy for children with autism and related disorders. AHFA was founded in 2009 by parents and professionals to provide quality educational and behavioral support for children with autism and related disorders and their families, create a pool of well-trained home interventionists and school personnel that serve children with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) and increase community awareness about ASD and applied behavior analysis (ABA).

In 2013 the Hope For Kids Project center based program was founded with a focus on specialized instruction that optimizes learning across all settings. The Early Social Learners program was launched in 2014. This program is an extension of a successful pilot study conducted by Robbin Sobotka-Soles (2008-2012). Our Early Social Learners group incorporates a developmental approach of understanding perspective and social thinking concepts as well as individualized instruction for each unique child we work with.


AHFA uses internationally recognized methods of treatment to impact children’s lives and to assist and educate the community about this increasing diagnosis. AHFA is built on the foundation of providing individualized therapy and education for children with autism and related disorders and their families, and promoting awareness of autism in the community. Therefore, within each child specific program, we may utilize a variety of treatment techniques under the umbrella of ABA to ensure the most effective of learning environments, as well as to promote the generalization of necessary and functional skills. 

Our approach to working with children is rooted in Applied Behavior Analysis and includes (but is not limited to) discrete trial teaching, applied verbal behavior, natural environment teaching, direct instruction, and precision teaching (fluency based instruction). We believe that parent involvement and teaching in a natural environment should be a part of every child's program. 

Our Team


Robbin Sobotka-Soles, BCaBA, LABA
Executive Director

Robbin Sobotka-Soles oversees the operations of programs, finances, community involvement, and fundraising.  Robbin serves on the Board of Directors for A Hope For Autism Foundation and is highly involved with the community in efforts to promote awareness, education, and professionalism within the field of Behavior Analysis and Autism. She is involved with legislation related to ABA services, practice, and regulation.

Shana Lehar, MEd, BCBA, LBA
Director of Clinical Services

Shana Lehar has been working with individuals with autism for 15 years in various capacities as a special education teacher, case manager and behavior analyst. She manages and oversees daily operations of a variety of programs within a clinical setting, oversees treatment and behavior plan review, provides supervision of students pursuing BACB certification and carries a small caseload of 4-6 clients.


Shirah Dantone, M.S.Ed., RBT, RBAI
Program Manager

Shirah Dantone oversees the daily operations at the center and is responsible for management of each child’s center program including program design, ongoing assessment of skills, lesson development and progression, data analysis, shadowing interventionists in hands-on implementation of the program, direct supervision of interventionists, and providing generalization recommendations to parents.

Nirvana Kowlessar, MA, RBT
Program Manger

Nirvana Kowlessar has been in the field of ABA since 2010 and has worked with individuals ages 2-33 across home, clinic, school, and group living settings. She earned her masters in education and ABA, and is in pursuit of a BCBA. She currently oversees services for Early Learners and Social Learners, and facilitates parent education services. Additionally, she manages an after school social group for the Social Learners.  


Leanne Maldonado, M.S.Ed, RBAI,
Program Manager

Leanne Cruz has been working with individuals with autism for 6 years, and has been in the field of ABA for 4 years.  She is a graduate of Southern Oregon University where she earned a Master's of Science degree in Education and is pursuing a BCBA certification.  She enjoys pursuing her hobbies as well and spends her free time crocheting, and singing in blues bands. 


Katrina Bettencourt, MA, RBT
Program Manager

Katrina Bettencourt has worked in ABA since 2013. She received her Master's in ABA in 2015 at the University of the Pacific where she conducted ABA research with various populations. She continued her work in research at OHSU until 2016 when she entered clinical practice working with children on the autism spectrum. Katrina is now pursuing her BCBA and working as both a case manager and direct service interventionist at AHFA.

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Becky Friedman, BA
Development Coordinator

Becky Friedman graduated from Lewis & Clark College in 2015 with a degree in psychology. She currently manages social media, web design,  community outreach and other digital marketing. She also takes care of scheduling, and various aspects of office management. Additionally, Becky is the point-person for development and fundraising opportunities.


Kate Peterson, BA, BS, RBT, RBAI
Care Coordinator

Kate Peterson has been working with children since 2013, and in the field of ABA since 2015. Originally receiving a B.A. in English, she later discovered a passion for American Sign Language (ASL) which led her to learn about autism and the many ways to communicate with and support children on the spectrum. She completed a B.S. in ASL Studies with a Certificate in ASD in 2016, and joined the AHFA team that same year as an Interventionist. Now serving a dual role as Interventionist and Care Coordinator, Kate has the privilege of helping new clients transition into our program, while also providing direct services.


Our Interventionists