Meet our Team

Primary Investigator

Erik Carter, Ph.D., is a Professor in the Department Special Education at Vanderbilt University and an investigator of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. His research and teaching focuses on evidence-based strategies for supporting access to the general curriculum and promoting valued roles in school, work, and community settings for children and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. His research interests include adolescent transitions from school to adult life; peer relationships and peer support interventions; students with severe disabilities, access to the general curriculum; and religion, congregational supports, and disabilities.

Co-Primary Investigator

Blair Lloyd, Ph.D., BCBA-D, is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University. She is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA-D) and a member of the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center. In the Department of Special Education, Dr. Lloyd teaches graduate courses on Experimental Analysis of Behavior, Single Case Research Methodology, and special topics courses on Childhood Aggression and Intensive Interventions. Her current research focuses on intensive, individualized assessments and interventions for students with persistent challenging behavior.

Project Director

Abbie B. Jenkins has been the Project Coordinator for the Tennessee Behavior Supports Project since 2010. Her current interests include supporting schools in implementing multi-tiered systems of support.

Training Director

Brooke Shuster, M.Ed., BCBA, received her Master’s degree in Special Education and Behavior Analysis from Vanderbilt University. She joins the team after serving as a special education teacher and then a Behavior Analyst in school districts in Middle Tennessee.

Educational Consultant

Becky Shafer, M.Ed., BCBA, received her Master’s degree in Special Education and Behavior Analysis from Vanderbilt University. She previously worked in Middle Tennessee school districts as a teacher and behavior consultant. She also has experience working in home and clinical settings as a Behavior Analyst.

Educational Consultant

Marilynn Porritt, M.S., NCSP, received her Master’s degree in School Psychology from the University of Oregon. Her current interests include supporting schools with implementing and sustaining positive behavioral interventions and supports.

Educational Consultant

Melissa Hine, M.Ed., NCC, received her Master’s degree in Professional Counseling from The University of Georgia and is a Nationally Certified Counselor. Previous to Vanderbilt, she worked as a Professional School Counselor for school districts in Georgia and Iowa and managed grant work at the UGA Disability Resource Center.

Educational Consultant

Tara Lerner, M.Ed., BCBA, received her Master’s degree in Special Education and Behavior Analysis from Vanderbilt University. She was previously a special education teacher in Middle Tennessee where she served on her school’s leadership team to develop their school-wide positive behavioral support program.

Media Content Producer

Kyle Jonas, M.A., M.T.S., is a videographer and photographer on various Vanderbilt Kennedy Center projects. Originally from Texas, he has a background in Religion and Communication Studies and worked with the Next Steps program as a graduate student in the Vanderbilt Divinity program before becoming Media Content Producer at the Kennedy Center.

Research Analyst

Caitlin Bernstein graduated Next Steps last year and loved the program. This is her first year working on this project. She is from Saint Louis but lives in Nashville now. She likes to go to the mall, hang out with friends, and go to Starbucks. She is a big fan of coffee. She also likes to exercise in her room and hang out with her family.

Graduate Research Assistant

Stephanie Spruit earned her B.A. in Psychology from Grand Valley State University. She is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Special Education at Vanderbilt University. Stephanie’s interests include behavioral interventions, transition planning, and the employment of people with disabilities.

Graduate Research Assistant

Kelli Barnes is currently pursuing a Master’s Degree in Low-Incidence Special Education and Behavior Analysis at Vanderbilt University. Prior to attending Peabody, she was a 2014 Teach For America corps member and worked as a high school special education teacher in South Carolina.

Graduate Research Assistant

Erica Mazur is currently pursuing a Master’s degree in Special Education and Board Certification in Behavior Analysis at Peabody College of Vanderbilt University. She received her B.A. in Experimental Psychology from the University of South Carolina. She has previous experience working as a behavior therapist and as a research assistant.