Project Optimal was conceived and developed by Robert Farran, Director, Southwest Special Education Local Area Plan from 1989 to 2012, and the late Annette Dahlman, Ph.D., Director of Research & Evaluation, SW SELPA. Project Optimal is a result of their commitment to children with developmental disabilities and their families.

Project Optimal is dedicated to ensuring optimal behavioral educational opportunities for all children and their families through collaboration and capacity building. 
The Project Optimal Added Authorization Programs were created to provide affordable, accessible, and credible educational programs for California Education Specialist credential holders needing to add expertise in the areas of special education that were not part of their original credential authorization.


Southwest SELPA
Wiseburn School District
Mary Ring, MA, BCBA, LEP- Director, Program Instructor 
Director, Southwest SELPA 

Prior to becoming Southwest SELPA Director in 2012, Ms. Ring served as the SELPA's Director of Eligibility and Assessment and as the Assistant SELPA Director. She is a credentialed school psychologist, a licensed educational psychologist and is a Board Certified Behavioral Analyst. Prior to coming to SELPA, Ms. Ring was the Director of Special Education in the Wiseburn School District and the Coordinator of Special Education in the Hawthorne School District. 
Ms. Ring is known for her work on Response to Intervention having developed the SELPA's "Intervention4Success" program including the online Student Study Team module in use throughout the SELPA. She also has developed the SELPA's Disproportionality Tool Kit, now adopted by California Department of Education via CalStat. "Ms. Ring is an outstanding leader who will carry the SELPA's tradition of positive parent and professional partnerships," said Bob Farran, retiring SELPA Director, "her knowledge and depth of experience will be invaluable to our districts and parents.
Tom Johnstone, Ed.D, Superintendent, Board Member 
Wiseburn Elementary School District 

After serving the Lennox School District community for over 28 years, Dr. Johnstone assumed the helm of the Wiseburn School District on July 1, 2008.  Dr. Johnstone launched his education career as a middle school social studies teacher in 1980.   He  has served as a middle school counselor, an elementary assistant principal and principal, a Director of Curriculum, Instruction and Assessment, and ten years as the Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources, all within the Lennox School District. 

Dr. Johnstone earned his Bachelors Degree in history at the University of Santa Clara, a Masters Degree in Latin American History from UCLA and a Masters Degree in Counseling from Loyola Marymount University, followed in 1997 by a doctorate in Institutional Management from Pepperdine University.                 
Michael J. Reid Ph.D., Psy.D., QASP-D
As a Doctor of Psychology with a remarkable work history, Michael has interests and specialties that include Autism Spectrum Disorder, Complex and Challenging Behavior, Mental Health, and Psychopharmacology but to name a few. Becoming frustrated with the barriers to achieving quality service provision, Michael has In recent years focused on workforce development and quality management systems in the Behavioral Health Care and Education sectors using technology based solutions. 
Michael also holds the Qualified Autism Services Practitioner Credential at the Doctorate level and is listed on the public ABA Registry at  Michael is the elected Chairman of the CoAHS Certification Board which oversees all certification activities for the ABA Tutor Credential and the QASP Credential Programs. Michael works to develop accessible, user friendly, affordable training and measurement systems while achieving measurable and sustainable learner outcomes. Kathy Nenneker 
Kathy Nenneker is a principal at Kathy Nenneker & Associates, a media & communications firm, and president of Dahlman Institute, an education services company. Dahlman Institute is a consultancy specializing in education, program development, and accountability systems. Kathy was formerly Editor-in-Chief at Los Angeles Magazine Custom Publishing. Prior to her position at Los Angeles magazine, Kathy served as Senior Vice President/Editorial Director at Weider Publications, Inc., where she led the editorial and design teams of Shape Magazine and Fit Pregnancy Magazine. During her tenure, Shape Magazine grew to be the world’s largest healthy lifestyle publication, with a paid circulation of over 1.6 million and 7 international titles.   
Kathy Nenneker’s work in magazine positioning, start-ups and design has won numerous awards including those from Folio, the Society of Publication Designers, The Western Publications Association and the National Health Information Awards. A. Moeller, M.A., QASP –M 
Vicki currently serves as Chief Operations Officer and Dean for the College of Applied Human Services, Innovative Learning.  As a BIR member with California’s Commission on Teacher Credentialing, Vicki continues to contribute to the educational sector by participating in initial program reviews and program assessments. She is also serves as a  Board Member at Center for Autism Understanding, Education, & Support in Camarillo California.  Vicki has been a member of the IACET Council on Standards Development at IACET (International Association of Continuing Education and Training) for the past two years and was recently appointed secretary of this council and recently has been accepted as a member of the 2013 ICE Education Committee. 
Vicki also holds the Qualified Autism Services Practitioner Credential and is listed on the public ABA Registry at  Vicki is an appointed member of the CoAHS Certification Board which oversees all certification activities for the ABA Tutor Credential and the QASP Credential Programs. 
Vicki is experienced in Quality Management and Systems. With over 25 years in the Behavioral Health field she has also demonstrates executive expertise in Human Services, Behavioral Health Care, and Education Sectors.  With Innovative Learning approved as a CE provider for several professional licensing and accrediting boards, Vicki serves as the CE administrator and designated coordinator for the Board of Behavioral Sciences in California (BBS), the Behavior Analyst Certification Board (BACB), and the American Speech Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). Barranco- Fisher, M.A., QASP-M 

Donna Barranco Fisher has an extensive background in education, specializing in special education.  Donna taught at The Buckley School in Los Angeles for thirteen years. As Director of Education, Donna previously ran the non-public schools for the Devereux Foundation in California, as well as throughout Devereux’s non-public schools in the nation.  Prior to becoming the Director of Education, Donna was a clinical case manager, handling all of the Individual Service Plans for numerous clients. In Los Angeles, Donna taught at The Buckley School for thirteen years. She has extensive educational experience in working in special education as well as in the areas of emotional disturbance, autism, and early childhood development.  Donna also holds the Qualified Autism Services Practitioner Credential and is listed on the public ABA Registry at Donna is a parent advocate for families with children who have special needs. As the Program Director for Project Optimal, Donna is also working to train the special education teachers within the state of California to provide further training in autism. 
Donna has worked on a volunteer basis to provide the Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation Families with legal/educational support for the past three years. Donna is also an adjunct professor at Brandman University in the Education Department.  She has served on many boards in the Santa Barbara area. She has served or is currently serving on the boards of Transition House, CALM, Girls Inc of Greater Santa Barbara, Jodi House, Hospice of Santa Barbara, Casa Pacifica, and The Teddy Bear Cancer Foundation. 
In 2012 Donna was awarded Santa Barbara Junior League “Woman of the Year” in, as well as the Goleta Chamber of Commerce Human Professional of the Year. Luxembourger, Ph.D.
Dr. Jan Luxembourger is currently the Director of Course Development for Innovative Learning. Prior to accepting that position, Dr. Luxembourger worked at Chapman University and Brandman University as the Director of K-12 Programs for Extended Education. In addition to serving as Director of K-12 Programs, Dr. Luxembourger was an adjunct faculty member for Brandman University, Biola University and Hope International. She also served for two years as a University Supervisor of student teachers for Biola University. Dr. Luxembourger’s experience includes site administration as a Principal and Assistant Principal in public and private schools, at both the elementary and secondary school levels. She was also the Director of Staff Development for a large private school. Before becoming an administrator, Dr. Luxembourger taught at the elementary and middle school level. She also taught Special Education for an urban alternative high school.  
Dr. Luxembourger earned her doctorate in K-12 Educational Leadership with an emphasis in K-12 online learning from Argosy University. In addition, she has a Masters of Arts in Educational Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Multiple Subjects. Dr. Luxembourger has a great deal of experience working with English Language Learners and children with special needs, including those with autism, emotional disturbances, and behavioral disorders. Everett
Julie Everett joined Innovative Learning in 2011 and serves as Accountant and Credential Analyst.  She has over 33 years of accounting experience, in both corporate and private settings.  As the owner of ABC Services  (Accounting, Business and Computer Consulting) in Buellton CA for 18 years, Julie brings a wide variety of skills and experience. Julie has been Credentialing Analyst since 2011, guiding learners as they navigate the CTC website, and confirming that their added authorizations are attached correctly to their credentials.

Julie sat on the Board of Trustees for the Buellton Union School District from 2002 to 2012, 6 years as president.  She has also served as PTSA President for the Buellton Union School District. Julie recently completed her term as Regional Commissioner for AYSO Region 180 and is currently the President of the Boys Soccer Boosters at Santa Ynez Valley Union High School.