Staff

Executive Staff

 

Elaine Hall

Founder & Creative Director

Elaine Hall “Coach E!,” referenced by The New York Times as “the child whisperer” was a top Hollywood children’s acting coach whose life changed dramatically after her son Neal, adopted from a Russian orphanage, was diagnosed with autism. When traditional therapies did not work for him, she sought the esteemed Dr. Stanley Greenspan who encouraged her to rally actors and other creative people to join his world and Neal slowly emerged out of his isolation.

She then developed The Seven Keys to Unlock Autism and used these methods to train staff and volunteers and to create The Miracle Project, a theatre and film program for children of all abilities, profiled in the Emmy Award HBO documentary, AUTISM: The Musical.   She has appeared on CNN, CBS News, Oprah Radio and featured in The LA Times, New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Elaine directs the Vista Inspire Program: an arts enrichment and a bar/bat mitzvah program for children and teens with autism at Vista Del Mar in Los Angeles. 

She is a keynote speaker and workshop leader at conferences around the globe, and is a regular Huffington Post blogger.  Her  book, Now I See the Moon: a mother, a son, a miracle was chosen for World Autism Awareness Day at The United Nations where she has spoken several times and recently selected for Jewish Disability Month 2013. Elaine Hall has received honors from Autism Speaks, Autism Society of Los Angeles, The Mayor of Los Angeles, Senator Fran Pavley, Villa Esperanza, Areva Martin’s Special Needs Network, Holly Robinson Peete’s HollyRod Foundation, Etta Israel and others.   She co-produced and hosts the DVD series: Unlocking Autism for medical professionals and first providers and inspired the CD: Fly which pairs children with autism and celebrity artists such as Jack Black, Stephen Stills, and Chaka Khan.  Her latest book, co-authored with Diane Isaacs, Seven Keys to Unlock Autism: Creating Miracles In The Classroom is being used in universities across the United States.

Elaine and her team are now launching The Miracle Project nationally with locations in West Los Angeles at Vista Del Mar, in the San Fernando Valley at The Help Group, and at the 92nd Street Y in New York City.  She is available for workshops, speaking engagements, to emcee events, phone consultations, trainings, and is a media personality.  Elaine lives in Los Angeles with the two loves of her life, her teenage son, Neal and her husband, Jeff Frymer, a play therapist. 

 

Mari-Anne Kehler

Executive Director

Mari-Anne is an Advisory Board member of Golden Heart Ranch, and on its behalf launched the FRED Conference in 2012 as Director. FRED is the preeminent international conference bringing parents and professionals together to advance opportunities for adults with special needs to find homes and employment and live with purpose.

Mari-Anne has been active in the community in the areas of disability awareness and fundraising and in mentoring families and professionals for almost two decades. Her particular specialty is creating successful transition strategies to optimize the special needs journey into adulthood.

Serving on numerous nonprofit boards supporting children, education and the special needs community such as Center for Learning Unlimited; she was past President of the Los Angeles Board of Autism Speaks, the primary global organization focused on research and advocacy for autism. She is Interim Executive Director of The Miracle Project.

Mari-Anne has held sales, marketing and business development leadership roles at top organizations for almost three decades. She served as National Marketing Leader for Deloitte Services LP where she led innovative marketing programs that have helped assure Deloitte’s position as global leader in various areas of focus. She was the National Award winner of Deloitte’s “Excellence in Cross-Functional Marketing Initiatives” and held a number of positions on Deloitte’s Marketing and Business Development Leadership team, including heading up National Tax marketing and marketing/business development of the Pacific Southwest region of the U.S. firm. She led strategy and staffing of two separate marketing teams in India, and worked to advance Deloitte’s Women’s Initiative with a keen focus on developing talent. Mari-Anne has been a highly rated trainer of senior level talent at the globally renowned Deloitte University. 

Prior to joining Deloitte Services LP she led West Coast regional marketing efforts for a division of Nestle. She began her career on Wall Street at Morgan Stanley and then Tucker Anthony and RL Day. She also held director positions at Bertelsmann Entertainment and Grey Direct, overall gaining insights in various industries including finance, entertainment, media and consumer products.

Mari-Anne studied in the master’s program at the University of Santa Monica, with an emphasis in leadership and coaching. She attended the College of Mt. St. Vincent in Riverdale, N.Y., where she received a degree in both English Literature and Business Administration.

Mari-Anne and her husband, Eddie, are proud of their adult son, Liam, who continues to defy limits and professional assessments in his ability to show up as a truly remarkable and productive citizen of the planet. Their family has been impacted by the challenges of raising a special needs child into adulthood and have lived the intensive struggles many families must battle.

She has been a featured speaker at schools, colleges and conferences on the topic of disabilities: awareness, transition to adulthood and the impact on families. With extensive experience in training, she has also coached a number of organizations with her skills in strategy, marketing and board development workshops. Her recent e-book, “Putting the Profit in Nonprofit” with co-author Andrew Bird reached #1 on Amazon book list.

 

Ryan Berman

Chief Operating Officer & Program Director, LA

Ryan Berman is a rising star in the autism community, providing a variety of services, skills and resources to families and children impacted by autism.  Working closely with families, he provides comprehensive in-home consultations and individualized treatment plans tailored to each family’s needs and goals.  Ryan is a Master Teacher at The Miracle Project and has trained professionals and volunteers on the Seven Keys to Unlock Autism.  Ryan applies his training in DIR/Floortime and Facilitated Communication when working with children and teens with autism.  He develops curriculum and serves as an Educational Consultant for a private Los Angeles High School for students who type to communicate.  Ryan has a special relationship with Vista Del Mar’s Inspire Program (V.I.P.) in Los Angeles where he serves as an instructor for the renowned Nes Gadol Bar and Bat Mitzvah Program for children and teens with special needs.   Ryan also holds a Masters degree in Social Work with a concentration in Children, Youth, Women and Families. 

 

Aaron Feinstein

Regional Director, New York

Aaron Feinstein is an educator, mentor, artist, and believer in children with special needs. As a child, Aaron struggled with learning disabilities and found that theater and music programs offered an accepting environment to connect him socially and academically with his peers. In 2004 while living in Los Angeles, Aaron met Elaine Hall, who encouraged Aaron to bring his passion and talents in theater and music to the special needs community. Aaron was co-director with Elaine of the pilot Miracle Project after-school program, which became the subject of the 2 time Emmy award winning documentary “Autism: The Musical”. During this time, Aaron also worked as a Developmental interventionist under the guidance of Sharon Lowery and Danakae Bonahoom at SmartStart Developmental Learning Center. Danakae inspired Aaron to work from his heart and to “follow the child’s need®,” which had a profound impact on Aaron’s ability to see the desire to communicate in the interactions of all children. Aaron is a multi-talented artist, and the arts became his way to help children with special needs to develop their own unique voice. In 2006, Aaron moved to New York City and started theater and film programs at The Rebecca School and Celebrate the Children, developing the compassionate, and sensory aware model that would become the Miracle Project New York. The Miracle Project New York is currently at the 92nd St. Y, and Space No. 1 in Brooklyn for 2011-2012, and is developing exciting trainings and a broader range of programs for 2012-2013.

 

Simone Rivera

Administrative Director

Simone Rivera has worked for The Miracle Project since 2011. She assists with financial, administrative, marketing, and graphic art needs. She and her family reside in Los Angeles and are involved in the special needs community. Simone enjoys photography, acrobatics and blogging. She speaks French fluently and is a world traveler.

 

 

Theater Staff

Garth HerbergGarth Herberg

Music Director, LA

Garth began working with The Miracle Project in Summer 2013. He is a composer and songwriter, as well as an artist in residence at The Forge artspace in Cypress Park. After taking a break in 2012 from performing throughout the U.S. and Canada with The Janks, RACES and occasionally The Shivers, he began co-directing Babylight, an artist collective centering around music, visual art and dance. He has taught music at various schools including Bridges Academy, Horipro Music Academy, and teaches privately throughout the L.A. area.

 

Karen Howard

Music Director/Registered Music Therapist, LA

Karen is a music therapist, composer and private piano instructor with over 25 years of experience, and is co‐founder of M.E.T.A., Music and Expressive Therapy Associates. She has been with The Miracle Project since its inception in 2004 and was part of the Emmy award‐winning HBO documentary AUTISM: THE MUSICAL, which featured her song Everyday Miracles. Karen recently traveled to India as co‐facilitator for The Miracle Project’s international collaborations and trainings in Madurai and Calcutta. Karen holds degrees in Music Therapy, Piano Performance, Psychology, a California Teaching Credential, and is a certified practitioner in Expressive Arts Therapy as well as Autism Movement Therapy. Passionate about bringing light and joy into the lives of others, Karen is dedicated to her work empowering children of all abilities and connecting through acting, song and dance in an environment of love, laughter and acceptance.

 

Gabriel Lit

Music Director/Music Therapist, NY

Gabriel Lit is a board‐certified music therapist hailing from Austin, Texas. He received his Bachelor’s in Music Composition from the University of North Texas and his Master’s Degree in Music Therapy from New York University. Gabriel has worked with children with special needs for many years as an aide, camp counselor, music teacher, and now as a Music Therapist. Having worked for Heartsong, Inc., the Creative Music Therapy Studio, the Miracle Project NY, and as a staff therapist at Arts for Healing in New Canaan, CT, he has experience meeting a wide range of needs. A performing musician, Gabriel plays as much music as he can.

Screen Shot 2014-01-20 at 4.06.25 PMShelley Pack

Teacher, CA

Shelley Pack is a comedic actress and producer, she has performed with Groundlings, Second City Alumni, Kristen Wiig, and the cast of Whose Line is it Anyway.  Her production company, Infinite Light Productions creates original content for Film, TV, and the web.  Shelley has been with the Miracle Project for 7 years and the Help Group for 3, as well as volunteering at Vista Del Mar for 5 years. For more on Shelley go to infinitelightproductions.com

 

HannahHannah Warren

Teacher, CA

Hannah Warren is a dancer by training, an entertainer by accident, and, above all else, an advocate for inclusion of people of all abilities in the arts. Having graduated with honors from UCLA with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Disability Studies, Hannah has chosen to dedicate her life to the celebration of neurodiversity as an advocate for and educator of individuals on the autism spectrum. A certified facilitator of Autism Movement Therapy, Hannah bridges her love for dance with her passion for working with people of mixed abilities in her classes with the Miracle Project and in her curriculum as a Social Skills lead instructor at Step by Step, Edu-Play Programs, Inc. Hannah is also the project coordinator of a research lab at UCLA that studies psychosocial development of individuals with developmental disabilities. Hannah hopes to use her relationship-based understanding of the needs of people who experience the world differently to empower her students to honor their “you-ness” and to recognize the inherent gifts they each have to share with their communities.


Screen Shot 2013-04-25 at 9.43.17 PMJason Weissbrod

Theater Director & Acting Coach, LA

Jason Weissbrod was born and raised in Los Angeles and is a Director, Actor, Producer, Writer & Editor. Several years ago, he met Elaine Hall as a volunteer for the Miracle Project and after his first year, she asked him to join the staff. Since then he has co‐ directed and written over 6 original plays with the Miracle Project. He has learned so much from all of these amazing children, teens and adults who are a part of this program.  He has such a blast getting to hang out with them and create! Besides his work with the Miracle Project, Jason has two production companies, “Three guys in a Tub” and “Tall Giraffe” that have produced short films, music videos, commercials, web‐series, etc. You can find more out about Jason on his website jweissbrod.tumblr.com.