Founder & President
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.
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 familys 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 Mars 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.
National Development Director of The Miracle Project, and Director and Founder of the Miracle Project NY
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.
Theatre Instructor, LA
Amanda Deming was born and raised in Warren Pennsylvania and attended Edinoboro University as a Musical Theatre Major. Amanda is an actress, a singer, and a a musician. She is absolutely thrilled to be implementing her skills as the Theatre Director on the staff of The Miracle Project. Amanda started out as a volunteer and spent a year learning about the imaginative and successfull approach Elaine Hall demonstrates while working with children with special needs. She is so excited to be a part of such an amazing program. Besides her work with The Miracle Project, Amanda is a certified Massage Therapist, Raw Food Chef, Reiki Healer, and a Kundalini Yoga Teacher. She owns her own company called Inside Out Mobile Spa, catering to the greater Los Angeles Area, providing therapeutic bodywork, nutrition, and yoga. Her intuitive approach to healing is great addition to working with people with autism and other special needs.
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.
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.
Marriage & Family Therapist, LA
Sherri holds a Masters degree in Psychology from Antioch University and is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She trained at Vista Del Mar’s Julia Singer Center, both in the Therapeutic School and in the Family Therapy program. Sherri’s love for children, art and theatre, inspired her to volunteer her time with the Miracle Project in 2010, with a focus on expanding the visual expression elements of the program. Committing her energy each week, Sherri has learned how the consistent gathering of a group for the purpose of having fun together, in an environment of trust and acceptance, becomes itself a miraculous process. In a world where more and more is virtual, the Miracle Project provides a unique community, where we all choose to share ourselves and our gifts, staff and children alike.
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.
Katiana Zimmerman is a two-time ASCAP award-winning composer, educator, writer, speaker and singer. She is committed to making a difference in the lives of families and children, teens, and young adults with special needs. Katiana is an instructor for both Miracle Project classes and instructor trainings and seminars. She is also the music director and instructor for the Vista Del Mar’s Vista Inspire Program and Miracle Theatre, a program based on the principles of The Miracle Project. Katiana also directs the Etta Israel Foundation’s summer music and drama program for teens with special needs.
Katiana envisioned and created SONGCRAFT (Songwriting and Creative Recording Arts For Teens), an innovative songwriting and recording arts workshop for teens and young adults with special needs. SONGCRAFT incorporates journaling, group sharing, collaboration, music appreciation, theory, songwriting techniques and Garage Band, empowering teens to transform their hopes, dreams, and challenges into song. The workshop culminates with the production of original CDs and mp3 downloads. SONGCRAFT boosts self-esteem and self-confidence, while nurturing creativity and self-expression. Katiana has written over a dozen musicals, including A Time Traveler’s Tale, the subject of the Emmy award-winning HBO documentary AUTISM: THE MUSICAL.
Katiana has performed her music with the Miracle Project at the United Nations for World Autism Awareness Week, the USAAA International Conference, Autism Speaks’ Acts of Love at the Geffen Theatre, TACA’s Annual Picnic, the Autism Society of America, for the HollyRod foundation with Rickey Minor and the American Idol band, Sony Studios, and at Paramount Studios for HBO. Her music and work with The Miracle Project have been featured on CNN, HBO, CBS: The Early Show, KNBC, KCBS, KTTV, the New York Times and Clearchannel. Katiana’s songs are also featured on the album FLY: Into the World of Autism, showcasing the talents of young performers on the spectrum with artists Jack Black, Stephen Stills, Chaka Khan and High School Musical composer David Lawrence.
A gifted vocalist, Katiana is Cantor-in-residence for Vista del Mar’s Jewish holidays and services and Nes Gadol, a Bar and Bat Mitzvah program for children and teens with special needs. As a classical singer, she has performed at Davies Hall, San Francisco, as a soloist in Handel’s Messiah, the Aspen Music Festival, and in venues and festivals throughout Europe and Israel. Katiana holds a Masters degree in music and literature from the Manhattan School of Music and a B.M. from the Eastman School of Music with studies in psychology at the University of Rochester. Additional studies include the University of Vienna, Austria, NYU and the San Francisco Conservatory.