MEET OUR TEAM

Deborah Pontillo
Deborah PontilloPh.D.
Owner/Director, San Diego Kids First
Pediatric Psychologist PSY #18934
Child Development, Behavior, and Learning Specialist
Voluntary Assistant Clinical Professor, Dept. of Psychiatry, School of Medicine, UCSD
Co-Owner/ Co-Director/ San Diego Behavior Solutions
Adjunct Faculty at Alliant international University
Clinical Supervisor for Alliant Educational Foundation Sponsored Site: Head Start/Early Head Start, Neighborhood House Association.

“Every child is unique. To help children overcome social, emotional, behavioral, developmental, and/or academic challenges, we must not become preoccupied with simply assigning labels. Rather, we need to identify the child’s individual strengths as well as their weaknesses, to design effective strategies that suit their needs. I work very closely with parents, schools and other professionals to establish a comprehensive picture of the whole child. This collaboration creates the most significant and dramatic change.”

Dr. Pontillo is Owner/Founder and Director of San Diego Kids First. She has over 25 years of education, training and experience in pediatric psychology and is regarded as an expert in the field of child and adolescent development, behavior, and learning.

Dr. Pontillo received a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of British Columbia. She went on to earn a Master’s and Doctorate in Psychology at the University of California, Los Angeles, rated one of the top Clinical Psychology training programs in the U.S. She completed an internship in the School of Medicine at the University of California, San Diego, and then a specialized pediatric early childhood post-doctoral training program at the Developmental Evaluation Clinic at Rady Children’s Hospital. Dr. Pontillo opened San Diego Kids First in 2005, with the passion of identifying children’s strengths as well as their challenges, enabling them to maximize their developmental potential.

In addition to her work at San Diego Kids First, Dr. Pontillo is a Voluntary Assistant Clinical Professor at the University of California San Diego, Department of Psychiatry, School of Medicine. There, she supervises Child/Adolescent Psychiatry Fellows in their final year of training. Additionally, Dr. Pontillo is an Adjunct Faculty Member at Alliant International University where she is a Clinical Supervisor for the Alliant Educational Foundation sponsored site. Dr. Pontillo has also developed a downloadable online parent training course (entitled “Bright Stars”) for parents and teachers of children with high-functioning Autism Spectrum Disorder. She has participated in numerous speaking engagements, media interviews, and podcasts. Click here to learn more about Dr. Pontillo’s other professional activities.

Dr. Pontillo’s specialties include: Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), ADHD/attention issues, learning disabilities/differences, giftedness, anxiety, emotional regulation skills training, social skills training, stress management, oppositional-defiant disorder (ODD), behavioral challenges, and other child developmental delays or concerns. She is trained in CBT (Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy), short-term solution-focused therapy, and psychodynamic therapy. She is an expert in diagnostic assessment and conducts both abbreviated and comprehensive batteries, depending on the needs of the family. She provides consultations, treatment planning, and follow-up sessions, and is directly involved in all evaluations conducted at SDKF. Dr. Pontillo consults regularly with all staff clinicians at SDKF to ensure all SDKF families receive the highest quality of care.

Dr. Pontillo is not accepting new regular therapy clients at this time. 

Dr. Pontillo lives with her daughter, her son, our SDKF therapy dog Labradoodle named Maple, and with her cat, Pina Colada. She speaks Spanish and English, and loves sushi and Indian food. When not working, she can be found with her kids at baseball and softball practices and games, taking long walks with Maple, or visiting with her kids and friends.

Kaydon Schanberger
Kaydon Schanberger B.A.
Specialist in Educational Psychology
San Diego Kids First Clinic Coordinator

“Kaydon was a dream to work with during the summers at Camp Jaycee. She worked directly with me on implementing supports for kids with special needs and behavioral challenges creating an incredibly inclusive environment for every single child in her care. She always had ideas to solve problems that arose and kept the children’s growth and social emotional development always at the forefront of every day.” Wendy Smith, Inclusion Director LFJCC

Highlighted Services: Individual Social/Emotional Learning Sessions, Academic Support, Targeted Academic Assessment, Multidisciplinary Evaluations

Kaydon Schanberger is earning her Masters Degree in Educational Psychology from Texas A & M University and earned her Bachelors Degree in Integrated Studies with an Emphasis in Education from Point Loma Nazarene University. Additionally, she possesses a  dual teaching credential in General Education and Mild-Moderate Special Education, and Associate Degrees in both Child and Human Development. Kaydon has had extensive training and experience working with children (within classroom and extra-curricular settings) in order to foster their  successful inclusion in mainstream environments. She follows a relationship based management style, taking the time to get to know her students and families individually.

At San Diego Kids First (SDKF), Kaydon fills two important roles. First is her role as Specialist in Educational Psychology, offering the following individual and small-group services: Targeted Academic Assessments, Multidisciplinary Evaluations in conjunction with SDFK Clinical Psychologists, Social/Emotional Skills Development (Social Emotional Learning Curriculum), Dysgraphia/Fine Motor & Handwriting Skills  Development (Learning Without Tears Curriculum), Dyslexia/Reading Skills Development (Orton Gillingham Curriculum), Individual academic support for Elementary School Learners in all subjects, Participation in 504/IEP planning, participation in 504/IEP meetings;  504/IEP design and implementation, School observations to assist in IEP/504 development, inclusion support, or educational planning, Executive Functioning Skills Development (e.g Homework Completion, Project Completion, Time Management, Study Skills and Inclusion support.

Second, in her role as San Diego Kids First’s Clinic Coordinator, Kaydon assists in the development of new clinical services, provides support to SDKF staff , clinicians, and parents, and is the central liaison in establishing and maintaining SDKF’s relationships with  community agencies, clinics, and our referring provider partners.

In her free time, Kaydon loves to spend time outside with her dog Bayder, exploring San Diego.

Erin Grimes
Erin GrimesPsy.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Specializes in Adolescent, Adult, Family, and Couples therapy

Dr. Grimes earned her B.A. at UCLA in 2001 and my Psy.D. at California School of Professional Psychology in 2008. She has practiced and taught in the Department of Psychiatry at UCSD from 2007-2014. She has also worked in private practice for the past 12 years treating families, couples, and individuals. Dr. Erin Grimes specialty includes working with adolescents, teens, adults and families who struggle with anxiety, depression, ADHD, relational issues and grief issues. She also offers consultation services for couples.

Her treatment approach includes cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) to offer clients effective and quick ways to change behavior and use more adaptive thinking styles to approach life challenges and stress. Dr. Grimes also uses existential psychotherapy approaches to help enhance self-awareness, insight, develop empathy and confidence in one’s personal relationships and professional settings. Both approaches integrate mindfulness exercises such as breathing, meditating, and self-care through healthy life-style choices as a way to improve psychological health and well-being.

Personally, Dr. Grimes is passionate about being a mother of two children and participating in her community. Through these life experiences, she has gained an understanding of the joys and struggles that accompany marriage and parenthood, which has supported her ability to empathize with the challenges her clients endure. Her own journey of life, personal growth and development help her to work with clients in their experiences.

Highlighted New Service: Couples and Family Therapy 

James Rivet
James RivetEd.D.
Educational Consultant
Executive Functioning coach, Academic/Study skills Coach

“When students struggle in school, families struggle as well. Left unaddressed, academic and social problems compound into LIFE problems. Triangulating between students, parents and teachers, I can turn things around quickly—at school and at home.”

Are you struggling with creating a peaceful household? Are mornings in the household difficult and plagued with stress? Is the use of technology interfering with family evening and night time routines? Are you having a difficult managing homework assignments and organizational skills? 

Meet Dr. James Rivet! 

Dr. Rivet provides private, at-home sessions to families who are wishing to refresh and relaunch their home routines. Dr. Rivet creates a streamlined, concise and individualized 3 session package that is ideal for any child, teen or family. Unlike others on our team that specialize in therapeutic strategies for children, Dr. Rivet works with the whole family and quickly implements a healthy home environment that fosters independence and academic success. 

As a teacher & educator for over 30 years, he shares the at-home habits that distinguish successful students from students who struggle. In these sessions you can expect to rework your families routine from when you wake up in the morning to when you go to sleep. 

To schedule a free 30 minute telehealth screening session with Dr. Rivet, you can email him  directly at drrivet@sdkidsfirst.com.

An educator, consultant, and researcher, Dr. Rivet has a Master’s degree in Curriculum and Instruction and a Doctorate in Educational Leadership. He has worked at Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, Follett Corporation, and taught graduate courses in Education. He has also taught grades K-12 in the San Diego Unified School District. He serves on several advisory committees and is a frequent speaker on education at conferences throughout the country. 

Outside of work, Dr. Rivet enjoys spending time with his grown daughter, Pia. He can often be found swimming La Jolla Cove, a passion he has pursued for more than 35 years.

Charles Aguilar
Charles AguilarM.Ed.
San Diego Behavior Solutions, San Diego
In-Home Behavior Interventionist
Social Skills Specialist
“The amazing thing about what Charlie provides is that he isn’t strictly adhering to an ABA program for kids. Although he has that training – he also has training in other behavioral models as well. In fact , Charlie’s behavioral approach is finding tailored behavioral strategies that work – that may or not be ABA based – and teaching parents how to utilize them in the home environment. I believe one of the reasons why Charlie is in such high demand is because after many clients meet with him one, time they have the tools they need and don’t need him to come back right away or at all!”
– Dr. Deborah Pontillo, Ph.D.

Highlighted New Service: Social Skills Group

Charles earned his Master’s Degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from Arizona State University and his Bachelor’s Degree in Human Development from California State University, San Marcos. He is currently pursuing his Board-Certified Behavior Analyst (BCBA) credential. Charles is trained in Discrete Trial Teaching (DTT), Pivotal Response Treatment (PRT), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), Treatment and Education of Autistic and Communication Handicapped Children (TEACCH), and in Social Coaching. He strongly believes in implementing ABA naturally to ensure comprehensive and generalized learning. Natural use of ABA assists in effective learning, lasting behavioral modification, and fun and positive interactions. Charles is skilled in implementing ABA interventions within natural means and also training parents to do the same with their child. Parents of former clients often describe Charles’ therapy style as fun and engaging, but also structural and disciplined at the same time.

In his free time, Charles enjoys playing basketball, tennis, and boxing. He also loves to play the drums and piano. He has fun reading, watching movies, hiking, and exploring San Diego with his wife and baby daughter.

Jordan Ko
Jordan KoPh.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Specialist in Early Childhood Development, Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other Neurodevelopmental Differences

“Wherever there is a child in need, there is an opportunity for kindness, for treating the child as an individual with unique strengths, and for making a difference.”

Highlighted New Service: Multidisciplinary Evaluation

Dr. Jordan Ko is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in working with children, adolescents, and families in psychotherapy and assessment. 

Dr. Ko majored in Child Development at Tufts University. She completed her Ph.D. in Counseling, Clinical, and School Psychology from the University of California, Santa Barbara and her doctoral internship at UCLA Semel Institute. She acquired specialized training and experience in autism intervention and assessment at the UCSB Koegel Autism Center and UCLA Child and Adult Neurodevelopmental (CAN) Clinic.

Her 2-year postdoctoral fellowship took place at San Diego State University and the Child and Adolescent Services Research Center at Radys Children’s Hospital. She has experience in assessing and improving the social communication skills of young children, and served as the lead clinical trainer in San Diego, training therapists across California in a parent coaching intervention called Project ImPACT for Toddlers. 

Dr. Ko has a diverse background providing services to children and adolescents with various presenting concerns, such as autism, ADHD, behavior concerns, trauma, developmental delay, social skills, mood concerns, and anxiety. She utilizes a collaborative, strengths-based approach when working with children and families to partner with them to reach their goals. She aims to foster a safe space for clients to feel heard and validated, as well as build insight, skills, and confidence. Her goal is to provide culturally sensitive care that is informed by evidence-based practices, which are supported by research but tailored to the individual needs and values of each child and family.

She has experience with a range of evidence-based practices, including cognitive behavioral therapy, parent coaching interventions (Project ImPACT, Parent Child Interaction Therapy), autism interventions (Pivotal Response Treatment), and social skills interventions (UCLA PEERS® for Adolescents, the UCSB START Program).

Dr. Ko has conducted research on interventions to improve social communications skills in toddlers through young adults with autism, as well as implementing interventions in community settings. She has published in peer-reviewed journals and presented her findings at international research conferences, including the International Society for Autism Research (INSAR).

Dr. Ko was born and raised in Southern California and enjoys cooking, tennis, and a variety of outdoor activities with her husband and rescue pup (a beagle- terrier mix). 

Cassidy O’Brien
Cassidy O’BrienLCSW
Child/Adolescent Therapist
Early Childhood Specialist

“In working with families, I utilize a transparent and collaborative approach; YOU are the expert in your child, and therapy works best when we work together as a team to support your child.  Similarly, when working with children, I take a child-centered and strengths-based approach, meeting each child with warmth, empathy, and acceptance of their own individual life experience.  I believe that children, no matter how young, are deserving of respect and understanding, and I strive to create a safe space for children to heal – and to have fun in the process.”

Cassidy O’Brien is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker whose professional experience includes helping children cope with anxiety, depression, trauma, and difficult life transitions. She also specializes in teaching self-regulation and social skills, enhancing cognitive and behavioral flexibility and working with parents on behavioral management strategies. She has experience working with children and adolescents of all ages, and specializes in working with “littles” (ages 0-5), with extensive training in early childhood mental health. She also has extensive experience working with children with ADHD, and Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) , utilizing the AIM-HI program, a package of evidence-based intervention strategies designed to reduce challenging behaviors in children with ASD. Additionally, Cassidy has a passion in working with individuals who have experienced trauma; supporting children and families in understanding the impact of traumatic experiences and walking hand-in-hand towards healing.

Cassidy earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio University and her Master’s in Social Work Degree from the University of Southern California. She previously worked at Rady Children’s Hospital, where she specialized in trauma and early childhood mental health, while also treating children with anxiety, depression, ASD, ADHD, and emotion regulation issues. Cassidy’s therapeutic approach is informed by several therapeutic modalities, including Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), AIM-HI (An Individualized Mental Health Treatment for Children with ASD), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF CBT), Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP), Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), and Mindfulness-based Interventions. She is completing her certification as a Registered Play Therapist and enjoys incorporating play therapy interventions into her work with children.

Cassidy approaches her work with children by viewing them in the context of the whole family, using a family-systems lens to cater to the unique relationships and dynamics within the family and to support the strengthening of those relationships.  Drawing from her training in early childhood mental health, Cassidy strives to promote attachment in child-caregiver relationships, knowing that secure attachment with a caregiver is the foundation to a happy and healthy childhood – and beyond!

Cassidy’s counseling style is accepting, sincere and validating. She makes it a priority to create a safe, inclusive environment, and she believes in the innate capacity of individuals and families to heal and thrive when given the right compassion, tools, and support.  She believes that therapy is for everyone and that every person deserves the opportunity to reach their goals and feel their best. She is available for Telehealth or in-person appointments.

Jesse Olague
Jesse OlaguePsy.D.
Clinical Psychologist
Specialist in Neurodevelopmental & Behavioral Disorders,
Trauma, Anxiety/Mood Disorders
SDKF Primary Supervisor, Alliant International University Doctoral Program

“At Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles, our mission statement was ‘We Treat Kids Better.’ I have adopted that mission statement wholeheartedly into my professional work with children, teens, and families as I strongly believe it is my role to look beyond the problematic behaviors, symptoms, and labels, and assist parents and teachers to view the child/teen as a unique individual with both strengths and weaknesses. It is in doing so that I feel that I am able to do my best work, as I customize my assessments and therapy to provide a better outcome for each child, teen and family I work with. It is my greatest joy seeing parents once again enjoy their children and their children enjoy their parents.”

Highlighted New Service – Targeted ASD Evaluations and  Multidisciplinary Evaluations

Dr. Jesse Olague is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist specializing in developmental/ psychological assessment and psychotherapy for children, adolescents and their families. He is also one of San Diego Kids First’s experts in early childhood development and behavior.

Dr. Olague specializes in ASD/ADHD/Learning Disorders, and other Neurodevelopmental Disorders, Anxiety/Mood Disorders, Emotional Dysregulation, Disruptive Behaviors/Behavior Management, Anger Management, and Trauma. He utilizes systemic, evidence-based practices such as Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Parent-Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT), Trauma Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (TF-CBT), and Incredible Years-Parent and Child (IY). He is certified in Seeking Safety (SS) and Managing and Adapting Practices (MAP). Dr. Olague is a graduate from USC/CHLA’s California Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental and Related Disabilities (CA-LEND) Training Program.

Dr. Olague is passionate about developing and implementing interventions and accommodations to allow children and adolescents to reach their potential. When necessary Dr. Olague helps families implement behavioral approaches and responses that will help diminish the child’s problematic behaviors.
Dr. Olague also provides services in English and Spanish, both in-person and via tele-health.

Before joining San Diego Kids First, Dr. Olague was a Faculty Clinical Psychologist at Sharp Mesa Vista Hospital Child Partial Hospitalization Program where he was responsible for treatment planning /implementation, program development, and teaching/ training/supervision of doctoral students. Prior to moving to San Diego, Dr. Olague was a clinical psychologist at Kaiser Permanente Orchard Medical Center in Los Angeles, where he provided psychological assessments and therapy for preschool and school-aged children and adolescents.

Dr. Olague obtained his PsyD in Clinical Psychology from Azusa Pacific University and completed his internship in clinical psychology at the Child and Family Guidance Center specializing in Trauma Psychology. He then completed a Two-Year Fellowship in Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology specializing in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities and Trauma Psychology at Children’s Hospital, Los Angeles (CHLA) with an appointment at University of Southern California’s (USC) Center for Excellence in Developmental Disorders.

When he’s not working, Dr. Olague enjoys spending time with his family, two dogs, and is an avid Dodgers fan. He also enjoys drawing, exercising, and cycling on San Diego’s bike trails.

Sheri Friedman
Sheri FriedmanM.A.
Educational Therapist

“Each child comes to me with their own unique story, their own set of circumstances. But what every child has in common is that each is the source of limitless opportunities for support, structure and success.”

Highlighted New Service: Dyslexia Screening

An Educational Therapist with more than 25 years of experience, Sheri is dedicated to meeting struggling students’ emotional, social, and academic needs. She works with a wide range of the pediatric population (and beyond), providing dyslexia assessments and targeted intervention to children and teens with ADHD, learning disabilities, executive dysfunction, and weak cognitive, auditory, or visual processing skills. With all her clients, Sheri’s mission is to provide each child with limitless opportunities for support, structure, and success.

What sets Sheri apart from other advocates is that she always has first-hand experience working with the child before requesting an evaluation or entering a school meeting. As a result, she can offer the school her informed observations, beneficial strategies, and specific recommendations unique to each child. Additionally, Sheri has held the unique position of working with IEP teams as both a school-employed Educational Specialist and a private Educational Therapist, quite literally sitting on both sides of the table. Over the years, Sheri has successfully secured specialized services and appropriate accommodations for hundreds of K-12 students in public and private sectors.

Sheri views each child from a holistic perspective, considering emotional, social, and behavioral issues that may impede learning. By exploring additional contributing factors, such as physical, sensory, speech, language, or processing delays, Sheri can offer the IEP team valuable information and feedback. Sheri starts by working with each student individually to identify the challenges that may impact or prevent academic success then formulates individualized and targeted recommendations for specific evaluations, treatment plans, and services.

Educational Advocacy is multi-faceted. Sheri’s services include: Parent meetings, Review of records, One-on-one educational therapy sessions with the child/teen, Writing a letter to the school requesting an evaluation, Providing referrals to private evaluators and specialists, Ongoing communications, and follow up with the parent and school, Parent coaching and consultation, Consultation with physicians, psychologists, SLP, OT, and school personnel, Administrative work/preparation for the meeting, IEP meeting-full participation, Debriefing immediately after the IEP concludes.

Sheri lays the foundation of success by creating a warm and trusting rapport with students, parents, teachers, physicians, and allied professionals. Sessions are individualized and specialized, integrating a variety of practical, creative methodologies along with evidence and brain-based therapeutic learning tools. In this way, Sheri prevents and circumvents the cycle of frustration, failure, and despair that affects so many children and their families—and replaces that cycle with joyful learning.

Sheri graduated with a B.A. in Child Development with a specialty in Child Mental Health. She went on to earn both Multiple Subjects and Special Education Teaching Credentials and a Master’s Degree in Psychology. 

Kim Brownell
Kim BrownellLCSW
Clinical Therapist (In-Office/Home Visits)
Child/Teen Therapist (ages 10 and up)
Adult/Family/Couples Therapist
Group Therapy Facilitator
IEP/504 Expert Consultant

”I feel lucky to do what I do for a living. With each client, I work hard to achieve balance between humor, creativity and diverse effective treatment modalities. I meet each client where they are, using treatments that best fit their individual needs. I collaborate frequently with outside providers and school personnel to provide the best support. I look forward to speaking with you!”

Highlighted New Service: Teen Process Group

Kim is a Licensed Therapist (LCSW, LICSW) with more than a decade of experience working with children, adolescents, families, couples, and adults in a variety of settings. She brings key experience from working within school districts, allowing her to effectively guide families in navigating the district to obtain optimal support for their child. Kim offers Saturday appointments, and also in-home appointments on Mondays and Thursdays.

Kim takes a systems approach, understanding each patient—and helping them to understand themselves—as a product of family, culture, organizations, religious affiliation, academic settings and more. Customizing her work with each client, she integrates traditional approaches with creative, dynamic modalities.

As a staff therapist at Rady Children’s Hospital Outpatient Clinic, Kim learned the inner workings of many elementary and middle schools in the Poway Unified School District—not to mention previous experience with almost a dozen schools in New York State. Kim has worked as a clinician and as a trainer for educational staff. Her background as a licensed therapist includes extensive experience in the field of eating disorders, including work with the New York State Psychiatric Institute and the UCSD Center for Eating Disorders. She continues to provide therapy to people in recovery from eating disorders, Body Dysmorphic Disorder and Disordered Eating. Kim has special expertise in mood disorders, body image, self-esteem, life transitions, marriage/family/couples therapy, bereavement, distress tolerance, sleep hygiene, stress management, school advocacy and LGBTQ issues.

Kim holds an MSW from New York University and clinical licenses in New York (LMSW), California (LCSW) and Massachusetts (LICSW). Additionally, Kim is certified in DBT, CBT & Trauma-Focused Positive Youth Development, and is Gottman certified for Couples, Marital and Family Therapy. In addition, she is certified in EMDR for trauma (children through adults).

Earlier in her journey, Kim spent more than a decade working as a professional singer, dancer, and actress in New York City. She performed in the Radio City Christmas Spectacular and has toured with national and international Broadway productions. When off duty, Kim can be found engaging in all things creative (including singing loudly, reliving her days on stage for an audience of one small elderly Yorkshire terrier), painting random furniture, binge watching Pinterest videos, dancing and spending far too much time roaming the aisles of Home Goods to feed her passion for decorating.

Kim is not accepting new regular therapy clients at this time.

Anna Williams
Anna WilliamsM.A., L.M.F.T.
Clinical Therapist
Behavior/Parent Coach Specializing in Behavioral Modification, Depression, Anxiety
Certified Specialist in Pediatric and Adult OCD

“Every time we ask questions of our children or recognize a teaching moment, we resist simply rescuing our children from their problems; instead, we teach them skills that will last them a lifetime.”

Anna is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with over 15 years of experience in Behavioral Therapy & Parent Coaching, Dialectical Behavior Therapy, Cognitive Behavior Therapy and Behavioral Management for Autism Spectrum Disorders, Anxiety Disorders, and Depression.

Anna Williams is certified through the International OCD Foundation BTTI to specialize in pediatric and adult OCD. She has been trained in cutting-edge treatment modalities, including Exposure and Response Prevention (ERP) and Cognitive Therapy.

Anna works with families, parents, children, and teens to produce lasting changes in the most naturalistic setting possible. She believes the parent-child connection is the most important intervention.  Anna is skilled and experienced in rebuilding this connection for healing. Anna provides Telehealth and in-office appointments. 

Anna received a Bachelor’s Degree from Cal State Monterey Bay and a Master’s Degree at Alliant International University School of Professional Psychology. She is an AAMFT Board-certified supervisor. Anna previously worked at Rady Children’s Hospital, where she specialized in depression and anxiety treatments for children and adolescents, frequently employing Acceptance and Commitment Therapy. Anna also treats ADHD, ODD, and other childhood mood disorders. She has worked with very severe populations of children who also possessed Co-Morbid diagnoses. She serves as clinical faculty at University of Phoenix, teaching in the Health and Human Services, Psychology and Masters in Marriage Family Therapy programs.

Anna volunteers for the Fleet Family Support Center and VVSD, providing pro bono counseling for returning sailors and their families.

Anna has two sons, a dog named Buddy and a husband who retired from the Navy. When she is not working, Anna loves to hang out with her family, watch sports and explore the beauty of San Diego.

Jacqueline Gamboa
Jacqueline GamboaPsy.D.
Clinical Psychologist PSY # 22784
Specialist, Child and Adolescent Assessment and Psychotherapy

“I strive to create a warm, positive, and fun testing environment for my clients so they can work to the best of their ability and we can achieve the most optimal results.”

Highlighted New Service: Multidisciplinary Evaluation

Dr. Gamboa is a licensed clinical psychologist who specializes in the assessment and treatment of children, adolescents, and young adults. She offers mid-day and after-school appointments for psychotherapy, counseling and consultation.  Dr. Gamboa contributes key expertise to the assessment team, particularly in standardized testing for children and adolescents with developmental and/or educational challenges, including Autism Spectrum Disorders and ADHD.

Dr. Gamboa received a B.A. in Psychology from La Sierra University and a doctorate in Clinical Psychology from the California School of Professional Psychology, San Diego. She has broad experience working with children, adolescents and families, and is an expert in treating Anxiety Disorders, Anger-Management and/or Behavioral Challenges, Autism Spectrum Disorders, Parenting, Family Relationships, Depression and Substance Use/Abuse. Dr. Gamboa has provided psychotherapy and assessment services in her role as psychologist at the San Diego Regional Center, Rady Children’s Hospital Outpatient Psychiatry, St. Vincent de Paul Villages, and the College Counseling Centers at USD and SDSU. Dr. Gamboa’s approach is primarily psychodynamic, but she also offers play therapy, family therapy, motivational interviewing, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), and attachment and affect regulation-based interventions.

When Dr. Gamboa is not in the office, she enjoys traveling, hiking, riding her bike, playing guitar and spending time with her friends and her large Bengal cat, Gilby.

Abigail Mack
Abigail MackSan Diego Kids First Intern
Abby is entering her fourth and final year as an undergraduate at Boston University, where she is a psychology major. At BU she is currently researching the effects children with anxiety disorders have on their siblings. After graduation, she intends to pursue an advanced degree in clinical psychology. Abby loves working with children, and spent last summer working at Camp JayCee. 
In her free time, Abby enjoys going on walks, reading, and playing with her dog, Texas.  A fun fact about her is that she used to be a trainee ballet dancer at a professional ballet company (she still dances for fun now).
Brooke Schuman
Brooke SchumanB.A. Psychology & Communications
Office Manager

“I am so grateful and excited to be a part of the San Diego Kids First team! I am passionate about this amazing organization and providing the best level of care for each of our families. I have learned so much from every clinician in the practice and am inspired by their hard work and dedication. I love being the main point of contact for the office and am happy to help in any way possible!”

Brooke Schuman earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and Communications from the University of California, Davis. She previously worked as a Research Assistant in the Psychology department at UC Davis as well as a Student Manager in the department of Student Affairs. Brooke also spent a semester at Charles University in Prague where she conducted a research project on cross cultural management.

Inspired to help others and a passion for working with children, Brooke has held many roles in her communities centered around giving back. While at UC Davis, Brooke was a volunteer instructor for “Sprout Up” providing environmental education to 1st, 2nd, and 3rd graders in their classrooms. In Prague, she volunteered on a weekly basis to teach English at the local elementary school and for the past three summer’s, Brooke has worked at the Jewish Community Center where she frequently collaborated with parents and inclusion programs. 

Having an interest in Child Psychology, Brooke is excited about her role with us. She excels at keeping an office running smoothly by efficiently managing schedules, communications, marketing, client relations and evaluations.  Brooke takes pride in her work ethic and ability to adapt to a new environment while maintaining a friendly nature. 

In her free time, Brooke enjoys going to the beach with her friends, exercising and going on hikes. Brooke is getting ready to apply for graduate psychology programs next year and is grateful for this new chapter in her life.

Jenaya Vasquez Aguirre
Jenaya Vasquez Aguirre Bachelors of Applied Arts and Sciences, Liberal Studies, Elementary Education
Office Manager

“I am overjoyed to begin a new journey with SD Kids First and learn from every single clinician and member of our team! I cannot wait to further explore the world of counseling, therapy and consultation.”

Jenaya earned her Bachelors of Applied Arts and Sciences in Liberal Studies, Elementary Education at San Diego State University. Throughout her undergraduate experience Jenaya was dedicated to serving our local community through her volunteering and fundraising efforts with Girls on the Run San Diego, and Dance Marathon for the Rady Children’s Hospital Foundation. Having interests in working with children at an educational level Jenaya has volunteered at many local Elementary schools in San Diego from Jefferson Elementary School in North Park to Ira Harbison Elementary in National City. Alongside her passions in philanthropy and number of roles Jenaya has held in the K-12 classroom, she hopes to continue on her education and pursue a career in clinical psychology.

Following graduation, Jenaya is looking forward to beginning her new position at SD Kids First while exploring a new chapter in her life. Her post-graduate endeavors consist of visiting her favorite local hiking spots, the beach, and even finding more time to explore the wide range of restaurants and good eats San Diego has to offer!

Maple
MapleFacility Dog

Meet Maple, our San Diego Kids First Love Heels Facility Dog! We could not be more thankful for Cynthia Williams at Talaki Ridge Labradoodles for matching us with Maple, and Patricia Dibsie at Love Heels (and her generous sponsors), for providing us with training and certification to allow Maple to be a facility dog!

Maple is trained to accompany Dr. Pontillo in her professional duties which include individual in-person sessions, as well as volunteer opportunities in San Diego Schools, Head Start Programs, and in other community projects. 

Linda Griebel
Linda GriebelInsurance Biller/Bookkeeper
619-224-6343

San Diego Kids First contracts with Linda Griebel at Griebel Billing Services in order to provide monthly super bills for out of network benefits, to all our families with PPO plans. If you would like to take advantage of this free service, please call Linda at 619-224-6343, mention San Diego Kids First, and provide her your insurance information. 

Linda has been a bookkeeper for mental health professionals since 1987. She has been a wonderful asset to the San Diego Kids First team since 2005 and we are so grateful to her for providing such a wonderful and unique service to our families!

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What Others Say About Us

I am a general pediatrician with a special interest in ADHD, spending about 20% of my clinical time caring for ADHD patients. I have known Dr Pontillo since 2005 and have an enormous respect for her clinical skills and insights. She is my “go to” psychologist for more complicated developmental issues and for diagnosis of subtle high functioning disabilities. Dr. Pontillo’s interest in her patients and her ability to clearly delineate developmental problems allows parents to move forward with establishing a treatment plan. She is an invaluable resource to the San Diego Pediatric community.

Nicholas Levy, MD, Medical Director, El Camino Pediatrics, V. Asst Clinical Professor, School of Medicine, UCSD

Dr. Pontillo is an exceptional, and one-of-a-kind child psychologist. I have referred many children of my patients to Dr. Pontillo and she has always given them the best care and attention. Referring a patient to another professional is a big responsibility. I always look for a colleague who is efficient, professional, experienced and one who is able to come up with a clear diagnosis. I keep referring to Dr. Pontillo because of her expertise, efficiency and especially her warm and caring personality that is extremely necessary when dealing with children. I very highly recommend Deborah Pontillo, Ph.D as a child diagnostician, developmental and behavioral specialist, and therapist.

David Kravetz, M.D., Professor of Clinical Medicine, School of Medicine, UCSD

I’ve been referring my patients to Dr. Pontillo for the past several years with the utmost confidence that she will care and understand their developmental needs. Dr. Pontillo always provided them with a balanced and age appropriate intervention to help not only the child but the family as a whole.

Chrystal de Freitas M.D., Pediatrician Carmel Valley Pediatrics