We know that raising a beautiful, yet therapeutically complex child is hard.
We’ll walk with you, love your child, and help them succeed.
We are a community of parents and families walking the same path.
“At Black Bear Academy, we are committed to seeing the growth of the whole child. Our vision is to serve the individual needs of each child and family at Black Bear Academy with exceptional, research-driven programming and services.”
Lori G. Tall, PsyD | Executive Director
Dr. Lori Tall is the owner of Black Bear Academy and the founder and clinical director of the Center for Comprehensive Neurobehavioral Care, a neuropsychology practice in downtown Chicago. As a clinical neuropsychologist, she specializes in educational, neuropsychological, and legal assessments and has worked across clinical and academic settings throughout her career. Dr. Tall received her doctoral degree from the California School of Professional Psychology in Los Angeles, interned in neuropsychology at the University of Minnesota, and was a fellow at Primary Children’s Medical Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. She was a hospital and community-based psychologist at the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center and served as the director of the Assessment Program at The Family Institute at Northwestern University in Evanston and clinical director at Rush Neurobehavioral Center at Rush University Medical Center. Dr. Tall serves as the executive director at Black Bear Academy.
Haley M. Sims, PsyD | Co-Director of Academic & Therapeutic Programs
Dr. Haley Sims is the director of clinical services and training at Black Bear Academy. Dr. Sims specializes in neuropsychological and developmental assessment of young children addressing pediatric sleep and feeding challenges, toilet training, and neurodevelopmental disorders. Dr. Sims graduated from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and completed her pre-doctoral internship in developmental pediatrics and pediatric primary care with the National Psychology Training Consortium. She completed her postdoctoral fellowship with Dr. Lori Tall at the Center for Comprehensive Neurobehavioral Care where she conducted neuropsychological evaluations for children and provided specialized treatment to children with anxiety disorders, sleep problems, and toileting challenges. While in graduate school, Dr. Sims received training in the administration and interpretation of a wide variety of neurodevelopmental assessments and worked in a number of pediatric settings in the Chicagoland area. She has therapeutic experience with children diagnosed with autism spectrum disorder, neurodevelopmental disorders, behavioral disorders, traumatic stress, and medical conditions. At Black Bear Academy, Dr. Sims has continued her work in pediatrics, offering assessment for young children and treatment for sleep, feeding, and behavioral challenges. She also oversees all pediatric clinical services and training.
Ellen Hurdish, M.S. | Co-Director of Academic & Therapeutic Programs
In her role as the director of social-emotional learning at BBA, Ellen supports the school-wide implementation of a new social-emotional learning program called Conscious Discipline®. This evidence-based framework helps kids learn to regulate and manage their emotions through adult modeling of self-regulation. Using the tools and strategies of Conscious Discipline helps to build connections between adults and children in order to create The School Family, which fosters a positive school climate that lays the groundwork for optimal development and learning for all. Ellen will be working closely with BBA’s teachers and therapists to help them understand how brain functioning impacts children’s behavior and ability to learn. Her role with BBA is a continuation of her lifelong interest in working with children. After college, Ellen had the opportunity to work with a nonprofit organization where she cared for young children suffering from the effects of abuse and neglect. Her close work with these children fueled her desire to further her education in the field, and she went on to earn a Master of Science in Psychology. While in graduate school, Ellen gained valuable experience working with children, adolescents, and their families in therapy. She also received extensive training in the administration and interpretation of a wide variety of neuropsychological assessments and worked for several pediatric neuropsychologists in the Chicagoland area; this background in neuropsychology gives her a unique perspective in her work with kids. After earning her graduate degree, Ellen joined Dr. Tall in private practice. In her role with Dr. Tall's practice, Ellen offers Conscious Discipline parent coaching focused on empowering adults with skills that create a safe, connected, problem-solving environment in order to manage behavior and build a strong, nurturing parent-child relationship. She is excited to share her knowledge of Conscious Discipline with the students and staff at BBA and is looking forward to learning and growing as a School Family.
Jenny Corley, PsyD | Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Jennifer Corley graduated from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with her PsyD in 2020 and joined the Black Bear team in September 2020. Dr. Jenny has continued her work with children, adolescents, and their families, specifically working with neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism spectrum, intellectual disabilities, and attention-deficit disorder. She continues this work at Black Bear, and also works with many young kiddos who are simply learning to navigate their big emotions. At Black Bear, Dr. Jenny is a classroom coach for several of our therapeutic classes, and works closely with our interdisciplinary team to help manage challenging classroom behaviors, and to help implement school-wide and classroom-based interventions. In addition, Dr. Jenny helps create our student’s Black Bear Education plans, an educational document that monitors students’ progress throughout their time at Black Bear. Dr. Jenny also offers individual, group and parent coaching services. She typically practices within a cognitive-behavioral and Conscious Discipline framework. When not at work, Dr. Jenny can be found spending time with her five pound dog Bonnie.
Elizabeth DiMaggio, PsyD | Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Elizabeth DiMaggio is a clinical psychologist specializing in pediatric anxiety, neurobehavioral disorders, sleep challenges, and parent training. She is dedicated to providing children, adolescents, and their families with comprehensive and evidence based treatment. Dr. DiMaggio graduated from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology and completed her predoctoral internship at Jewish Child and Family Services. Throughout graduate school, Dr. DiMaggio received comprehensive training in the administration and interpretation of a wide range of neuropsychological assessments. She has worked in a variety of outpatient pediatric settings providing assessments, individual therapy, and group therapy with children and families in the Chicagoland area. She has therapeutic experience with children on the autism spectrum, as well as children diagnosed with behavioral disorders, mood disorders, neurodevelopmental disorders, and their families. At Black Bear Academy, Dr. DiMaggio will offer assessment and treatment for behavioral challenges, mood disorders, and sleep while consulting with the multidisciplinary team to tailor interventions for each student. In addition, she will offer parent training focused on providing parents with skills that create a safe, connected, problem-solving environment in order to build a strong parent-child relationship and manage behavior.
Liz Zimmermann | PsyD, Clinical Psychologist
Dr. Liz Zimmermann graduated from the Chicago School of Professional Psychology with her PsyD. She has focused training in therapeutic and diagnostic services with children, adolescents, and their families who experience mood, developmental and behavioral challenges. At Black Bear Academy, Dr. Liz works with students in and outside of the classroom to support social, emotional and behavioral needs. She partners with teachers and therapists to foster a therapeutic learning environment and works with parents and families to provide collaborative care. As a part of the multidisciplinary treatment team, Dr. Liz conducts diagnostic assessments, provides individual and group therapy, parent coaching, and works closely with the therapeutic classes. Dr. Liz practices from a trauma-informed perspective that incorporates relationally focused, evidence-based interventions. When not at work, Dr. Liz can be found spending time with family, painting, baking cookies, and or by the water.
Emily Moss | Academic Team Co-Lead
Emily majored in elementary education with concentrations in math and English language arts at Saint Xavier University in Chicago, Illinois. She also has a background in Applied Behavior Analysis, having spent two years as a Registered Behavior Technician working with children ages three to 11 on the autism spectrum. Emily enjoys music and art and brings both into the classroom as much as possible to enhance the learning environment for students. When she is not teaching, Emily enjoys cooking, trying new recipes for family and friends, going to concerts, the occasional Netflix binge, riding her bike, and spending time at her family’s lake house.
Lauren Schnaith | Academic Team Co-Lead
Born and raised in the Chicagoland area, Lauren is excited to be able to build a career in the city. Lauren has always had a passion for teaching and working with children, and she is honored to be able to share that passion with the wonderful students of BBA. She holds a degree in early childhood education from Miami University with a minor in special education. Over the past several years, she has worked with children from infancy to elementary school in a variety of different roles. Most recently, she spent the last year teaching preschool at an early childhood center where she learned to refine her techniques to help children progress academically, socially, and emotionally. Her goal in teaching has always been to guide children as they explore the world around them, and she hopes to help her students progress in every area of development while teaching kindness and caring for others through her own actions. Lauren also believes in parent involvement both inside and outside of the classroom and will continue to work toward a goal of open communication with each family. She is committed to making the classroom a fun environment where each child feels safe, loved, and encouraged to learn and grow.
Isabel Condon | Lead Teacher
Originally from Grand Rapids, Michigan, Isabel studied elementary education at DePaul University. After her freshman year, she took a gap year to travel and teach English to students in Peru and Costa Rica. She loved learning about the different teaching styles and the different cultures, and she feels extremely grateful for this experience. After her year abroad, Isabel returned to school and finished a bachelor's degree in Communications at Grand Valley State University. Isabel moved to Chicago in the fall of 2020 and loves everything the city has to offer. When she is not working, Isabel likes to spend her free time playing tennis, hanging out with friends, trying new restaurants, traveling, and making hand painted cards.
Kaycee Jordan | Lead Teacher
Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, Kaycee pursued her BA in Theater at Concordia University Chicago. During her time there, she worked in their Early Childhood Education Center with various age groups and discovered her love of Early Childhood Education. Since then, Kaycee has worked as both an assistant and lead preschool teacher and is continuing her education in ECE at Triton College. She is passionate about open communication and collaboration between parents, teachers, therapists, and center directors and believes those are key factors to a child’s development. Outside the classroom, Kaycee enjoys cooking, going to the gym, spending time with family and friends, and doing hair and makeup for special events! She is so excited to learn and grow at BBA.
Morgan Witt | Lead Teacher
Originally from Rockford, Illinois, Morgan studied Special Education (Learning & Behavior) at Illinois State University. She studied abroad in Florence, Italy for a semester, where she learned about community, diversity, and culture and how to foster this inside the classroom. After graduating, Morgan worked as a Primary Cluster teacher in Chicago Public Schools for four years, where she designed and implemented various academic and behavior interventions for students (ages 4-8) with diverse needs. She is passionate about open communication and collaboration with parents and coworkers, meeting the child where they are with their social-emotional and academic development, and maintaining a student-focused approach to teaching. Outside the classroom, Morgan enjoys exploring Chicago, traveling, exercising, and spending quality time with family & friends. She is so excited to support our students and help them learn and grow while also learning and growing alongside the Black Bear team.
Caroline Baird | Occupational Therapy Team Co-Lead
Caroline graduated from Saint Louis University with a bachelor’s degree in occupational science and a master’s degree in occupational therapy. Caroline has experience working with adult populations in an inpatient hospital setting, as well as with children in an outpatient pediatric setting. During her time at Saint Louis University, she had the opportunity to study abroad in Madrid, Spain where she completed courses at the local university and volunteered at a local preschool teaching English. Caroline has worked in a variety of therapeutic classrooms at BBA, including Learning and Engagement (now Preschool Plus), Therapeutic Preschool (now Preschool Prep), and Kindergarten Prep and Transition (now Junior Kindergarten Prep). She is passionate about treating the whole child and meeting all children where they are emotionally, physically, and mentally every day. She loves the way BBA allows disciplines to work collaboratively to help each child reach their fullest potential, and she is excited by the additions of clinical neuropsychology and psychology to the team to further support a whole-child approach to learning. In her free time, Caroline loves attending Cubs games at Wrigley Field, working out at OrangeTheory Fitness, and exploring new restaurants in the city. She looks forward to helping continue to grow the occupational therapy program at BBA.
Maggie Kindra | Occupational Therapy Team Co-Lead
Maggie was born and raised in Chicago and loves attending Chicago sporting events and concerts, as well as spending time by the lake. Maggie graduated from the University of Michigan’s School of Kinesiology with her bachelor’s degree in movement science. Most recently, she attended Washington University in St. Louis where she received her master’s degree in occupational therapy. During her time at Wash U, she had the opportunity to work with infants in the neonatal intensive care unit providing age-appropriate sensory interventions, parental education, and support. Maggie has previously worked with both adults and children in various settings, including elementary and therapeutic schools, private clinics, and acute-care hospitals. She has worked at BBA for the past year and a half and is passionate about supporting children and their families in order to help them grow and develop into the next chapters of their lives. She is thrilled to be a part of a growing multidisciplinary team and is excited for a great year at BBA.
Emilee Sorenson | Occupational Therapist
Emilee graduated from the University of Missouri with her master’s degree in occupational therapy. While she was at the University of Missouri, she worked as a teacher’s aide at a preschool for 5 years. She has worked in an inpatient hospital setting, schools, and outpatient settings. She has experience working with children diagnosed with various developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, Fragile X Syndrome, and intellectual disability. She is passionate about the importance of collaborating with other disciplines as well as parents to ensure carryover in the home. Emilee grew up in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. In her free time, she enjoys playing with her puppy (Ollie), reading, and walking/running on the lake.
Meaghan Milbourn | Occupational Therapist
Meaghan attended University of Illinois for her undergraduate degree in kinesiology and Davenport University for her master’s degree in occupational therapy. Meaghan has previously worked in a therapeutic school and in a pediatric outpatient setting. She has experience working with children diagnosed with various developmental disorders such as autism spectrum disorder, down syndrome, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, cerebral palsy, and intellectual disability. Meaghan is appreciative of Black Bear’s collaborative and interdisciplinary approach that supports each student’s unique needs, and she cannot wait to be part of the therapeutic team. Outside of work, Meaghan enjoys live music, DIY projects, and spending time with family and friends.
Amanda Zabel | Learning Support Team Lead
Amanda is a member of the therapeutic enrichment team and is the Learning Support Team Lead. She was born and raised in Northbrook, Illinois and attended Indiana University in Bloomington where she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in speech and hearing science. Before her time at BBA, Amanda worked at the Cove School as both a one-to-one and elementary classroom assistant. She also worked at Westmoor Elementary School as a kindergarten classroom assistant and as supportive staff for both Northern Suburban Special Education District and Northern Suburban Special Recreation Association. Amanda has received training in behavior intervention and has worked closely with the behavior team at her previous schools. She has built strong relationships with students, staff, and parents throughout her career, and she looks forward to continuing assisting in the development of the students at BBA in a variety of classes. She is currently working towards earning her Masters in Social Work at the University of Denver.
Abby Bordewick | Learning Support
Vanessa Jasek | Learning Support
Claire Pavlovich | Speech Team Lead
Claire received a Bachelor of Arts in Communication Sciences and Disorders from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from Boston University. During her time at Boston University, she participated in a preschool language study that evaluated the effect of increased frequency of treatment in children 3-5 years old, and she has loved working with this population since. Claire previously worked in a pediatric private clinic assessing and treating children 15 months to 15 years old with a wide range of speech and language disorders. She is excited to transition into a new position at Black Bear and work in the therapeutic classrooms. Her favorite part of working with children is the ability to get to know and collaborate with the whole family. In her free time, Claire enjoys exploring the different neighborhoods in Chicago, attending concerts, and spending time with family and friends.
Milena Grimmer | Speech-Language Pathologist
Milena attended University of Illinois for her undergraduate degree in Speech and Hearing Science and Southern Illinois University-Carbondale for her Master’s degree in Communications Sciences and Disorders. Milena has worked with school aged children in an outpatient clinic, at the SIU Center for Autism Spectrum Disorder, and at an inpatient hospital in Chicago treating clients across the lifespan. Additionally, she has experience working in a preschool in the Chicago suburbs. Milena worked closely with Early Intervention students and families as they transitioned to the preschool setting. She has worked with students with Autism Spectrum Disorder, Downs Syndrome, and students with varying levels of abilities in expressive and receptive communication. She is passionate about working with early childhood populations to support communicative development. Outside of work, Milena enjoys baking, reading, and spending time with family and friends!
Alexandra Holtz | Speech-Language Pathologist
Alexandra graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison with a Bachelor of Science degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders as well as a certificate in Education and Educational Services. She went on to earn her Master of Science degree in Speech-Language Pathology from Concordia University Wisconsin, where she also was a member of the School of Health Professions Interprofessional Education program. While attending the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Alexandra was an undergraduate research assistant at the Binaural Hearing and Speech Lab, which examines the effects of hearing loss on individuals with bilateral cochlear impacts. She has an extensive background as a Speech-Language Pathologist working with the pediatric population in a variety of clinical settings, including a bilingual elementary school in the Chicago suburbs, linguistically and culturally diverse preschool and elementary school for Chicago Public Schools, early intervention, a multidisciplinary pediatric outpatient clinic, and a therapeutic preschool. What excites Alexandra most about joining Black Bear Academy is their collaborative nature, child-centered approach to therapy, and passion for supporting each child’s growth and development. Alexandra enjoys spending time with family and friends, exploring all that Chicago has to offer, traveling to new places, and outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, and camping.
Courtney Tynan | Speech-Language Pathologist
Marcy Mathew | Speech-Language Pathologist