ACES Announces Formation of Clinical Advisory Board

Board of leading experts in autism field to support continued expansion of ACES’ industry-leading clinical model

IRVINE, Calif.--()--ACES 2020, LLC (“ACES” or “the Company”), dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and families impacted with autism or other special needs, today announced the formation of a national Clinical Advisory Board comprising preeminent experts across the autism and healthcare fields. This represents another milestone as the Company establishes itself as a national provider known for an industry-leading clinical model and high-quality outcomes. The establishment of its Clinical Advisory Board follows ACES’ recent designation as Aetna’s first-ever Institute of Quality for Autism.

ACES provides Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) and ancillary services to individuals and families impacted by autism or other special needs throughout their lifespan. Kristin Farmer, ACES Founder and CEO, is a highly regarded expert in the autism field, having employed a humanistic approach to ABA since ACES’ founding in 1996. Since early 2020, ACES has continued to experience significant growth after announcing a strategic investment from General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm with a proven healthcare track record of scaling high-quality, tech-enabled, value-based care models.

Farmer said, “We are privileged to have the opportunity to work with leading experts in the autism field who have extensive experience in and understanding of evidence-based ABA strategies, and who also share our passion for providing high-quality ABA therapy grounded in research. Working with these innovative leaders who have led advances in the treatment of individuals with autism will even better equip ACES to provide the best possible outcomes for our clients and help to improve ABA services across the country.”

The ACES Clinical Advisory Board comprises the following members:

John M. Dougherty, Ph.D.

Dr. John M. Dougherty is one of the co-founders of TEACCH Autism Program at the University of North Carolina. During his over 40 years of wide-ranging experience in both direct client care and consultation to educational and consultant teams, he has pioneered the development of and methodology around visual activity systems. Since 1998, he has served as an advisor to management service organizations focused on clinical social services in the area of autism spectrum disorders and related developmental disabilities. Dr. Dougherty has conducted approximately 750 invited addresses, seminars, and workshops to educational and group home personnel and organizations. His primary clinical practice is in the diagnosis and treatment of children and adults on the autism spectrum. Dr. Dougherty has provided private practice in individual, couple, and family therapy and consultation to adult group homes.

Since 1998, he has served as a consultant and advisor to management focused on quality clinical social services in autism spectrum disorder and related developmental disabilities. He currently consults to the management in a residential program serving challenging adults with ASD in Sweden. He received his Ph.D. in Marriage and Family Therapy at Virginia Tech.

Peter Gerhardt, Ed.D.

Dr. Peter Gerhardt is the Executive Director of the EPIC School in Paramus, New Jersey. Dr. Gerhardt has nearly 40 years of experience utilizing the principles of Applied Behavior Analysis in support of adolescents and adults with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in educational, employment, residential, and community-based settings. He is the author or co-author of numerous articles and book chapters on the needs of adolescents and adults with ASD and has presented nationally and internationally on this topic. Dr. Gerhardt serves as Co-Chairman of the Scientific Council for the Organization for Autism Research and is on numerous professional advisory boards including the Cambridge Center for Behavioral Studies.

Dr. Gerhardt received his doctorate from Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey’s Graduate School of Education.

Heather Hughes, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Heather Hughes has more than 20 years of experience working with individuals and families of individuals with autism, developmental delays, and learning differences. Her areas of specialization include assessment and social skills intervention. Currently, she serves as the Executive Director of Special Programs at Eagle Mountain-Saginaw ISD. Dr. Hughes’ prior roles include serving as Associate Executive Director of the University of North Texas Kristin Farmer Autism Center, Director of Special Education for Keller ISD, a public school administrator, Educational Diagnostician, Licensed Specialist in School Psychology, and a certified Special Education teacher with an Early Childhood endorsement.

Dr. Hughes received her Ph.D. from the University of North Texas’ Department of Educational Psychology in 2010. She holds a master’s degree in Psychology from Texas A&M University-Commerce and a master’s and bachelor’s degree in Special Education, also from Texas A&M University-Commerce. She is also a proud veteran of the United States Army.

Mohit Kaushal, M.D.

Dr. Mohit Kaushal is a Senior Advisor at General Atlantic, a leading global growth equity firm. Dr. Kaushal’s extensive career in investing, clinical medicine, academia, and public policy includes his work as a lead investor, board member, or advisor to transformational healthcare companies. Dr. Kaushal served as a member of the White House Health IT task force during the Obama Administration and built and led the first dedicated healthcare team at the Federal Communications Commission. He serves on the Food and Drug Administration Safety and Innovation Act Workgroup of the Health IT Policy Committee and the National Committee on Vital and Health Statistics, advising Health and Human Services on data access and use. In addition, he serves as a board member of ACES and Oak Street Health. Dr. Kaushal is also an ER physician, an Adjunct Professor of Biomedical Data Science at Stanford University, and continues to be active within public policy as a Scholar in Residence at the newly created Duke Margolis Center for Health Policy. Earlier in his career, he was a Visiting Scholar at the Brookings Institution.

Dr. Kaushal earned both a B.Sci. and M.D. from the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine, and an M.B.A. from the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Susan Nichols, Ph.D., BCBA-D

Dr. Susan Nichols is the Interim Executive Director of the University of North Texas Kristin Farmer Autism Center (KFAC), providing clinical leadership since the center opened in 2012. In addition to establishing clinical standards and overseeing all direct service staff and client programming, Dr. Nichols oversees all KFAC operations, writes grants, and participates in research at the center. She has more than 20 years of experience in the field of autism intervention and has worked as a self-contained special education teacher and interventionist in local school districts. Dr. Nichols is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst and has served children with autism in both home and center-based programs.

Dr. Nichols received her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Texas Woman's University and her master’s and Ph.D from the University of North Texas in the area of Special Education/Autism Intervention. Dr. Nichols has also taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate courses in the department of Special Education at the University of North Texas.

About Autism Comprehensive Educational Services (ACES)

ACES is dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for individuals and families impacted with autism or other special needs. Founded in 1996 by Kristin Farmer, ACES provides comprehensive, professional services to maximize individuals’ potential in the home, school, clinic and community using accepted teaching and ABA therapeutic methodologies. ACES operates in more than 50 markets in 8 states, serving thousands of clients in Arizona, California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oklahoma, Texas, Utah, and Washington with a long track record of high-quality outcomes. Learn more at


Ashley Drag, ACES


Ashley Drag, ACES