Top Workplaces: Autism care firm is No. 1 midsize workplace - Albuquerque Journal

Top Workplaces: Autism care firm is No. 1 midsize workplace

Behavior Change Institute staff member Shannon D. and her family in Edgewood joined team members from throughout the country in April to participate in a virtual run/walk designed to promote understanding and acceptance of Autism Spectrum Disorder. BCI hosts this event annually for Autism Awareness month. (Courtesy of Behavior Change Institute)

A focus on mission and care has always been part of Behavior Change Institute, an Alamogordo-based autism care provider.

BCI has seven locations across New Mexico and 150 employees working in applied behavior analysis therapy for those diagnosed with autism and their families.

This is the sixth year the behavioral health provider has made the Top Workplaces list and the second year in a row as No. 1 in the midsize employer category.

Employees said they love BCI’s atmosphere.

“I love my job because I am able to provide quality, compassionate and ethical care to clients and their families,” one staff member wrote. “It is so wonderful to work with this population and see the growth and confidence that emulates as a result! I feel comforted in knowing every decision made is client-centered and in the best interest of the client. There are no hidden agendas at BCI, just integrity and a genuine passion to help others. That mindset is not to be taken for granted in my book.”

“I feel that I am truly making a difference in this world,” another employee wrote. “BCI gives validation to my life in the sense that I am helping/supporting families in need of (applied behavior analysis) services in my community.”

Kathleen Karimi

That focus on mission hasn’t changed during the pandemic — but the stresses and anxieties pressing on BCI’s staff have changed, according to Kathleen Karimi, co-founder and CEO of business operations for the organization. Karimi said in an interview that the organization’s leaders tried to address the uncertainty of the pandemic by being flexible, supportive and creative to meet staff where they were.

How did your organization respond and adapt to the pandemic?

“On the employees’ side, we created a lot of creative, short-term benefits to address some of the challenges that our employees were experiencing as a result of the pandemic. So for example, with schools and day cares closed knowing that our employees were providing child care for their children during the day … we were able to provide flexible schedules … to accommodate having children in the workplace when … necessary. We rolled out supplemental benefits so we were able to offer financial assistance for child care for our employees, student loan repayment, because I know a lot of people were suffering financially as a result of the pandemic. And then I think a lot of our employees, like everyone else, experienced significant stress, anxiety, isolation, depression and so we were able to put in place an employee assistance program to offer 24/7 free counseling, not only for our employees, but also for their family members.”

What is the biggest challenge you faced during the pandemic?

“Leading through such uncertainty and unknown, changing our operating procedures based on constantly changing guidelines from the CDC and the state. And trying to do everything we possibly could to keep everyone safe and healthy was definitely the biggest challenge with so much unknown.”

How has your workplace shifted in the last year-and-a-half?

“We have always had work from home opportunities for our administrators as well as our telemedicine clinicians. So the work environment has not changed much, but I will say that we have bolstered our engagement opportunities as well and had to find ways where, traditionally we would meet up, our staff would meet up in person, and have casual events in downtime outside of work. And because of social distancing regulations we’ve had to find ways to creatively bring those opportunities online.”

Why do you personally still work here?

“It’s really inspiring to work for a company that is so amenable to change. We have gone through a lot of changes not just because of the pandemic, but also within our field of practice and every day is different. We have been able to innovate and grow our services and extend care in communities that would not otherwise have access. The mission truly drives me every day. The other piece that keeps me here is the people (they) are amazing and I think that this can be a difficult job, we’re providing intensive treatment to patients in their homes and it really takes a special person to feel passionate about that day in and day out and when you get all those people together, again, it’s just a really great supportive place to be.”

Albuquerque Journal and its reporters are committed to telling the stories of our community.

• Do you have a question you want someone to try to answer for you? Do you have a bright spot you want to share?
   We want to hear from you. Please email

Nativo Sponsored Content

taboola desktop


Ex-TorC judge, her husband sentenced to prison
ABQnews Seeker
Couple stole $284,000 from the estate ... Couple stole $284,000 from the estate of a dead man
SNM gang member sentenced to life in prison
ABQnews Seeker
Among the crimes attributed to the ... Among the crimes attributed to the 42-year-old is the 2008 murder of his cousin
Looks as if 2019 NM gun law is not ...
ABQnews Seeker
APD spokesman said Friday that meetings ... APD spokesman said Friday that meetings are expected to be held this month to create a policy to address the law
City councilor-elect gets formal certification
2021 city election
District 1 winner is in dispute ... District 1 winner is in dispute with city clerk over when term begins
Councilors want 'labor agreements' on large city projects
ABQnews Seeker
In one of their final actions ... In one of their final actions before leaving office, a pair of Albuquerque city councilors are pushing to make unions part of all major ...
NM hits yearly high for daily virus cases at ...
ABQnews Seeker
Over 800 infections found across Bernalillo ... Over 800 infections found across Bernalillo County
NM's record-high revenue projections keep climbing
ABQnews Seeker
Latest estimate for 'new' money grows ... Latest estimate for 'new' money grows from $1.4B to $1.6B
Shot fired during dispute at Old Town Plaza
ABQnews Seeker
A man shot a gun into ... A man shot a gun into the air during a argument with another man Friday night in the Old Town Plaza. Daren DeAguero, an ...
Lobo forward Jay Allen-Tovar happy (playing) on the outside
ABQnews Seeker
Lobo forward Jay Allen-Tovar has flourished ... Lobo forward Jay Allen-Tovar has flourished playing on the outside, but has been admittedly frustrated when asked to playing inside.