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Who We Are

Our Team

Our Founders

  • Meet Janie and Roger Peterson
    Meet Janie and Roger Peterson

    Behaven Kids founders Janie and Roger Peterson are Nebraska Licensed Mental Health Therapists. They have helped children and families work through behavioral challenges for over 3 decades. Janie and Roger opened the first location of Behaven Kids in 2000. Leading up to forming their own company, the Petersons pursued joint careers in human services serving families and children.

    Both graduated from Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, with undergraduate degrees in psychology and went on to add masters’ degrees in human development and family life from the University of Kansas. They specialized in the family teaching model and became certified family teachers at Father Flanagan’s Boys’ Home (the original Boys Town) in Omaha, NE, early in their careers and advanced through various management and training positions, separately working with at-risk youth and professional staff. Janie was the National Director of Family Preservation Services at Boys Town and eventually coordinated the Home Campus Family Services where she was a professional consultant to up to 100 staff members. Roger became the Director of Emergency Shelter Services at Boys Town and then headed the Education Training Services for Boys Town’s National Resource & Training Center. He later took a position as Operations Manager for the Children’s Respite Care Center in Omaha and after that was Program Director for the Nebraska Children’s Home Society during the early years of Behaven Kids.

    Individually, their accomplishments are exemplary. Together, their synergy is astounding. They have jointly presented countless training workshops and developed materials for professionals at national symposiums and for local groups as well. They enjoy presenting hands-on parenting workshops for parents and caregivers. Each has pursued individual research interests. With his colleagues, Roger has published findings on studies in the areas of youth shelters and emergency youth services, and his professional work has been published in such prestigious peer-reviewed publications as the Journal of Child and Family Studies. Janie and her research colleagues have published in the areas of children and family preservation. Both Petersons serve as consultants for national and regional family and children’s services and school districts.

    Janie and Roger have written the parenting books published by their own independent publishing company, Behave’n Kids Press, Inc.
    Married over 35 years, Janie and Roger have raised 3 daughters and now enjoy being grandparents and foster grandparents. They are also adoptive parents and have been foster parents.

Our Team

  • Carlee Heck, MS, LIMHP, NCC
    Carlee Heck, MS, LIMHP, NCC

    Director of Operations

    Carlee is a Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner, a Nationally Certified Counselor, a Certified Clinical Trauma Professional (CCTP), and is trained and practicing Child Parent Psychotherapy (CPP) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). Carlee graduated with her Master’s Degree in Community Counseling from the University of Nebraska at Omaha in 2013 and her Bachelor’s Degree with a major in Psychology and a minor in sociology from Creighton University in 2009. Carlee has obtained experience working with adults and children in the hospital setting, in home, and in the clinic setting. Carlee enjoys spending time with her family and her two dogs, Batman and Vickie Vale

  • Jeff Shubert, MS, LMHP
    Jeff Shubert, MS, LMHP

    Clinical Director/Intake Coordinator – Lincoln

    Jeff is a Licensed Mental Health Practitioner and Master in Education School Counseling. He began his career with Behaven Kids in 2010 and has held many different positions with the organization and is currently Clinical Director/Intake Coordinator at the Lincoln site. Jeff’s background is in education and he has taught school for 10 years and worked for Boys Town for 18 years. In his off time, he enjoys spending time with his wife, Chris-camping and golfing. Between them they have three children Megan, Cooper and Rachel as well as one granddaughter Addlynn.

  • Kirsten Stidham, MS, LIMHP, NCC
    Kirsten Stidham, MS, LIMHP, NCC

    Clinical Director – Omaha

    Kirsten Stidham is the Clinical Director of our Omaha location. Kirsten began working as a therapist with Behaven Kids in 2014 and believes that each child’s unique strengths and abilities can be used to help them succeed. Kirsten’s niche is working with adolescents, and she is trained in DBT (dialectical behavior therapy) and enjoys conducting DBT groups. Kirsten graduated from MidAmerica Nazarene University in 2014 with a Master’s degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and is currently licensed as an Independent Mental Health Practitioner. In her free time, Kirsten enjoys coaching youth basketball and spending time with friends.

  • Katie Mandelko
    Katie Mandelko

    Program Coordinator – Lincoln

    Katie has been employed with Behaven Kids since July of 2009 having worked various positions with the company. Katie is now the Program Coordinator and has been in this position since March of 2017. Katie is a trainer for Crisis Prevention Intervention and does the training for all Behaven Kids staff. In her down time, Katie enjoys being involved in her daughters Dayjah and Braylyn’s activities-softball and dance. Katie is married to Drew Mandelko.

  • Chris Ruszkowski, BCBA
    Chris Ruszkowski, BCBA

    ABA Coordinator

    Chris is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. He graduated with a bachelor’s in mathematics from Fredonia State University in New York in 1997, and with a master’s in Education from Medaille College in Amherst New York in 2009. Chris also completed ABA schooling at the University of Cincinnati in 2015. Chris worked as a therapist in Bradford, Pennsylvania before moving to Nebraska in 2019 where he worked as a Registered Behavior Technician working in the severe behavior department at Munroe Meyer Institute in Omaha. Chris recently acquired his Board-Certified Behavior Analyst certificate on August 13th, 2020, and he began working at Behaven Kids in October 2020. Chris oversees the ABA program at the Behaven Kids-Omaha location. Chris grew up in Ellicottville, NY and lived in the Buffalo, NY area before moving to Nebraska in 2019. Chris was married in 2010 and enjoys his beautiful family-wife, son, daughter, 3 step daughters, and the new addition this year (a puppy). Chris is a huge Buffalo Bills fan, he plays piano and sings, records music, writes songs, and goes to church. Chris loves movies, and cereal, and his favorite movie is Somewhere in Time.

  • Erik Otte, BCBA
    Erik Otte, BCBA

    ABA Coordinator

    Erik is a Board-Certified Behavior Analyst. He graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology, with a minor in business, from Olivet Nazarene University in 2013. He then graduated with a Master’s of Science degree in Behavior Analysis and Therapy from Southern Illinois University Carbondale in 2015. Erik then worked as a behavior analyst in group homes in Kansas City. He then moved back to the Chicago area and worked in private therapeutic schools for students that have autism. Erik recently moved to Lincoln and is now one of the ABA Coordinators. Erik grew up in the suburbs of Chicago. In college, he played football. He enjoys spending time with his wife, Emilee, and two young sons, Jeremiah and Levi. In his free time, Erik enjoys playing and watching a variety of sports, playing video games, and cooking.