Jump to Footer

Class of '94 Alumni Anthony Cammilleri Credits Western New England for Helping him Find the "Right Path"

By Emily McGuinness '20 SUNDAY, JULY 7, 2019 - 11:00 AM WNE100

“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to WNE for putting me on the right path,” said class of 1994 graduate, Anthony Cammilleri. “I am a product of my environment and that environment played a large role in the success I experienced,” he said.

After selecting Western New England for its small community and class sizes, Cammilleri went through two changes in his major choice of study. Coming in as a business major, he quickly learned it was not the right fit and switched to biology, but that wasn’t a good fit either. Finally, he was able to find a perfect fit in psychology with a focus in applied behavior analysis with the support of two well-known WNE professors, Dr. Henry Schlinger and Dr. Dennis Kolodziejski.

“They were two of the most passionate professors I ever met. Through them, I got hooked on Applied Behavior Analysis and have been happy with my decision to join the field ever since. The lessons they taught me have stuck with me to this very day,” Cammilleri said. 

Cammilleri’s connections to Western Massachusetts have lasted throughout the years despite moving around the country for additional education and job opportunities. After graduating in 1994, he went on to pursue a Master’s in Applied Behavior Analysis at the University of North Texas. After this, Cammilleri worked as a behavior analyst for a public school district in North Texas where he was responsible for building educational and behavioral treatment plans for students with special needs students across 7 campuses. “I was stretched too thin and too few people were ready to embrace a behavior analytic approach for the treatment of severe problem behavior,” said Cammilleri.

After his first year working for the public school system, Cammilleri decided to go back to school and earned a doctorate in Applied Behavior Analysis from the University of Kansas. This then brought him to his next position, which he held for ten years, as the Director of the Jane Justin School in Fort Worth, Texas. As the ten-year mark approached, Cammilleri and his family felt as though the Northeast was calling. “Crossroads School in Natick, MA, was looking for a new President/CEO. I applied, got the job, and moved my family across the country to settle in Bolton, MA,” he said.

Cammilleri’s time at Crossroads School was productive. Throughout his five years as President/CEO he was able to significantly improve both the clinical and educational outcomes for the school, as well as expand the school’s reputation as a leader in high-quality education for students with autism. One of the largest contributions Cammilleri was able to make for Crossroads was its relocation from rented space in Natick, to a permanent space in a newly renovated building in Marlborough.

About a year before his contract ended with Crossroads, Cammilleri found himself meeting with Dr. Greg Hanley, a good friend from the University of Kansas, who became the Director of the Ph.D. program in applied behavior analysis at WNE. Dr. Hanley told Cammilleri of his plans to open a company, FTF Behavioral Consulting, and asked if Cammilleri would be interested in joining. At the time, Cammilleri and his team at Crossroads were in the middle of a large project to increase the school’s staffing and funding for the next 6 years. Cammilleri told Hanley that he wanted to see this project through, and that upon its successful completion, he would make the move to FTF Behavioral Consulting. Cammilleri and Hanley are now reunited, and work along side several other graduates and soon to be graduates from WNE’s doctoral program in Applied Behavior Analysis. Those individuals are, Dr. Kelsey Ruppel, Dr. Mahshid Ghaemmaghami, Holly Gover, and Shannon Ward.Cammilleri commented on this junction of his life by saying “I’m proud of all I accomplished at Crossroads and the school will always hold a special place in my heart. I’m also excited for this new venture at FTF. I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to work alongside some of the smartest, most innovative people in the field.”

Through all his hard work, Cammilleri is left with one large lesson and word of advice for students and working professionals alike. “I think it’s important to have a hobby. Mine is woodworking and now that I think about it, it’s more related to my profession than I thought – by day I’m a shaper of behavior and by night I’m a shaper of wood. The bottom line is to be creative in life, using both your hands and your brain,” he said.

Being educated at Western New England took Cammilleri a long way in life. The professional relationships he was able to build and continue to have with professors and colleagues were perhaps the most fruitful aspect of his experience and will continue to drive him further into his professional career. “I look fondly on the time I spent at WNE. It’s where I first learned of the power of Applied Behavior Analysis,” said Cammilleri, which has certainly provided him with serious skills in the workplace and life in general.