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50 Leading Companies of the Year 2021

Pete Pallares, Center for Social Dynamics CEO: ‘Our mission is to open a world of possibilities for those with Autism and other developmental needs through science, compassion, and humility’


Autism spectrum disorder (ASD) or autism refers to various types of conditions characterized by challenges with speech, repetitive behavior, nonverbal communication, and social skills. So far, we know that autism has subtypes, and it is always influenced by a combination of environmental and genetic factors. Since autism is a spectrum disorder, every individual with autism tends to have distinct strengths and challenges. The way people with autism think, learn, and solve problems can range from severely challenged to highly skilled. Few people with ASD also require a significant amount of support to function normally in their daily lives, while others may require less support and, in some cases, people can also live independently.

Autism can be detected by the age of 2 or 3, and research shows that when there is early intervention, we can expect positive outcomes in the latter part of life. There are various institutions that specialize in autism treatment globally, but the Center for Social Dynamics (CSD) stands out from the rest with its state-of-the-art facilities offering specialized assessment and treatment services to meet the developmental needs of the whole child. The main motto of CSD is to enable children and individuals to reach their full potential by providing an intervention that will develop new skills and concepts to maximize their ability to learn from natural environments and to empower families by providing supportive coaching and behavior management. Center for Social Dynamics was founded in 2012 and is based in Alameda, California.

In conversation with the leaders who made Center for Social Dynamics (CSD) possible

Q. What inspired you to lead administration and operations at a company like Center for Social Dynamics (CSD)?

Yuri Pantoja, COO: The Company was founded on the principle of being a company made by clinicians for clinicians. This principle inspired me to lead operations to make the lives of our clinicians better and consequently improving care for our clients. Receiving appreciation from our clinicians for an improved process or employee perk inspires me to continue to go above and beyond to support them and the organization.

Q. How has your journey been so far? What are you most proud of? Biggest challenges?

Yuri: My journey has been one of growth, not just professionally but also personally. The skills I’ve learned as a leader have translated to my personal life, and I have become a better person for all of those around me. I am most proud of being able to support the growth of the organization from 40 clients to now over 1500. The hardthesiliconreview-image-center-for-social-dynamics-21 work translates into more families receiving services and not waiting on waitlists. Our two greatest challenges go hand in hand; if we solve one, the other will follow. We are challenged with wanting to serve more families and individuals, but we need to grow our workforce in order to do so. Therefore, every day we are dedicated to ensuring that we are providing the best work environment for our teams, one where they can grow and feel supported.

Q. What methods do you use to provide quality services to individuals diagnosed with ASD?

Armando Luna, Regional Director: We have embraced technology, and incorporated it into our services. CSD has developed tools to make services more accessible to our clients. We use advanced data platforms to record, and monitor client progress. This allows our clinicians to monitor progress in real time and provide up to date information for our clients.

Michelle Bueno, Director of Operations adds: we never give up!! We work with the individual and generalize skills learned to other people and settings, home, community, school…

Q. How does an individual begin his/her journey of tackling Autism?

Armando Luna: When an individual receives a diagnosis, it can feel overwhelming. Individuals and their families work with their health plans, aided by case managers and service providers in helping understand their rights to services and access to treatment. This journey is aided by professionals across multiples institutions including, but not limited to; school districts, pediatricians, case managers, service providers, health plan managers, and the clinicians they receive treatment from.

Q. How does someone become part of your team?

Michelle Bueno: First step: Must be passionate about making a difference in others’ lives. Dedication to stick it out during hard times. You can take a look at our website and decide if you’re a fit.


Clearly, CSD is doing a commendable job. Could you tell us about the reason of this success?

Both Michelle and Armando: Through a combination of innovation, creativity, persistence, adaptability, and flexibility. To be rigid means to be stuck. CSD will continue challenging itself and exploring the countless ways to make an impact in our communities.

Q. How did the COVID-19 pandemic affect your organization?

Michelle: There are many ways to look at the pandemic. For CSD, it opened us to a new world of possibilities to provide services to families through different platforms. We quickly adjusted our ways to ensure that families still stayed connected with the support and care they needed.

Q. What does the future hold for CSD and its customers? Are exciting things on the way?

Yuri: At CSD, we are constantly working on improving the quality of our services; it is part of our everyday work. This year particularly, we have onboarded a board of clinical quality, which is composed of talented and experienced clinicians who are analyzing treatment outcomes. This is an extremely important endeavor as we want to ensure that our programs are appropriately developed and executed to ensure that our clients can reach their potential independently of intensive services. Moreover, these efforts will translate into our clients obtaining services that are tailored to their individual needs.

“CSD’s people and programs deliver personalized, professional, evidence-based behavioral and developmental services to each participant and peace of mind to caregivers that their loved ones are in the right hands and are receiving the best possible care.”