Dr. Zangrillo to lead severe behaviors department

by John Keenan, UNMC public relations | July 30, 2020

Image with caption: Amanda Zangrillo, PsyD

Amanda Zangrillo, PsyD

Little victories.

For Amanda Zangrillo, PsyD, little victories were the spark that first ignited her passion for serving children with severe behavior problems.

"Getting to see behavioral change in real time -- getting to see a family having a birthday party where their child doesn't have a tantrum, seeing a child communicate for the first time -- those little wins that turn into big wins are what got me hooked."

What others are saying

"As an interim director over the last six months, Dr. Zangrillo has masterfully led the department through turbulent times. I am extremely impressed with her 'can do' attitude, commitment to excellence, problem solving and thoughtfulness."
-Karoly Mirnics, MD, PhD, director, The Munroe-Meyer Insitute

"Dr. Zangrillo is the definition of a success story moving from an entry-level position in the department to now the director. She is a gifted and compassionate clinician, teacher and academic."
-Wayne Stuberg, PhD, associate director, The Munroe-Meyer Institute

"We are fortunate to have Dr. Zangrillo as the director of the severe behavior department. She has demonstrated exceptional leadership and clinical skills and is a perfect fit for this position. I look forward to continuing to collaborate with her and her fantastic team of staff and clinicians."
-Courtney Burnette, PhD, director, integrated Center for Autism Spectrum Disorders, The Munroe-Meyer Institute

"There is no one more deserving of this promotion than Amanda Zangrillo. Amanda is one of the most ethical, selfless and generous leaders that I know. She is a champion for her clients and her staff in every way. Consistent with our MMI values, she promotes collaboration by consistently seeking and valuing the expertise and input of other disciplines. Amanda is the first person to lend a helping hand and is always leading by example. We are so fortunate to have her here at MMI."
-Leslie VanWinkle, speech-language pathologist, The Munroe-Meyer Institute

"Dr. Zangrillo never hesitated to step-up during the pandemic and led the severe behavior program, staff and clients through a time no one could have imagined. With her leadership, support and dedication, the future is looking bright. She manages more in one day than most of us do in a week. This is a well-deserved promotion, and I look forward to working with her to continue to grow our program and serve our clients. She is the best."
-Christy Williams, manager, specialty behavior programs, The Munroe-Meyer Institute

Effective this month, Dr. Zangrillo is the new director of the Munroe-Meyer Institute Department of Severe Behavior, leading a team of approximately 30 therapists as they work for more little victories and big wins.

Dr. Zangrillo leads a department that uses an applied behavior analytic approach to assess and treat destructive behaviors that impact a child's ability to fully participate in school, home and community activities and events.

"Our focus is on supporting both the child and the family in addressing problematic behaviors, but also building prosocial behaviors such as coping skills and language," she said.

Dr. Zangrillo's team serves children who do not have autism or intellectual/developmental disabilities, as well.

"Ultimately, problem behaviors worked for our kids at some part of their life, and they worked quite well," Dr. Zangrillo said. "That's how they start to communicate wants and needs, and sometimes that can get out of hand."

Dr. Zangrillo, who joined MMI in 2013, said she was proud to be leading a dedicated and committed staff.

"I'm fortunate to be at the front of an amazing team," she said. "They work tirelessly every day and give so much -- I'm indebted to them for their dedication to the institute, to our families, and their belief and support in where we're going as a program."

Going forward in her new role, she hopes to strengthen community collaboration, including existing partnerships with Omaha Public Schools, to develop programs that will address problem behaviors before they escalate to the point that the children need to be seen at MMI.

"We're always going to have a need for a service like we have here, but we have a good opportunity to help support our Omaha and greater Nebraska community in proactive behavioral management for our kiddoes," she said.

Dr. Zangrillo called her new appointment "a unicorn job" -- a rare and wonderful opportunity.

"I get to work with families. I get to work with patients. I get to teach other clinicians," she said. "We have a training and education mission that we get to execute every day, but then we also are in a position where we get to disseminate the information we learn about treating these destructive behaviors to other folks, not only in the community but nationally and internationally.

"And of course the service mission, which is an important part of what we do here at MMI, has always been near and dear to my heart."


Fill out the following and your comment will post once it has been approved.

Name (Required)

Email (Required)

Thank you, your comment will appear below once it has been approved.

Don Keil
August 03, 2020 at 5:45 PM

One who is making a difference . Don Keil

Catherine A Jackson
August 03, 2020 at 11:06 AM

How wonderful and we'll deserved - congratulations, Amanda!

Delena Newman
August 03, 2020 at 9:21 AM

Congratulations Amanda! Follow your heart and your dreams, you are making a difference in this world!

Brenda Reynolds
July 31, 2020 at 1:38 PM

Congratulations Amanda! You have made and will continue to make a difference in the lives of many!

Virginia Beckloff
July 31, 2020 at 10:08 AM

Congratulations Amanda !! You are a remarkable young woman! You are so dedicated to the needs of those who need you!

Lynn Singer
July 31, 2020 at 9:37 AM

Congratulations to a very deserving woman. You have worked so hard and earned this opportunity.

Ted Beckloff
July 31, 2020 at 8:36 AM

You are very deserving Dr. Zangrillo. Congratulations!

Nicole Hackendahl
July 31, 2020 at 6:54 AM

How wonderful! Congrats, Dr. Z!

July 30, 2020 at 7:03 AM

Congratulations Dr. Zangrillo.