The Columbus Organization


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Melissa Richards, Ph.D., LBA, BCBA-D

Senior Vice President, Clinical Operations

Why I joined The Columbus Organization 

I joined Columbus because I had worked with the organization for a couple of years as a customer of their staffing business and wanted to be a part of the company.

How I describe our organization to other people

A company who provides services to people with intellectual and developmental disabilities.

How I chose my career

I always had an interest in psychology. But when I took my first behavior analysis class I had the “aha moment” when I knew this was it.  Intro to Behavior analysis was the first class to tell me what to do to actually help people.

A career highlight

I have worked with Columbus for over 20 years, so that is a tough question.  I think a highlight would be that after 15+ years running behavior services, I was able to transition my skills to quality assurance, bring an Organizational Behavior Management perspective.

How I describe myself

I am a licensed and board-certified behavior analyst.  In addition to my full-time job I also teach graduate students at two online universities.

My background

I was born in Massachusetts and moved to Florida when I was 10.  I remained in Florida until I received my doctorate degree in 1996.  My first job, post graduation, was as the State Behavior Analyst Coordinator for the Tennessee Department of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities.  During my two-year tenure there, I also co-founded the Tennessee Association for Behavior Analysis

A bit about me

I am a very independent person who enjoys alone time as well as time with friends.  I moved to Mexico a year and a half ago with my boyfriend of 21 years.  We live in a gated expat community surrounded by good people, the jungle, and the beach. I am a vegetarian and a member of Mensa.


University of Florida, B.S. in Liberal Arts and Sciences (major psychology, minor sociology) 

University of Florida, M.S. in Psychology (minor in special education)

University of Florida, Ph.D. in Psychology (emphasis on Behavior Analysis)