Adrienne Fitzer Successfully Defends Dissertation

Adrienne Fitzer, CEO of ABAC, LLC, a company specializing in the production of live instructional continuing education and professional development workshops for behavioral and mental health professionals, successfully defended her dissertation on January 14, 2021.

Dr. Fitzer received her BA in Psychology and graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Maryland in 1997. She was accepted into the Learning Processes Psychology Sub-Program of the Psychology Department of The Graduate Center, City University of New York in March of 2000 and started her coursework in the Fall 2000 semester. By 2003, Adrienne earned a MA in Psychology, sat for and passed the Behavior Analyst Certification Board exam, was the recipient of a graduate teaching fellowship (2002-2003) and co-authored two papers published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. By May of 2005, Adrienne completed all of her doctoral coursework, had been awarded two merit based scholarships and a graduate research fellowship (2004-2005) and successfully co-chaired two conferences for her department. 

From mid 2005- 2008, Adrienne took a number of semesters to start a family, but during that time, completed all graduate requirements except her dissertation, and co-edited the book Autism Spectrum Disorders: Applied Behavior Analysis, Evidence, and Practice with Professor Peter Sturmey which was published by Pro-Ed in 2007 (currently published by ABAC), and was co-author on two additional studies published in the Journal of the Experimental Analysis of Behavior. She returned to school in 2008 to start her dissertation, but unfortunately the financial crisis ended her graduate school journey. Her spouse’s business was severely impacted and the stress and demands of navigating the challenges at that time made it impossible for her to continue. 

In 2009, Adrienne published another book co-edited with Professor Peter Sturmey titled Language Acquisition; Applied Behavior Analysis, Evidence and Practice, published by Pro-Ed. After that her academic and scholarly work was set aside to focus on her work in public schools. In 2013 Adrienne left the clinical world and followed her entrepreneurial heritage starting ABAC and growing the company into one of the most reputable post-certification/license education destinations in the field of behavioral psychology and behavior analysis. 

In 2017, Adrienne was alerted that the graduate program she once attended was being absorbed into a clinical psychology program and that the window to enroll and finally complete her doctorate was quickly closing. Adrienne returned to school but to a new committee consisting of individuals that did not know her and never taught her, a new area of research, and was required to retake the oral examination- 14 years and 11 days after she sat for them the first time. The support of her committee members, led by her advisor, Bertram O. Ploog, PhD, BCBA-D, ensured that she would finish.

Adrienne started running her study in October of 2019 and the last set of participants completed the study the day before the campus closed in March of 2020 due to the global health crisis.  While doing everything possible to keep ABAC open during the height of the pandemic, Adrienne analyzed the data from her study and wrote her dissertation manuscript, submitting it to her committee for review on November 9, 2020.

On January 14, 2021, almost 21 years after she was accepted into her graduate program, Adrienne successfully defended her dissertation An Evaluation of an Application Designed for the iPad(c) to Measure Stimulus Overselectivity for Future Use in Autism Research. She intends to continue to collaborate on this line of research while scaling ABAC over the next few years. Dr. Fitzer looks forward to publishing on the assessment of emotion recognition in autism spectrum disorders, the topic that inspired her dissertation research, and developing technology that will help formalize assessment and intervention in this area.  In addition, she looks forward to continuing to write about ethical professional behavior in online environments and ethical business practices.


  1. I am remarkably awed by your tenacity and proud of your dedication to the field. Thank you for your hard work and efforts to further the understanding about autism. I appreciate being able to refer patients and families to your organization for support.

    1. abacnj_admin says:

      Dear Dr. Cicatello,
      Thank you for this lovely note. It has been a long but rewarding journey to get to today. I am happy to discuss referrals and more with you at any point! Thank you for reaching out and I hope to connect with you soon.

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