Meet the Team

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Lorell Marin founded LEEP Forward in 2001 out of her desire to create innovative and inclusive learning environments for all children. She expanded this vision in 2018 to include a school focusing on Diverse Learners.  Lorell holds a Masters in both Social Work, Teaching, specializing in Special Education and a host of other credentials that may just complete the alphabet! She believes in offering a choice by listening to the child's voice (she knows kids communicate in a variety of ways so being a detective and honing your observation skills is helpful). 

Lorell Marin

Founder

 M.Ed, LCSW, BCBA, DT

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Ashley Ganski, 

Chief Operating Officer

Ashley is a Chicagoland native with a passion for executing visions and supporting professionals making an impact in their field. She is a graduate of Western Michigan University with a Bachelor’s Degree in communications and has spent her career gaining experience in communications, marketing strategy, project management and sales execution across various types of industries including healthcare, finance, media and entertainment.  

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Dana Hutchins

Head of School

M.S., D.T.

Dana is a credentialed Developmental Therapist, she received her professional DIR-FCD Model certificate in Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Development through the Profectum Foundation. 

 

 Dana received her undergraduate degree in ElementaryEducation from the University of Wisconsin and taught in the public schools in Aiken, South Carolina. Dana returned to Chicago and graduated from The Erikson Institute with a Master’s in Science with a focus in working with children with special needs. 

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Amanda Bird,
ABA Clinical Director
BCBA

Amanda is originally from the south suburbs of Chicago. She has a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Millikin University and a Master's degree in Applied Behavior Analysis from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. As a BCBA, Amanda has worked in public schools, therapeutic schools, private homes and workshop settings with children, adolescents and adults. She has also worked as a Master Trainer for QBS, Inc., training individuals across the U.S. to be Safety Care Trainers and Specialists. 

 

When Amanda is not working, she enjoys spending time with her young daughter and friends, exploring new and free events in the community, listening to live music and decorating for her favorite holidays

Halloween and Christmas.

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Elena Martinez,

Director of Billing and Insurance

Elena is the LEEP Forward Medical Insurance Advisor, Communications & Office Manager, helping families navigate through insurance benefits as swiftly and painlessly as possible.   Born in Chicago, she is a graduate of DePaul University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce. 

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Lesa Bricker-Reich ,

Office Administrator 

Lesa is honored to be part of the Quantum team in the Administrative offices and be witness to the magic that happens everyday. Prior to working at Quantum, Lesa was a Concierge at the Four Seasons Hotel Chicago. When not working at Quantum, you can find Lesa living her life’s passion acting in Chicago and hanging out with her Husband and twin boys. Lesa feels gratitude for such an amazing life and looks for the joy everywhere!

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Erin Gaffney,
Senior Speech and Language Pathologist
M.S., SLP CCC

Erin is a Chicagoland native and grew up in the southwest suburbs of Chicago. Erin graduated from Northern Illinois University with her masters in Speech-Language Pathology in 2018. Prior to attending NIU, Erin graduated from the University of Iowa with a bachelors in Communication Sciences and Disorders. Shortly after graduating with her master’s, she joined the team at Quantum LEEP Academy. She has diverse experience in treating speech and language disorders. Erin has training in the LAMP™ approach for alternative and augmentative communication.

 

While at LEEP, Erin has found her passion for helping children with diverse needs build relationships with others and make meaning of the world around them. She fully embraces the transdisciplinary model and collaboration with other professionals to provide individualized treatment. She is continually pursuing courses in DIR®/Floortime to fully immerse herself in the relationship-based model. Her time away from LEEP is spent with friends and family, spending time outdoors, and exploring the city.

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Lindsey Adams, Occupational Therapist

MS, OTR/L

Lindsey grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago and received her Master's degree in Occupational Therapy from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL. Lindsey also has a Bachelors of Social Work (BSW), which she received from Indiana University, Bloomington. Much of Lindsey’s clinical and employment experiences involve working with children, including working for Ray Graham Association as the Activities Coordinator for their camp for children and adolescents with disabilities. Her demonstrated passion is to provide services to promote and support participation in everyday activities across multiple environments. She finds joy in seeing every child flourish and grow to their greatest potential.

 

In her spare time, Lindsey loves walking her 100 pound yellow labrador retriever, running along the lake, and spending time with family and friends!

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Katie Myers,
 Speech and Language Pathologist
M.S., SLP CCC

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Alex Nowack,
 Speech and Language Pathologist
M.S., SLP CF

Courtney is originally from Michigan and moved to Chicago in 2018. Courtney earned her Bachelor's degree in Social Work from Oakland University and went on to receive her  Master's degree in Social Work from Michigan State University. She is licensed by the State of Illinois as a clinical social worker (LCSW). Her education and career have always been focused on her passion for working with children and families. Courtney has been working with children with disabilities on and off for the past 5 years in school and clinical settings. In her free time she enjoys snuggling up with her two lazy dogs, going to concerts and spending time with her family and friends! Anna Gray

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Alli Stark,

Mentor Teacher

Originally from Minneapolis, Minnesota, Alli moved to Chicago back in 2011. She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2015 with her B.S in Education specializing in Reading Instruction.  She has spent the past 3 years substitute teaching in Chicago Public Schools. Alli lives in Lakeview with her cat Josie, and spends her free time performing improv comedy.

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Annie Jackson,
Mentor Teacher

Minnesotan at heart, Annie moved to Chicago in the fall of 2017 after receiving her Bachelors degree in Vocal Music Education at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. There she found a deep passion for Adaptive Music, bringing music to all abilities. Since arriving in the city, Annie has completed the Second City Conservatory program and the iO improv program. She enjoys singing with her friends, trying new flavors of kombucha and finding new ways to use her crock pot. 

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Bridget Foley,
Social Worker
LCSW

Bio Coming soon

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Elena (Leni) Rameriz,
Virtual Teacher
B.A, ECE, RBT

Born and raised in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Leni earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Early Childhood Education (ECE) on a Preschool Level granted from the Interamerican University of Puerto Rico back in 2011, where she taught for four years in both English and Spanish.  Wanting some adventure, Leni then moved to Chicago in the summer of 2015 and continued her role as a teacher for the preschool program. Leni joined the Quantum Leep Academy team in August 2019 and is excited to contribute her compassion and enthusiasm to help children grow both academically and socially. In her spare time, Leni enjoys classic horror movies, doodling, writing, playing scrabble and playing fetch with her cat Dr. Lamino Pickles. 

Katie was born and raised in the suburbs of Chicago, she received her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and a Master’s degree from Northern Illinois University in Dekalb. Katie has always had a passion for helping children communicate their wants, needs and ideas functionally while exploring the world around them. Katie has experience working with children ages birth-to-three in Illinois Early Intervention Program and involvement working with and treating pre-school and school-aged children with a variety of disorders including expressive/receptive language delays, apraxia of speech, articulation and phonological disorders, and feeding/swallowing. Katie also is experienced in assistive and augmentative communication as a means for children to communicate functionally across environments. She was drawn to Quantum Leep Academy due to the unique space it facilitates to provide speech and language services in an environment that embraces the DIR® Floortime approach, and is honored to be a part of the LEEP team. 

 

In her spare time, Katie enjoys playing guitar and going to see live music in the Chicago area. Katie also enjoys seasonal activities involving movement; she plays volleyball at North Avenue Beach in the summer and loves snowboarding in the winter months. Katie is very excited to be a part of the LEEP team and help children reach their fullest potential!

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Jonathan Krug,
Lead Teacher

Bio coming soon

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Alexandra Stark
Senior Assistant Clinican

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Andre Armattoe
Assistant 
Clinician

Bio coming soon

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Niki Militello
Assistant Clinican

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Riley Rydners,
Senior Assistant Clinician

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Alicia Gordon,
Assistant Clinician

Alicia grew up and resides on the south side of Chicago.  She received her Bachelors Degree in Early Childhood Education, from Southern Illinois University-Carbondale. Alicia has continued her studies, towards earning  her Masters Degree at Erikson Institute in Child Development. 

Alicia’s passion for servicing families and children started as volunteer work With the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization. Alicia has also worked closely with children ranging in age of infancy to school aged. 

In Alicia’s spare time she likes to take on fun DIY projects and spend time with friends and family. 

 

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Sarah Hand,
Assistant Clinician

Sarah is a Native of the northwest suburbs of Chicago and moved to the city to complete her undergraduate degree. Sarah earned her BA in Psychology with a concentration in Human Development from DePaul University. Sarah has a passion for helping youth in need and educating young minds. During her years at DePaul she spent her time working in classrooms and researching mental and physical health outcomes for low-income youth. Sarah hopes to complete her MSW in School Social Work in the upcoming years.

In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her dog Princess, cooking new things, and hanging out with her friends and family.

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Celeste De la Fuenta,
Assistant Clinician

Celeste is a Chicago native, having the privilege of living where my mom grew up. I am a recent undergraduate from Northeastern Illinois University, in which she obtained a double major of Psychology and Sociology. Throughout her life I have spent her time working with children either through child care or through the Chicago Park District.  Celeste always encourages a healthy and respectful environment for a child's development. She believes that children learn about themselves not just through biological and physiological changes, but also through external factors including relationships and play! She believes her life would be incomplete if she isn't working with children. 

 

In her spare time she loves to binge watch netflix, and run on the 606 and thoroughly enjoys reading psychological thrillers or having a cookout with her family! 

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Megan Michaels,

Assistant Clinician

Megan is a native of the southwest suburbs of Chicago and recently earned her bachelor's degree in applied psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. Since the start of her high school education, she has been volunteering and working with children and adolescents in various settings- most recently, she supported youth at her internship with Gads Hill Center last fall. Megan is so excited to begin her journey at LEEP Forward!

 

In her free time, Megan enjoys practicing yoga, spending time with her dog, scrapbooking with her grandma, and learning about filmmaking.

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Nate Mount,
Assistant Clinician

Raised in both the Chicago suburbs and Northern Michigan Nate helped raise his now 14 nieces and nephews. He has spent three years as a member of RECESS the outreach program at the Playground theater where they play improv games with children in hospitals and youth centers. Through multiple programs he has worked with children in schools for recess, after school programs and Summer camps for four years.

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Jay Baumann,
Assistant Clinician

Jay was born in Chicago, but grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan. He returned back to Chicago where he received his Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Roosevelt University in 2017 and has lived in Chicago since. Over time, Jay has spent time volunteering with children in various settings including preschools, after-school programs, and therapeutic classroom settings. After graduating, Jay had the opportunity to work with adult and geriatric populations with mental illness within a nursing home where he worked for 3 years. Jay is ready and excited to return to working with children and believes in the value of a supportive and playful learning environment for all ages, especially children. In his spare time, Jay enjoys listening to music on Spotify, writing poetry, and creating his original puns and jokes!

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Janeisha Hood,
Assistant Clinician

LPC

Janeisha is a Chicago native and earned her masters degree in clinical mental health counseling from Roosevelt University Chicago. Janeisha has worked with children and adolescents in various settings including inpatient, community based, domestic violence shelters and Chicago Public Schools. Janeisha believes that children thrive best when a holistic approach is provided. Janeisha is so excited to embark on this new journey with LEEP FORWARD! 

 

In her free time, Janeisha enjoys spending time with her 4 year old daughter and husband, taking walks, reading, writing fictional stories and baking. 

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Gavin Giles,
Assistant Clinician

Bio coming soon.

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Erin Voci,
Assistant Clinician

Erin is originally from Grosse Pointe Park, MI.  she attended Michigan State University where she received her bachelor's degree in Kinesiology.  She then moved to Chicago to attend The Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she recently graduated from and received a Masters in Applied Behavior Analysis.

 

Throughout highschool, college, and in her masters program she  was lucky enough to have worked in different settings and fields, such as hospitals, schools, camps, and clinics, with kids of all abilities. Erin has always loved working with children, and is  so excited to continue that work at LEEP. 

In her spare time she enjoys adventures outdoors with my australian shepherd puppy-Winnie! Along with spending time with my friends exploring Chicago! 

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McKenzie Martin,
Assistant Clinician

McKenzie,   Kenz for short,  comes from a family of physical and occupational therapists, and she have been helping care for children since she was very small. She helped my sister co-parent both of her children from birth: Owen turned 6 years old this March and Violet will be 3 years old in July.

 

Kenz has a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Development from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. During college, she loved learning about children through her coursework, as well as through the various research projects I took on – I was a research assistant on the STRONG Kids 2: Protective Parents Subproject, and in the Culture and Family Life Lab where I did her senior thesis in Jamaica. After graduating, she moved to Chicago where she started teaching as a lead infant teacher for 8-15 month old babies, and then as a preschool teacher for 2 to 3 year olds. Kenz believes that early education is instrumental in fostering a love for learning and important social connections between a child and their peers, as well as teachers and society as a whole.  She is planning to get her Master’s Degree in Social Work.

I grew up in the north suburbs of Chicago. I received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Illinois State University, Go Redbirds! While attending, I was a research assistant in the developmental psychology department for two years studying young adolescents and fellow ISU students. After graduation I started working as a special education associate in my hometowns district. After two years of being a one on one associate, I began working in an educational life skills classroom that was brand new to our district. 

 

In my free time I like to spend time with friends, cuddling with my family's dog, reading, and binging the occasional netflix show! I am also a big Cubs fan! 

I am very excited to be joining the LEEP team and can't wait to start!

Niki is originally from New York and moved to Chicago July 2020. She is in the process of completing her Psychology degree at Northeastern University with hopes of continuing on and pursuing a career in Occupational Therapy specializing in Pediatrics. Her professional career includes special education and autism spectrum therapy both in a K-12 setting and private clinics/in-home working as a registered behavior therapist. For the last two years, Niki has worked with both verbal and non-verbal children in early intervention helping children on the spectrum work through aggressive behaviors and other challenges. Niki’s greatest accomplishment was her time volunteering in a state run children’s home helping young girls work through emotional trauma and overcome academic roadblocks. 

 

In her free time, Niki enjoys watching hockey and football (Go Rangers and Saints!) and attending sporting events, exploring new restaurants, spending the day at the lake and any outdoor activities, cooking and live music.

Bio coming soon

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Alex Kruse
Assistant Clinician

Bio coming soon.

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Anna Ormeland,
Assistant Clinician

Bio coming soon.

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Dina Polfsky,
Assistant Clinician

Bio coming soon.

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George Burgi,
Assistant Clinician

George grew up just west of Chicago proper in Oak Park, IL. He studied biology and psychology at National Louis University here in the city and finished his B.A. in Psychology at The College of Wooster in Ohio, with a focus on the importance of play in human development, and on development differences. He has a long history of working with children of all ages -- as frequent babysitter, as full-time live-in au pair in Europe for 4 months, and during various summer jobs helping out at the non-profit WSSRA (West Suburban Special Recreation Association) over nearly 9 years.  Recently, George had worked extensively with WSSRA during the COVID pandemic to provide recreation therapy and inclusion services to elementary school students with various disabilities. George has a passion for helping people whose disabilities keep them from “fitting in,” a passion that stems from his experiences making friends with students in the Special Ed class at his middle school, where he volunteered his recess in 7th and 8th grades.

 

As a lifelong proponent of play-based learning and therapy, George is extremely excited to support the work being done by LEEP Forward.

When George is not hard at work supporting and playing with children as they develop, you can find him struggling to improve his guitar-playing, gleefully chasing a soccer ball, or disappearing down a remote trail for a week or two of backpacking. At least when he is not plotting or prepping what to cook for dinner that night.

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Education Designed Differently.