Meet the Team
M.Ed, LCSW, BCBA, DT
Lorell Marin founded LEEP Forward in 2001 out of her desire to create innovative and inclusive learning environments for all children that focused on social emotional development. She expanded this vision in 2018 to include a school focusing on diverse learners. Lorell holds a master’s degree in both Social Work and Teaching (specializing in Special Education ). Lorell believes passionately in the potential of all children. This belief has driven her to continue to build up her toolbox and evolve with her clients. Just as no two children are alike, neither can the approach we take to support them along their path. She continues to learn as much as she could while prioritizing listening to her clients and honoring their journey. This has brought her to become certified or trained in a variety of areas. Most recently completing requirements to become an LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker) and BCBA (Board Certified Behavior Analysts). Prior to this she completed training as a level 2 DIR practitioner. In addition, she completed training in RDI, Play Project, Mendability, SCERTS, TEACCH, Social Thinking programs and a host of other training. Lifelong learning is in her DNA. However, she continues to learn the most by observing and listening to children and their families. She knows with the right support the children she works with will take over the world (and what a beautiful world that will be)!
Dana H, MS DT
Chief Clinical Executive Director
Dana is a credentialed Developmental Therapist and has been a Lead Therapist at LEEP Forward since 2013 and has also worked as the Transition Coordinator. Dana received her professional DIR-FCD Model certificate in Emotional, Social, and Cognitive Development through the Profectum Foundation. She implements the DIR® Floortime model in the therapeutic preschool groups. 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.
Dana is a native of Milwaukee, Wisconsin and in her free time loves to explore the culinary world of Chicago with her husband, Harley.
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. Elena brings a strong sense of compassion through her own experiences with helping her own beautiful son get the coverage he needs. In her free time she enjoys spending time with her family and making her son laugh. If you have any questions regarding medical insurance just ask for Elena or also commonly referred around the office to as “Diego’s Mom”.
Nicholas was born in the northwest suburbs of Chicago, with three brothers and a large family. When it was time for college he didn’t go far, receiving his undergraduate degree at the University of Illinois-Chicago. Nicholas has also received his DIRFloortime® certificate promoting basic functional emotional development and higher functional development through International Council on Development and Learning (ICDL).
He first became a part of the LEEP family in 2013 by volunteering his free time, but it didn’t take long before he realized this work was his true passion and joined the team full time. Nicholas has moved and explored all across the states, living in both California and Boston working with all ages from infants to young adults but always seems to make it back to his true home, Chicago. One of Nicholas’s favorite quotes is, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” and loves to bring the fun, joy and play into every group and activity he is a part of!
Shana T, M. Ed
Shana has her Bachelors and Masters degrees in Special Education. Shana started working at Leep Forward in 2016, and worked as a lead teacher for 5 years at Leep Forward. For the past two years Shana has been a special education teacher in public and charter schools in Chicago. After two years away, she decided to return to her home at Quantum Leep Academy & Leep Forward! Shana is excited to return as the Program Director, and continue to use her passion of collaborating academics with the DIR and ABA models. Shana believes In order for any learning to take place, strong and meaningful relationships are the foundation. all learning can be fun and engaging! In order for any learning to take place, strong and meaningful relationships are the foundation.
This past summer Shana got married in Chicago to her now husband, Michael! In her free time you might find Shana playing with her dog Rigby, spending time with her siblings, nieces, and nephews who live in Chicago, traveling as much as possible, and crafting of all kinds!
Amanda B, MA BCBA
Clinical Director of ABA Services
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.
Lindsey D MS OTR/L
Occupational Therapist (Department Head)
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. Lindsey has enjoyed working at both LEEP Forward and Quantum LEEP Academy locations for the past 2 and a half years. 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. Lindsey has substantial experience with the DIR® Floortime approach, sensory processing, and feeding.
In her spare time, Lindsey loves traveling (to both warm and cold destinations!), exercising, and spending time with family and friends!
Katie L, OTD OTR/L
Katie grew up in Columbus, Ohio and just recently moved to the windy city to start her career as an occupational therapist. She obtained a Bachelor's Degree in Exercise Physiology with a minor in Psychology from Ohio University and went on to get her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from Nova Southeastern University. Katie spent time during her doctoral capstone researching evidenced-based interventions and strategies for children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) to engage in daily occupations and has experience working with children with ASD during graduate school. Katie is interested in feeding and reflex integration and has plans to take courses to specialize in these areas. She enjoys being silly with kids and helping them maximize their potential through meaningful activities.
In addition to work, Katie enjoys concerts, walks/runs around the city, cooking, spending time with friends and family, and taking her pup, Lola, to the dog park.
Izzy N, MS CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Izzy was born and raised in the western suburbs of Chicago as the youngest of four children, however she has been back and forth between living in Texas and Chicago. Izzy received her Bachelor’s degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders at Texas Christian University in Fort Worth, TX in May 2019. She received her Master’s degree in Speech Language Pathology from Midwestern University in Downers Grove, IL in May 2021. Izzy holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech and Hearing Association (ASHA) and is licensed in the state of Illinois. Throughout her professional career, Izzy had the opportunity to work in the public schools and outpatient settings with children of all ages with a wide variety of speech and language disorders including receptive/expressive language disorders, articulation disorders, fluency, autism spectrum disorders, Down Syndrome, social skills, auditory processing disorders, and other developmental delays.
As a speech language pathologist, Izzy is committed to celebrating vulnerability, showcasing differences, finding commonalities, and employing creative techniques so that her clients can thrive at their own pace and in a style that suits them. Izzy is thrilled to be a part of the teams at both LEEP Forward and Quantum Leep Academy.
Kat G, MSW
Katrina Gainey grew up in Columbia, South Carolina. She graduated from Winthrop University with a Bachelor of Social Work (BSW). She also completed a one-year accelerated program at the University of Houston-Main, where she obtained her to Master of Social Work (MSW). In her five years of working with children, Katrina has worked with children who have neurodevelopmental disorders in both residential and educational settings. Through this experience, she has developed a particular interest in helping this population with their socio-emotional development, and emotional regulation. She has had the chance to organize social skills groups while collaborating on multidisciplinary teams and conducting one-on-one interventions with kids who have neurodevelopmental diagnosis. Her passion is advocating for all children, while delivering therapeutic services to promote their overall wellbeing. She is excited to have an impact on the different children at Leep Forward and Quantum Leep Academy.
In her spare time, Katrina loves traveling, listening to music, weightlifting, hiking, and spending time with family and friends.
Erin V, MS BCBA
Erin was raised in Grosse Pointe Park, Michigan. She attended Michigan State University where she received her bachelor's degree in Kinesiology in 2019. She then moved to Chicago to attend The Chicago School of Professional Psychology where she received a masters degree in ABA. In March of 2022, Erin passed her boards to become a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. After working at QLA as an AC for a little under a year, Erin continued her career at QLA as a BCBA. Throughout highschool, college, and in her masters program she was lucky enough to have worked and volunteered in different settings and fields, such as hospitals, schools, clinics and camps, with children of all abilities and ages.
Erin has always loved working with children, and is so excited to continue that work at LEEP. In her free time, Erin loves to hangout with her dog Winnie, explore chicago with her friends, and watch MSU football!
Alex N, MS CCC-SLP
Speech Language Pathologist
Alex was born and raised in the northwest suburbs of Chicago. She received her Bachelor’s of Science in Speech-Language Pathology at The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She went on to earn her Master of Science in Speech, Language and Learning from Northwestern University.
Alex is passionate about fostering meaningful relationships with her clients and their families to create an environment that promotes development. Alex has experience working with a wide variety of pediatric clients, including those with language delays and disorders, phonological and articulation disorders, and autism spectrum disorder. She’s a firm believer in the undeniable value of an interdisciplinary approach to care and she’s excited to be a part of the teams at both LEEP Forward and Quantum LEEP Academy. After work, Alex enjoys trying new restaurants around the city, listening to live music, and traveling with family and friends.
Michelle S, MS OTR/L
Michelle was born and raised in San Diego, CA. After high school she moved to the Pacific Northwest for college and attended the University of Washington, where she graduated with degrees in psychology and communications. Michelle spent several years working in sales before realizing that her true passion was working with children. She moved to Chicago in 2015 for graduate school and graduated from Rush Universities Masters of Occupational Therapy Program in 2017. Michelle has been working with kids in various therapeutic settings ever since including: therapeutic day schools, outpatient clinics, private practice and hospitals.
Michelle has a passion for helping kids gain the skills they need to be more independent and successful in all areas of their life. She loves to use fun and meaningful activities to increase children’s motor, cognitive, and sensory skills so they can engage in life's every day activities with competence and confidence. When Michelle is not working she loves to spend time with her husband, two year old daughter, and mini golden doodle. She loves the outdoors, reading, and gardening.
Celeste is a Chicago native. She received her undergraduate from Northeastern Illinois University, in which she obtained a double major of Psychology and Sociology. Currently, she is studying at North Park University in which she will obtain her master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. In the future she would like to become a licensed therapist that caters to children and adolescents.
Celeste always encourages a playful 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, try new restaurants and thoroughly enjoys reading or having a cookout with her family!
Sharena S, BA MFA
Sharena (she/her) was exposed to her passion for working with children from an early age. Sharena earned her BA in Fiction Writing and recently earned her MFA in Writing from Northwestern University, where her thesis screenplay about mental health and childhood trauma won first place in Northwestern's writing competition. Sharena has worked with preK - undergraduate students, teaching English, Literacy Skills and Creative Writing. She is currently seeking to shift her career more towards childhood development and behavioral therapy by beginning her journey by working at LEEP, obtaining her RBT certification and gaining other trained experience. Sharena can't wait to start her journey with LEEP/QLA.
As a side passion, Sharena is also an avid TV/movie watcher and writes professionally for numerous online publications where she writes TV/film reviews and articles.
Molly G, BS
Molly grew up in Boston, MA and just recently moved to Chicago. She received her Bachelors of Science in Psychology and Brain Sciences, with a minor in Education. While attending Umass, she was a teachers assistant for a developmental psychology class, as well as a social psychology class.
Molly has a passion for helping others, especially in the field of mental health. Her favorite activities include social emotional learning, and play therapy. In her free time, she enjoys hanging out with her cat and exploring the city, especially all the amazing restaurants!
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.
Paige H, BA
Paige is the oldest of her parents 3 daughters. Paige grew up in Cincinnati, OH before moving to Towson, MD to complete her Bachelor's degree in Psychology at Goucher College in May of 2022. Paige is currently pursuing her Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at Adler University. She is focused on working towards multiculturally competent practice with families & relationships. Paige has experience working with a broad population of children in multiple settings.
Kaira was born in Colorado Springs, CO and moved around as a kid and lived in Germany, Maryland, Pennsylvania, and then back to Colorado. Kaira graduated from the University of South Dakota in May of 2021; with a bachelor's in Criminal Justice and Sociology. In college, Kaira was able to go on a AWOL trip to Chicago to learn about domestic violence and do volunteer work. When Kaira was in Chicago she fell in love with the city and hoped to live there one day. After graduating college, Kaira moved to Appleton, Wisconsin to work at a Boys and Girls Club. Kaira worked with teens specifically and was able to learn how to form meaningful relationships with youth. After some time, Kaira transitioned to a different company, as a Youth Support Specialist. In this role, Kaira was able to work one on one with youth on different goals and skills. After living in Appleton for a year; Kaira's partner got a job in Chicago and they decided to make the big move.
In Kaira's free time she likes to hangout with her two cats; Rain and Coral. Kaira likes to paint, read, garden and watch movies. Kaira loves to explore the new city and cannot wait to see everything Chicago has to offer!
Beca, as she is mostly known, was born and raised in Ecuador. She received her bachelor’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the university UDLA in Ecuador. She moved to Chicago in 2017 to work as an Au Pair for two years and then went back home to work as a teacher’s assistant and an ESL elementary teacher. Now she's back in Chicago to pursue her master’s degree in Child Development, Special Needs Concentration from the Erikson Institute. Since she was very young, Beca and her family enjoyed volunteering at summer camps for children with special needs and in different orphanages. As well as traveling to help children of low resources in different parts of Ecuador.
In her free time, Beca likes to spend her time hanging out with friends and family, watching movies, riding her bike, playing soccer, and painting.
Lea was born and raised in Illinois. Lea is passionate about helping the growth with her Clients, and fostering meaningful relationships with Clients and families. She is a firm believer of Inclusion.
After work Lea enjoys spending time with her son and family, listening to music, trying new activities, and looking for new recipes to cook.
David Munoz is recent graduate from DePaul University. David is currently in the process of obtaining his Master's degree in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at DePaul. Being a Chicago native, David has experience working with children in Chicago Public Schools under the Cities Mentor Project. Working with kids in communities across Chicago, David enjoys working as both a friend and a mentor, and is eager to work with LEEP Forward at Quantum Leep Academy and help whoever he can.
In his free time, David loves to exercise, write, play games, and play piano. David is beyond thrilled to learn and grow as a person within Leep Forward!
Paulina R, MS DT
Lead Classroom Facilitator
Paulina Razo joined the LEEP team June 2022. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree from Northeastern Illinois University where she studied Interdisciplinary Studies with a minor in Child Studies. Paulina’s interest in working with children started when she was a Prevention Initiative Coordinator at a non-for-profit. She enjoyed helping families strengthen their parenting techniques and educating them on child development. After discovering her passion, Paulina obtained her Master of Science in Child Development from Erikson Institute. While Paulina gained her Developmental Therapist credentials, she worked in Early Intervention. She serviced children birth to three in their home, school and center based.
Her favorite activities are play therapy, social- emotional learning and developmental evaluations. Paulina guides children towards social and developmental skills to gain the self-confidence required to engage in new experiences and environments. In her free time, she enjoys lots of self-care activities.