Meet The Team

image-5_edited.jpg

Lorell Marin
Founder/CVO 

 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)! 

IMG_3669_edited.jpg

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.

IMG_3604_edited_edited_edited.jpg

Elena M

Chief Operating Officer 

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”.

LEEP_QLA FALL PICS 2022-018_edited.jpg

Leigh M, MS, OTR/L 

Clinical Director

Leigh received her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Therapeutic Studies and Occupational Therapy in a 5-year accelerated program at Boston University.  After earning her Master’s degree, Leigh moved back to Chicago for her clinical fieldwork rotations. Though pediatrics was her original passion, Leigh wanted to gain experience working with a variety of populations and spent the first 5 years of her practice working with adult and geriatric populations in hospitals, inpatient rehabs and skilled nursing facilities. 

 

Leigh joined the LEEP team in 2017 and has worked her way up from an occupational therapist to a senior occupational therapist and most recently has transitioned into the role of Clinical Director. During her time at LEEP, Leigh has learned and accomplished so many things! She loves working with and learning from a multidisciplinary team approach and has focused her continuing education on sensory based movement disorders. In addition, Leigh has a passion for sensory friendly and inclusive design within homes and businesses and has enjoyed helping families design sensory play rooms within their homes.  

 

In her spare time, Leigh enjoys exercising, interior design, spending time with family and friends, and traveling the world!

LEEP Staff March 2019 (2 of 16)_edited_e

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!

IMG_3717_edited.jpg

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.

IMG_3721_edited.jpg

Katie L, OTD, OTR/L 

Occupational Therapist 

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.

IMG_3501_edited.jpg

Kim F, OTD, OTR/L 

Occupational Therapist 

Kim grew up in upstate New York with her three siblings before moving to Cincinnati, Ohio. She graduated from The Ohio State University with a Bachelor of Science, in Health Promotion, Nutrition, and Exercise Science. She fell in love with the idea of working with children and went on to get her Doctorate in Occupational Therapy from The Ohio State University. During Kim’s doctoral capstone, she spent a year researching and implementing evidence-based, sensory-based interventions for youth who have experienced trauma. Throughout graduate school, she continued to work with children in a variety of contexts, from preschools, to community centers, to assisting with aquatic research. Kim loves using the power of play to communicate with children, helping them achieve their highest potential physically, emotionally, and socially. She recently moved to Chicago to start her career as an occupational therapist and is excited to be a part of the incredible LEEP Forward team!

 

During Kim’s free time, she enjoys discovering new restaurants in Chicago, fostering service dogs, and spending time outside with friends and family.

IMG_3626_edited.jpg

Abbey L, MS, CCC-SLP

Speech Language Pathologist

Abbey is from Moline, IL of the Quad Cities. She received her Bachelor’s of Science degree in Speech & Hearing Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Master’s degree at Rocky Mountain University of Health Professions in Provo, UT. She has experience working with children on a wide variety of skills including expressive language, auditory comprehension, implementation of augmentative and alternative communication, phonological and articulation disorders, fluency, social skills, voice, and expanding their food repertoire. She believes that the only thing more rewarding than advocating for her clients is seeing her clients learn to advocate for themselves.

 

During her time in graduate school out west, Abbey fell in love with the outdoors and continues to enjoy hiking, camping, and exploring new places. She also enjoys embroidery, cooking, rollerblading with her dog, live music, and spending time with her pets.

IMG_3713_edited.png

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.

LEEP STAFF 2021-22 32 of 45_edited_edited.jpg

Kayla D, LCSW 

Social Worker, LCSW 

Kayla grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago. Her passion for working with children developed at an early age, inspiring her to tutor refugee youth in her hometown and volunteer at an orphanage in Kigali, Rwanda. Kayla holds an undergraduate degree in Psychology from Johns Hopkins University, as well as a Masters degree in Social Work from The University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Throughout graduate school, Kayla concentrated in school social work and interned at two charter schools on the south side of Chicago.

 

She attained her Professional Educator License with School Social Work Endorsement upon graduation in 2016, after which she served as school social worker for Kindergarten through 12th grade students. While working in the school setting, Kayla gained experience in conducting social-developmental studies and functional behavioral assessments for diverse learning students, as well as providing direct social work services for students with IEPs and 504 plans. She also planned and facilitated a social skills group for middle school students with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Before joining the LEEP Forward team in September 2020, Kayla worked as an adoption preservation therapist on the south side of Chicago, providing adoption-focused, trauma-informed, and home-based therapy services to adopted youth and their adoptive families. In this position, she facilitated individual and family therapy, led parent support groups, and educated parents about attachment, trauma, and core issues in adoption.

 

Kayla currently supervises social workers at both locations and assists with family intakes, compiling resources, and other administrative tasks. Kayla will be facilitating a parent/caregiver support group this fall. When she is not at work, Kayla enjoys spending time with family and friends, reading, laughing (about anything!), and playing with her German Shepherd and kitten.

231-0-2_edited.jpg

Ofelia R, MSW

Social Worker

Ofelia was born and raised in Chicago, near Rogers Park. She graduated from Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU) with both a BSW and MSW, and is a licensed social worker (LSW). During her MSW program, Ofelia interned at an agency where she ran skills groups for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). During grad school, she was a mental health therapist for children and adolescents. Ofelia has always been passionate about working with children and adolescents. Before completing her BSW, Ofelia had also worked at a daycare and as a full-time nanny.

Outside of work, Ofelia enjoys being in the kitchen. She enjoys making new dishes and trying out new flavors. During the pandemic, she also picked up baking as a new hobby. She likes visiting different coffee shops and exploring new restaurants. Did I mention she is a foodie? She also enjoys reading mental health related memoirs. Although she may not be very artistic, she enjoys anything related to arts and crafts and playing instruments (and also going to concerts).

 

XT7A4989 (1)_edited.jpg

Karina V, MSW, LSW

Social Worker

Karina was raised in northern suburbs of Chicago. She received her bachelor’s and master’s Social Work degrees from Northeastern Illinois University. Karina has worked with a variety of populations including children, adolescents in a therapeutic setting, as well as adults and geriatric in a skilled nursing facility setting. Over the last year Karina has found a passion in working with children and youth and supporting them in achieving their social and emotional goals through play, art and music.

 

When not at work Karina enjoys antique shopping, watching movies, and reading daily.
 

IMG_3646_edited.jpg

Alyse S, MA, BCBA 

BCBA 

Bio Coming soon 

IMG_3491_edited.jpg

Rachelle K, DT 

Clinical Supervisor 

Rachelle grew up in southeast Michigan and received her Bachelor’s degree in Early Childhood Education from University of Toledo and her Master’s of Education from Ashland University. Prior to moving to Chicago, she lived in Columbus, Ohio where she taught 1st grade for 9 years years and worked as an Intervention Specialist through the Ohio Autism Scholarship Program for 2 years. As an Intervention Specialist she worked 1:1 in the homes for school aged children with Autism. When Rachelle moved to Chicago, IL she began working at Leep Forward as a Lead Therapist while pursuing her Developmental Therapist credential. She is now a Developmental Therapist Clinical Supervisor for Leep Forward and happy to be a part of the Leep Family! She enjoys working collaboratively with Leep’s comprehensive team to support the children and their families at Leep Forward. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, and hiking.

Art Class

Brittiny L 

Medical Biller 

Bio Coming Soon...

IMG_3498_edited.png

Kristell B. 

Medical Biller 

Bio Coming Soon...

IMG_3557_edited.jpg

Gabby D, MA, ABA

Academic Coordinator/RBT 

Gabrielle was born and raised in the south suburbs of Chicago and is a triplet. She is a 2019 graduate from the University of Missouri with a Bachelors of Science in Family and Lifespan Development with a Multicultural Certificate. She earned her Masters of Arts in Applied Behavior Analysis in July of 2022 with an Emphasis in Autism Spectrum Disorders. Gabby plans to sit for her BCBA Liscensure/Certification Exam in the Spring of 2023.

 

During her four undergraduate years, she participated in plenty of service and volunteer work. In 2017 and 2018 she volunteered as a Camp Counselor and Arts & Crafts Coordinator for a Children’s Bereavement Camp in St Louis. This camp supported children and teens through the grief process, coping, and provided social emotional tools and support groups for all ages. She also spent time at the Women’s & Children’s Hospital in Columbia, Missouri in the Pediatric Playrooms. There she provided developmentally appropriate medical play and preparation for difficult or painful procedures in the Emergency Room, Radiology, and Pre-surgery during her Child Life Practicum. She also has experience working with children with Sickle Cell Anemia. During her undergraduate years, she also spent time as a practicum student in the University of Missouri Child Development Lab.

 

When she isn’t working you can find her spending time with her cat Luna Moon, cooking, online-shopping or binge-watching Netflix.

IMG_3541_edited.jpg

Emily S, RBT

Classroom Lead Facilitator - RBT

Emily grew up nearby in Oak Park, Illinois and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Speech and Hearing Science. While pursuing her Bachelor's degree, Emily spent her evenings teaching swim lessons to both children and adults, and her weekends working as a coordinator for a Saturday morning tutoring program for elementary aged students from immigrant and refugee families through the East Central Illinois Refugee Mutual Assistance Center. She spent her senior year of college volunteering as an assistant in two local early childhood classrooms - a preschool class in Urbana, where most of the students spoke Mandarin as a first language, and a first grade class in Champaign where she offered students 1:1 support. After graduating, she spent four years working in early childhood education centers in the West Loop and Ravenswood neighborhoods before finding LEEP in 2019! Emily became a Registered Behavior Technician in 2020 and took a professional development course in DIR-Floortime in early 2021. She has loved having the opportunity to learn multiple disciplines at LEEP and hopes to pursue a Master’s Degree in Special Education in the near future so that she can continue to serve young children and families in Chicago. 

 

When Emily is not at LEEP, she enjoys keeping up with reality television and obscure celebrity news, and practicing art of all kinds.

IMG_3690_edited.jpg

Paulina R, MS, DT 

Developmental Therapist/Classroom Lead 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.

IMG_3523_edited.jpg

Andrea C, RBT

Classroom Lead Facilitator- RBT

Andrea moved to Chicago with her family when she was about two. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Chicago with a Bachelor’s in Kinesiology (exercise science). Andrea previously worked as a play and learning facilitator at a children’s museum where she first observed how following a child’s lead can lead to the growth of creativity. She also used to volunteered at Shirley Ryan Ability Lab in the pediatric floor and is currently working on her Masters of Behavior Analysis and Therapy at Southern Illinois University. Andrea started working at Leep Forward about a year ago and is grateful to have found a place where an incredible team works together to support the wellbeing of the children and where play leads to amazing development. Also, where the children first nicknamed her Drea.

When Drea is not at work, you can find her talking long walks with her loved ones and her corgi named Gorgi as well as constantly re organizing her bookshelf even though there is clearly no more space.

IMG_3568_edited.jpg

Olivia S

Classroom Lead Facilitator 

Olivia is originally from St. Louis, Missouri. She grew up in the western suburbs with one older brother. However, she is a major Chicago sports fan! She attended Columbia College where she obtained her degree in Psychology and a minor in Sociology. Before coming to LEEP Forward Olivia worked with youth for four years including extensive experience in outdoor education and leadership development. During this time she was a certified Wilderness First Responder and worked as an outdoor/backcountry trip leader. She plans to attend a graduate program in the future to pursue her dream occupation as a clinical counselor. 

 

She enjoys any outdoor activity, exercising, playing video games, spending time with friends or family, and petting dogs.  

IMG_3507_edited.jpg

Becca K, RBT

Classroom Lead Facilitator- RBT

Becca grew up in Deerfield, Illinois and spent most of her time in recreational programs mentoring peers with disabilities starting at the age of 7. This sparked her passion to work with this population. Becca earned a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Public Health Certificate from the University of Colorado Boulder. During her undergrad, she worked at a pediatric occupational therapy clinic in order to gain experience in the field as she wants to pursue a career as an Occupational Therapist in the near future. Becca is now back home in Chicago and loving it! Working at LEEP has taught her so much about teaching children through play. 

 

When Becca is not at work she is either volunteering for Tutoring Chicago, going on runs, or walking dogs.

XT7A4976_edited.jpg

Kathryn J 

Assistant Clinician 

Bio Coming Soon...

IMG_3532_edited.jpg

Catherine WJ, RBT

Assistant Clinician- RBT 

Bio Coming Soon...

IMG_3486_edited.jpg

Jessica E

Assistant Clinician

Jess is originally from Colorado, and went on to earn a BS in Psychology with minors in English and Education at Juniata College in Pennsylvania before moving to Chicago. Since graduating, Jess has worked with children with emotional, social, and behavioral struggles in residential, summer camp, and school settings. She has many experiences teaching daily living skills, social skills, and emotional regulation strategies.

 

Jess loves supporting and encouraging kids as they discover who they are and what they love to do! In her free time, Jess enjoys hiking, rafting, traveling, caring for plants, playing volleyball, clay wheel throwing, and spending time with her cat, Mousecop.

IMG_3497_edited.jpg

Sarah W, BA

Assistant Clinician 

Sarah was born and raised in Akron, Ohio but has lived in Chicago for the past thirteen years. She received her Bachelors in Fiction Writing from Columbia College Chicago, and was a Lead Preschool Teacher for four and a half years in Chicago's South Loop. Sarah is an avid painter, and loves to read, write, draw, and create. She is currently obtaining a Masters in Counseling Psychology from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology with a concentration in Children and Adolescents. Sarah is very excited to be a part of the LEEP team, get to know the children, and help to make a lasting difference in their lives.

IMG_3573_edited_edited.png

Audrey T, RBT

Assistant Clinician- RBT 

Audrey is originally from the suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. She moved to Chicago 5 years ago to attend the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she recently graduated from. She obtained her degree in Applied Psychology with a minor in Disability and Human Development. During her undergrad, Audrey interned at an on campus-clinic providing intervention services to children with neurodevelopmental disabilities. She also served as President of the Panhellenic council on campus. She plans on attending a doctoral program in the future to pursue her dream of opening her own clinical practice focusing on play therapy.

 

When Audrey is not at LEEP, you can find her exploring the city, checking out cool restaurants, spending time reading in her hammock, and enjoying live music.

IMG_3699_edited.jpg

Jada B

Assistant Clinician

Bio Coming Soon...

Art Class

Jada S

Assistant Clinician

While intrigued by speech and language development, Jada joined the LEEP team in July 2022 after earning her Bachelor's Degree in Speech Pathology from Eastern Illinois University. She was born and raised in Chicago, Illinois where she pursues hobbies such as Volleyball, volunteering at her family's not-for-profit organization, traveling, enjoying music, and spending time with family. Her main goal is to absorb as many concrete, interactive experiences regarding Apraxia, Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD), feeding disorders, and several other diagnoses. She will further her education in Speech Pathology by obtaining her Master's degree, soon providing services for her family's not-for-profit, Next Level Social Services, while nurturing youth and elderly throughout the city of Chicago. When outside of LEEP, Jada spends her time exercising, shopping, enjoying yoga/meditation, eating delicious food, and playing volleyball.

LEEP_QLA FALL PICS 2022-111_edited.jpg

Mikayla O

Assistant Clinician

Bio Coming Soon...

XT7A4981_edited.jpg

Lily I

Assistant Clinician

Bio Coming Soon...

Art Class

Emily M 

Assistant Clinician

Emily grew up in Glenview, a northern suburb of Chicago, and is soon making her big move to Chicago at the start of 2023. She graduated from the University of Illinois in 2022 with a bachelor's in Clinical Psychology and a minor in Social Work. Throughout her undergrad, Emily dedicated her time to researching the impact of eating, sleep, social media, and exercise patterns on adolescents' mental health during the Covid-19 pandemic and presented the findings at her school's annual Undergraduate Research Symposium. She also volunteered as a study buddy at Youth Services to support children with mental health disorders with their academics. In the future, she plans on attending a combined masters and Ph.D. program to pursue her dreams of becoming a psychologist and opening up her own private practice focusing on trauma and development.

 

When she is not at work, Emily enjoys researching the latest fashion trends, attending music festivals, spending time with her two pugs, and exploring Chicago!