Les Turner ALS Foundation

Our Team

Our small and tightknit team brings decades of experience and compassion to their jobs.  Made up of a team of support service professionals, fundraising and marketing and communications professionals and an office staff that handles administrative functions, we are committed to providing the best possible support for people living with ALS and their families.

For us, this is personal. Many of us got into this work because we lost a family member or friend to ALS. We know what this journey is like, and we know how to provide support.

Our Team

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Andrea Pauls Backman

Andrea Pauls Backman, MBA, has been Chief Executive Officer of the Les Turner ALS Foundation since  2015.  She brings both a professional and personal passion to ALS/MND having cared for and lost her mother, Sally, to the disease in  2010.

Andrea came to the ALS field following a 30 year career in business management as an institutional investment manager, including as a Managing Director at several investment firms.  She also brings more than 15 years of nonprofit board management experience. She is honored to serve on the Board of Directors of the International Alliance of ALS/MND Associations.

Andrea holds a Master of Business Administration from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Loyola University of Chicago and is a certified public accountant. She also received a Professional Development Certificate in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Organizations from the Northwestern School of Professional Studies. Outside of the office, Andrea enjoys spending time with her family, cooking and biking.

“I am in the ALS/MND fight because I’ve never seen more courageous, determined and selfless individuals than those with this disease. I am committed to do all I can to make their lives better and help find the key to the cure.”

Contact Andrea at 847 745 6050 or abackman@lesturnerals.org.

Andrea Pauls Backman

Laura Embers, Bookkeeper, joined the Foundation in 2016. She received a Masters in Mathematics from UCLA. Laura has spent the last 11 years working with Chicago-based nonprofits, Robert R. McCormick Foundation and the Center for New Community. In her current role, Laura is responsible for recording, reconciling and reporting transactions made by the Foundation.

“I help fight ALS because I want to do my small part in finding a cure and helping people and their families who suffer from this terrible disease.”

Contact Laura at 847 679 3311 or lembers@lesturnerals.org

Andrea Pauls Backman

Daniela Enea, Events Manager, joined the Foundation in March 2020. Daniela graduated from North Park University with a B.S Degree in Nonprofit Management, and established her career fundraising for Cure SMA (Spinal Muscular Atrophy) and the Lakeview Pantry. Daniela loves working for nonprofits because of the deep sense of community they all bring! Outside of work, Daniela enjoys traveling to new places, exercising, trying Chicago restaurants, and playing with her pup, Kira!

Contact Daniela at 847 745 6014 or denea@lesturnerals.org

Laurie B. Fieldman, MSW, LCSW

Cara Gallagher, MA, LCPC received her Master of Arts in Counseling and Psychology in 1997.  She has over 25 years of experience working in the nonprofit sector managing In-home and Residential Support programs, as well as providing case management to individuals with Intellectual Disabilities. Cara joined the Foundation as the National ALS Registry Associate and member of our Support Services Team in 2016. Cara also meets with people living with ALS every week at the Lois Insolia ALS Clinic at the Les Turner ALS Center at Northwestern Medicine to provide support and resources.

Contact Cara at cgallagher@lesturnerals.org.

Karen Gianni

Karen Gianni, Office and Database Assistant, has a Bachelor of Arts in Marketing Management. Karen joined the Foundation in 2013 and has spent the majority of her professional career working for nonprofit organizations; most recently with Easter Seals as their Database Manager. Outside of the office, Karen can be found gardening, cooking with herbs from her garden and traveling when possible.

“I help fight ALS because no one should have to suffer from this devastating disease.”

Contact Karen at 847 745 6016 or kgianni@lesturnerals.org.

Liz Melvin

Hallie Kobylski, Communications and Marketing Manager, joined the Foundation in 2018. She received a Bachelor of Music from New York University and has been a member of the Les Turner ALS Foundation family since her step-dad was diagnosed with ALS in 2011. Hallie previously worked at Midwest Young Artists Conservatory, a local youth music non-profit. When she’s not at the office, Hallie enjoys time outdoors, cooking, reading and spending time with friends and family.

Contact Hallie at 847 745 6013 or hkobylski@lesturnerals.org

Deb Marron

Deb Marron, Office and Human Resources Manager, attended Black Hawk College for Business Communication. Deb joined the Foundation in 2002. Outside of the office, Deb can be found gardening, bird watching, attending fitness classes and entertaining family and friends.

“I help fight ALS because of all the Marty Woywods in this world!”

Contact Deb 847 745 6019 or dmarron@lesturnerals.org.

Ileane Mindel, RN

Jenni Romack, Events Manager, joined the Foundation in September 2019. She received a Bachelor of Science in Recreation Management in 2015 and a Master of Science in Sport Management in 2017 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Jenni previously worked for the University of Illinois Division of Intercollegiate Athletics. Outside of the office, Jenni can be found running, taking her dog to the dog park, and spending time with friends and family.

Contact Jenni at 847 745 6024 or jromack@lesturnerals.org

Julie Stowell, RN, CHPN

Steve Schapiro, MS, Director of Development, joined the Foundation in April 2019. Steve holds a Bachelor of Science in Marketing from Northern Illinois University and a Master of Science in Recreation Administration from Aurora University. Prior to his transition into the non-profit sector, Steve played an integral role in growing National Insurance Examination Services of America (NIESA) into the preeminent privately held Health Information Services Company in the Midwest. Steve has several years of experience in fundraising and development; representing a number of outstanding non-profit organizations including the Alzheimer’s Association, Community Health Charities, and most recently, Eversight. Steve is strategic in his approach when cultivating and growing relationships with individual donors, corporations and foundations. Outside of work, Steve enjoys sports, traveling, and spending time with his family that includes his wife Patricia and daughters Elizabeth and Anna.

“I help fight ALS because like so many others, I want a world without this devastating disease. I am humbled to be working alongside so many dedicated professionals and volunteers who are working tirelessly to advance the mission of the Les Turner ALS Foundation.”

Contact Steve at 847 745 6021 or sschapiro@lesturnerals.org.

Karen Raley Steffens

Karen Raley Steffens, RN, CHPN, CCM, received her Associate Degree in Nursing from William Rainey Harper College in 1994. She is also a Certified Hospice and Palliative Nurse and Certified Case Manager. Before joining the Les Turner ALS Foundation, Karen worked as a Hospice Care Manager with JourneyCare where she worked with her first ALS Patient. Karen joined the Foundation as an ALS Support Services Coordinator in 2016.

“I help fight ALS because I was blessed with the opportunity to do so.  I have never worked with such a devastating disease and yet a patient population that is so amazingly selfless and courageous.  I consider it an honor to be able to help support this incredible group of individuals and their families.”

Contact Karen at ksteffens@lesturnerals.org

Easton Stevenson, LCSW

Easton Stevenson, LCSW, received her Master’s in Social Work from the University of Chicago in 2000. For the majority of her social work experience, Easton worked with the HIV+ population, providing therapeutic services to infected adults and their affected children. Common issues that were addressed included depression, relationship issues, medication adherence, stress, diagnosis acceptance and end-of-life planning. Easton joined the Foundation as an ALS Support Services Coordinator in May 2013.

Contact Easton at estevenson@lesturnerals.org.

Julie Stowell, RN, CHPN

Julie Stowell, RN, received her AD in Nursing from the College of DuPage in 1997. After working in critical care for 2 years, Julie spent the next 15 years in hospice care where she provided end-of-life care to all populations with terminal illnesses. However, she focused on the identification and treatment of the unique symptoms and equipment used to enhance the comfort and quality of life for ALS patients. As a hospice patient case manager, the management of physical and mental symptoms of verbal and non-verbal patients post surgery, post-chemotherapy and post radiation were commonly addressed. Julie joined the Foundation as an ALS Support Services Coordinator in March 2014.

Contact Julie at jstowell@lesturnerals.org.

Julie Stowell, RN, CHPN

Lauren Webb, LCSW, Director of Support Services and Education, joined the Foundation in 2019.  She has worked in the neuromuscular community for 18 years—providing direct patient care for individuals with ALS, selling neurological genetic tests, coordinating clinical trials at Ann and Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago and overseeing the Muscular Dystrophy Association’s nationwide Care Center Network. Her master’s degree is in social work with a concentration in health administration and policy from the University of Chicago. When Lauren isn’t working, you can find her at donut shops across the city.

“I fight ALS to honor the legacy of people with ALS who touched my heart and sparked my passion for research and interdisciplinary care early in my professional career.”

Contact Lauren at 847 745 6020 or lwebb@lesturnerals.org.

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