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, Chief Executive Officer, joined the Foundation in 2015.  Andrea made a career transition from institutional investment management and has more than 15 years of nonprofit board management experience, including The ALS Association in Washington, DC.  She 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 with her family, working in her garden and biking.

“I help fight ALS because I’ve never seen more courageous people that those with ALS, including my late mother, Sally, who was cared for by the Foundation. 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

Francesca Deir, RN, started with the Foundation in 2017. Formerly a paramedic, Francesca specialized in ventilators and transport teams. Her passion for helping the ALS community began when she worked as an in-home nurse for tracheostomy patients and provided care to an extraordinary individual who was battling ALS.

“I help fight ALS because everyone has a story that deserves to be shared; no one should be alone in the fight against this disease.”

Contact Francesca at fdeir@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

Laurie B. Fieldman, MSW, LCSW

Laurie B. Fieldman, MS, LCSW, Director of Social Services, received a master’s degree from the University of Chicago in 1993 and  from National Louis University in 1992. Laurie has been with the Foundation since 1999.

Contact Laurie at lfieldman@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, Marketing and Communications 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

Jordyn Landberg,

Jordyn Landberg, Director of Marketing and Communications, received a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology and Social Work and a minor in Public Relations from Butler University. She joined the Foundation in 2012. Jordyn has several years of experience working in the nonprofit sector including America SCORES and Starlight Children’s Foundation. Outside of the office, Jordyn can be found chasing her toddler around, taking her dog to the dog beach and seeing as much live music as possible.

“I help fight ALS because I want to see a future without this devastating disease. No one should have to face ALS alone and I am grateful to be a small part of supporting the individuals and families we serve.”

Contact Jordyn at 847 745 6017 or jlandberg@lesturnerals.org.

Anne Lidsky

Anne Lidsky, PhD, ALS Support Services Coordinator, received a Doctorate in Psychology from Northwestern University. Anne has run one of our support groups since 1983. She also has spent the past 34 years as the Director of Education at Temple Jeremiah in Northfield, IL. She is also a licensed clinical psychologist and support group leader. Outside of the office, Anne can be found walking, gardening, reading and spending time with her five grandchildren.

“I help fight ALS because I personally know the pain and trauma this disease creates for the entire family. We need to work together toward our goal to find a cause and cure for ALS. In the meantime, I am honored to be part of the Les Turner ALS Foundation in its support of families facing this ordeal.”

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

Ileane Mindel, RN, Manager of Community Education has been with Foundation since 1995, previously an ALS Support Services Coordinator, graduated from Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing of the City University of New York and previously worked at Hospice of the North Shore where she served as Coordinator of Patient Care and Payer Development.

Contact Ileane at imindel@lesturnerals.org

Ileane Mindel, RN

Lyndsey Rice, Senior Fundraising Associate, joined the Foundation in 2017. She received a Bachelor of Art from North Park University and has been serving individuals with disabilities since 2008. Lyndsey has worked for local non-profit organizations including Maine-Niles Association of Special Recreation, The Arts of Life, and Cure SMA. Outside of the office, Lyndsey can be found joining book and social clubs, trying new restaurants and playing in recreational sports leagues.

“I help fight ALS to ensure that a cure is found for this debilitating disease and that all individuals and families affected by ALS receive the essential support services they deserve.”

Contact Lyndsey at 847 745 6014 or lrice@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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