Our team has grown over the years. These are the people that work to keep our programs and services alive. View their biographies to learn more about them, contact them, and schedule meetings with them.
Andy Duran has been the chief executive of LEAD since May 2012. In the past 8 years, Andy has taken LEAD from a small community organization into a Nationally recognized prevention organization that offers programs and services all over the country. One of his biggest accomplishments is the development of Text-A-Tip, a 24/7 crisis text line that is now available to more than 10 million people. Andy speaks hundreds of times per year in schools, churches and communities across the United States.
Andy was recently elected to the Lake Bluff School District 65 Board of Education, where he is currently serving in his first term.
Nate brings 7 years of experience in tech start-ups and over 15 years of experience in youth-led prevention. Nate has worked in start-ups and small businesses serving diverse clients, was employee number three at a premiere video game market research firm and shortly after graduating from college, Nate landed a job as a software consultant in Chicago.
Nate was first exposed to youth-led prevention in 2002 in his home town of San Ramon, California and continues to volunteer there. In 2016 he changed careers to work with Youth to Youth, an internationally known youth-led prevention program based out of Columbus, OH. Overseeing Youth to Youth’s tobacco grant, Nate coordinated prevention efforts with local organizations, guided teens in their development of counter-marketing materials, assisted local law enforcement with compliance checks, and was a key member of the summer conference staff.
Now, Nate is back in the Chicago area as our COO and SpeakUP! Coalition Director. Bringing his wide breadth of experience Nate is excited to work with the SpeakUP! coalition to advance prevention in our unique community. He believes that the opposite of addiction is not sobriety, but connection, and that our continued efforts to connect people in crisis with the services and support they need will help reduce addiction throughout our community and country.
In his spare time Nate enjoys camping with his girlfriend Rachael and their dog Boomer, enjoys rock climbing, and playing video games. Nate is an Internationally Certified Prevention Specialist and holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology.
Nicole brings 20 years of experience in Operational Excellence and Financial Management roles in the non-profit, healthcare, and corporate business segments. Nicole has designed and managed general business operations including strategic planning, growth and development, hiring and onboarding, coaching and mentoring, project management and execution, process improvement, change management, stakeholder management, scorecard development, and customer satisfaction. The teams she leads are impressed by Nicole’s collaborative and engaging approach to bring groups together and achieve excellent and innovative outcomes.
Nicole started her career with General Electric (GE) in the Plastics division completing its Financial Management Program (FMP). During her time at GE Transportation, she earned a Black Belt certification with applications in LEAN and Six Sigma process methodology. Nicole’s Black Belt focused in the area of Finance with key projects touching the Financial Customer Review process and the Military Order Ship Bill process collectively driving $25 million in cost savings and $10 million in additional revenue. Through the Black Belt program she also mentored Green Belts and facilitated Work Outs as well as LEAN events.
In addition to GE, Nicole has worked for Catholic Healthcare Partners, a large healthcare system in Cincinnati, OH, Advocate Healthcare, and Northwestern Medicine in Chicago. Her focus in healthcare was optimizing patient flow, improving quality outcomes, increasing patient satisfaction, and maximizing financial viability. In addition to her roles in healthcare, Nicole worked in the Consumer Products industry for Beam Inc. At Beam, Nicole established the Performance Improvement Program including executive buy-in, training, coaching, facilitation of LEAN events, project execution and change management. She supported the areas of Finance, Shared Services, HR, and IT.
Most recently, while living abroad in Singapore, Nicole served as a member of the Executive Leadership Team on the Board of Directors for Tabitha Society, an organization whose mission is to help impoverished Cambodian people create sustainable income and work their way out of poverty. This role included fundraising and community engagement. Serving in this capacity sparked the passion that Nicole holds for utilizing her business and leadership experience to serve a greater mission.
Along with her diverse experience, Nicole brings a passion for excellence, focus on the customer, and contagious energy to coaching and facilitating. Nicole holds a B.A. in Economics and French from University of Wisconsin-Madison and a Masters in Health Administration, MHA from the University of Cincinnati. She also studied abroad at the Universite d’Aix-Marseille and is fluent in French.
Debbie Van Solkema
Debbie serves as community relationship point person for LEAD's youth crisis hotline, Text-A-Tip. She began working with LEAD in 2015 as a concerned parent and, in that role, facilitated the implementation of Text-A-Tip in the New Trier Township community. After having lived on Chicago's North Shore for 25 years, Debbie and her husband relocated to St. Petersburg, Florida in 2016. About that time, Debbie transitioned into the role of Partner Relationship Manager to introduce and implement Text-A-Tip for communities in Florida and across the U.S.
With a professional background in Strategic Communications, Debbie brings project management and marketing capabilities which support her objective of educating communities that could benefit from LEAD's innovative youth mental health resource. She has a gift for bringing together community leaders who share her passion for promoting wellness among youth.
Debbie has a longtime commitment to youth welfare, having served on the Auxiliary Board of Juvenile Protective Association while a Chicago resident. She currently serves as a mentor for homeless youth with Starting Right, Now in Tampa and on the Board of Directors of Infinity, The League to Aid Abused Children and Adults. In her leisure time, Debbie cherishes time spent with her young adult children and enjoys paddle boarding with friends, biking with her husband and walking her Golden Retriever.
Holli brings over 25 years of experience in the meetings, special events and event marketing business. She began her career in catering and hotels, moving into full destination management services for her primary client, Merck Pharmaceuticals. After moving to Chicago, she evolved into targeted event marketing, specializing in unique event experiences. She began her own agency, Mad Hatter Events, while raising her four children in Lake Bluff, where she has resided for 15 years. She currently serves on the board of The Josselyn Center as well as the Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital Women’s Board, where she chaired the grand opening event for the new Northwestern Lake Forest Hospital in 2018.
Dean Kapolas has 12 years of experience in customer service, 2 years of experience doing prevention work with Omni Youth services, and 1 year of research assistance experience at Lake Forest College. After graduating as a Psychology major in 2021, he plans on attaining his masters degree in Clinical Social Work to continue in assisting individuals in the development of healthy coping mechanisms.
He is a firm believer that the opposite of addiction is community, which makes him excited to be a part of the work that LEAD does.
In his free time Dean loves to cook, pet dogs, and lift heavy things at the gym (or buckets of sand in the backyard during quarantine).
Maja has been in Youth led prevention all throughout her high school career and feel in love with prevention when she attended a summer camp called the Cebrin Goodman Teen Institute (CGTI) at Eastern IL University. After coming home from camp Maja got involved as the first ever Student Representative of her Community Coalition and became a Co-Founder of the Youth Advisory Council at her High School.
Maja is currently a Freshman at Lake Forest College studying Psychology and Sociology to further her education and love for prevention. She hopes to go into Social Work after getting her Graduate Degree and continue her work in drug and alcohol Prevention.
In her free time, Maja loves all things in technical theater and enjoys traveling to see her family in Europe specifically Serbia each summer. Maja is so excited to be apart of the team and learn so many new things with LEAD.