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Child Life Specialists

“Patients and families bring more than their medical needs when they enter the healthcare system; they carry all their experiences, traumas, worries, beliefs, coping skills, and support systems as well.” (Association of Child Life Professionals. (2021). Emotional safety in pediatrics executive summary).

What Is a Child Life Specialist?

A child life specialist is a trained professional who helps children and their families understand and normalize the hospital environment. They are skilled at providing developmentally appropriate support, preparation, and therapeutic play opportunities to decrease anxiety associated with being in the hospital. For more information visit the Association of Child Life Professionals website.

Lurie Children’s has child life specialists located at our main hospital and also at our outpatient satellite locations who are there to help your child understand their diagnosis or procedure in an age-appropriate way. They also help support siblings, guide families through bereavement and assist in legacy making. 

Lurie Children’s Child Life Specialists assess, support and advocate for each child’s physical and emotional needs.

Beth Ryan, Senior Child Life Specialist, works with patients in the hospital’s Lekotek program, a therapeutic, play-based initiative that supports the development of children with special needs. 


Learn more about the role of child life specialists by visiting the Association of Child Life Professionals.

Request a Child Life Specialist

Call 312.227.3270 or ask a member of your medical team to page a child life specialist.   

Please feel free to fill out the caregiver survey prior to your appointment or visit to help us better understand your child’s individual needs. Download the Patient and Family Coping Questionnaire.  

Meet Our Child Life Specialists

Our child life specialists all work in different areas with different units, so their day-to-day tasks can vary greatly. Take a look at their information below to learn which child life specialist might be working with your child.

Rebecca Meyers, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3267 | rmeyers@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. — Child Life Manager

Amanda McGee, BS, CCLS | 312.227.6397 | ammcgee@luriechildrens.org
Available Monday, Tuesday and Thursday, 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m. – Child Life Supported CE-VUS/VCUG (Main Hospital); Available Friday, 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m. — Clark/Deming Outpatient Clinics  

Angela Hyland, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3334 | ahyland@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday, 8:30a.m.-5:00p.m. — Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (Main Hospital)

Anna Batz, MA, CCLS | 312.227.7568 | abatz@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. — 15 South and Clinical Care Specialist

Becca Mitsos, BS, CCLS | 312.227.3273 | rmitsos@luriechildrens.org   
Available Tuesday through Friday, 6 a.m.–4:30 p.m. - Surgical Services (Main Hospital) 

Beth K. Ryan, M.Ed., CCLS | 312.227.6398 | bkryan@luriechildrens.org | Eva Marianne Certified Child Life Specialist  
Available Monday through Wednesday, 7 a.m.–5 p.m.; Thursday, 7 a.m.–3 p.m. — Clark/Deming Outpatient Clinics, Lekotek Leader (Outpatient Center in Lincoln Park)  

Brittany Smith, M.A, FLE, CCLS | 312.227.3347 | basmith@luriechildrens.org   
Available Monday through Friday, 10:30 a.m.–7 p.m. — Child Life Practicum Coordinator, 20th Floor Acute Inpatient-Transplant/GI/Nephrology/Urology/PedSurg/Hepatology/Trauma (Main Hospital)

Cecilia Gonzalez, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3942 | cgonzalez@luriechildrens.org | Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Certified Child Life Specialist
Available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. — Cardiac Intensive Care Unit (Main Hospital)

Clare Johlie, BS, CCLS | 312.227.3338 | cjohlie@luriechildrens.org  
Available Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m.–5 p.m. — 19th Floor Neurology

Elizabeth Moore, BS, CCLS | 312.227.3287 | eciesielski@luriechildrens.org | Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Certified Child Life Specialist
Available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. — Inpatient Hematology/Oncology/Neuro-oncology (Main Hospital)

Emilia C. Crnjak, MS, CCLS 312.274.8934 | ecrnjak@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. – Neonatal intensive Care Unit (Main Hospital)

Emily Rogers, MS, CCLS | 312.227.2931 | erogers@luriechildrens.org   
Available Monday through Friday, 8 a.m.–4:30 p.m. — Outpatient Center in Skokie (every Monday, Tuesday and the 2nd 4th Fridays of the month); Outpatient Center in Lincoln Park (every Wednesday, Thursday and the 1st, 3rd and 5th Fridays of the month)  

Geanine Hunt, M.Ed., CCLS | 312.227.2731 | ghunt@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m. — Northbrook Surgery & MRI Center

Gillian Fiandaca, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3929 | gfiandaca@luriechildrens.org   
Available Monday through Friday,  8:30 a.m.–5 p.m., Stem Cell Transplant and Hematology/Oncology Beads of Courage (Main Hospital)

Jessica Van Voorhis, MS, CCLS | 312.227.8189 | jevanvoorhis@luriechildrens.org   
Available Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m. – Surgical Services (Main Hospital)  

Katelyn Zilles, CCLS | 312.227.3266 | kzilles@luriechildrens.org  
Available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. — Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (Main Hospital)  

Katherine Roach, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3253 | kroach@luriechildrens.org    
Available Sunday through Wednesday, 2 p.m.–12 a.m. — Emergency Department (Main Hospital)  

Leah Hoelscher MS, CCLS | 312.227.2267 | lhoelscher@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday mornings, Tuesday/Wednesday 6:30 a.m.–3 p.m. — MRI, MRI Try Without Anesthesia Program, Cardiac Cath (Main Hospital)

Lori A. Esch, MS, CCLS | 312.227.7925 | lesch@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday, 6 a.m.–2:30 p.m. — Outpatient Center in Westchester

Maegan Cobb, CCLS | 312.227.0218 | mcobb@luriechildrens.orgAvailable Wednesday, 11a.m-5p.m; 7 day rotation, 2p.m.-12:30a.m. — Emergency Department (Main Hospital) 

Marlee Speak, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3294 | mspeak@luriechildrens.org | Anthony Rizzo Family Foundation Certified Child Life Specialist  
Available Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m.–3:30 p.m. — Outpatient Hematology/Oncology/Neuro-oncology (Main Hospital)  

Natalie Sell, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3363 | nsell@luriechildrens.org 
Available Monday through Friday, 9 a.m.–5:30 p.m. —Pulmonology and General Medicine (Main Hospital)  

Samantha Sawalski, CCLS, CTRS | 312.227.7115 | ssawalski@luriechildrens.org   
Available Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m.–4 p.m. — Outpatient Neuromuscular (Main Hospital)  

Shreya Patel, MS, CCLS | 312.227.3274 | shreyapatel@luriechildrens.org   
Available Monday through Friday, 7 a.m.–3:30 p.m. – Fluoro, X-Ray, Ultrasound, Nuclear Medicine, PET/CT, CT, IR  (Main Hospital)  

Child Life Internship/Practicum

If you’re interested in becoming a child life specialist, apply for one of our internships or practicums, and read through the frequently asked questions​.