Adolescent & Young Adult Medicine Specialists

Lurie Children's Adolescent Medicine team specializes in adolescent health, wellness and development. Meet our team members below. 

Leadership

Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH

Division Head, Pediatrician (he/him)

Robert Garofalo, MD, MPH, is board-certified in pediatrics and adolescent medicine. Dr. Garofalo also directs Lurie Children’s Adolescent/Young Adult HIV Program and the Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention through the Stanley Manne Children's Research Institute. He is Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Preventive Medicine at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. He is a national expert on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) health issues, as well as adolescent sexuality and HIV infection. Dr. Garofalo provides direct clinical care as a member of this team.

Medical

Cherie P. Dhar MD

Fellowship Director, Adolescent Medicine Specialist (she/her)

Dr. Dhar is an attending physician in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She is board certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Dr. Dhar attended The George Washington University School of Medicine, completed her residency in Pediatrics at University Hospitals in Cleveland, Ohio and fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. Dr. Dhar is the Program Director of the Adolescent Medicine fellowship. Her clinical interests include adolescent reproductive and gynecologic health and the care of LGBTQ+ young people.  

Rebekah Fenton, MD

Medical Fellow (she/her)

Dr. Fenton is a medical fellow in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's. She received her B.A. in Human Biology at Stanford University and attended medical school at the University of Pennsylvania. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Seattle Children's Hospital. Her clinical interests include healthcare for marginalized youth populations, cultural humility and health equity.

Maria H. Rahmandar, MD

Medical Director, Substance Use Prevention Program, Adolescent Medicine Specialist (she/her)

Dr. Rahmandar is an attending physician in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's, and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, with a secondary appointment in Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences. She is board-certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. She attended Princeton University (BA), Baylor College of Medicine (MD), Vanderbilt University Medical Center (Pediatric Residency) and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center (Adolescent Medicine Fellowship). Dr. Rahmandar serves as the Medical Director for the Substance Use Prevention Program. Her clinical interests include adolescent substance use, mental health and long-acting birth control (implants IUDs). 

Lisa K. Simons, MD

Clinical Practice Director, Lurie Children's Gender Development Program (she/her)

Dr. Simons is an attending physician in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and an Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University's Feinberg School of Medicine. She is board-certified in Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine. Dr. Simons attended medical school at Sackler School of Medicine in Tel Aviv and completed her pediatric residency at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center in Baltimore. She completed her Adolescent Medicine fellowship at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles, where she trained at the Center for Transyouth Health and Development. Dr. Simons serves as the Clinical Practice Director at the Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine where she provides direct clinical care and participates in research. Clinical interests also include development of available educational resources related to gender health.

Raina Voss, MD, MPH

Medical Director, Lurie Children’s Gender Development Program; Assistant Professor of Pediatrics (she/her)

Dr. Voss is an attending physician in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s and an Instructor of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She is board certified in Pediatrics. Dr. Voss attended the University of Michigan for her B.S. as well as the University of Michigan Medical School. She completed her residency in Pediatrics at Lurie Children’s. She completed her fellowship in Adolescent Medicine at Seattle Children’s Hospital and earned her Master of Public Health degree at the University of Washington. Dr. Voss provides clinical care in the Gender Development Program and at the Erie Teen Health Center. In addition to the care of gender-diverse youth, Dr. Voss’ interests also include adolescent sexual health, adolescent primary care, and transition to adult healthcare for youth with chronic health conditions.

Terrance Weeden, DO

Medical Fellow (he/him/his)

Dr. Weeden received his B.S. in Biomedical Sciences at Auburn University while marching in the Auburn University Marching Band (WAR EAGLE!) While at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine - Georgia Campus in Suwanee, GA, he received his M.S. in Biomedical Sciences and received his doctorate degree in osteopathic medicine. He completed his residency at the University of South Alabama Children's & Women's Hospital in Mobile, AL. His clinical and research interests include LGBTQ+ healthcare, and eradicating health and healthcare disparities among youth in underserved communities.  

Alisa Chandrabose, MBA, BSN, RN, CPN

Director of Ambulatory/Satellite Services - Central Region (she/her)

Alisa Chandrabose, MBA, BSN, RN, CPN, began her nursing career at Children’s Memorial Hospital (now Lurie Children’s) as a Pediatric Staff Nurse working on a Neurosurgery/Neurology/Endocrine/Orthopedics unit in 2003. After completing her MBA, she moved into a Manager of Patient Care Operations role for Ambulatory Services where she held leadership positions in Primary Care, School Based Health Clinics, Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Gynecology, and Immediate Care from 2008 to 2016. In 2016, Alisa became a Director of Ambulatory and Satellite Services for the Central Region and currently oversees Clinical and Patient Care Operations at various sites including: Uptown, Clark/Deming, LCPC-Town and Country Pediatrics at Halsted/Lincoln/Glenview, and for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Dayton. Alisa received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at Northern Illinois University, and a Master of Business Administration from National Louis University.

Jennifer Jensen, MSN, APRN-NP, CPNP

Adolescent Medicine Nurse Practitioner (she/her)

Jennifer Jensen, RN, MSN, CPNP, is a pediatric nurse practitioner in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. She has been on staff at Lurie Children’s (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital) since 2001. After having worked with HIV infected and affected adolescents and young adults in the Division of Special Infectious Diseases for more than 14 years, she joined The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine in December 2015. Jennifer received her BSN and MSN from the University of Pennsylvania. She completed a nurse practitioner fellowship in Adolescent Health at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center in June 2001. Her clinical interests include general adolescent health, caring for gender expansive and transgender youth, and substance use and prevention in adolescents and young adults.

Dani Malnekoff, BSN, RN

Registered Nurse (she/her)

Dani Malnekoff, BSN, RN, is a Registered Nurse with Adolescent Medicine at Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She is passionate about the pediatric population, specifically teenagers, and enjoys working with patients of diverse backgrounds. Dani is also a competitive powerlifter who also enjoys reading and cooking. She is currently pursuing a doctorate degree to become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner.

Elizabeth Saavedra, RN, BSN

Registered Nurse (she/her)

Elizabeth Saavedra, RN, BSN is a Registered Nurse with Adolescent Medicine at Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago. She is passionate about working with high risk populations including adolescents with mental illness and HIV infection. Elizabeth also enjoys the outdoors including hiking, and kayaking.

Ginny (Virginia) Scheffler, RN, BSN

Registered (Advanced) Nurse (she/her)

Ginny Scheffler is a registered (Advanced) nurse in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and Pediatric Gynecology since 2005. Ginny started her career as a student nurse at formerly Children’s Memorial and has been a nurse for over twenty six years with inpatient and ambulatory experience. She received her BSN from Loyola University. Her clinical interests include general adolescent health, gynecologic services and providing care for gender non-conforming and transgender youth. Ginny is a recipient of the Earl J. Fredrick Award and Nurse Exemplar Family Advocate in 2014.

Behavioral Health

Diane Chen, PhD

Behavioral Health Director (she/her)

Diane Chen, PhD, is the Behavioral Health Director in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Pediatrics, at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. She directs behavioral health services within the Gender Sex Development Program and provides clinical care in the multidisciplinary clinics for transgender and gender expansive youth and for youth with differences in sex development. Dr. Chen maintains an active research program examining health risk behaviors, mental health functioning, and medical decision-making among gender- and sex-diverse children, adolescents, and young adults. Dr. Chen received her PhD (2012) and MA (2008) from Temple University, her BA (2004) from the University of Michigan, and completed her pre-doctoral internship (2012) and post-doctoral fellowship (2013) in clinical child and pediatric psychology at Lurie Children’s.

Claire Coyne, PhD

Pediatric Psychologist (she/her)

Claire Coyne, PhD, is a medical psychologist in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and an Assistant Professor at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Her clinical training and work has focused broadly on providing evidence-based treatment for at-risk youth and their families, including youth exposed to childhood trauma and gender-nonconforming and transgender youth. Dr. Coyne works with patients and families through the Lurie Children’s Gender and Sex Development Program (GSDP), a multidisciplinary team designed to support the physical and psychosocial health of children and adolescents throughout gender identity development. She is also a member of the Lurie Children’s Trauma Team and provides trauma-related outpatient services to children and adolescents referred to the hospital due to exposure to traumatic violence, abuse, or neglect. Dr. Coyne graduated from the Clinical Science Program in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University. She completed her pre-doctoral internship (2014) and post-doctoral fellowship (2105) at Lurie Children’s. 

Aron C. Janssen MD

Vice Chair, Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health (he/him)

Dr. Janssen is a clinical Associate Professor at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, and the Vice Chair of Clinical Affairs in Lurie Children’s Pritzker Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health. Prior to joining Northwestern, Dr. Janssen was on faculty at the New York University Child Study Center, where he was the founder and director of the Gender and Sexuality Service and the co-director of the NYU Consultation-Liaison Service. His time there was defined by his innovative program development and delivery and community advocacy. He received his undergraduate and medical degrees from the University of Colorado, and his general psychiatry residency and child and adolescent psychiatry fellowship at NYU. Dr. Janssen is an expert in transgender mental health across the lifespan, and his primary clinical and research interests have focused on understanding co-occurring mental health disorders among transgender and gender diverse youth. Dr. Janssen’s work has been widely published, and he has had the privilege to present locally, nationally and internationally on his work. He is an associate editor of the journal Transgender Health, and sits on several international workgroups that are setting the standards of care for the World Professional Association of Transgender Health. He is a member of the Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity Issue Committee for the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and on the advisory board for the Trevor Project. His most recent book is Affirmative Mental Health Care for Transgender and Gender Diverse Youth.

Jon Poquiz, PhD

Psychology Fellow (he/him)

Jon Poquiz, PhD, is a psychology fellow in the Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. His clinical training focused on providing evidence-based treatment and assessment for children and adolescents presenting with developmental, emotional, and behavioral difficulties. He is receiving specialized clinical training providing clinical care for transgender and gender diverse youth as well as for youth with differences in sex development through Lurie Children’s Gender Sex Development Program. Dr. Poquiz is also engaged in research that broadly focuses on contextual factors associated with mental health and risk behaviors among gender and sexually diverse youth. Dr. Poquiz received his PhD (2019) and MA (2015) in clinical child psychology from the University of Kansas, and completed his doctoral internship (2019) in clinical child psychology at Children’s Mercy Kansas City. He also received a graduate certificate in LGBT Health Policy and Practice (2018) from George Washington University.

Faith Summersett Williams, PhD

Post-Doctoral Fellow, Center for Childhood Resilience and Substance Use Prevention Program (she/her)

Faith Summersett Williams, PhD is a second-year clinical psychology post-doctoral fellow in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's. As a clinical-scientist, trauma has been the unifying construct in her clinical work and research. With over 10 years of experience working with racialized groups from historically oppressed communities, Dr. Summersett Williams' academic and clinical interests are focused on the development and translation of culturally appropriate, evidence-based, and healing-focused mental health assessments and interventions for pediatric healthcare systems. Dr. Summersett Williams works with patients and families through the Substance Use Prevention Program (SUPP), a multidisciplinary team providing assessment, early intervention, and outpatient services for children, adolescents, and young adults who use substances. Dr. Summersett Williams is also a member of the Trauma Treatment Service and provides trauma-informed treatment to adolescents with histories of trauma exposure. Her professional goal is to develop a research career focused on identifying mechanisms that prevent the onset of pervasive and detrimental risk behaviors, including substance use and sexual risk behaviors, among adolescents and young adults who have histories of trauma and violence exposure. Her hope is that her research informs health care policies and procedures to improve patient outcomes and access to quality healthcare.

Lindsey Eilers, LCSW, CADC

Psychiatric Social Worker (she/her)

Lindsey completed her clinical social work internship between 2011 and 2012 at Community Counseling Centers of Chicago, Recovery Point working with substance use in the outpatient program. Since then Lindsey worked at The Kenneth Young Center, in Schaumburg, as the Mental Illness Substance Abuse therapist for adolescents and young adults. After that she moved into private practice in Oak Brook, working with a variety of mental health and substance use issues in varying populations. She also worked at Provident Hospital as the LCSW in the HIV and AIDS program, providing mental health services. Lindsey received her AM from the University of Chicago, SSA, with a concentration in Alcohol Other Drug Addictions. She became a Certified Alcohol Drug Counselor in September of 2014. Her clinical interests include providing substance use services to individuals and their families as well as providing behavioral healthcare. In addition she enjoys helping other clinicians build their capacity to provide evidence-based care, knowledge and support to the substance use field. 

Joseph Ronda, LCSW

Social Worker (he/him)

Joseph is a social worker for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. He takes a comprehensive approach to each therapeutic relationship, considering the bio-psycho-social aspects of each individual client’s well-being. Joseph is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who earned his Master’s Degree (MA) in Social Work at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Joseph provides individual therapy for children, adolescents and their families as well as individual therapy for young adults.  

Paige Ryan, MSW, LCSW

Psychiatric Social Worker (she/her/hers)

Paige Ryan, LCSW, is a psychiatric social worker in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Paige is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker (LCSW) who earned her Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) at the University of Southern California (2014) and her Bachelor’s Degree (BA) in Psychology at Northern Illinois University (2011). Paige provides direct clinical services to patients and families within the Lurie Children’s Gender and Sex Development Program, a multidisciplinary team designed to support the physical and psychosocial health of children, adolescents, and young adults who are gender diverse. Prior to providing services at Lurie Children’s, Paige was an outpatient mental health therapist working with youth and their families in the Rockford area through Rosecrance Health Network. She has also provided outpatient crisis stabilization services to youth as a SASS Crisis Therapist, and she has provided addiction treatment in residential and outpatient settings. In her clinical work, Paige has utilized various therapeutic approaches, including harm reduction, Motivation Interviewing (MI), Solution-Focused Brief Therapy (SFBT), Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) approaches.

Social Workers

Sarah Cohen, LCSW

Medical Social Worker (she/her)

Sarah is a medical social worker within The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s. Sarah joined the division in 2015 and works closely with patients and families who come for primary care, mental health services, sexual health services and HIV related services. Sarah’s previous experience includes working at Planned Parenthood, at North Shore University Health System in the postpartum depression program and Center on Halsted as well as working with homeless adults at a shelter.  Sarah has a passion for working with teens and young adults on issues around sexual health, mental health and relationships.

Sarah received her undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin Madison in Women’s Studies in 2005 and a Masters in Social Work and a MA in Women’s Studies from Loyola University of Chicago in 2008. Sarah received her LCSW in 2010.

Gabriel Edwards, LCSW

Gender Sex Development Program Coordinator (he/him)

Gabriel Jara-Almonte Edwards is a Clinical Social Worker with experience supporting families, children, and adolescents, community medical and mental health settings since 2011. Gabriel joined the Gender & Sex Development team after serving as the Associate Director of the TransLife Care Program at Chicago House and Social Service Agency for 2 years. As the Gender Program social worker, Gabriel provides ongoing patient centered and strengths based support to patients and families. In this role, Gabriel conducts intakes for individuals interested in the program, provides linkage to community resources and mental health supports and provides ongoing care to patients and families. Outside of Lurie Children's, Gabriel also conducts trainings across Chicago and mentors trans youth.

Gabriel received his Master’s in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago and has spent 3 years with the Merchant Mariners here in Chicago.

Janay Joyce, LCSW

Licensed Clinical Social Worker (she/her)

Janay Joyce is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with experience supporting families, children, and adolescents, in community, medical and mental health settings since 2004. Janay joined the Gender & Sex Development team two years ago after serving as the social worker in Lurie Children’s Primary Care clinic for two years. As the Gender Program social worker, Janay provides ongoing patient centered and strengths-based support to patients and families. In this role, Janay provides linkage to community resources and mental health supports as well as ongoing care to patients and families as they navigate through our program. In addition to her work at Lurie Children’s, Janay has provided youth and family centered support at Youth Outreach Services, Alternatives Inc and North Lawndale College Prep High School. Janay received her Master’s in Social Work from Case Western Reserve University and has been a Licensed Social Worker since 2010. Janay strongly encourages patients and families that are interested in our program to reach out!

Alyssa Kelly, MSW, LSW

Substance Use and Prevention Program (she/her/hers)

Alyssa is a medical social worker with The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's. She is currently working with patients and families through the Substance Use and Prevention Program (SUPP). She is the first contact person for the program and is there to assist with community resources and other needs. She is currently pursuing her CADC to better support the patients and families of the SUPP program. In addition to her work at Lurie Children's, Alyssa has experience working in an emergency department, a youth drop-in center and a long term care facility.

Alyssa received her undergraduate degree from The Ohio State University in Psychology and Women's Studies and a Master in Social Work from Loyola University Chicago. She is currently a LSW working towards her LCSW.

Research

Rose Diskin, BA

Behavioral Research Coordinator (she/her)

Rose is a research coordinator within The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. In this role she has helped to oversee the day-to-day tasks associated with various research projects. She also serves as a health educator for youth of all ages within the Chicago area. 

Claire Donahue, MPH

Behavioral Research Coordinator (she/her)

Claire provides research coordination to Behavioral Research staff in the development, implementation and tracking of studies. She also provides client-centered HIV testing and counseling services for all programs and assists in the recruitment of study participants while also executing outreach for studies and testing services.

Jane Hereth, MSW

Senior Behavioral Research Coordinator (she/her)

Jane Hereth supports the work of the division by conducting data analysis, preparing manuscripts, and facilitating program evaluation. Jane is currently pursuing a PhD in social work at the University of Chicago. Her research focuses on social inequality among LGBTQ youth. Jane has worked in the areas of HIV prevention, sexual assault crisis counseling, and prison abolition in Chicago for the last ten years. 

Sam Hoehnle, BA

Behavioral Research Coordinator (they/them)

Sam is a research coordinator on the Positive STEPS study Sam oversees the everyday activities, recruitment, intakes and retention of participants. Positive STEPS, a randomized control trial is to test the efficacy of a stepped-care "adaptive" Antiretroviral Therapy (ART) adherence intervention ("Positive STEPS") for HIV infected adolescents and young adults, ages 16 to 29.

Amy K. Johnson, PhD, MSW

Research Assistant Professor (she/her)

Amy K. Johnson, PhD, is a research assistant professor in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's and Department of Pediatrics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She earned her PhD in Epidemiology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Dr. Johnson has advanced training in program evaluation, quantitative and qualitative analysis. In addition, Dr. Johnson has a background in social work and therefore brings a strengths-based trauma-informed approach to her research and evaluation work. Dr. Johnson’s primary area of expertise and interest lies in applied HIV and STI prevention and care intervention research. Her work focuses on high priority areas of HIV intervention implementation, risk assessment and developing/assessing prevention packages, as well as in adolescent sexual health.

Alexa Karczmar, BA

Senior Behavioral Research Coordinator (she/her)

Alexa supports the division as coordinator of MyPEEPS, an mHealth intervention that uses sex education as a tool to reduce risk behaviors among young MSM (males who have sex with males). She also supports our program team, teaching sexual health education to students in K-8th grades. Her past work has centered on sexual health, youth-focused policy, and research. This has included research administration with the Division of Reproductive Science at Feinberg Medicine and with Chapin Hall Center for Children. She has also worked as a sex educator with the University of Chicago and Chicago Youth Programs. Alexa earned her BA in Psychology from the University of Chicago, and is currently pursuing her MPH at DePaul University.

Ellie Kim, MD

Research Coordinator (she/her)

Ellie Kim is research coordinator for the Trans Youth Care Study, a multi-site, NIH-funded R01 study researching the effects of gender affirming hormone and puberty pausing medication in transgender and gender expansive youth. She completed her MD at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine in 2019. Passionate about LGBTQIA+ health, she returned to Lurie Children’s to pursue a full-time career in transgender research.

Victoria Kolbuck, LSW, MSW

Behavioral Research Coordinator III (she/her)

Victoria coordinates multiple behavioral research studies within the Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Currently, she is coordinating Project AFFRMED, and previously she coordinated Trans Youth Decision-Making Project and Puberty Blockers: Reported Experiences from Youth and Families. She is actively involved in the Lurie Children’s Clinical Research Professionals (CRP) community, and she serves on the CRP Education & Mentoring Committee. Victoria earned her MSW and BS degrees from Loyola University Chicago.

Lisa M. Kuhns, PhD

Associate Director, Center for Gender, Sexuality and HIV Prevention (she/her)

Dr. Kuhns is a Research Associate Professor in the Department of Pediatrics at the Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University. Her research interests focus on the influence of gender and sexuality on HIV-related and other health outcomes among sexual, gender and racial/ethnic minority populations, particularly youth. She is currently a co-investigator on four studies funded by the National Institutes of Health which focus on primary prevention and health promotion among those at risk of or infected with HIV.

Abigail L. Muldoon, MA

Manager, Data Programs (she/her)

Abigail leads the data management team’s efforts to develop and implement data collection systems, as well as organize, clean, store and analyze data collected to ensure high data quality, security, and compliance with study protocols and regulatory requirements for division research, clinic, and programs. Her work has centered on creating data collection systems that are cultural competent as well as highly efficient and sophisticated. Abigail has an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies from DePaul University and a BS in Psychology from Florida State University.

Nate Nash, MSW

Behavioral Research Coordinater (he/him)

Nate Nash supports the division as coordinator for the mLab App, an mHealth intervention which combines providing HIV self-tests and real-time diagnostic feedback among young MSM (males who have sex with males) and young TGW (transgender women). His past work has centered on developing and implementing an HIV testing outreach program for the Bell Flower Clinic in Indianapolis, IN. His past work includes implementing sex positive and social justice minded  frameworks in healthcare settings to create more accessible testing opportunities for underserved populations. Prior to working with Bell Flower, Nate worked alongside Indiana Youth Group as their Activity Center Manager and curated an affirming HIV testing space for queer youth. Nate has his BSW from Ball State University and his MSW from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis. He is currently pursuing his licensure for the LSW.

Katie M. Nikolajuk, MSW, MBE

Behavioral Research Coordinator II (she/her)

Katie is a research coordinator for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. She works on a variety of projects focused on HIV and STI prevention, adolescent health, and program evaluation. Her previous experience includes research coordination for the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Northwestern University and conducting program evaluation of school-based health programs for the School District of Philadelphia's Office of Research and Evaluation. Additionally, she completed her advanced social work training with an emphasis on policy research and program evaluation at the Center for Mental Health Policy and Services Research at the University of Pennsylvania. Katie earned her Master of Social Work and Master of Bioethics degrees from the University of Pennsylvania.

Megan Runge, MS

Behavioral Research Coordinator II (she/her)

Megan is a research coordinator for the Gender Journey Project, which is a multisite longitudinal study investigating gender development and cognition, mental health symptomology and functioning over time amongst prepubertal transgender and gender-nonconforming children. Her past work centered sexual health education, LGBTQ affirming health care and reproductive health research. Megan earned her BA in medical anthropology from Hampshire College and her MS in Reproductive Science and Medicine from Northwestern University.

Afiya Sajwani, BA

Behavioral Research Coordinator (they/them/theirs)

Afiya is a behavioral research coordinator working on several locally and nationally-funded projects, including the mLab Study, TODAY! Study, Project AFFRMED, and Trans Youth Decision Making Project. They are also part of the Division’s sexuality education, programming, and HIV and STI testing teams.

Elizabeth M. Waldron, MS

Study Therapist (she/her)

Elizabeth is a study therapist for  where she works with adolescents and young adults to improve various health related behaviors. She is currently pursuing her PhD in clinical psychology with a behavioral medicine emphasis at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Community Programs & Initiatives

Jennifer Leininger, M.Ed.

Associate Director, Community Programs Initiatives (she/her)

Jennifer Leininger, M.Ed., has over ten years of nonprofit experience in Chicago, including adolescent programming, education, community engagement, and education policy. Since 2009, Jennifer has provided youth and family-centered support while working at Ann Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. As Associate Director, Jennifer oversees advocacy efforts and programs within The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine including HIV testing, Training and Professional Development, TransMentor, and the Sexual Health Education Programs. In this role, Jennifer leads Division policy and advocacy initiatives in schools, communities, and professional organizations.  Jennifer also directs the activities of Preventing Alcohol Abuse in Chicago Teens (PAACT), a multi-agency coalition convened by Lurie Children's Strengthening Chicago’s Youth (SCY) and Injury Prevention Research Center, which addresses the prevention of alcohol use among 8th – 12th graders in the City of Chicago. 

In addition to her work at Lurie Children's, Jennifer has worked on youth programming with other nationally recognized organizations, including the Broadway Youth Center, Howard Brown Health Center, Museum of Contemporary Art, Old Town School of Folk Music, and About Face Youth Theatre. Jennifer holds a Master of Education from DePaul University, as well as a Bachelor of Science in Marketing and a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre from Miami University of Ohio.

Adam Davies

Student Program Assistant (they/them)

Adam Davies is a Student Program Assistant in the Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's. There they support the education and professional development and sexual health education programs. Adam is a rising senior at Northwestern University studying Social Policy and Gender Studies where they specialize in policy and advocacy work for transgender and gender nonconforming folks.

Kacey Draine

HIV and Sexual Health Outreach and Testing (she/her)

Kacey works with the CDPH-funded team to do community outreach for young transgender women. She is trained in HIV and STI prevention and education and is responsible for letting communities know that our team is available to work with them in non-judgmental and supportive ways.

Faith Knocke, M.Ed.

Program Assistant (they/them)

Faith Knocke is the program assistant for the Community Programs and Initiatives team. Faith received their M.Ed. in Cultural and Educational Policy Studies from Loyola University-Chicago in 2018. Faith assists with day-to-day programmatic and operational activities, including coordinating events and trainings; implementing activities in support of communication/outreach; providing support for the youth-facing and community groups; and supporting outreach and education efforts in the community. Before coming to Lurie Children's, Faith worked as an advocate and development associate for afterschool programs throughout the state of Illinois.

Logan Pierce

Program Coordinator (he/him)

Logan is the Program Coordinator of TransMentor, the first mentorship program for trans youth in the United States. In addition to the mentor program, Logan supports the work of the division by frequently teaching sexual health education, facilitating gender inclusivity trainings, co-producing Lurie Children's Never Fear Talks, and leading multiple groups for transgender, non-binary, and gender expansive youth.

Dawn Ravine, MPH

Sexuality Education Program Coordinator (she/her)

Dawn is the Sexuality Education Program Coordinator for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. She works with staff and community partners to bring high-quality, youth centered, culturally inclusive, comprehensive sexuality education programming to young people of all ages. Her previous experience includes coordinating, developing and facilitating sexuality education programing in a variety of settings including, a juvenile detention center in Philadelphia, an alternative to incarceration program in Brooklyn, a community school in Washington Heights, and most recently in a community organization serving 10 schools in Evanston and Skokie. She completed her BA in Sexuality Education at Hampshire College and her MPH in Gender, Sexuality and Health at Columbia University.

Hadeis Safi

Manager, Community Programs (they/them)

Hadeis is the Manager of Community Programs for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Hadeis supports the work of the division by connecting and engaging with community partners and businesses to further our mission. They also plan and support events throughout Chicagoland to share the breadth of services provided by the division. Hadeis supervises and coordinates the HIV Screening program, which provides HIV/STI screening to at-risk young people in Chicagoland. They also coordinate the Training Education program, where they are a trained facilitator for Gender LGBTQ Professional Development Trainings and the Sex Ed Training Programs provided through the division.

Saleha (Sal) Salam, BA

Program Coordinator, HIV and Sexual Health (she/her/they/them)

Sal provides confidential HIV Testing & Counseling Services to interested clients. In addition, she is working to bolster the Center’s community presence by establishing partnerships with local health and social service agencies. Sal also provides linked individuals who test positive for HIV to medical services.

Sergio Tundo

Coordinator, HIV and Sexual Health Outreach and Testing (they/them)

Sergio is the Coordinator of HIV Prevention Programs at Lurie Children’s. They also assist newly diagnosed and out-of-care HIV+ adolescents in getting linked to medical and social services that meet their individual needs.

Josephine Kearns, BA

Training Facilitator (she/her)

Josephine Kearns is the founding and former Program Coordinator of TransMentor, the first mentorship program for trans youth in the United States. She also conducts training sessions around gender diversity for schools, hospitals, and other organizations, and helps lead Lurie Children's teen group, preteen group, and playgroup. A longtime theatre artist, Josie spends her time away from Lurie working as a gender consultant on theatrical productions across the US and Canada, and she is currently consulting on the Broadway development of the new musical STU FOR SILVERTON. She holds a B.A. in Theatre from George Washington University.

Administrative

Stephanie Pelligra, MPH

Senior Director, Pediatrics Administration and Operations (she/her)

Stephanie Pelligra is the Department of Pediatrics Senior Director for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Stephanie has been on staff at Lurie Children’s (formerly Children’s Memorial Hospital) since 2008. Her previous experience includes clinical and behavioral research, project management, quality improvement, and program coordination. Stephanie received her MPH from DePaul University in 2010. She currently also serves as the Senior Director for the Smith Child Health Research, Outreach, and Advocacy Center, the Division of Academic General Pediatrics, the Division of Community Based Medicine, and the Department of Medical Education.

April Alexander, MBA, BSN, RN

Manager of Patient Care Operations (she/her)

April Alexander, MBA, BSN, RN began her nursing career at Advocate Children’s Hospital as a Pediatric ICU Staff Nurse in 1999 and has held various positions that has included Pediatric Urology Nurse Specialist, Pediatric Ambulatory Staff Nurse and Clinical Coordinator at Loyola University Medical Center, Client Services Manager at Joint Commission Resources and previously was a Manager of Patient Care Operations in Ambulatory Services at Lurie Children’s from 2009 to 2016. Most recently April directed nursing and patient care operations as the Director of Nursing at Almost Home Kids. April returns to Lurie Children’s Ambulatory Services as the Manager of Patient Care Operations for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine and joined the team in June.

April received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a Master of Business Administration, with a concentration in Healthcare Management at Loyola University Chicago. 

Cassie Bruggemann

Clinical Academic Coordinator (she/her)

Cassie is a Clinical Academic Coordinator in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children's Hospital. Cassie provides direction and support to the clinical and graduate medical education team. Her previous experience includes program/education/clinical coordination at Northwestern Memorial Hospital and Rush University Medical Center. Cassie received her Bachelor of Science degree in Public Health and Health Administration along with a minor in Business Administration from Northern Illinois University. She is a passionate advocate for mental health and sexual health.

Marcus Carthans, AGS

Patient Service Representative (they/them)

Marcus assists patients and families at the front end of their appointments, and completes administrative work to support the needs of the Division. They have an Associate’s Degree from City Colleges and is attending Northeastern Illinois University to get a B.S. in Community Health. They’ve been with Lurie Children’s since 2016. In their spare time, they hone in on their makeup skills and do freelance work as a makeup artist.

Aimee Demy

Senior Administrative Assistant (she/her)

Aimee is an Administrative Assistant in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine at Lurie Children’s. Aimee will provide support to our clinical team and work closely with our patients and families.  She has over eight years of experience as an administrative professional. Aimee received her Bachelor of Science degree from Indiana University and her Master of Business Administration with a Specialization in Health Administration from Indiana Wesleyan. Aimee is committed to making everyone feel welcomed and stands by the mission of The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine.

Gia Guerrero

Administrative Assistant (she/her)

Gia Guerrero is the Point of Service for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. She has worked at Lurie Children’s for the past 10 years including working in multiple outpatient clinics and has worked the past three years in the Division.

Gia was born and raised on the North West Side of Chicago. She identifies as a Transgender Female. She has her CNA and in addition to working at Lurie Children’s, works as a stylist. Gia hopes to pursue a career in nursing in the future.

Cynthia Jernigan

Senior Administrative Assistant (she/her)

Cynthia is an Administrative professional of 20+ years. She worked at Children’s Memorial Hospital for six years supporting the former CFO. She returned to Lurie Children's in 2016 as a Sr. Administrative Assistant in the Infectious Disease Dept. and now supports the head of The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine, Dr. Robert Garofalo.

She is currently pursuing a degree in Healthcare Administration and is fully committed to the mission of the Division. 

Mieata Johnson, MBA

Grant Accounting Specialist (she/her)

Mieata is the Grant Accounting Specialist of The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Mieata has extensive knowledge in Excel, Accounting functions, working in Research with Principal Investigators and tracking budgets  and expenses for research projects. Mieata received her advanced degrees in Accounting, Finance and Management from Robert Morris University in Illinois.

Brandy Manning

Senior Administrative Assistant (she/her)

Brandy is an Administrative Assistant for The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. She started at Lurie Children's working in the Academic General Pediatrics department, where she was asked to take over as a Senior Administrative Assistant role for Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. She couldn’t say no! She works on various duties for faculty in Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine.

Alan M. Reyes Yanez

Patient Service Representative (he/him)

Alan is a Patient Service Representative in The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. He assists patients and supports the division through administrative work. He enjoys learning about the diversity of services that the division offers to our patients and families. Alan speaks Spanish fluently and enjoys helping patients and families when English is not their first language. It has been a meaningful experience for him to work as a Patient Service Representative and he looks forward to assisting patients and families with diverse backgrounds. His future goal is to be part of the hematology/oncology team either as a Nurse or as an Art Therapist/Child Life Specialist. 

Amanda Diers Schall, MA, GCPM

Manager, Division Operations (she/her)

Amanda is the Manager of The Potocsnak Family Division of Adolescent and Young Adult Medicine. Amanda has extensive experience in both hospital and university administration with a focus on adolescent medicine and research. Amanda received her advanced degrees in medical anthropology and public management from the University of South Florida.