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Meet Our Genetic Counselors

Katherine Kim, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor Manager, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Ms. Kim received her Master of Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh. Since 2001, she has been a genetic counselor with the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects and Metabolism at Lurie Children’s, formally Children’s Memorial. While Ms. Kim serves as the manager of the genetic counseling team, she continues her clinical practice in Genetics, specializing in the mucopolysaccharidoses and neurofibromatosis. Ms. Kim also enjoys teaching and mentoring students, participating in clinic research projects and advocating for patients and families with rare genetic conditions.

“As a genetic counselor, I find fulfillment in the relationships I build with patients and families. As much as patients have learned from me, I have also learned from my patients. The families I work with have taught me what defines bravery, resilience, and hope.”   

Valerie Castelluccio, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Genetics, Birth Defects Metabolism, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Valerie graduated with a Master of Science in Medical and Molecular Genetics from Indiana University Medical School in 2019 and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) in August of 2019. She received her Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from Michigan State University in 2016. She started her career here at Lurie Children’s in the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects, and Metabolism in 2019. She provides general pediatric genetic counseling, with an interest and focus on ophthalmology genetics. 

"The area of genetics intrigues me because of all the very recent scientific discoveries in this area. I decided to pursue genetic counseling because I would be able to witness first-hand what these recent discoveries can do for children, with a genetic condition, and their families. Being able to work closely with these families and being able to educate myself, and them, on new discoveries are the highlights of this career.” 

Sara Cherny, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Cardiology, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Sara is proud to be the first genetic counselor in the Section of Cardiology here at Lurie Children's. Her role is a combination of patient care, program development, and research. She graduated with her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Minnesota in 2007, and has experience in pediatric, prenatal, and cardiovascular genetic counseling. Her wide range of experience allows her to provide comprehensive care for patients in the Cardiovascular Genetics Clinic.

“I love all things genetics and all things about the heart, but most importantly, I love the opportunity to help patients and families learn about how genetics affects their health and their lives.”

Kristin Clemenz, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Hematology, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Kristin graduated with her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Brandeis University in 1996, and has been the genetic counselor in Hematology at Lurie Children’s since 1998. Her specialty is working with patients who have sickle cell diseasehemophiliathalassemia, and other inherited blood disorders. She enjoys developing long-term relationships with her patients and their families, and provides education and support regarding their blood disorders through the years. Kristin also teaches and mentors students as part of the Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling at Northwestern University. 

“I am honored to have been a part of the Hematology team for so many years and to have been able to provide education and counseling about genetics and get to know our wonderful patients.”

Lenika De Simone, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Neurology, Center for Genomics at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Lenika De Simone received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2018. She joined the Lurie Children's team as a laboratory genetic counselor at the Center for Genomics. She also serves as a clinical genetic counselor at the Muscular Dystrophy Association (MDA) clinic

“I’m excited to form part of such a passionate and motivated team at Lurie Children’s. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to work on both a clinical side, helping families navigate difficult times due to genetic conditions, and on a lab utilization side, where I can help providers make the most of what genetics has to offer.”

Andrew Drackley, MS

Genetic Counselor I, Center for Genomics, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Andy received his Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2021. He started his career at Lurie Children’s as a genetic counselor in the Center for Genomics within the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine. His main role is in the interpretation and reporting of genetic test results. He is also involved with the Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling.

"I’m honored that I get to use my passion for medical genetics to contribute to the world-class care provided to our patients and families."

Madison Hankins, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I

Madi received her Master of Genetic Counseling Studies from the University of Wisconsin- Madison and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2020. She started her career at Lurie Children’s Division of Genetics, Birth Defects, and Metabolism where she provides pediatric genetic counseling services.

“I love being a genetic counselor because I have the opportunity to build relationships with families and empower children and adolescents with genetic conditions to make informed decisions about their health. I am inspired by the resiliency of the patients I see on a daily basis!”

Cassandra Heald, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Cassie Heald received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Cincinnati in 2015 and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC) in 2016. She started her career at Lurie Children’s in the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects, and Metabolism where she provides pediatric genetic counseling services with a focus on general genetics and cystic fibrosis newborn screening. Additionally, she is an active member of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals (ISGP) and provides clinical supervision to genetic counseling graduate students and medical students.

“I am fascinated by genetics and enjoy working in a field where I am constantly challenged and have the opportunity to learn new things every day. As a genetic counselor, I love helping patients and families process complex information and understand how genetics can play a role in their health.”

Rachel E. Hickey, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Rachel graduated with her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of South Carolina School of Medicine in May 2017, and was certified by the ABGC in August 2017. Following graduation, Rachel completed a genetic counseling fellowship in lysosomal storage diseases in the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects, and Metabolism at Lurie Children’s, focusing on diagnosis, management, treatment and newborn screening for this group of complex diseases. She went on to join the team as a pediatric genetic counselor, specializing in lysosomal storage disease and metabolic leukodystrophy, as well as practicing general pediatric genetics. She currently serves as the clinic coordinator for the Leukodystrophy Clinic and the clinic coordinator of the 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Clinic at Lurie Children’s. Rachel is actively involved with the Leukodystrophy Care Network, Illinois Department of Health Lysosomal Storage Disease Subcommittee, and the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals (ISGP). She also provides clinical supervision to genetic counseling graduate students and medical students rotating through the hospital.

“My greatest clinical interest is in treatment of genetic conditions. It is an extraordinary time to be working in this field, as we are now able to use genetic information and diagnoses to identify and initiate personalized therapies.”

Eleanor Hilton, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Center for Genomics at Ann &  Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Eleanor received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2020. She started her career at Lurie Children’s as a laboratory genetic counselor at the Center for Genomics.

“As a laboratory genetic counselor, I collaborate with healthcare providers in selecting genetic testing options for their patients and throughout the genetic testing process. I am excited to be able to support the best delivery of care to Lurie Children’s patients and families who receive genetic testing.”

Alexander Ing, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Center for Genomics, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Alexander Ing is a genetic counselor in the Center for Genomics within the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Lurie Children’s. His role is centered around in-house genetic testing analysis and reporting. In addition, he also serves as a clinical genetic counselor within the Division of Pulmonary and Sleep Medicine as part of the Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia (PCD) specialty clinic. He is a graduate of the Boston University Genetic Counseling Program and was previously a dual pediatric and laboratory counselor at Massachusetts General Hospital. He is also involved with the Northwestern Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling and is passionate about variant interpretation and data collaboration initiatives to improve our scientific understanding of genetic testing results.

“I believe that genetics and precision medicine has great promise to help our patients and families. I’m grateful for the opportunity to help share this knowledge and information with them”.

Jelena Ivanisevic, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Neurology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Jelena received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2021 and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in August of 2021. She began her career at Lurie Children’s in the Neurology Department as one of two genetic counselors who provide counseling for patients and families affected by epilepsy and neurogenetic conditions. Jelena is also an active member of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals’ Advocacy Committee.

“What excites me most about being a genetic counselor is interacting with the community of patients, families, and specialists at Lurie Children’s. I feel fortunate to work with families to provide clarity and support while they process and adjust to complex neurogenetic diagnoses.”

Sarah Jurgensmeyer, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Genetics, Birth Defects & Metabolism, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University 

Sarah received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2020. She started her career at Lurie Children’s in the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects, and Metabolism where she provides pediatric genetic counseling services.

“I am fortunate to have the opportunity to support patients and their families as they navigate their lives with a genetic condition. I am passionate about developing relationships with families and empowering them with the tools and information to achieve their goals.”

Elizabeth Leeth, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Ann Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Assistant Director, Northwestern University Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling; 
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Ms. Leeth received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Indiana University. Ms Leeth practiced prenatal genetics, teaching, and team management for over 20 years. In 2014, she had the opportunity to be involved in the development of the Lab Utilization Program at Lurie Children's. She also facilitated incorporating genetic counseling services into the multidisciplinary Sex Development Clinic at Lurie Children's. She enjoys both the educational and clinical aspects of her roles.

“It is exciting and rewarding to be able to be work at a state of the art, academic institution.  I consider myself lucky to be a small part of such a great team of healthcare providers who are dedicate to caring for and educating patients, their families, and trainees.”

Erin McGinnis, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Neurology, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Erin is one of two genetic counselors in the Neurology Department at Lurie Children’s Hospital, transitioning to this role in June 2019. Previous experience at Lurie Children’s includes lab utilization management and neuromuscular genetic counseling. She received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and has been a board certified, licensed genetic counselor since 2016. She identifies and consents patients for various Lurie Children’s and Northwestern epilepsy genetics research projects and mentors genetic counseling students. Additionally, Erin is a member of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals (ISGP) where she serves as the chair of the Community Outreach Committee.

“I am passionate about working with families affected by a variety of neurogenetic conditions, helping them find answers and supporting them along the diagnostic journey. I also enjoy the opportunity to work alongside the neurologists and epileptologists at Lurie Children’s and helping them continue to integrate genetics into mainstream care for our patients.”

Shelly Weiss McQuaid, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor III, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Shelly Weiss McQuaid is a genetic counselor for the Division of Hematology, Oncology and Stem-Cell Transplantation at Lurie Children’s. She founded the Cancer Predisposition Program in 2016 with goals of providing comprehensive genetic counseling services for pediatric oncology patients and their families who are at risk of hereditary cancer syndromes. Shelly also enjoys serving on the hospital’s laboratory utilization management team, which provides support and guidance to all Lurie Children's health care providers regarding genetic testing options. Shelly was inspired to pursue a career in genetic counseling by her fantastic and unique cousin, who was diagnosed with a genetic condition when they were children. 

“My favorite part about being a genetic counselor is the opportunity to be a leader and innovator in healthcare. We have the ability to create and implement changes that result in greater access to genetic information for our patients, helping them to feel more empowered about their health, medical care and futures.”

Angelique E. Mercier, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Angelique Mercier enjoys providing genetic counseling for a wide variety of indications, with an interest and focus on pediatric oncologyconnective tissue disorderscystic fibrosis newborn screening, and general genetics. She received her MS in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2014, and her BS in Biology and Psychology with minors in Chemistry and Social Work from Valparaiso University in 2012. Prior to joining the Lurie Children's Genetics team, her previous clinical experience included adult oncology, carrier screening program coordination, and educational outreach.

“For me, the best part about being a genetic counselor is the opportunity to work together with the amazing families and other healthcare providers to truly meet the unique needs of each and every patient.”

Andrea Paras, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor Level III, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Clinical Instructor in Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Ms. Paras received her Master of Science in Medical Genetics from the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Since 1999, she has been a genetic counselor in the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects and Metabolism at Lurie Children’s. Ms. Paras has experience in managing patients with mucopolysaccharidoses, PKU and other inborn errors of metabolism as well as evaluating patients for a wide variety of other indications. Prior to becoming a genetic counselor, Ms. Paras worked in social service agencies for adults with intellectual disabilities. She has continued to have a special interest in treating and supporting patients with intellectual disabilities and advocating for patients affected with rare genetic conditions. Ms. Paras enjoys teaching children about their own genetic conditions and supporting their transition to self-care.

“Over the past 20 years, there have been great advances in our ability to diagnose and treat genetic conditions. It is very fulfilling to make these new tests and therapies available to patients. I enjoy the connections I make with patients and their families, and strive to provide care which is tailored to the unique needs of each patient and each family.”

Merlene Peter, MMSc, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Merlene received her Master in Medical Science in Human Genetics and Genetic Counseling from Emory University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling in 2019. She joined Lurie Children’s in 2020 as a clinical genetic counselor who provides pediatric genetic counseling services. Previously, she completed her fellowship in lysosomal storage disorders at Emory University.

“As a genetic counselor, I am passionate about helping families find answers for their complex medical conditions and feel privileged to be a part of the diagnostic journey. I feel fortunate to be able to work with an enthusiastic team who are constantly dedicated to better serve the patients.”

Allegra Quadri, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor I, Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago;
Faculty Member, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University;
Instructor of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University

Allegra graduated with a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University and was certified by the American Board of Genetic Counseling (ABGC). Following graduation, Allegra completed a genetic counseling fellowship in lysosomal storage disorders in the Division of Genetics, Birth Defects and Metabolism at Lurie Children’s. She was a 2021 recipient of the WORLDSymposium Young Investigator Award for her research on newborn screening for mucopolysaccharidosis type II. Allegra went on to join the team as a pediatric genetic counselor, practicing general pediatric genetics as well as maintaining a specialization in lysosomal storage diseases.

“It is so rewarding to develop meaningful relationships with patients and families and empower them with information and resources that support their goals. I am also fascinated by continuous advancements of therapies and research surrounding rare genetic conditions. I feel fortunate to be a part of a passionate team dedicated to being at the forefront of genetic research and patient care.”

Carolyn R. Serbinski, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Genetics, Birth Defects & Metabolism, Ann & Robert H Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago

Carolyn is a board-certified genetic counselor who received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Michigan in 2018. Carolyn, working closely with a team of scientists and clinicians, has dedicated her career to supporting families with rare genetic diseases by meeting them at the intersection of clinical care, research advancements, and advocacy. Carolyn spends much of her time caring for patients with RASopathies, mTORopathies, lysosomal storage disorders, and connective tissue disorders.

“The field of Genetics is coming of age. I am grateful for the opportunity to walk alongside so many resilient, rare disease families as we continue to discover, learn about, and advocate for those with genetic conditions.”

Chelsey N. Walsh, MS, LGC

Genetic Counselor I, Lysosomal Storage Disorder Fellow

Chelsey joined Lurie Children’s in 2021 to participate in the Lysosomal Storage Disorder (LSD) Fellowship. The fellowship allows her to learn the ins and outs of LSDs, from birth to adulthood. She graduated with a Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from the University of Pittsburgh in 2021. Previously, she worked as a laboratory genetic counseling assistant.

“I’m grateful to be able to work with and learn from patients living with LSDs and to hear their stories. This fellowship gives me a unique insight on how lysosomal conditions were managed in the past, and allows me to participate in improving care in the future.”

Allison (Goetsch) Weisman, MS, CGC

Genetic Counselor II, Genetics, Birth Defects Metabolism, Ann Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago; 
Clinical Instructor, Department of Pediatrics, Feinberg School of Medicine, Northwestern University; 
Core Faculty, Graduate Program in Genetic Counseling, Northwestern University

Allison is the clinic coordinator for the Neurofibromatosis Clinic and provides genetic counseling to patients and families in the Gender Sex Development Program. She graduated with her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2014. In 2016, Allison was the “CodeTalker” award winner – a patient nominated national award for excellence in genetic counseling. In addition to her clinical role, Allison conducts research related to fertility preservation and the transition from pediatric to adult care. She also advocates for improved access to genetic services and genetic privacy as President of the Illinois Society of Genetic Professionals.  

I enjoy building relationships with families and instilling confidence in children and adolescents with genetic conditions to take charge of their own health and accomplish their life goals.”

Kristen Young, MSGC

Genetic Counselor I

Kristen received her Master of Science in Genetic Counseling from Northwestern University in 2019. She joined Lurie Children’s in 2020 as a genetic counselor in The Chicago Institute for Fetal Health. Prior to this, her experience includes working as a clinical preconception and prenatal genetic counselor. Kristen is also an active member of the National Society of Genetic Counselors, serving on the Access and Service Delivery committee.

“I am passionate about helping families understand and cope with complex fetal diagnoses. I am also grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with a multidisciplinary team of specialists, working together to provide the best care possible for our patients.”