Les Turner ALS Foundation


Together, the Les Turner ALS Foundation staff brings decades of experience and compassion to their jobs. The staff includes our Home and Community services team, a special events team and development, communications and marketing professionals  as well as an office staff that handles administrative functions. We are committed to providing the best possible support for patients and families living with ALS.

Les Turner ALS Foundation serves nearly 90% of people living with ALS in the Chicagoland area
Our Team

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Our Team

Andrea Pauls Backman

Andrea Pauls Backman, Executive Director, 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.

Katherine Evans

Katherine Evans, Special Events Associate, joined the Foundation in 2015.  She received a Bachelor of Science in Arts Management with a focus on Fundraising Development from Indiana University. Kat previously worked for the nonprofit SuperSibs! as the Grants and Communications Specialist. Outside of the office, Kat enjoys diving and exploring Lake Michigan’s shipwrecks thanks to her SCUBA certification.

“I help fight ALS because together I know we can find a cure!”

Contact Kat at 847 745 6024 or kevans@lesturnerals.org.

Alyssa Feulner

Alyssa Feulner, Special Events Associate, received a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology from Illinois Wesleyan University. Alyssa joined the Foundation in 2015 after having worked in the nonprofit sector for four years with organizations including Special Olympics. Outside of the office, Alyssa can be found playing and coaching soccer, spending time with her golden retriever, and enjoying the outdoors.

“I help fight ALS because one day there will be a cure!”

Contact Alyssa at 847 745 6013 or afeulner@lesturnerals.org.

Laurie B. Fieldman, MSW, LCSW

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

Contact Laurie at lfieldman@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.

Jordyn Landberg,

Jordyn Landberg, Marketing and Communications Manager, 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 hanging out in her Lincoln Square neighborhood with her husband and dog, traveling and seeing as much live music as possible.

“I help fight ALS because the moment I learned how devastating ALS is, I knew I’d never be able to do anything else.”

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

Anne Lidsky

Anne Lidsky, PhD, Patient and Family Advocate, 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.

Liz Melvin

Liz Melvin, Director of Special Events, received a Bachelor in Business Marketing from the University of Iowa. Liz began working for the Foundation immediately after graduating from college. After working in a health-related field for a few years, Liz returned to the Foundation in 2011. Outside of the office, Liz can be found traveling and exploring new places, participating in various outdoor activities, cooking and fixing up her first home with her husband, Steven.

“I help fight ALS to honor my dad and the hundreds of other brave patients and family members the Foundation serves.”

Contact Liz at 847 745 6015 or lmelvin@lesturnerals.org

Ileane Mindel, RN

Ileane Mindel, RN, Patient and Family Advocate since 1995, 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.

Mariah Montenegro

Mariah Montenegro, Communications Associate, received a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and a minor in Public Relations from Michigan State University. Prior to joining the Foundation in 2015, Mariah previously worked for Michigan State University Extension as the Media Relations Coordinator and a Communications Manager for its youth development department, Michigan 4-H. Outside of the office, Mariah can be found training for full and half marathons, baking, or searching for the closest beach.

“I help fight ALS because patients, their children and families deserve a future without health complications.”

Contact Mariah at 847 745 6014 or mmontenegro@lesturnerals.org.

Judy Richman, RN, BSN

Judy Richman, RN, BSN, Director of  Patient Services, has been involved in both the clinical and research aspects of ALS since 1989, working at major ALS centers in the Chicagoland area before joining the Les Turner Home and Community Services Team. In addition to her primary role as an Patient and Family Advocate, she also serves as the Foundation’s representative to the International Alliance of ALS/MND.

Contact Judy at 847 745 6020 or jrichman@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 a Patient and Family Advocate 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 a Patient and Family Advocate in May 2013.

Contact Easton at estevenson@lesturnerals.org.

Julie Stowell, RN, CHPN

Julie Stowell, RN, CHPN, 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 a Patient and Family Advocate in March 2014.

Contact Julie at jstowell@lesturnerals.org.

Maria Zeller Brauer

Maria Zeller Brauer, Development Manager, joined the Foundation in 2011. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and a Master of Arts from Indiana University. Maria is a former Speech and Language Pathologist. She has several years of experience working for other nonprofit organizations including the Leukemia Research Foundation and Illinois Action for Children. Outside of the office, Maria can be found spending time with her husband and daughter, cooking, and traveling when possible.

“I help fight ALS because I lost my aunt to ALS in 2004. I don’t want other families to have to suffer with this disease.”

Contact Maria at 847 745 6021 or mzellerbrauer@lesturnerals.org.

The Foundation’s mission supports:

Support Services

Patient Services

The Les Turner ALS Foundation patient services programs help patients and their loved ones cope with the day-to-day difficulties of living with a chronic disease.

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Research & Patient Center

Research & Patient Center

The Center brings together all ALS disciplines under one umbrella, enabling enhanced collaborations between researchers and clinicians to provide a full spectrum of treatment to ALS patients while facilitating the development of new therapies for ALS.

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Events, Education & Awareness

Events, Education & Awareness

Local focus—Global reach. Events in various neighborhoods support ALS families in Chicago and beyond.

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Hope and help for people with ALS.

Your contribution helps support nearly 90% of the Chicagoland ALS population.