LEAP (Language Empowers All People) builds speech, language, and communication skills that advance success in the classroom, the workforce and the community.
leadership team

Our Staff

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Nina Smith

Ms. Smith joined LEAP team in January 2010. Since then, she has been working extensively with Language for Scholars and is the current Executive Director for LEAP. Ms. Smith has a B.S. in Communication Sciences and Disorders, an M.A. in Speech-Language Pathology and an M.A in Learning Disabilities all from Northwestern University.

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Catherine Gottfred

Dr. Catherine Gottfred, President and Founder, received her doctoral degree in Speech Language Pathology from Northwestern University in 1979 and founded LEAP in 1986. She has both teaching and clinical experience and has held numerous positions in the field’s state and national associations. Dr. Gottfred is the 2008 President of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA). She actively oversees LEAP’s program development and implementation.

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John Lybolt

Dr. Lybolt co-wrote Building Language Throughout the Year: the Early Literacy Preschool Curriculum with Dr. Gottfred, which has been used in public and charter schools in Chicago and was published in 2006. Dr. Lybolt holds a doctorate degree in Communication Sciences from Northwestern University and has an extensive background in research, teaching and presenting school-based teaching techniques, programs, in-services, and curriculam development.

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Gregory Moses

Mr. Moses is LEAP’s Manager of Communications and Office Solutions. He is a graduate of Clark Atlanta University with a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He has worked in advertising, sales, and web design and development for over 25 years. Mr. Moses has worked at LEAP since 2012. He has always had a passion for the development of youth in our communities and making sure that they are prepared for the 21st Century.

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Roger Anderson

Mr. Anderson is a LEAP Adjunct Instructor. He has been a practicing Speech-Language Pathologist for over 30 years and has worked in virtually every aspect of the profession. He has developed specific expertise through his extensive work with people with developmental disabilities. Along with his work as a Speech-Language Pathologist, Roger maintains a nationally recognized career as a professional singer and actor.

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Aja Johnson

Ms. Johnson is a native of Chicago and is currently a Speech-Language Pathologist with Chicago Public Schools. She received a Bachelors of Health Sciences from Governors State University with honors in 2011, majoring in Communication Disorders with a minor in Social Work. She received a Masters of Health Sciences in Communication Disorders in December of 2014. Aja began as a volunteer with Leap in 2011, and currently serves as an adjunct staff.

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Nyela Wells

Dr. Wells has been a part of the LEAP team for eight years. Dr. Wells has extensive knowledge in cultural diversity and has written on issues regarding racial inequalities, privilege, and intellectual racism in K-12 education. She has learned a lot about Speech Pathology while working at LEAP. She believes that finding balance in your native dialect and the power language is key to opening doors for individuals to progress. One of her favorite quotes is: “Your Culture is your immune system” – Dr. Marimba Ani.

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Jay Webster

As LEAP’s Development Associate, he provides support on various development projects, including grant writing, fundraising, and community outreach. Joining the organization in October 2015, Mr. Webster brings to LEAP several years of experience growing revenue for successful sales organizations, and contributing to the development and delivery of services at various nonprofits in Chicago. Mr. Webster shares Leap’s belief that becoming an effective communicator, and understanding the importance of language, is a key to success in school, in work, and in life.

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Elizabeth Condon

Mrs. Condon has more than a decade of experience as a professional fundraiser. In addition to working at LEAP, Liz has worked at Hephzibah Children’s Association and has provided consulting services for local non-profits in the Oak Park – River Forest area. At LEAP Liz works with foundation and corporate partners as well as individual donors. Liz is a graduate of the Development Leadership Consortium Fellows and Management Fellows programs, and has a BA in English from St. Norbert College.

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Raquel Diaz
Raquel Diaz has been a part of the LEAP team for 2 years as a Programming Coordinator. She graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Speech Language Pathology where she was a part of conducting research focused on language and learning development in children. Along with that, she dedicated 4 years to research focused on bilingual language development at Loyola University. Aside from her interest in language development, Raquel is passionate about working towards creating more equitable school and work environments where cultural diversity is celebrated.

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