The Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY) team holds a wealth of experiences and expertise in the systems that affect and support children, youth, and families. Each ICOY staff member brings to the table a passion for the well-being of children and youth and for the advancement of best practices on the individual, community, and systemic levels.
Andrea Durbin, Chief Executive Officer
Andrea Durbin has been the Chief Executive Officer of Illinois Collaboration on Youth since 2012. A passionate and life-long advocate for young people, she leads ICOY’s work to improve the lives of children, youth, and their families. Prior to becoming CEO, Andrea served as policy and advocacy director for ICOY and led the agency’s federally-funded capacity-building initiative for youth service agencies in Chicago.
In 2017, Andrea helped to shepherd a long-discussed merger with the Child Care Association of Illinois, which took effect on July 1, 2017. Following the merger, ICOY is now the largest provider voice for services to children, youth and families, representing nearly 100 organizations across the state.
In 2016 and 2017, Andrea led the effort to ensure that human service providers were paid for the work they did during Illinois’ historic and destructive state budget impasse, forming the Pay Now Illinois coalition to sue Governor Bruce Rauner and state agency heads over unpaid contracts. The lawsuit attracted national attention and was key in ensuring that providers were eventually paid in full for their work when the two-year impasse ended.
Andrea serves on several high-level committees and workgroups, representing the needs of at-risk children and youth and the agencies that serve them, including as an invited member of Governor Pritzker’s Healthy Families and Communities Transition Team. She represents providers through the Social Services Advisory Council, the Child Welfare Advisory Committee and the Mental Health Opportunities for Youth Diversion Task Force, among many others. She is the Chair of the ACT Now after school coalition; in that role, she has led a comprehensive restructuring and overhaul of the coalition’s governance and operations.
In 2019, Andrea was recognized with the Social Impact Award from the School of Social Service Administration (SSA) at the University of Chicago. Chicago Business Journal named her a Woman of Influence in 2017.
Prior to joining ICOY, Andrea worked for seven years in education, including serving as the Director of Communications at SSA, and for eight years at Aunt Martha’s Health and Wellness, where she led efforts to develop programs for high-risk youth, and primary and preventive health services for medically underserved communities. She has a Master’s Degree in Social Service Administration from the University of Chicago and a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism from Northwestern University. Andrea lives in Chicago with her husband and their three teen-aged and young adult children. She is active in her local community as a Trustee for Morgan Park Academy and serves as an adjunct faculty member at DePaul University’s School of Public Service.
Kacy Anderson, Policy Analyst
Kacy joined ICOY as a Policy Analyst in October of 2018 in our Springfield office. Kacy’s passion for policy work came into practice while previously working at a rural CCBYS agency as an Outreach Coordinator and Crisis Interventionist.
In her position at ICOY, Kacy serves as a subject-matter resource in areas of child welfare and multisystemic-involved youth and maintaining effective relationships with youth-serving system stakeholders. Kacy works collaboratively with members of the Illinois General Assembly and ICOY Policy team to write and analyze policies that impact children, youth, and families in Illinois. Kacy leads ICOY’s Policy Advisory Committee (PAC), which works diligently to determine ICOY’s legislative agenda for each General Assembly session. Kacy also creates information for the Quick Response Network (QRN), which informs ICOY’s membership of specific laws being voted on and how to engage with their respective Representative and/or Senator rapidly.
Kacy has a Master’s Degree in Social Work – Policy, Planning & Administration from the University of Missouri – Columbia, and a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from MacMurray College. Outside of work, Kacy can be found spending time with her family and dog, assisting her spouse with their small business ventures, or trying a new DIY project.
Chelsea Biggs, Program Director
Chelsea joined ICOY as Training Director in July 2017. Chelsea's passion for public work came into practice as an AmeriCorps VISTA member in New England. Building on this experience, Chelsea later completed her Master's Degree in Public Administration from Northeastern University in Boston.
In her position at ICOY, Chelsea works to divert youth from the juvenile justice and child welfare systems to increase capacity and collaboration for youth providers across Illinois by providing structured training and technical assistance programming through statewide contracts and grants. Prior to joining ICOY, Chelsea worked as the training manager for youth suicide prevention programming at a national nonprofit organization. She has extensive experience working with schools/districts, hospital systems, and state agencies to support youth work through capacity-building initiatives.
Outside of work, Chelsea is involved in her community as a member of the Uplift Community High School Local School Council, the neighborhood block club and park advisory council, and can be found walking her dog around Uptown.
Chris Boyster, Chief Lobbyist
Chris Boyster joined ICOY’s policy team in January 2018, to lead legislative affairs in Springfield. Chris has a rich background in Illinois legislative affairs; most recently, he served as Director of Governmental and External Affairs at the Illinois Department of Human Rights. Before that, Chris was the Deputy Director of Legislative Affairs at the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and previously the Director of Legislative Affairs at the Illinois Department on Aging. Chris holds a BA in Political Science and Journalism from Eastern Illinois University. Outside of work, Chris enjoys spending time with his family, especially his six-year-old son.
Kathryn Culleeny, Juvenile Justice Manager
Kathryn (or Katy) joined ICOY as the Juvenile Justice Manager in May 2020. In this role Katy supports the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and its efforts to reduce Racial & Ethnic Disparities statewide and maintain accordance with federal standards set forth by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention. Katy also assists the Redeploy Illinois program and their efforts to reduce juvenile commitments through evidence-based diversion programs and services. Katy is passionate about addressing the ways in which various systems (education, child welfare, and criminal and juvenile justice) intersect and impact children, families, and communities.
Katy completed a dual degree program with Erikson Institute and Loyola University Chicago, graduating in May 2020 with a Master of Jurisprudence in Child Law & Policy and a Master of Science in Child Development. She completed her internship at the Illinois Justice Project in her final year of graduate school, working with local and statewide stakeholders on various juvenile and criminal justice topics, including housing, school discipline, dually-involved youth, barriers to re-entry, successful youth diversion, and solitary confinement. Katy received a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice from Washington State University.
Sarah Daniels, Policy Analyst
Sarah received her BA in Communication/Public Relations from Millikin University in 2016. She then served at her alma mater as an AmeriCorps*VISTA focusing on economic development and education. Many of her duties entailed creating service-learning opportunities for students on campus, grant management for voter engagement, solidifying and maintaining partnerships with community organizations, and performing administrative tasks in Student Development. Based on the project completion as a VISTA, she decided to attend the University of Illinois-Springfield to complete her Master of Public Administration in May 2019. During the first year and a half as an MPA student, she served as a Graduate Public Service Intern (GPSI) at the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services - Bureau of Behavioral Health as a Policy Generalist. Building on her experience at HFS, she became a Case Manager for Lincoln Prairie Behavioral Hospital in Springfield, IL where she served as a liaison for hospital psychiatric physicians, nurses, therapists, and families of youth served.
Sarah joined ICOY in March 2020, as a Policy Analyst amidst a global pandemic and has summarized key research findings and prepared polished presentation materials appropriately targeted to tailored audiences. She serves as a subject matter resource in the area of changes to the child welfare and multisystem-involved youth, including staying abreast of state and federal policies in the form of law, rules, and guidance. Sarah also represents ICOY and its members on policy commissions, committees, and various workgroups.
When she isn’t working, Sarah can be found traveling to see family, binge-watching the latest television shows, or enjoying long walks with her dog, Milo.
Samantha Edwards, Violence Prevention Manager
Samantha joined ICOY as Violence Prevention Coordinator in October 2018. In her role, she supports the capacity-building of violence prevention organizations by strengthening internal evaluation, assisting with evidence-based program selection, and facilitating collaborative learning.
Samantha received a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Chicago’s School of Social Service Administration and a Bachelor’s in Sociology from the University of Michigan. She is passionate about empowering youth to reach their fullest potential and believes that providing youth-serving organizations with the necessary resources is integral to achieving that.
In her spare time, Samantha enjoys cheering on her Wolverines during football season and exploring new parts of Chicago, especially finding cool green spaces amid the bustling city life. One of her favorite places to reflect and relax in the Garden of the Phoenix in Jackson Park.
Alexander Hylka, Quality Assurance and Membership Manager
Alex is the Member Relations Manager for Illinois Collaboration on Youth. Motivated by a strong sense of commitment to addressing the structural inequalities faced by those who are most at-risk, Alex’s work connects ICOY’s large network of members, experts, and advocacy partners to create better outcomes for Illinois’ children, youth and families. Alex has been with ICOY since 2016, having originally taken a position as an Office Coordinator.
Prior to joining ICOY, Alex spent multiple years working in after-school programs providing direct services to elementary school-aged children. While receiving an undergraduate degree in Political Science from the University of Iowa, Alex was funded to perform research on disparities in school-day experiences in the Iowa City Community School District.
Alex and his wife live in Chicago. He’s an avid traveler, musician, and relentless consumer of all things news and politics.
Eilene Ladson, Program Director
Eilene Ladson joined ICOY as Trauma Specialist in August 2018 and became the Trauma Program Manager in July 2019. Eilene is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with experience working with youth and their biological families in the foster care system as well as individuals, couples, and families connected to the military.
As ICOY's Trauma Program Manager, Eilene works to grow the trauma department by collaborating with larger trauma movements throughout the city, state, and country. She also helps build awareness of trauma and trauma-informed practices within organizations and communities. Eilene has supported ICOY’s capacity-building work by continuing to standardize our CBAT-O process across contracts, building up our trauma train-the-trainer, and collaborating with the juvenile justice team, membership, and policy departments. She provides training on the signs and symptoms of trauma, resiliency, and recovery, as well as vicarious trauma and self-care.
In her spare time, Eilene serves on the board of Safe Humane Chicago. Eilene graduated from DePauw University with a B.A. in Psychology and Purdue University with an M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy.
Kandice Manciel, Trauma Specialist
Kandice joined ICOY as a Trauma Specialist in March 2020. In this role, Kandice is responsible for developing trauma-informed training curriculum for youth-serving programs throughout the state, with a special focus on meeting the needs of the Illinois Department of Human Services. In addition, Kandice provides technical assistance to Illinois’ youth service providers, through the use of ICOY’s Trauma-Informed Capacity-Building Assessment Tool for Organizations (CBAT-O). Kandice also spends time in this role collaborating with other stakeholders across the state on projects that ultimately aim to increase awareness about the impact of trauma, develop preventative strategies, and promote resiliency.
In addition to her role with ICOY, Kandice is also a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor. Kandice obtained her B.S. in Psychology from Michigan State University and her M.A. in Marriage and Family Counseling from Adler University. Kandice has several years of experience working with youth and families in a broad spectrum of environments, including foster care systems, community agencies, and private practice, to name a few. Kandice’s area of specialty includes working collaboratively with clients who have experienced complex trauma. For example, in past roles, Kandice served as a senior-level clinician providing trauma-informed individual, family and group therapy to young people who have survived sexual trauma, while also treating problematic sexual behavior(s). Kandice has several years of experience in developing programming and delivering training related to the topic of trauma and resiliency.
When Kandice is not working towards helping to create better outcomes for Illinois’ youth and families, she enjoys spending time outdoors as much as possible, particularly exploring Chicago’s endless parks and restaurants.
Deb McCarrel, Public Policy Director
Deb McCarrel is the Director of Policy and Government Affairs for the Illinois Collaboration on Youth (ICOY). Deb spent 30 years within state government working to improve the lives of children and youth and transform the state systems that serve them. Over the course of her career she has served in a variety of capacities at several state agencies.
Deb worked to improve social service systems for the developmentally disabled at the Department of Mental Health and Developmental Disabilities and improved food stamp employment and training programs under the Welfare-to-Work Reform at the Department of Public Aid. At the Department of Human Services, she managed youth services and delinquency prevention programming such as crisis intervention, homeless youth, and AmeriCorps. Deb spent over a decade at the Department of Children and Family Services where she served in a variety of leadership positions ensuring the safety of children and families. Deb has analyzed and implemented Medicaid policy and programming at the Department of Healthcare and Family Services and led their efforts to reform the children’s behavioral health system before retiring.
At ICOY, Deb represents ICOY members in the development of state policies and practices to improve the behavioral health and child welfare outcomes for children and adolescents and to support ICOY members in preparing for and participating in a transformed behavioral healthcare system. Deb brings a unique multi-agency perspective to the work helping legislators and state partners streamline services for youth and families. She received her Bachelor’s in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Springfield and her Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Deb is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker.
Amanda McMillen, Chief Program Officer
Amanda is the Chief Program Officer of Illinois Collaboration on Youth overseeing the child welfare, youth services, juvenile justice, and capacity-building programs. For the past twelve years, she has worked directly in the non-profit sector managing a diverse realm of programs focused on enhancing the quality of life for children, youth, families, and communities including foster care, Out-of-School-Time programs, youth substance abuse, and adolescent parenting.
Prior to joining ICOY, Amanda was the Deputy Director of Children, Youth, and Employment training programs at Casa Central, in which she supervised Casa Central’s youth- and individual-centered programming, including the Head Start Early Learning Academy, Out-of-School-Time programming and the Employment Training Program.
Carrie Muehlbauer, Senior Policy Analyst
Carrie joined ICOY in October 2018, to design and implement a Medicaid Technical Assistance Center (MTAC) for Illinois healthcare providers who are serving or desire to serve, clients insured by Medicaid. Carrie is a Senior Policy Analyst on ICOY’s policy team and specializes in behavioral healthcare. Carrie is passionate about putting people at the center of policy and supporting equitable access to healthcare. Her passions stem from her clinical experiences working with survivors of domestic violence and children in foster care.
Before coming to ICOY, Carrie received a Master’s in Social Work from New York University in 2016. She then worked at the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene supporting the expansion of behavioral health services under Medicaid managed care. Carrie has a Bachelor’s in Biological Sciences from DePaul University.
Elise Povejsil, Marketing Communications Manager
Elise joined ICOY in February, 2019, as the Marketing Communications Manager. She has focused her career on amplifying the voices of organizations that support her personal mission of addressing opportunity gaps within society. Her prior experience includes facilitating marketing and communications for an organization that expanded access to higher education through increased online learning options.
Elise has a Bachelor’s Degree in Conflict Studies from DePauw University, and is currently earning her Master’s Degree in Public Administration from The University of Delaware. In her spare time, Elise enjoys playing piano and soccer, painting, dancing and cooking.
Leslie Ress, Training Coordinator
Leslie joined ICOY as an Administrative Assistant in July 2019 but transitioned to Training Coordinator in December 2019. In this role, she maintains the development and coordination of a training calendar for all DHS-funded programs and supports the training evaluation process by analyzing data and creating reports for each training event.
Leslie received her Bachelor’s in International Relations from Boston University in 2016. She is very passionate about humanitarian affairs in the Middle East, as well as educating youth and helping them reach their full potential in safe and positive environments. Before joining the ICOY team, Leslie was an early childhood teacher.
In her spare time, Leslie enjoys taking long walks around the city, eating deep-dish pizza, and playing with her very spoiled guinea pig.
Randi Slack, Child Welfare Coordinator
Randi joined ICOY in February 2017, as a Program Assistant for the Pathways Independent Living Program. Since the program ended, Randi has served in both direct service and administrative roles supporting ICOY’s CEO and various departments, including Executive Assistant, Office Coordinator, and Training Coordinator.
In her current role as ICOY’s Child Welfare Coordinator, she supports two of the Illinois Intact Family Recovery Programs operating in Northern and Eastern Illinois and spanning 21 counties. This program connects child welfare agencies and substance use disorder treatment providers to help families recover from addiction while keeping their children safely at home.
Randi has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Resources and Business Management. In addition, she has taken multiple courses in the human services field. Outside of ICOY, Randi has recently acquired a passion for cooking, wine tasting and has broadened her musical interest to include many more genres.
Denail Timms, Director of Operations
Denail has been with ICOY since October 2009. As Director of Operations, her duties include assisting the CEO with payroll, bank deposits, income tracking, and serving as primary liaison to ICOY’s human resources, financial team, and information technology support consultants. Outside of work, she enjoys volunteer work, candle making, and spending time with family and friends.
Richard Walsh, Compliance Monitor
Dick has worked as Compliance Monitor for the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission and ICOY since 2009. As Compliance Monitor, Dick ensures that municipal lockups, county jails, and other correctional facilities remain in compliance with federal Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Act requirements for the sight and sound separation of juveniles from adults, the removal of juveniles from adult facilities and the deinstitutionalization of status offenders.
Before coming to ICOY, Dick served as Detective and Youth Officer for the Village of Matteson Police Department for over 25 years. He has also served as Executive Director of the Illinois Juvenile Officers Association, President of the South Suburban Juvenile Officers’ Association, and member of the Advisory Committee of the Illinois Law Enforcement Training Board. Dick worked with the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office and legislators on the enactment of the Balanced and Restorative Justice Act.
Jocelyn Vega, Trauma Specialist
Jocelyn joined ICOY as a Trauma Specialist in November, 2019, to support technical assistance, training and capacity-building. Prior to joining ICOY, Jocelyn provided crisis intervention, safety planning and court support to individuals who experienced harm at the Cook County Domestic Violence Courthouse. During her time there, she also initiated trauma-informed care policy and language access values for a legal aid agency providing legal representation for Orders of Protection.
Over the course of her career, Jocelyn has additionally interviewed Khmer Rouge survivors and provided program consulting for a research fellowship in Siem Reap, Cambodia, as well as served as a legal translator for undocumented farmworkers in upstate New York. Due to these experiences, Jocelyn is dedicated to addressing structural barriers that marginalize experience, expression, and belonging within an intersectional trauma lens.