Notes From the CEO: Galas, Webinars, Mental Health, Our Teens & You

A few words from our CEO regarding current and upcoming events. From our April 5th newsletter.

Dear Friends,

We’re a quarter through 2022, with young people and adults alike adjusting to the new normal. As greater opportunities and possibilities for in-person events and interactions seem just around the corner, there is a return to general optimism and renewed hope.

We seem to be on the cusp of completion. We seem to have made it through. And, indeed, this is something to celebrate.

But our young people and those who support them are still surrounded by great challenges.

As one can see in daily news reports, rising teen suicide rates and substance misuse cases remain a concern nationwide. The mental health of both students and educators remains at risk, with the lingering stresses of the pandemic compounding and compounded by the return to those anxieties that have always beset school life: Lack of time, lack of resources, lack of assistance, and lack of acknowledgement.

The stakes are as high as ever, and our young people and those in their service need our help.

Here at LEAD, we continue to commit ourselves to addressing teen mental health by taking a multi-pronged approach to prevention:

  • First and foremost, by providing powerful and always-present assistance in the form of tools such as, which will be expanding into new channels and territories in the months ahead.
  • Secondly, by offering educational and pragmatic advice and advisory services for parents and educators alike, such as tomorrow night’s free webinar, Raising a Drug Free Teen.
  • Thirdly, as our community once again begins circulating in-person, taking a moment to both reconnect with and celebrate those members and institutions in our community that strengthen and support our young people to greatest effect.

Utilized together, this approach has enabled us to remain upfront and situation aware, constantly taking the pulse of our community’s youth.

All of these efforts, however, are only possible with your backing.

Gala 2022 Registration

Registration is now open for our first in-person Gala in two years: A Night At the Disco on April 23rd.

Gala 2022: A Night At the Disco

In addition to the generous support of private and corporate sponsorsLEAD depends on individual ticket purchasesfrom local leaders like yourself to fund the many services and solutions that make up our labors.

So visit our Gala 2022 Registration page today and purchase a ticket for you and a companion, or, even better, a Table for 8 for you and your seven favorite party goers.

We’d love to see you there.

Peter Bensinger Award

This brings us to another happy announcement.

Two years ago, we inaugurated an award named after one of my mentors, Peter Bensinger. Peter, as the former Administrator of the DEA, is a huge champion for kids and has been instrumental in advancing the field of drug prevention over the past four decades. Last year’s award recipient is another champion for youth, the Honorable Judge Mike Nerheim, who has done more for youth and families in Lake County than most people will ever know.

In honor of her devout commitment to the children of our community, it is my pleasure to name this year’s recipient of the Peter Bensinger Award: The Superintendent of Schools for Lake Bluff Elementary School District 65, Dr. Lisa Leali.

Dr. Lisa Leali: Winner of the 2022 Peter Bensinger Award

Dr. Leali assumed the role of superintendent of Lake Bluff Schools in July 2020, and I can’t imagine a better leader for our schools. Lisa’s dissertation titled, “Joyful Classrooms, Successful Kids: A study in the connection between joy and learning” sums up how she approaches her work – with joy. As a huge champion for kids, Lisa has gone above and beyond to support the needs of students and families in and out of the classroom.

It is with profound pleasure that I announce her receipt of this award, which will be formally presented in-person at our annual Gala on April 23rd, where I look forward to sharing much more about her work and her achievements. Please join us that night to offer a round of applause and our collective thanks to one of the community’s best. In the meantime, please join me in congratulating Dr. Lisa Leali as the winner of the 2022 Peter Bensinger Lifetime Achievement Award.

Raising a Drug Free Teen

Teens who don’t drink or use drugs say that the number one reason they have made that choice is you! Talking with your teen about difficult topics is both one of the hardest and one of the most important things we will ever do as a parent. We at LEAD hope to aid in those conversations.

Whether you are a parent in need of guidance or a community stakeholder interested in the issues facing our teens, please feel free to join us Tomorrow Night, April 6th at 6pm Central Time via Zoom for “Raising a Drug Free Teen.”

Raising a Drug Free Teen - A LEAD Event


Together, we will delve into the intimidating world of tough conversations to learn how to use your power as a parent to shape how your kids see the world and to encourage and enable them in making the drug-free choice.

New Channels

Our flagship service,, remains one of our most timely and proactive tools for the current mental health crisis. Providing 24 hour assistance from licensed mental health counselors, TextForHelp is curbing anxiety, tackling difficulties, and saving lives.

As such, we have launched a new campaign to get word of this service to those most in need of it.

In addition to expanding into new territories, we are increasing our presence on those social media channels where young people and their loved ones are most likely to find it. Be on the lookout in the coming months as we move into areas such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and more.

In the interim, be sure to share out the TextForHelp service to the young people in your life, and encourage them to share it with their friends as well. One never knows who in our many circles might be suffering in silence.

Final Thoughts

Despite the tumult presented in the current news cycles, there are a great many reasons for optimism. The ability to once again engage in person, to enjoy each others’ company, and, indeed, to simply come a bit closer, are all gifts we can be thankful for.

But in coming closer, in re-engaging once again, we are presented the opportunity to relearn how to listen, how to communicate, and how to help. Without so much judgement. Without so much vitriol.

So let us be aware of each other’s struggles.

Let us be aware of our own stresses and anxieties.

Let us accept those around us, be they manic or fatigued.

Let us enjoy one another.

Let us dance.



Andy Duran, CEO
LEAD: Linking Efforts


Other articles you might enjoy...

Leave a Reply