Notes From the CEO: On Masking

A few thoughts on masks, masking, and the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of our children.

Happy (almost end of) Summer!

I hope this finds you and your family doing well, and looking forward to the start of another school year. Where did the summer go? For all of you in the Chicago area, I hope this finds you safe from the storms that passed through over the past few days.


A lot of people have asked me lately either what LEAD’s stance is – or what my own, personal stance is – on the issue of masking and vaccines. While I don’t believe that LEAD’s views or my own personal views should ever trump the views of any experts on this particular subject, since I have been routinely asked, I will happily share my thoughts, both from a LEAD perspective, and from my own individual perspective.

From a LEAD Perspective

In short, we aim to respond to everything at LEAD through the lens of our values. Our values drive every decision we make, determine how we interact with others and are at the core of who we are. So, here is who we are:

  • We exist to protect kids, and to help keep people safe. This has always been our number one value.
  • We care about the general wellbeing of all.
  • As a non-profit in the public health space, we abide by public health mandates, recommendations and guidelines.
  • We follow the counsel of our advisors and experts.
  • We aim to do the right thing in service of others.
  • We believe in honesty and transparency in our decision-making.

For these reasons and others, we are taking the following steps as an organization:

  1. Requiring all team members to work from home until otherwise indicated.
  2. Re-instituting a mandatory mask policy in our office and at any in-person LEAD event, regardless of vaccination status.
  3. Sharing opportunities for those who want to receive the COVID-19 vaccine to be able to do so, in line with public health recommendations.

From My Personal Perspective

Without question, nothing is more personal and private than someone’s health. Despite that, I am happy to share that I am vaccinated. I share because that status affects everyone else’s health around me, and with more people fully vaccinated, we can get to a place where that private question doesn’t need to be asked of others. Also, I have chosen to continue to wear a mask in public for four main reasons:

  1. Humility: I don’t know if I have COVID as it is clear that people can spread the disease before they have symptoms, and even if they are vaccinated.
  2. Kindness: I don’t know if the person I am near has a child battling cancer, or cares for their elderly mom, or has a condition that could exacerbate COVID-19 symptoms.
  3. Community: I want my community to thrive, for kids to be in school and learning, for businesses to remain open, and for my team members and everyone I interact with to stay healthy. Keeping a lid on COVID helps us all.
  4. My Kids: My two daughters, both under the age of 12, as of right now are ineligible for the COVID vaccine. So, they must wear masks everywhere they go – including school. I will do so in solidarity with them.

Food for Thought

As a parent, this was something I saw this week that caught my eye from renowned psychologist and author, Dr. Lisa Damour. Thought it might speak to some of you, too.

Plugging Away

Our team has been plugging away this summer on a number of things that we are getting ready to launch.
A new website. Wait until you see this! This has been a labor of love, as we have completely reimagined how we use our website to tell our story of impact and to help you – our end users. The site will remain a living, breathing piece of our day-to-day work and will include long-form posts, a blog area, podcasts, recording of our synchronous and asynchronous presentations, resources for parents and teens, and much more. The site will officially launch next week!

New research and content. Our team has been working on revising presentations, researching, writing new content, tracking legislation, and a variety of other things that you will see come into focus as we progress through this year. Stay tuned.

Rebranding of Text-A-Tip. This is something we have wanted to do for some time. And, if you’re a current user of Text-A-Tip in your community, there is no reason to worry. Nothing will change for you. This has been a process of re-imagining our platform at every level, and thinking about how we can work to better support communities, schools and students.

Again – more to come!

As always, if there is anything our team can do for you or for your family, please let me know.


Andy Duran, CEO

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