MEET OUR 2021 BOARD OF DIRECTORS…AKA–TEAM of WORLD-CHANGERS…

Front Porch Family Photo Challenge Cell Phone

Meet Christine Leeb, Founder & Executive Director

  • Mother of 3 children, married since 2000
  • Advocate for healthy child development through positive parent-child relationships
  • Family Coach and Parent Educator—Specializing in Parenting, Marriage, and Life Purpose
  • Creator of the Teamwork Parenting Approach with Teamwork Parenting Tools and 25 Character Songs
  • BS in Education–Middle School Endorsement, MS in Psychology–Child & Adolescent Development (in progress)
  •  Favorites
    • Foods: Mexican, Italian, and especially dark chocolate brownies
    • Hobbies: Family-time, Hiking, Writing/Journaling/Quiet time with God
    • Bible Verse/Quote: Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:5-6
    • Way to Make the World Better: That every parent from every race and background felt loved, supported, and encouraged to be the parent their child needs so every child grew up feeling loved, valued, and treasured.
    • Fun Fact: I know how to ski on one ski.
    • Real Life Moment: When I was pregnant with my third child, I had severe morning sickness. One morning, I was heaving in the bathroom, and my middle child asked me if I was OK while my oldest was asking if I would help him put on his Spiderman costume.

Rachael McKinney Family

Meet Rachael McKinney, President…

  • Mother of 3 children, married since 2006
  • Certified Doula, Childbirth Educator and Co-Owner of Gentle Transitions
  • BS in Business Administration
  •  Favorites
    • Foods: Any and all baked goods 🙂
    • Hobbies: I can’t even remember anymore– what was life like when there wasn’t virtual school and a pandemic?!
    • Bible Verse/Quote: We don’t have to do all of it alone. We were never meant to. Brene Brown
    • Way to Make the World Better: Meeting everyone’s basic needs.
    • Fun Fact: I have seen more than 100 babies join this world and over 200 people become parents.
    • Real Life Moment: Once I hired a babysitter to put the kids to bed while I sat in our driveway eating ice cream and watching Netflix until the kids were asleep.

Hurth Family

Meet Emily Hurth, Vice President….

  • Mother of 2 children, married since 2014
  • Bachelor of Science in Applied Health Science (Major: Human Development and Family Studies)
  • Master of Social Work (Concentration: Children and Families)
  • Certified Child Life Specialist at Carle Hospital
  •  Favorites
    • Foods: Cookie Dough!
    • Hobbies: Community Service, Travel, Cooking
    • Bible Verse/Quote: “Kind words can be short and easy to speak but their echoes are truly endless.” – Mother Teresa
    • Way to Make the World Better: Provide free mental health services for children and families who have experienced trauma.
    • Fun Fact: I have all brothers. I wanted to be a newscaster at one point in college. My favorite holiday is Christmas. I could eat Mexican food almost every night of the week. I have a fear of driving on bridges.
    • Real Life Moment: When I was pregnant with my second baby, my 2.5 year old watched me throw up all day (hyperemesis). I would let him watch Paw Patrol while I tried to peel myself away from the bathroom. Eventually, he started pretending to throw up like mommy. To this day, if I hear the Paw Patrol song I immediately feel nauseous.

Tom Family CU Click

Meet Tom Carlson, Treasurer…

  • Father of 1 daughter
  • Materials Engineer at US Army Construction Engineering Research Laboratory
  • BS in Materials Science and Engineering; MS in Engineering Mechanics
  •  Favorites
    • Foods: Tacos
    • Hobbies: outdoor recreation, bicycles, baking, woodworking, equipment restoration, reading, music
    • Bible Verse/Quote:  All of Romans 12
    • Way to Make the World Better: Pick up trash/liter- if only everyone did their part.
    • Fun Fact: I won a yo-yo competition when I was in grade school.
    • Real Life Moment: I’ve cooked so much for my daughter, now she wants to cook for me! We’re a team.Front Porch Photo Bautista professional (1)

      Meet Sarah Bautista, Secretary…

          • Mother of 2 daughters, Married since 2014
          • Stay-at-Home Mom and former Social Worker for a private foster care agency
          • BS in Psychology; MS in Social Work
          •  Favorites
            • Foods:  Mexican
            • Hobbies: Reading; singing; playing piano; being outside recreationally
            • Bible Verse/Quote: Jesus I trust in you.
            • Way to Make the World Better:  Love my family the best of my ability
            • Fun Fact:  I’m the oldest of 11 siblings: I have 10 nieces and nephews and counting
            • Real Life Moment: I recently went to Disney world with my two little princesses and realized how developmentally inappropriate the environment was for their age and the lies we tell ourselves about what our children will find fun! We learned to keep it simple this trip and that is where the real fun moments happen!

Jennifer Aggio

Meet Jennifer Aggio, Board Member….

  • Mother of 4 daughters, Married since 2010
  • Donates her Graphic Design talents to Real Life Families
  • Owner of Designs on the Go
  •  Favorites
    • Foods: Chicken Wings
    • Hobbies: Traveling, Kayaking, Hiking, anything outdoors
    • Bible Verse/Quote:  Consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of any kind. James 1:2
    • Way to Make the World Better: Give everyone a sense of compassion, caring, understanding of others.
    • Fun Fact: I have a 3rd degree black belt in Taekwondo
    • Real Life Moment: Families with multiple kids…have you ever noticed how sometimes kids “take turns” misbehaving or challenging the boundaries? It always seems that it’s one kid one day and the next kid the next. It can be so easy to get frustrated and scream when kids know exactly what to do to push our buttons!

Valena Claiborne Family

Meet Valena Claiborne, Board Member…. 

  • Mother of 3, Married since 2008
  • Pastor at CU Church
  • BS in Human Services; MA-Organizational Leadership; Minor in Theology
  •  Favorites
    • Foods: PIZZA
    • Hobbies: Baking, Napping, Fashion, Travel
    • Bible Verse/Quote: Song of Solomon 2:15
    • Way to Make the World Better: End Racism.
    • Fun Fact:  I HATE Lima Beans. Orange sorbet and butter popcorn TOGETHER is my favorite snack.
    • Real Life Moment: Virtual Learning- The kid walks in the bathroom with Zoom camera ON while I’m on the pot!

April Stark

Meet April Stark, Board Member…

  • Mother of 4 children, Married since 2005
  • 8th Grade Teacher at St. Matthew Catholic School
  • CU Mentor and President of Parents Club at St. Matthew Catholic School
  • BS in Finance; MA in Elementary Education
  •  Favorites
    • Foods: Chocolate
    • Hobbies:  Reading
    • Bible Verse/Quote: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7
    • Way to Make the World Better: Take away pain. And to make sure everyone knows they are loved.
    • Fun Fact: I was born on my grandpas birthday.
    • Real Life Moment: Everyday I have real life parenting moments. Some good, some bad! But I learn from them all.

Kim Smith Family

Meet Kim Smith, Board Member…

      • Mother of 4 children
      • Carle/Health Alliance Distribution Channel Analyst
      • Leader of GEMS (God Embracing Mothers Who Are Single) at Windsor Road Christian Church
      •  Favorites
        • Foods: Anything with chicken in it 🙂
        • Hobbies: Prayer journaling Traveling Making new connections with people Attending my children’s activities
        • Bible Verse/Quote: Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. Philippians 4:6
        • Way to Make the World Better: Take away all illnesses
        • Fun Fact: Let see – I am left handed 🙂 It is always a shock to people who have known me for a long time. And yellow is my favorite color.
        • Real Life Moment: Forgetting I placed my Diet Coke on top of the car and having it roll through the back window and hit my daughter in the head. Luckily it was in a plastic cup and at the age of 4 she thought it was funny. Fast forward 10 years and she still reminds me to this day :-).

Kelly Lazar RLF Intern

Meet Kelly Lazar, Intern…

  • Senior at the University of Illinois
  • Majoring in: Human Development and Family Studies with a minor in Communications
  • “I am excited to work with Real Life Families because family is so important to me because I know that they are my
    biggest support system no matter what happens in life.
  • Favorites
    • Food: Pasta
    • Hobbies: Working out and painting
    • Quote: “Everything happens for a reason, even if you do not know what the reason is yet” or “God gives its strongest battles to its toughest soldiers”
    • Way to Make the World Better:  By spreading positivity in any way I can. My goal is to make anyone I meet feel comfortable and supported, by reaching out and letting them know that I am always here to talk. There is so much negativity in the world and I believe that if everyone did one kind “thing” a day, it would make the world a more positive place to be in.
    • Fun Fact: I did gymnastics for 16 years
  • Real Life Moment: My brother and I were traveling alone and we had to leave Champaign to drive to O’hare by 2:00pm and he was not answering his phone, so I had to drive to his apartment and wake him up in order for us to make our flight!