Keeping our Teens Drug and Alcohol Free


Executive Director

Barbara de Nekker

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 224-765-CTAD (2823)

With almost two decades of experience in drug prevention and coalition building, Barbara de Nekker has demonstrated success bringing together community partners to achieve long-term, positive change. Through grassroots advocacy and youth engagement, her efforts contributed to the adoption of over two dozen smoke-free policies in Lake County. She has worked with local, regional and national drug prevention coalitions and presented at national conferences on youth advocacy, the social norms approach, and coalition development. More recently, as Director of Youth Activism at Truth Initiative in Washington D.C., Barbara provided technical assistance and training to teens, young adults, and coordinators of tobacco prevention youth groups across the nation.

In addition to drug prevention experience, Barbara worked as a nonprofit consultant for Veterans Moving Forward, Inc., a nonprofit that provides service dogs and canine therapy to veterans, and spent three years in the Netherlands, where she served as a social cultural worker helping foreign women integrate into Dutch society.

“It’s inspiring to work with so many compassionate residents and caring institutions eager to ensure a healthy and robust future for their youth,” Barbara shared.

Program Coordinator

Catherine Spencer

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Catherine comes to CTAD with 18 years of experience working with North Shore children, youth and their families as a licensed clinical social worker. She has worked in many of the sectors represented on CTAD’s coalition including school, hospital, church and treatment center settings. Catherine has served as president of a preschool board and leader of children’s ministry programs. Prior to a career in social work, Catherine worked in research for a human resource consulting firm. She looks forward to combining her leadership and data analysis skills with her experiences as a clinical social worker to bring in the best strategies, programs, and policies that help prevent youth alcohol and drug use in the communities supported by CTAD.

Catherine is the mother of three children that attend Highland Park schools and is proud to be part of a community where all sectors work together to create an environment where the drug-free choice is the easy choice for youth.

Program Assistant

Michelle Culver

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Michelle Culver joins us as a Program Assistant after volunteering for our organization for over two years. She started as a District 113 School Board liaison to CTAD in 2017. She has also served as an Executive Board member, Secretary and Parent Committee member. Michelle and her husband have four children, all of whom attended or currently attend DHS. Michelle has also served on the board of Deerfield Parent Network since 2012, including as Co-President. She has spent the last several years dedicating her time to organizations that aim to educate and protect the youth of our community.