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The University of Chicago Medicine - Comer Children's Hospital
At the Forefront of Kids' Medicine

Our Team

At the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children's Hospital, our certified child life specialists have extensive training in child development and can provide effective, appropriate support to meet the needs of your youngster or teen.

Our staff members have master's and bachelor's degrees in child development, child life and family-centered care, or related fields. These specialists work throughout the hospital and the emergency department, offering support for children and families to help them cope with injuries and illnesses.

Our team also includes caring volunteers and child life interns who are dedicated to making your child's hospital experience as comfortable as possible. They are sensitive to the social and emotional needs of your child and family, and aim to make your experience as positive as possible.

Jennie Ott, MS, CCLS -- Director, Child Life 
jennie.ott@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child life and family centered care, Wheelock College, Boston, MA
  • BA in psychology, Le Moyne College, Syracuse, NY

Amy Carter, MS, CCLS -- Lead Child Life Specialist 
amy.carter@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child life and family centered care, Wheelock College, Boston, MA
  • BA in psychology with a child development concentration, Quinnipiac College, Hamden, CT

Aimee Karas, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist II 
aimee.karas@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child development, Erikson Institute, Chicago, IL
  • BA in psychology, minor in art history, Ithaca College, Ithaca, NY

Tracy Lau-Esquibel, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist II 
tracy.lau-esquibel@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child development, Erikson Institute, Chicago, IL
  • BS in biology, University of Illinois, Champaign, IL

Ashlee Burgess, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I 
ashlee.burgess@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in Child Life and Family Centered Care, Wheelock College, Boston, MA
  • BS in Human Development with a focus in Psychology, minors in child health and music, Wheelock College, Boston, MA

Alyssa Friedberg, M.Ed., CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I
 
alyssa.friedberg@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • M.Ed. in Youth Development, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago IL
  • B.A. in Journalism, Indiana University, Bloomington IN

Jessica Gaynor, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I
 
jessica.gaynor@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child development with child life specialization, Erikson Institute, Chicago, IL
  • BS in business administration, marketing concentration, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI

Amy Heinz, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I 
amy.heinz@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child development, Erikson Institute, Chicago, IL
  • BS in applied health science-human development/family studies, minor in psychology and sociology, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN

Amy LeMay, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I 
amy.lemay@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • BS in Leisure Studies: Child Life, University of Iowa, Iowa City
  • MS in child development with child life specialization, Erikson Institute, Chicago, IL

Catherine Ney, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I 
catherine.ney@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child development with child life specialization, Erikson Institute, Chicago, IL
  • BS in Psychology, Iowa State University, Ames, IA

Katie Niziolek, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialst I
Katherine.niziolek@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in family and consumer science, specialization in child life, Illinois State University, Normal, IL
  • BS in human development and family studies, concentration in child development, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI 

Elizabeth Ruhl, MA, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I
elizabeth.ruhl2@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MA in early childhood education with emphasis in child life, Mills College, Oakland, CA
  • BA in psychology and spanish, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC

Beth Sherwood, MS, CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I 
beth.sherwood@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • MS in child development, Erikson Institute, Chicago, IL
  • BS in art therapy, minor in psychology, Edgewood College, Madison, WI

Jonathan Tutko, MT-BC -- Music Therapist 
jonathan.tutko@uchospitals.edu

  • Board Certified Music Therapist
  • BA in music therapy, Illinois State University

Danielle York, M.Ed., CCLS -- Child Life Specialist I danielle.york@uchospitals.edu

  • Certified Child Life specialist
  • M.Ed. in Child Life and Therapeutic Recreation, Springfield College, Springfield, MA
  • BA in Sports Management and Recreation Leisure, Southern Wesleyan University, Central, SC

Yasuko Yoshihara, MA ATR, LCPC -- Art Therapist 
yasuko.yoshihara@uchospitals.edu

  • Registered art therapist
  • MA in art therapy, School of the Art Institute of Chicago, IL
  • BA in textile design, Tokyo Zokei Art University, Tokyo, Japan