360 Youth Services—Life-Changing Services For Teens

December 2015 View more

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When Katy Leclair was six-years-old she wasn’t running a lemonade stand outside her home, instead she was in charge of a concession stand at her sister’s high school. For her eighth Christmas, she asked Santa for an adding machine. At school, she was so bright she skipped fifth grade and by age 20 she had a Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration.

Since then, Leclair added a Juris Doctor (J.D) from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, and is completing a Master’s degree in Business Administration at Webster University. Now 32 years old, she has taken over the reins of 360 Youth Services as their Chief Executive Officer hoping to take the nonprofit to the next level as they prepare to celebrate their 45th anniversary next year.

A Safety Net

360 Youth Services provides life-changing services for school-aged kids and families through substance abuse education and prevention services for students in school district 203 and 204; counseling programs to address a variety of issues at home, in school or in the community; special community mentoring programs connecting adult females with young girls; and housing programs for young adults who were previously homeless.

Leadership Experience

Leclair comes from a background of service. Ironically her first leadership experience was for Project Snowball, which is one of 360’s most recognized programs. For the past 12 years, she has worked for the YMCA, most recently serving as the Executive Director of the Lakeview and West Communities.

“I’ve always been passionate about providing youth with all the tools they need to navigate life,” said Leclair. “At the Y we offered summer camps, enrichment programs and mentored teens. It’s exciting that I can continue this path of service just in a different way.”

Leclair says she is most excited about gathering community input to help 360 expand its services. Currently, they offer support in dealing with substance abuse prevention education, counseling and shelter.

“I have always had a very strong work ethic which I learned from my parents,” she said. “My father was a truck driver and my mother a nurse and they were always giving back. They ran the booster club at my sister’s school, which is how I came to run the concession stand from the age of six to about 12. I’ve always been a good organizer and I love numbers. I can still remember counting out the exact number of Swedish Fish in each bag we sold!”

Operation Snowball

When Leclair started high school, her parents moved from a small town to Orland Park where she faced some big changes. For her, Operation Snowball, a youth leadership development and substance abuse prevention program offered to all teens, came just at the right time.

“It helped keep me on track and build friends I had lost in the move,” she said. “It was my first leadership development experience and made me realize I wasn’t the only one with challenges in high school. I felt it was part of something everyone was facing. After attending a weekend retreat I started getting involved year round. It was really impactful.”

As passionate as Leclair is about helping youth, she’s also passionate about raising a family in Naperville. She and her husband, Steve, have a three-year-old-son, Austin, who she hopes one day will attend the same Naperville schools Steve did.

“It’s very important to me to provide service to my community,” she said. “It’s fun for me to get to learn new things. I’ve read a lot about 360 and I’m excited to experience it now personally. I believe in great communication and team building. This is a chance to build some great relationships. From my perspective, the power of any organization is in its collective. One of the strengths of 360 Youth Services is its staff and volunteers. We certainly have some incredible allies all over the community.”

For more information about 360 Youth Services visit www.360youthservices.org.

Photo by Robyn Sheldon