Dear Lake Forest, Lake Bluff and LEAD Stakeholders: 

Returning to the Chicagoland area is a homecoming for me. While I may not have been born or raised there, Chicago is hands-down my favorite city. In 2012 I first visited the city on an interview trip for a job that would have me working as a HR software consultant for a rapidly growing start-up. That night as we were coming into land at midway, I looked out the window and was overcome with profound feeling of home. Riding the L to my hotel downtown was the opening scene of what would be a fantastic show as I lived there for the next 3 years. From my apartment in Gold Coast I fell in love with the windy city from the inside out. Even the winters.

In 2015 I moved back home, as I reconsidered the work I was doing. I wanted to return to prevention. I had grown up in Youth-led prevention in my home town of San Ramon, California. After volunteering, staffing, and training for 14 years I wanted to make it my career. The skills that helped me excel as a consultant came from my time as a youth in the program, I wanted to give back. This took me to Columbus, Ohio, the headquarters of Youth to Youth international where I’ve just finished working as a Youth Prevention Specialist. My focus has been on tobacco prevention, managing our two grants from the Ohio Department of Health where I coordinated prevention efforts with local organizations, guided teens in their development of counter-marketing materials, assisted local law enforcement with compliance checks, and was a key member of the summer conference staff. 

So how have I come back? In April Youth to Youth brought Andy Duran, LEAD’s Executive Director, out to present his fantastic Social Media workshop. During his time with us, our good friend Ty Sells introduced us and joked that Andy I and were a lot alike in our work styles, and given my love of Chicago, that I should go work for Andy. I laughed it off at the time, but as I was looking for Andy’s slide deck this past May, I stumbled on this job opening and something said I couldn’t let it slide by. As they say, the rest is history.

As I get situated, I’m looking forward to working with LEAD and the SpeakUP! coalition to continue the work you’ve begun. I approach prevention knowing that youth are our strongest voice in this work and that the more committed people we get involved, the better chances we have at positively changing our community. As a IC&RC Certified Prevention Specialist, I also come knowing that I don’t have even most of the answers, but a set of tools that will help us discover them together, while bringing prevention best practices. Lastly, I know it will take us time. One of my good colleagues in tobacco prevention put it best: we are not making stir fry here, this is slow cooking. 

I can’t wait to meet all of you and learn about the work you’re doing. Please feel free to introduce yourself via email. I can be reached at [email protected]. 

Warm Regards,
Nate Biggs

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