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Meet the CAT Team

Chicago Adventure Therapy Staff


Laura Statesir

Acting Executive Director

Laura StatesirLaura is a seasoned outdoor program manager and instructor with experience directing international wilderness schools as well as guiding in both mountain and coastal settings. She is driven by a desire to create lasting connections between people, the outdoors, and their communities.

Laura earned a BS in Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences with an Outdoor Education Specialist certificate. Since then she has logged sixteen years of guiding adventure activities in six countries. As an instructor for the DYS Wilderness Challenge Program, she led youth involved with the court system on 31-day wilderness expeditions. Then she began her love affair with Latin America as the Program Director for Exposure Adventure Program in the Dominican Republic. She also spent two years as the Program Director for Costa Rica Outward Bound. Recently Laura was a part of the REI Chicago Outdoor School team.

Laura is a certified Wilderness First Responder, SCUBA Diver, and CPR/AED/First Aid Instructor. She is a Level 2 UKCC Paddlesports Coach and holds a British Canoeing Three Star Award in Sea Kayak, Canoe, and Whitewater Kayak. Outside of CAT, you can find Laura running, playing soccer, and trying to find ways to make the Chicago weather warmer.


Zorbari Nwidor

Operations Coordinator

Zorbari Nwidor

Zorbari started her involvement with CAT as a former participant in 2009. Since then she completed an internship with CAT and then became a part of our Program Staff.

Zorbari holds a British Canoeing Three Star Award and in 2012 became the youngest Level 1 UKCC Paddlesports Coach in North America. Zorbari graduated from Howard University in May 2017.




Tiara Coats

Program Staff

CAT Youth Intern Tiara Coats

Tiara began as a youth participant with CAT during the summer of 2015. Despite hating kayaking the first day and swearing she would never do it again, Tiara went on to earn her British Canoeing Two Star Award and in 2016 took the title of North America’s youngest Level 1 UKCC Paddlesports Coach from Zorbari (see above). Tiara was a Youth Intern with CAT in the summer of 2017 and is now a part of our program staff.




Nicole Tolentino

Summer Clinical Director


Sarah Schwartz

Summer Clinical Director


Summer 2019 – Andrea’s sabbatical and West Coast Expedition

“Summer 2019 is going to be a different summer. Laura and I will be running Chicago Adventure Therapy while Andrea will be on sabbatical. I’m excited, slightly nervous, but mostly looking forward to this opportunity to take on a larger role in CAT. I look forward to working with our partner agencies and supporters. I know that with our combined experience and passion we will make this summer one full of quality programs, and great experiences.” ~ Zorbari

“After 10 plus years planning, building and leading Chicago Adventure Therapy, I will be taking a sabbatical this summer. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have staff that I know will not only take very good care of CAT, but will improve the organization while I’m paddling the West Coast.” ~ Andrea

Laura: “I am thrilled to work for CAT for another year. I will do my best to fill Andrea’s {paddling} shoes.”

For anyone who might wonder, Laura’s best is really, really good. Tiara will be joining our summer staff for the 3rd year and will provide additional institutional knowledge, a good understanding of youth participants, and the ability to get it done when several young people have jumped in the water and need rescuing. Two clinical staff from 2017 and 2018 will be returning as well, so CAT is in very good hands while Andrea is away. Look for new projects and infrastructure to build for the future when Andrea returns in the fall.

PS – you can follow along with Andrea’s West Coast Adventure on the Expedition Facebook page.


Andrea Knepper

Executive Director (on sabbatical)

Version 2Andrea Knepper, LCSW, founded Chicago Adventure Therapy in 2006 and has been the director since then.  She has a broad range of clinical expertise, as well as sea kayaking and wilderness guiding experience. Andrea earned her BA from Oberlin College in 1995 and has been in social services since then.  She earned her M.S.W. from Loyola University in 2002. During her career, she has worked closely with teens and their families at Turning Point Community Mental Health Center as both a case manager and therapist, at Volunteers of America as a therapist, and at Open Door Shelter, where she helped coordinate daily operations.

From 1998 until 2008 Andrea also provided sea kayak instruction and lead numerous adventure travel IMG_9482trips for Northwest Passage Adventure Travel Company. In October of 2015 she eared her 5 Star Sea Leader Award, becoming one of 7 women in the country to hold the award.   In August of 2016 she became the second American to earn the UKCC Level 3 Coach Award. She also holds a 3 Star in Open Canoe and in Whitewater Kayak, and her ACA L3 Instructor Certification. Andrea is paddling the length of the US Pacific Coast this summer.  Make sure to follow along on her adventure!

Chicago Adventure Therapy Board of Directors


Christopher Moore

Board Member

Christopher brings a unique combination of skills to CAT. He has a passion for the outdoors, an understanding of how outdoor experiences can be transformative, experience leading and creating outdoor programs, and a degree in Park and Recreation Administration. Christopher’s outdoor background and experience is matched, even surpassed, by his deep and varied experience and leadership in the field of youth development, working as front-line staff, supervisor and program manager in a variety of settings including transitional living programs, residential treatment, alternative education and youth centers. Currently Christopher works as a Site Director at Lawrence Hall Youth Services. His favorite outdoor sport is swimming.


Maggie Byrne

Board Member


Melissa Curtis

Board Member