Center for Health and Counseling Services

Meet the Staff

The staff is a multi-disciplinary treatment team of health and mental health professionals. Physicians, nurses, counselors and administrators are dedicated to serving our campus community. The Center also employs student workers to assist with clerical duties. Student workers have limited access to patient information. All staff members sign a confidentiality agreement upon employment.

Michele Manassah, M.A., L.C.P.C.
Director, Counseling Services

Michele is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor in the state of Illinois and has been working in the mental health field since 1991.  She completed her bachelor degree in Community Services at Bowling Green State University, Bowling Green, Ohio and earned her M.A. in Guidance and Counseling at Bowling Green State University, as well.  Prior to coming to Lewis University, Michele provided clinical care and supervisory oversight in several community mental health settings.   Her experience includes working with trauma, depression and other mood disorders, anxiety disorders, relationship problems, substance abuse, grief, and psychotic disorders.  Especially interested in crisis intervention, trauma and brief therapies, Michele has extensive experience in suicide assessment and intervention.  She is a member of the Illinois Counseling Association, the American College Counseling Association and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.

She resides in Plainfield with her husband and their three children.

Michelle Ronchetti, BSN, RN
Director, Health Services

Michelle is an RN who started working at Lewis University in March 2008. She serves as the Director of Health Services at the Center. She earned her BSN here at Lewis, graduating in 1989. Michelle has worked in a variety of roles and settings throughout her career as a Registered Nurse. Her experience as an RN includes working in ambulatory care as well as the hospital. She was a labor and delivery nurse for over 12 years; thereafter, she spent part of her career working in an industrial health setting and then worked at a large federally funded community health center, here in Will County, serving as their Quality/Risk manager.

Michelle very much enjoys working in the college setting and with the college student population to promote health and wellness. She finds it stimulating to work with people like college students who are eager to become equal partners in their health care and who are, in most instances, motivated to learn what they can do to stay well. She has always loved being a nurse and working with people. Michelle has been married to her high school sweetheart, Mark, since 1989 and they are blessed with two wonderful sons.

Gary A. DeLeonardis, M.A., L.C.P.C.
Mental Health Counselor

Gary earned his M.A. in Clinical Psychology, Counseling Specialization from The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. He also received his bachelor’s degree in Communication with minors in Applied Psychology and Community Services Studies from DePaul University. Prior to working at Lewis, Gary provided individual counseling to the diverse non-traditional student body at Governors State University.  He is interested and has experience working with trauma, life transitions, identity, relationships, grief and loss, anxiety, depression, developmental disorders, and substance abuse. Gary values diversity and working collaboratively with students to create a therapeutic relationship that encourages self-awareness, exploration, healing, and supports personal strengths through interpersonal and relational approaches.

Cathy Hopp, BSN, RN

Cathy is a licensed Registered Nurse and current member of the Honor Society of Nursing, Sigma Theta Tau International. She earned her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree, Summa Cum Laude, from the University of St. Frances in Joliet. Prior to joining the staff at Lewis University, she worked on the Surgical Services unit at Loyola University Medical Center. While there, she gained valuable experience providing care to a diverse patient population. Cathy strongly values higher education and is excited to work in a college environment where she is able to assist the student population in maintaining optimum health and wellness. She plans on beginning her pursuit to obtain her Master of Science in Nursing Degree in the near future. Cathy resides in Plainfield with her family.

Sandy Speva

Sandy has been the secretary at The Center for Health & Counseling Services since 1998. She is a Lewis Alumna receiving her Bachelor of Arts Degree in Business Administration in May 2008.  In the future, she hopes to continue her education and complete her master’s degree. She has lived in the Plainfield area most of her life with her husband, Jayme, and their two children.   

Heidi Stukel M.A., L.C.P.C.
Mental Health Counselor

Heidi has experience working with a wide range of mental health conditions, as she has been a professional in the social service field for twelve years.  Heidi has experience in crisis counseling, as well as school counseling and guidance. Heidi is particularity interested in working to empower students to create more meaning and purpose in their life, as well as living a more fulfilled life.  Heidi is known for her warm, relaxed, and comfortable approach to counseling. Her integrative approach involves genuine caring, acceptance, and non-judgment.  She works with students from a strength-based, positive, and affirming perspective, focusing on the whole person. Heidi considers herself to be very blessed to be able to work in a profession that she truly loves and feels passionate about. Heidi is committed to inspire all students in just the same way the experienced faculty, dedicated staff and friendships she made while she was a student at Lewis University, inspired within her.  Heidi is a member of the American Counseling Association and she is also a Will County Emergency Preparedness and Response Volunteer.

Heidi resides in Joliet with her husband, three children and yellow lab.

Jill Whitaker, M.S., L.C.P.C.

Jill is a Licensed Clinical Professional Counselor and current member of the Illinois Counseling Association.  She has has been working in the human service field since 1998.  She completed her bachelor degree in Psychology and English Literature at Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and earned her M.S. in Counseling at National Louis University in Chicago.  Jill has worked in a variety of community based agency and school settings providing individual and family development counseling, psycho-educational groups and prevention services.  She has experience providing crisis intervention counseling, and supporting those who have experienced significant trauma and loss.  Using motivational and interpersonal strategies, Jill partners with students to encourage positive development of their self-awareness and esteem, strengths, and support systems. 

Markisha J. Woodson, PhD
Prevention Education Coordinator

Markisha is a strong advocate for health education and promotion. She enjoys programming for college students as well as families with children. She recently earned her Doctorate of Philosophy in Community Health from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, with a concentration in health education and promotion. She also earned a Master of Science in Public Health and a Bachelor of Science in Community Health: Health Planning and Administration from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Markisha has a passion for educating people on the importance of taking care of the whole self. In her previous experience she was worked with various populations of all ethnicities and ages. She particularly enjoys working with college students that are in a transitional phase in their lives and helping them develop techniques and strategies for healthier living.

Counseling Interns for the 2016-17 Academic Year

Veronica Payanoff
Veronica is a graduate student who is working on her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. She graduated with honors from DePaul University with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Veronica is very excited to be working at the Center and to support students through their college experience. Veronica strongly believes in treating each person with respect, warmth, and empathy while giving them a safe space to be able to express themselves. She understands that college is a time for students to grow and learn about themselves, and at times it can become very difficult and overwhelming. Veronica is excited and willing to assist students as they navigate their way. Veronica also has interest in helping students manage anxiety and learn coping strategies. She is also dedicated to supporting students with identity development and sexuality based concerns. She is looking forward to a great year at Lewis!

Haley Christensen
Haley is a Graduate student currently working on earning her Master’s Degree in Counseling Psychology at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Haley graduated with honors from Aurora University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology. She volunteered for several months as a Crisis Line worker and has some experience with crisis intervention and is looking forward to expanding on these skills.  Haley believes in treating each person as an individual who is on a path of personal growth and self-discovery, and aims to support and provide a safe space for those who are navigating their own college journey. She aims to assist students in developing skills for coping with anxiety and managing the responsibilities involved with the exciting and sometimes stressful college experience. Haley is also dedicated to and comfortable talking about diversity, including LGBTQIA individuals and anyone struggling with gender, sexuality, and other diverse issues. She is excited for the opportunity to grow and learn together with the students at Lewis University.