Please allow the words of the faculty advisors that we work along aside as well as

our own facilitators' experiences speak for themselves...



KC Leinen: EHYSPTA Secretary,Emma Havens Young School, Brick, NJ

"On behalf of the EHYSPTA, I want to thank you and your team for a fantastic assembly. All of our students enjoyed their time with you and spoke of nothing else all night; at least, my children yapped my ear off until I turned the lights off. We are grateful to have people in this world who are passionate about what they do and show our students how to be a superhero."

(Texas, DJ, Cool) Mike Antonelli: Lead U Director of Social Media, Brick, NJ

"Positivity.  Enthusiasm.  Happiness.  These are the words that immediately pop into my head when thinking about Lead U.  I’ve been working with Lead U since February of 2017 and it has been everything I could’ve asked for in an education position.  Lead U isn’t just an assembly group, it’s a family that is constantly growing and expanding.  Every school we visit, every student we interact with, every teacher or administrator that reminds us that what we do is working becomes part of our family.  There’s this extremely powerful bond that the Lead U possess to be able to transcend a group of students for 60 minutes.  The ability to create and always have our opinions heard or shared without judgement is crucial in the development of our programs.  With so many different backgrounds from different crew members, we all bring a variety of traits that JD has effortlessly molded together to become something that has never really been seen before.  We all bring something special to the table and he makes sure he gets the most out of us so we can get the most out of our kids.  When the Lead U Crew looks like they’re having a good time, it is a genuine feeling.  The students are able to tell we enjoy ourselves during our assemblies which makes it so much easier to connect with them and to have them focused on our mission.  Overall, the product consistently changes from school to school, but the results of students embracing what we do and smiling or not wanting to leave once we finish is what keeps us going with the realization that this is working and will continue to work."


Dheranie V. Suarez: Principal, Land O'Pines School, Howell, NJ

"JD and the Lead U team came to visit us last week to present an empowering assembly to our Kindergarten through 2nd grade classes.  The students absolutely loved the presentation and our PTO & staff were excited by the team’s unique approach!  It is one of the few assemblies that is truly interactive with every single one of our students.  It encouraged team work and critical thinking, while focusing on relevant topics such as: being kind, dispelling rumors and “filling our buckets”.

The entire assembly was customized specifically for OUR school, for OUR needs.  JD scheduled an appointment with us months in advance and catered to our request for a winter “pick-me-up”/ manners reminder presentation.  Our planning included our sister school of grades 3-5 to ensure that students in the same families heard the same message, but was specifically designed for each school.

Our teachers have already requested that JD and the crew return soon.  Thanks, Lead U!"

Andrea Apruzzese: Student Council Moderator, St. Dominic Academy, Jersey City, NJ

"I am so pleased to have hired Lead U to do SDA’s most recent leadership workshop.  JD and his team are professional, respectful, generous and the finest representation of “Lead by Example.”  As facilitators,  they never preach or lecture do’s and dont’s, instead they are right in there with the students “getting their hands dirty,” sharing ideas and always challenging, encouraging, motivating and inspiring.  

What I liked best is that JD met with our STUCO Exec Board in advance of the program to ascertain our needs, concerns and goals for the year.  Then he and his team, integrated all of them seamlessly into the program so that the participants were focusing on the goals without even realizing that that was the plan all along.  The day ran so smoothly and the girls were immediately comfortable and at ease; I think they truly enjoyed the structure of the day. From the opening activity to the closing ceremony, the 8 hour workshop was phenomenal. 

JD and his team are kind, considerate, and supportive. They are true experts at making each participant feel valued and appreciated.  Most especially, they are great at helping each student recognize that they have leadership potential. My favorite part of the day was seeing our more quiet students being active and involved and having fun.

The STUCO reps can’t wait to invite JD back for a follow-up session so he can see the results of our workshop in action."


Kim hosting Donovan's Leaderette ...searching for the Ideal Leader at Lead U 


Kim Verwey: Student Council Advisor, Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, NJ

"I was completely satisfied with our Lead U experience, from my event’s beginning to its completion. I was a new Student Council advisor and my first task within weeks of my appointment was to organize a three day leadership camp. I would have been completely lost without the Lead U team who was available to me at all times leading up to the event. Before we even left the Lead U team went above and beyond what was expected of them. When the camp finally began I was blown away by the skills of the Lead U staff and the effect it had on our student leaders. It was extremely well researched, planned, and executed. Our students ranging from 14 to 18 were completely receptive to JD and his staff. The planning and execution of the program by the personable leaders was a once in a lifetime experience that will give students lessons to take with them for life. Lead U did not just inspire the students, but the adult chaperones as well. I can anticipate a very productive school year thanks to the Lead U team."


Adam Mangold: Student Council President, Donovan Catholic High School, Toms River, NJ 

"This past summer I attended my third leadership camp with Lead U (previously Shelf) and I cannot express how grateful I am for JD and his entire crew for making me into a better leader.  Each summer I always looked forward to the three days in July when our school Student Council, National Honors Society, and Student Ambassadors would gather and grow as leaders together under the direction of the Lead U staff. Going into high school I was very shy and afraid to step out of my comfort zone, and it is truly inspiring to see the transformation I have made over three years since coming to my first Lead U camp. JD has taught me how to broaden my horizons and become more social with other leaders from all different backgrounds. With the help of the staff, I was able to become more outspoken in school and learned how to utilize my “leaderstyle” to the best of my abilities. Using the skills acquired throughout the three camps, I was able to start a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting child hunger and was elected Student Council Executive Board President for this upcoming year. Lead U has changed my life in so many ways, and I cannot thank the staff enough for all they’ve done for me, and for the bonds I have been able to forge with my fellow student leaders, chaperones, and school community."

Adam with fellow Donovan Senior Student Leaders at Lead U

Adam with fellow Donovan Senior Student Leaders at Lead U


Brendan Hanney: Lead U Facilitator, Point Pleasant, NJ

"I loved every minute of being a LEAD U facilitator. I hope that the student leaders had just as much fun as I did. I experienced the most rewarding feeling by seeing the genuine change and comfort that the student leaders felt in becoming the roles they had to fill. I'd spend my life doing this if I could."

Christina Vassalo: Lead U Facilitator, Brick, NJ

"Lead U is an amazing company that I am lucky and blessed to be a part of. I have seen how these camps and workshops have directly impacted students' lives. They listen because they want to hear what we are saying, their phones are down because they're laughing or watching our example, and they leave with more confidence and radiance than they came in with. The students are learning without any force and without even knowing all the lessons they are absorbing. 

Lead U events are the best part of my year thanks to the incredible staff and the work we do. I love working side by side with the student leaders and empowering them to be the absolute best they can be. Lead U has changed so many student lives and it certainly has changed mine as well."