Read about the leaders of the Life Stride Company.
Gwendolyn Bardwell has been in the Mental Health community in Washington, DC and Maryland for over 40 years. She began her Nursing career at Psychiatric Center Chartered, of which she is now the Owner and President. She has worked with Life Stride since its inception as its founder, Owner and current President. Ms. Bardwell expanded services to include individuals and families in Maryland through Affordable Behavioral Consultants (ABC), of which she is the Owner and President. She also is the President of PCC Stride, a community based non-profit licensed placement agency in the District and State of Maryland. She serves on the Board of Directors for Psychiatric Center Chartered, Life Stride, ABC and PCC Stride, amongst being a member several professional organizations focusing on mental health. Ms. Bardwell is a Registered Nurse and a Licensed Professional Counselor holding a Master’s Degree in Health Services Administration.
Dr. Michelle Cook, PhD, LICSW, serves as Chief Executive Officer for Life Stride, Inc., leading the agency in its efforts to meet the growing needs of the DC community. Michelle began her tenure at Life Stride as Clinical Director at Life Stride before her appointment to CEO in 2019. Prior to this, she served as Clinical Director at PSI, another core services agency located in Washington, DC.
Dr. Cook began her career as a Forensic Social Worker providing mental health support to recently released inmates; this work would later inform her research and doctoral dissertation on predictors of recidivism. Following this, she developed and implemented a dual diagnosis program for former inmates that led to historically low recidivism rates in the community. During this time, Dr. Cook also began a private practice focused on women’s mental health issues, informed by psychoanalytic theory informed by Object Relations and Relational Schools.
Dr. Cook holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and a Master’s Degree in social work from San Diego State University. She completed a PhD from Catholic University in 2014. Dr. Cook serves on the board of PAVE (Parents Amplifying their Voices in Education), and is Vice President of the DC Metro Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers (NASW).
Leonard Lucas is Chief Operating Officer at Life Stride, overseeing Compliance, Information Technology and overall general operations. His passion for helping others was modeled at an early age by his parents, the founders of Life Stride, and has carried out through his professional career. Mr. Lucas is a United States Army Veteran, and following his service worked in law enforcement as a Maryland State Trooper, then going on to start a successful Executive Protection company. During this time, Mr. Lucas served on Life Stride’s Board of Directions and operated their transportation department until 2016, coming aboard full-time as COO and holding this position ever since. Mr. Lucas is a graduate of The University of Texas, El Paso where he earned a Bachelor of Arts in Law Enforcement.
Forrest Marovelli, CPA serves as the Chief Financial Officer (CFO) for Life Stride CFO, managing financial planning for the agency. Mr. Marovelli has an extensive finance, accounting and tax background spanning over three decades, as a Certified Public Accountant and as CFO for multiple companies. Mr. Marovelli also maintains his own tax and accounting consulting business.
Mr. Marovelli holds a degree in Accounting from James Madison University, and a Masters of Business Administration from the Wharton School of Business.
VP of Human Resources duties entail organizational development, recruitment, staffing, employment law, performance management, and employee relations. Team Coordinator serves as guidance and support to the Residential Team. Both roles consist of handling grievances, managing hiring practices, including recruiting, and selection. The secretary of the board ensures all rules and bylaws of the organization are adhered to during meetings, maintains all documents, and implementation of decisions.
Mrs. Myers joined Life Stride in 1995 a Residential Counselor, because of a calling to help people, and to make meaningful differences in their lives. She assisted in opening the first ‘CRF’ Community Residential Facility. In 1996 she became a Residential Director and began to open more facilities in the Washington, DC area. At the end of 1996 Life Stride had a total of 25 employees, so it was necessary to acquire its first office space which lead to the promotion of Human Resources Director.
From 1990 – 1995 Mrs. Meyers was employed with Psychiatric Center Chartered as an Administrative Assistant.
University of Maryland University College
Prince George’s Community College
Substance Abuse Counselor
Certified Red Cross CPR & 1st Aid Instructor
Notary of Public
Dr. Spencer Johnson, MD, serves as Medical Director at Life Stride, overseeing our psychiatric and nursing staff. Dr. Johnson is a board-certified psychiatrist specializing in Neurology with over 34 years of experience in the medical field. Following graduation from Johns Hopkins University, where he received his Bachelor of Science, he attended medical school at the University of Maryland School of Medicine where he graduated with honors. He completed his residency at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, DC, becoming Co-Chief Resident in his last year, subsequently completing an Administrative Psychiatry fellowship. Dr. Spencer is also an accomplished filmmaker, and in March 2004 established Skyrocket Productions LLC, a full-service independent film and television production company.
David Shrank, LICSW, LCSW-C, is a clinically licensed therapist and social worker specializing in trauma-focused therapy. Mr. Shrank has worked extensively with diverse youth and adult populations, targeting bullying, gang violence, addiction, sexual assault, counterterrorism, veteran issues, and recidivism. Mr. Shrank also provides consultation to law enforcement and schools and has appeared on talk shows and podcasts as a mental health expert. Mr. Shrank is a member of the Capital Network Veterans Engagement Board, LGBTQ Veterans Advocacy and the Advisory Board Round Table. Mr. Shrank was previously Board Chair of Professional Development for the Maryland chapter of NASW. Mr. Shrank holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Manhattanville College and a Masters in Social Work from Temple University's School of Social Work Administration.
Paul Wells, LICSW, heads Life Stride’s Substance Abuse Disorder (SUD) program, managing and providing clinical direction to counselors and staff. For ten years Mr. Wells directed the Foundation for Contemporary Mental Health, at that time the largest outpatient chemical treatment program in the District of Columbia. Mr. Wells is also a former Deputy Director of Court Services and Offender Supervision Agency and architect of the Re-Entry and Sanctions Center, which assessed the treatment-readiness of high-risk offenders. In this role he managed a clinical team of over 100 licensed staff including psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers and addiction counselors.
Mr. Wells is also a field Instructor and lecturer for the Howard University Graduate Schools of Social Work and Psychology, The George Washington University School of Psychiatry, Trinity University Graduate School of Counseling, University of Maryland Graduate School of Social Work and Argosy University Masters and Ph.D. Program of Psychology.
Mr. Wells holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Saint Lawrence University in Canton New York and a Master’s degree in Social Work from Temple University in Philadelphia. Mr. Wells’ post-graduate training is in trauma treatment (PTSD) and co-occurring disorders.
Joyce Drumming, MPH, LICSW, MSW, serves as the Administrative Officer for Life Stride, Inc., in its efforts to expand the availability of services that are geared to meeting the needs of individuals and families living in Washington, D.C. As a native Washingtonian, Ms. Drumming began her tenure at Life Stride, Inc. in 2001. Prior to this she was the Camden County Director of Health and Human Services; Deputy Commissioner for Operations of the Massachusetts Department of Mental Health; in addition to serving as the Director of several psychiatric hospitals, she served as the Bureau Director of the east side campus of St. Elizabeths Hospital; Director for Housing for the DC Department of Mental Health; and, as a Legislative Assistant to Senator Edward E. Kennedy in the United States Senate.
Ms. Drumming holds Bachelor’s degrees in Education & Social Work from Federal City College; Master’s degree in Social Work from Howard University; Master’s degree in Public Health from Johns Hopkins University; and, Certification in Public Management & Public Policy from the J.F. Kennedy, Jr. School of Public Policy at Harvard University. She has provided more than forty (40) years of public and private mental health and social services. She has been awarded numerous national and local honors and is committed to ensuring that citizens receive the highest level of services that will assist in their abilities to meet life goals.
Contact us and we will get back to you with more information on how to apply!