Meet the LionHeart Team
Colleen Duewel, Founder
Colleen Duewel, MPH, CMC, CDP knows first hand what it is like to support parents from a distance. When Colleen’s dad suffered a serious illness in another state, she had to balance a full time job, navigating a complex health care and benefits system for her father and caring for her own family. It’s Colleen’s goal that no one have to manage that without caring and experienced support.
Colleen has extensive experience as an Advanced Care Planner, certified geriatric care manager, nursing home ombudsman, certified dementia practitioner and hospice visitor. Colleen’s goal is to foster autonomy, relieve family caregiver worries, and help older adults thrive.
Colleen’s biggest joy is to work in a field she is passionate about and is honored to support you and your family.
Angela Berardelli, Registered Nurse
Angela MHA, RN, CNN has more than 25 years of experience in Healthcare Management and Nursing.
Angela has a strong focus on coordinating high quality care and services for her clients and has worked in numerous healthcare settings including hospitals, home health, nursing homes and hospice. She has also managed several large dialysis outpatient and hospital inpatient programs.
Growing up, Angela was fortunate to develop a special bond with her grandmother (Nana), who lived right next door. This enabled them to spend a lot of time together, with Angela often sleeping over, and helping her Nana with anything she needed. This is where her love and compassion for helping older adults evolved.
In addition to her Nursing degree, Angela has a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration, and an undergraduate degree in Human Development and Family Studies with a Focus on Adult Development and Aging. She is also a Certified Nephrology Nurse. Angela has always had a passion for working with older adults and their families. Her goal is to ensure her client’s individualized needs are met, giving families a peace of mind knowing their loved ones are supported and well taken care of.
Negar Ehsani, Eldercare Consultant
Negar, MSW, is an expert advocate who works diligently to ensure the voices of her clients are heard and their wants and needs are thoroughly addressed. She grew up in Fairfax County enabling her to become well connected to local resources and services.
Negar obtained a Master of Social Work degree in 2013 and has over 9 years of professional experience in community and human services.
She brings her passion for helping individuals and families navigate crises and stressful life transitions and connecting them to comprehensive services to her work at Lionheart Elder Care.
Jane Euler, Eldercare Consultant
Jane has had a lifelong passion for working with older adults. She has extensive life experience with family and friends that puts her in a unique position to support families through the aging process. She sees her role as a compassionate guide and advocate, with the goal of creating harmony and autonomy for her clients and families.
She has a Master’s Degree in Palliative Care, trained with the International End-of-Life Doula Association, and has an End-of-Life Doula Certificate from the University of Vermont. She is a hospice and No One Dies Alone (NODA) volunteer.
Karen Gerndt, Director of Operations
Karen brings a wealth of experience in operationalizing programs and systems for a large healthcare system and national mental health organization. Karen’s strengths in streamlining processes and leveraging technology are key to allowing LionHeart staff to spend quality, in-person time with our clients.
Karen is passionate about helping our clients and their families find the perfect retirement community. She listens closely to your needs and wants and will help you find a senior living community that fits your budget and lifestyle. She takes the worry out of moving by helping with every step of the process.
For people who are wondering about how and when to use their Long Term Care Insurance Policy, Karen can review your claim, create an easy to understand summary and help you file a claim when the time is right.
Bianca Graham-Bruce, Eldercare Consultant
Bianca, MSH, is originally from North Carolina and has worked as a public health professional in healthcare, social welfare and hospice administration. She extends southern hospitality and eagerness to facilitate learning environments. In her encounters she strives to empower through advocacy and collaborate for shared goal achievement.
Her education in both public health and aging services management propels her to work towards solutions and apply best practice beliefs.
Laura Kent, Engagement Specialist
Laura has a masters degree in social work and her professional background is in mental health. She has spent a lifetime helping people live their best lives. Laura now brings that passion to her lifelong dream of supporting older adults. Laura’s official LionHeart title is engagement specialist but to our clients she is simply their friendly visitor.
Laura enjoys connecting our clients with engaging, meaningful, purposeful activities and helping clients find the joy in everyday experiences. Laura’s own life experience has taught her that tomorrow is not promised and that a long life is a gift not a given. Her work with older adults has taught her that in order for a long life to feel like a gift, one must retain a measure of independence/autonomy and the ability to be supported in one’s wishes. Laura’s goal is to help older adults live their best lives.
Michele McLaughlin, Eldercare Consultant
Michele has decades of experience as a strong advocate for vulnerable populations. She has most recently provided palliative and hospice support to patients and families. Through this experience she enjoys listening to and appreciating the life stories of older adults from diverse backgrounds. Michele strives to help clients to continue to draw from their rich life experience and live joyful and purposeful lives as they age. She brings kindness, unflappability and persistence in meeting new challenges and opportunities clients face. With a master’s in public policy, Michele also understands the policy systems that support eldercare.
Michele lives with her husband, two teenage sons and sweet black lab Violet. She enjoys volunteering with Senior Services of Alexandria. An avid reader and lover of arts and culture, Michele obtained a certificate in world art history from Smithsonian Associates. She also looks forward to returning to travel and exploring the world.
Cora Plass, Senior Eldercare Consultant
Cora, MSW, has more than 30 years of experience in the field of aging, health care, and public health at the local, state, and national level. Her career path provided opportunities to work in a variety of settings, including the hospital, nursing home, home health, and community.
She is passionate about helping older adults maintain their maximum level of independence and live full, quality lives with meaning and purpose, no matter what their health status is.
A senior herself, Cora understands firsthand both the challenges and joys of growing older. She believes it’s never too late to make changes that can lead to a healthier and happier life. Through her own life experience, she has learned that small changes can make a big difference.
Cora enjoys using her knowledge, skills, and experience to support older adults in planning for and managing their health and long-term care needs to make their later years better. Her ultimate goal is to help the individuals she serves live life to the fullest and to support their family members by lightening the caregiving load.
Susanne Young, Community Liaison & Public Health Advisor
With 20+ years of health care experience, Susanne, MPH, CMC, CDP has a passion for helping individuals and families navigate the health care system. Always happy to lend a listening ear, colleagues seek out her expert advice.
Susanne spent many years as a Certified Care Manager advocating for older adults and as a Certified Therapeutic Recreation Specialist in various health care settings. She has a proven track record of positive relationships and communication with health industry leaders. Currently contracted as a supervisor for the Covid-19 investigation team at a local health department, Susanne continues to make a difference in the health of her community.
Susanne is an enthusiastic ambassador for older adults, long term care and public health in various settings throughout Northern Virginia.
Nancy Dezan, Dementia and Aging Advisor
As a Social Worker and Administrator, Nancy Dezan, BSW, CMC, CDP has worked in the field of Aging for more than 35 years, specializing in Dementia education and care. She has served as Executive Director of two non-profit adult day health centers in the Washington DC area, and created a nationally recognized program for individuals in the early stages of Dementia.
Her passion for assisting those with memory impairment led Nancy to the Alzheimer’s Association, where she worked for several years developing curriculum, educating staff and supporting families living with Dementia.
Throughout her career, Nancy has spoken on a wide range of aging-related topics both locally and nationwide.