About Us

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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.