Our Team

The National Federation of Families (NFF) employs individuals dedicated to fulfilling the organization's mission with their skills covering a wide range of areas including social marketing, policy, leadership, and technical assistance. The majority of the team has lived experience as an individual or a parent/caregiver or family member who has navigated mental health and/substance use supports and services.



Executive Director

Dr. Lynda Gargan serves as the Executive Director for the National Federation of Families. In this position, she leads the country’s largest national advocacy organization focused solely on supporting the families of children and young adults who experience mental health and/or substance challenges. Throughout her career, Dr. Gargan has worked across the nation providing technical assistance and training to ensure that all individuals are afforded the opportunity to live in the community of their choice. During her tenure as Deputy Special Master, United States Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, Dr. Gargan oversaw the successful settlement of a class action lawsuit, returning 1000 children placed in the foster care system to their communities. Dr. Gargan served as the Project Manager and Project Director, respectively, for two Federal Supported Employment Technical Assistance Centers. She more recently served as CEO for an agency specializing in Intensive In-Home Family Therapy services for families navigating both the mental health and substance use systems. Dr. Gargan has a wealth of experience in community-based behavioral health at the local, state, and national levels. She has a rich background in field research, including longitudinal studies in multiple class action lawsuits.

Dr. Gargan serves as a tireless champion for the mission and vision of the Federation. Under her guidance, the National Federation has fully operationalized the Parent Support Provider Certification, an innovative peer support workforce initiative that utilizes the lived experience and specialized training of parents to assist and empower families who are raising children and youth with mental health and/or substance use challenges. Believing that mental health and substance use challenges are often inextricable, Dr. Gargan spearheaded efforts to expand the focus of the organization to embrace these dual diagnoses. Under her leadership, the Federation has expanded their focus to include family support in both mental health and/or substance use challenges. Dr. Gargan’s most recent accomplishment is the award of SAMHSA’s first National Family Support Technical Assistance Center, of which she serves as the Principal Investigator. This five-year award focuses on families who are supporting children who experience mental health and/or substance use challenges, across their lifespan.

Utilizing both her personal  and extensive professional experience to inform her work, Dr. Gargan seeks solutions to the challenges that families face as they attempt to navigate the complex systems that serve children, adults, and families. As a native of West Virginia, Dr. Gargan has personal experience and knowledge of the chaos that the opioid crisis has created in families and the challenges that Appalachian families face when attempting to locate services.



Project Director, NFSTAC 

Gail brings over 25 years of experience providing national and statewide technical assistance and expertise working with families, youth and young adults. She is a proven national family leader with both professional and family-lived experience.

Cormier’s knowledge is demonstrated by her work at several levels. At the national level, she partners in the development of federal programs that serve at-risk and vulnerable consumers, families and their children and youth. For the last 14 years, Gail has served as Executive Director for North Carolina Families United, Inc., the North Carolina state chapter of the National Federation of Families.


Cormier was a co-developer of the University of New Hampshire’s national best practice RENEW, a care coordination process for transition aged youth with Severe Emotional Disturbance (SED). She provided oversight for the SAMHSA funded Statewide Family Network grant in New Hampshire and then in North Carolina from 1996-2019. Gail has served as Project Director for seven federal grants funded by SAMHSA , the Department of Education and the Administration for Children and Families, leading the way in developing and supporting families who need services and supports for their children across the lifespan. She supports family organizations, family peer support, and policy making boards that aid the growth and the development of child, youth, and family-serving systems within peer organizations statewide and across the nation.


As Project Director, Gail manages the day-to-day activities of our National Family Support Technical Assistance Center (NFSTAC) and is responsible for all grant required reports, assurances, outcomes, and documentation demonstrating that project goals and objectives have been met. Gail will use her experience to support the provision of technical assistance and training for families, providers, family-run organizations and communities.



Project Manager

Michelle Covington serves as Project Manager for the Federation, leading national initiatives. Michelle evaluates policies, legislation, funding and advocacy opportunities at both the national and state level for Federation affiliates.  She works closely with affiliates and serves as a liaison for membership.  Michelle has been with NFF since 2017, bringing with her 25 years of service in children’s mental health.


Michelle began her career in intensive family preservation work and that belief of family as the expert and essential partner in services has driven her work throughout her career.  During her 14 years as Director of Community Based Services for Children at Centerstone in Tennessee (TN), she provided leadership for case management, mobile therapy, intensive in-home services, respite care and grant programs providing intensive in-home services to drug affected families.  Through her work with the TN Association of Mental Health Organizations, where she served on the Children and Youth Committee for over 10 years, she evaluated policies and laws that would affect services and supports for children and brings those skills to the Federation.

Michelle has Bachelor’s in Social Work and a Master’s in Marriage and Family Counseling. As the proud mother of two children, a Mimi to one, Michelle is dedicated to meeting the needs of all children and families to help them achieve their greatest potential. You can reach Michelle at mcovington@ffcmh.org.



Project Manager

Kelsey has always had a passion for children and families. Her career has been in service to giving them a voice. After graduating from the University of Virginia she spent 11 years working in nonprofit, private school administration, which took her to Arizona in 2008. Working in education drew Kelsey’s attention particularly to children who have special needs as she met with many parents who struggled to access, navigate and integrate the services their children needed at school and at home. Drawn to working with more vulnerable populations, Kelsey found a home at the Family Involvement Center, a family-run organization in Arizona.


Working for a family-run organization, Kelsey was inspired by the family movement. She came to understand the importance of family involvement while working with Family Peer Specialists and parent leaders across Arizona. She also collaborated with family-run organizations and community partners to expand Arizona’s statewide annual Children’s Mental Health Awareness campaign.


Kelsey comes to the Federation with a Bachelor's degree in Child Psychology and a Master’s degree in Industrial and Organizational Psychology. She brings expertise in marketing and communications and takes the lead in managing our website, social media, annual conference planning as well as serving as the Communication/Media Manager for our National Family Support Technical Assistance Center (NFSTAC).


Kelsey has a personal commitment to promoting the principles and values of family involvement. She is a wife and mother to a son (Rhys) and three rescue pets. Kelsey is passionate about improving services and supports for families, and about elevating the conversation around mental health as a critical and inseparable aspect of our whole health. Kelsey can be reached at kengelbracht@ffcmh.org.

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Project Manager

Lachelle is dedicated to advocating for youth and families to receive appropriate services that meet their needs. Lachelle is trained in family systems and stands by System of Care values that ensure the system benefits the entire family. She wholeheartedly believes that treating the whole person yields the best results.


With over 25 years working in the mental health system, Lachelle has provided direct care in family preservation programs and therapeutic services for Pittsburgh children and families where abuse occurred within the family. Additionally, she provided clinical oversight, managed therapeutic group homes and assisted in work groups for block grants.


Originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, Lachelle has worked on mental health initiatives in Maryland and North Carolina and assisted in research projects at both the University of Pittsburgh and the University of Maryland's Systems Evaluation Center. For the past nine years Lachelle worked at a Managed Care Organization where she was most recently served as the Project Director for North Carolina’s SAMHSA System of Care Expansion Grant.

Lachelle comes to the Federation with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Lincoln University of Pennsylvania and a master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Geneva College. She is the proud mother of two children, Joshua and Madison. Lachelle is dedicated to family advocacy, whole-person care and policy change that meets the needs of the individuals being served.

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Project Coordinator

Hailing from Pittsburgh, PA, Leann holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work from the University of Pittsburgh. Her areas of expertise include caregiving, hospice, bereavement, widowhood and dementia care. In addition to social work, her experience includes community outreach, marketing, volunteer management, events planning and older adult wellness programming.

For several years, she applied her social work skills in Hartford, CT alongside her late husband, an architect specializing in accessibility design for the disabled. She also coordinated literacy programs for low-income Hartford public school children and worked for several years as a social worker and volunteer director in long-term care facilities.

In her leisure time, she enjoys hiking, exploring Maryland towns, browsing antique shops, playing guitar, trying new recipes and spending time with her nieces.

Leann is excited and honored to be an integral part of the Federation as it expands to serve more individuals and families in need of mental health services and support. You can email Leann at lsherman@ffcmh.org.