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Meet 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.

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Lynda Gargan, Ph.D.

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 and voice for families whose children – of any age – experience mental health and/or substance use challenges during their lifetime. 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.


Gail Cormier

Project Director, NFSTAC

Gail Cormier 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 individuals, families, and their children-of-any age. 


Michelle Covington

Senior Project Manager, Conference Planning

Legislative and Policy Liaison

For over 30 years, Michelle has been a dedicated advocate for children and families experiencing behavioral health challenges. She brought her life and professional experience to the Federation in 2017.  Michelle is passionate about social justice, believing firmly that every family should have access to the services they need for both their mental health and physical health. This commitment to parity shows in the work she does on behalf of the Federation in the evaluation of legislation, policy and advocacy at both the national and state level. 

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Dana Asby

National Certification Manager,

Project Specialist

Dana Asby is a developmental and educational psychology researcher and author, as well as a mental health and transformational leadership educator. She has a passion for helping all members of the family use their strengths to find person-centered solutions to challenges. Dana applies her lived experience as a family member to those with mental health challenges, her own recovery from traumatic experiences, and a decade as a teacher in preschool to junior high school classrooms to her current work in behavioral health.

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Angela Barkett

Project Ninja

Angela comes to us with over 20 years of experience in Project Management, Marketing, HR, Digital & Website Design roles from England, Belgium and the U.S along with a bachelor’s degree in International Business Management & French from Northumbria University in England. Angela wholeheartedly advocates that all families and children should receive non-biased mental health support without socioeconomic exclusion.


Kelsey Engelbracht

Project Manager,

Partnerships & Engagement

Kelsey Engelbracht began her career in education. As an Admissions Director, she worked with many families with children who had unique needs that were struggling to find schools that could support their children. Many families she encountered were exploring alternate and private options seeking to coordinate services their public schools could not provide or that their children did not qualify for. This drew Kelsey’s attention to gaps in the education system.


Gena Fitzgerald

Project Manager

Gena Fitzgerald has been focused on social justice and critical social issues facing children and families for her entire career: first, as a journalist covering national and local news, and then bringing that expertise to nonprofits specializing in children and families. She is a recovery ally with lived experience supporting family, friends, and colleagues and a longtime advocate for children with learning differences and disabilities. Since 2007, Gena has directed national communications and storytelling efforts in the nonprofit sector.

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Lachelle Freeman

Project Manager

Lachelle Freeman 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.

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Leann Sherman

Project Coordinator

Leann is a former National Federation of Families team member who took a brief hiatus before returning in August of 2023. She is a proud native Pittsburgher (and Steelers fan) who lived in Connecticut for many years. She holds a master’s degree in social work from the University of Pittsburgh and throughout her career, has worked with a diverse range of individuals, including older adults, many of whom experienced mental health and/or cognitive challenges. 

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