President and Chief Executive Officer National Lutheran Communities and Services
Cyndi Walters was named president and chief executive officer (CEO) of National Lutheran Communities and Services (NLCS) in May 2021, assuming the position full time in August 2021. Prior to this role, she served as chief operating officer (COO) since 2016.
Cyndi has served at NLCS in varying capacities for nine years; first as a consultant before joining as chief operating officer in 2016. Cumulatively, Walters has over 30 years of experience in the senior living industry including a strong background in strategically growing and diversifying the organization and an enhanced focus on operating as a senior-living system and leveraging its benefits and efficiencies. Prior to joining NLCS, she provided project management and advisory services to senior living organizations through Walters Advisors, LLC. She has also served in a leadership role at Presbyterian Senior Living in Dillsburg, Pennsylvania, and during her 19 years at KPMG (a global network of professional firms providing audit, tax and advisory services), spent significant time as a partner and leader of their National Senior Living Advisory Practice
As president and CEO, Cyndi’s focus is strategically growing and furthering NLCS’ mission to honor, inspire and support choice and opportunity in partnership with older adults. Cyndi is an advocate for “aging with choice,” which means supporting older adults in making their own choices in aging, whether it means moving to a senior living community or bringing in supportive services to their home. She is also an advocate for team members across the organization and leads a team dedicated to ensuring NLCS remains a Great Place to Work® and an employer of choice for those who have a heart to serve older adults.
Cyndi is a native of the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania area and holds a Bachelor’s of Science degree from York College of Pennsylvania.
Kyle Hreben, NHA
Kyle Hreben joined The Village at Rockville leadership team in April 2018. Committed to achieving results, Kyle brings over 11 years of leadership experience in the senior living industry. As executive director, he oversees day-to-day operations while continuing to support the needs of older adults.
Most recently, he served as administrator of housing, responsible for housing operations at Charles E. Smith Life Communities, in Rockville, Maryland. Prior to that, he held the position of administrator at multiple senior living organizations. He was responsible for developing marketing and business plans, implementing various programs, as well as coordinating strategic preferred partnerships with major hospital networks.
Kyle is a Licensed Nursing Home Administrator in the state of Maryland, as well as certified assisted living manager. He holds a bachelor’s degree in communication management from the University of Dayton and received his Master of Business Administration in spring 2019.
Erin Wheeler, NHA
Nursing Home Administrator (NHA)
Erin Wheeler is a licensed Nursing Home Administrator (NHA) in Maryland and the District of Columbia and holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Utah State University. Prior to joining The Village at Rockville, she served as Health Care Administrator at another senior living community in Montgomery County. She attributes her work ethic and passion for supporting residents in quality living and personalized care to her interest in her parents and grandparents lives as they aged.
Dr. Ravi Passi is a Board Certified Physician in internal medicine and has been in practice in Montgomery County, Maryland since 1985. He trained at D.C. General and Georgetown University hospitals. He is also a fellow of the American College of Physicians and a Certified Medical Director for long-term care. Currently, Dr. Passi serves as a medical director for The Village at Rockville. His areas of interest and specialty include hypertension, diabetes, geriatrics and long-term care. He also serves as a medical consultant at the Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland and speaks English, Hindi and Punjabi.
Omolara “Lara” Popoola
Director of Nursing
Lara began her health care career as a geriatric nursing assistant and serves The Village at Rockville as director of nursing. Throughout her career, Lara has worked for more than 20 years in various health care roles ranging from patient care technician and licensed practical nurse to registered nurse and director of nursing. For the past eight years, she has served in Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRCs) in the director of nursing role. She is also a member of the American Association of Nurse Assessment Coordination (AANAC) and the American Association of Directors of Nursing Services (AADNS). Her academic background includes multiple degrees in her field: a Bachelor of Science degree in nursing, a Master of Science degree in health care administration, and a Master of Science degree in nursing, all from the University of Phoenix.
With a background in higher education administration, Lawren Lankford brings with her more than 20 years of experience in marketing, communications, and public relations. Prior to joining The Village at Rockville as the sales director in 2013, Lawren spent several years in corporate marketing and fundraising for Strayer University.
A former career counselor, Lawren enjoys educating visiting families about residential and service offerings with an emphasis on providing exceptional customer service. She is enjoying leading the sales effort for Glenmere, the community's independent living apartment expansion, which opens in January 2021. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Art History and has also earned a Master of Business Administration.
Rochelle Clarke, who serves in the role of admissions manager, joined The Village at Rockville in 2013 as admissions coordinator and was promoted to her current role in 2018. A graduate of Bennett College, an all-women’s Historically Black College or University (HBCU) in Greensboro, North Carolina, Rochelle majored in mass communications. During her college internship with the American College of Emergency Physicians, she honed her mass media skills and witnessed how research, advocacy and clinical policies can transform health care. In her current role, she impacts the lives of older adults at The Village at Rockville in a variety of ways, including managing the admissions process for each resident or guest who becomes a part of our assisted living, long-term care and short-term rehabilitation neighborhoods.
Melissa Blackstone has worked in the role of ConnectedLiving Director at The Village at Rockville for the last five years and enjoys being at the helm of the department responsible for creating programming and keeping residents engaged in community life. Melissa holds a Bachelor of Science degree in business management from George Mason University. She is a certified dementia practitioner recognized by the National Council of Certified Dementia Practitioners and a certified leader in wellness management recognized by the International Council on Active Aging. Her chief interest is in growing a culture focused on improving quality of life for residents by fostering an atmosphere of engagement around the seven dimensions of wellness.
Reverend Charlene Barnes
Chaplain Charlene Barnes earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Roanoke College in Salem, Virginia. After college, she worked in information technology as a user support specialist in Maryland and in London, England. She attended the Lutheran Theological Seminary in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania (now known as United Lutheran Seminary) where she earned a Master of Divinity degree. Chaplain Barnes’ ministry started with three yoked churches in Kansas: Salem Lutheran in Axtell, New Hope Lutheran in Onaga, and Friedens Lutheran in Home. In Maryland, she served Emmanuel Trinity Lutheran in Frederick and later at St. John's Lutheran in Essex. She is an Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) Level One coach and working toward becoming a Level Two coach and is receiving her International Coaching Federation credentials. She leads spiritual services for The Village at Rockville and actively provides spiritual support to residents and team members.
Kristina Vaughn, PHR
Talent & Culture Director
Kristina Vaughn joined The Village at Rockville as Talent & Culture Director in 2017. She holds a Master of Business Administration and brings more than seven years of organizational and culture development experience in the health care and non-profit environments. Her areas of expertise include talent acquisition, employee relations and leadership/management coaching.
After receiving her bachelor’s degree from the University of Kansas, Kristina began her human resources career at a faith-based non-profit, where she grew a passion for empowering employees to be successful in their personal career paths. She then became the human resources director for a managed care organization, leading organizational development, employee relations and policy/compliance development.
Kristina is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management, and enjoys partnering with leadership in training and strategies to develop effective professional relationships and results driven teams. Kristina is excited to return to a faith-based non-profit setting that is focused on direct impact to older adults, and she is also passionate about contributing to the We CARE culture at The Village at Rockville.