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.
Erin Wheeler, NHA
Interim Executive Director and Healthcare Administrator
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.
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.
Renée brings more than ten years of development experience and a track record of increased giving and relationship building. Most recently, she served as the leadership gifts officer for planned giving at George School, a Quaker boarding and day school for grades 9-12 in Newtown, Pennsylvania. Renée holds a bachelor’s degree in political science from Barnard College and a law degree from Thurgood Marshall School of Law.
“In this role, I have the privilege of helping amazing residents, families of residents, team members, volunteers and friends express their deepest values and appreciation for The Village at Rockville. I’m excited to build on Rockville’s rich legacy of giving and help grow its financial resources to benefit residents.”
Rockville offers giving opportunities that allow donors to make a meaningful impact on this community. Donors can support the Benevolent Fund and help ensure a permanent home for qualified residents whose assets are no longer sufficient to meet the cost of their care. Donors are also invited to join the Sarah Utermehle Legacy Society by making a provision in their will or estate plans for The Village at Rockville. Gifts to these programs play a vital role in maintaining Rockville’s financial strength and ensuring its future sustainability.
Reverend Charlene Curtis
Chaplain Charlene Curtis 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.
Tish McFadden, PHR
Talent & Culture Director
Tish Hodge McFadden joined The Village at Rockville as Talent & Culture Director in 2021. With over 20 years of experience in the field of Human Resources, Tish uses unconventional, innovative techniques to increase employee satisfaction and employee engagement results. Her efforts have produced strong retention rates and low turnaround on the time to fill positions. As a certified Professional in Human Resources (PHR) with the HR Certification Institute and a certified life coach, she is known for being a culture champion, change agent and DEI captain.
Hailing from the United States Virgin Islands, Tish is a graduate of Howard University’s School of Business, where she received her Bachelor of Business Administration in Management, with a minor in Hospitality Management. She also holds a Master of Science degree in Human Resources Management from the University of Maryland Global Campus. In June 2019, she was accepted into Forbes HR Council, which is an invitation-only organization for senior level HR executives.
Sheila Walker brings more than 20 years of experience leading independent living and assisted living sales teams. She enjoys serving older adults, assisting adult children and supporting the community.
Prior to joining The Village at Rockville, Sheila held progressively responsible sales and director positions at Continuing Care Retirement Community’s assisted living and memory care communities.
Sheila is honored to work with residents, family members and team members and is eager to develop new opportunities for older adults.
Sheila enjoys traveling with her family and that includes her two dogs.