Listening Friends of America

Staff Spotlight

Custodial Manager - Colorado Springs, Colorado

Aaron de Vaille

Aaron has been with us since 2004, and has never missed a single day of work. Starting as a custodian in Darlington, Aaron was recognized immediately for his positive attitude and helpful nature, always showing up 15 minutes early to assess all the tasks that need completion. Aaron never leaves a task unfinished, and he brings great care to everything he does at LFoA. Sometimes Aaron can be found talking with patients and often mentions how lucky he is to have so many friends where he works! His dedication has been demonstrated over and over again, both in our Darlington facility, and currently in our Colorado Springs facility, where he is now custodial manager.

In his spare time, Aaron breeds huskies and shows his dog, Wally. Together, Aaron and Wally have won several regional championships. We thank you Aaron, and we are proud to have you heading up the new custodial department in Colorado Springs!

Inspector - Ashland, Oregon

Aoife O'Sullivan

Aoife is LFoA's ultimate encourager. She always pushes patients to express themselves to their Friends in new and different ways and always takes the time to talk with her patients about their letters, poems, and art. Patients often can't wait to show Aoife what they have made. Her genuine interest in the emotions and experiences of our patients encourages them in the direction of healthy expression and creation.

Aoife is an Irish American immigrant who came to the US in 1998 at the age of 20 to attend school at the University of Oregon. There, she received a degree in nursing and began work as a caregiver. Aoife is also a published poet and plays traditional Irish fiddle. Always maintaining an interest in art and expression, Aoife applied to her current position at the Ashland, OR facility, a very different job than she was used to. Every day though, Aoife has humbled us with her dedication to caring about our patients. A big thank you to Aoife!

Psychiatrist - Darlington, Maryland

Caroline Carver

Caroline has been with the Darlington LFoA facility since our founding and was part of the creation of LFoA itself. A Baltimore native, Caroline holds two degrees, a doctorate in psychiatry from the University of Maryland, and a master's in art therapy from the Maryland Institute College of Art. Influenced by her work with Baltimore's at-risk youth, Caroline saw first hand the value that art has in approaching depression, anxiety, and trauma, and used her knowledge and experience to help LFoA format its patient-volunteer relationships as well as internal programs at our facilities. Caroline eventually decided to step back into a one-on-one counselor role with patients, where she believes she can make the most difference.

Caroline lives with her husband Doug on a large piece of land outside Darlington. Together they have an impressive garden that Doug, since retired, spends much of his time tending to. They have two grown children, Penny, a stylist, and Ken, a real estate agent. Caroline also has a cat named Snickers. We so appreciate everything you have done for us Caroline!

Social Media Manager

Cindy Whills

Cindy graduated from the University of Washington in 2014 with a degree in communications. She has since worked for several other nonprofits, matching her expertise in online platforms with her hope of helping those in need. Cindy will be working to share more of what we do here at LFoA, filling you in on new projects, new people, and special highlights from LFoA facilities across the country. Cindy hopes to use our social media to reach new Friends, make new connections, and foster a national sense of togetherness for all our facilities.

A warm and happy welcome to our new social media manager!

Music Director - Ashland, Oregon

Frank Doland

Frank came to us through unusual means. First a patient with us, Frank proved to be an asset to LFoA, even before being an employee! Frank was a patient at the Ashland, OR branch, entering the program in 2006. While a patient with LFoA, Frank spent almost all his time in the music room, composing multi-instrument songs in all different genres. One day he would tell staff and patients he was composing a funk song, and the next day it would be R&B, and the next, classic country.

While with us, Frank recorded three albums of songs that the Ashland facility loved so much, they sent out burned CDs to all the other facilities. Then, Frank left LFoA. Just two years later, we invited Frank back to visit. It was then we knew we had found our new music director. He works with all our patients who have or hope to develop skills around the musical arts. Frank is precise, hardworking, and dedicated, spending hours with each patient, teaching basic guitar, drums, bass, lyric writing, composition, and even recording techniques. Time with Frank is so popular, we have to have a signup sheet two weeks out! We thank you Frank, and we are so happy to have your music back in our halls!

Nurse - Forth Worth, Texas

Gabrielle Velasquez

Gabrielle goes above and beyond at the Fort Worth facility, working not only as a nurse, but also managing events like our poetry showcase and art show. Gabrielle has a master's degree in art therapy from UT Austin, and believes creative expression is the best outlet for healing. Her approach to patient care is three-fold: body, mind, and heart. Gabrielle works hard to care for the medical needs of each patient, while encouraging both intellectual exploration through the collection of books and study materials for our library, and emotional exploration through different types of art, including drawing, painting, poetry, songwriting, and sculpting.

Gabrielle found her own healing through watercolor painting, which she still finds time to do over the weekend. She lives in Fort Worth with her cat, Patsy, and is also a volunteer art therapist at a local juvenile detention center. We thank you Gabrielle for all that you do!

Vice President - Darlington, Maryland

George Madson

George Madson came to Listening Friends of America 15 years ago as an unproven energetic young man who believed whole-heartedly in the mission of the organization. With an extensive education in psychology and psychopharmacology, George helped to establish Darlington at the forefront of cutting-edge treatments for our patients. Many of these treatments are continually in use at our facilities nationwide.

George proved himself quite early on to be a leader and a true friend to all of our staff and patients. He rose quickly among the ranks of LFoA and the position of Vice President was created specifically for him so he could cut through bureaucratic tape more easily and efficiently at Darlington.

Just a few years after turning Darlington from a satellite campus into our flagship facility, George married his high school sweetheart right there on the facility grounds. The couple currently have a young son and the happy family continues to inspire all of us here at Listening Friends of America with their optimism and compassion!

Inspector - Darlington, Maryland

Jacob Nilson

Jacob has been indispensable over the better part of two decades working here at our main facility. He has been an inspector for most of that time, but he began his relationship with LFoA as a part-time volunteer back when we would hold bake sales and that sort of thing.

Jacob has always been a man of the community, and has often gone above and beyond his work as a package inspector to better the lives of our residents. He has gone out of his way on numerous occasions to make our residents feel at home, and he has formed heartfelt relationships with the rest of our staff.

Every day is made brighter here at Darlington by the efforts of Mr. Nilson, and I - as well as the rest of the staff - applaud his work and his character.

Corporate Controller - Colorado Springs, Colorado

John Blaine

John Blaine is the Listening Friends of America Corporate Controller, and he works out of our Colorado Springs facility. Under his guidance LFoA has enjoyed a fiscal stability that enabled us to grow and flourish in our mission of providing emotional release for all of those under our care.

John, 49, graduated from the University of Denver twice; first with a BS in economics, then with an MBA. He enjoys restoring historic cars and spending summers with his wife and three children in their cottage in Martha's Vineyard. Everyone who works with John loves him and sees him as an inspiration. Thank you, John, for all your hard work and for leading by wonderful example!

Nurse - San Diego, California

Linda Gilderman

Linda is famous around LFoA for her warmth and care, but also for her humor. Linda makes everyone she comes in contact with laugh and feel comfortable. She has a natural talent for seeing people and understanding the special needs of each individual patient. Oftentimes, patients refer to Linda as their friend rather than their nurse. Linda has many drawings and poems taped around her desk - patients love to make things for her, and she loves to receive them!

Linda graduated the nursing program at UC Santa Cruz. She has worked with us at LFoA since 2011. Linda is engaged to her long-time partner Daniel, who is a branch manager at a local credit union. They have two dogs, a black lab named Cookie and a yellow lab named Cream. Thanks Linda for all you do for our patients at LFoA!

Inspector - Bozeman, Montana

Meghan Gibson

Meg has been a part of the LFoA family since 2005 and is one of our most well-loved employees at Bozeman. She has proven to be a compassionate mentor for our patients. Meg attended Montana State University, where she earned a degree in community health with a focus in psychology. She is interested in improving mental health access and education in rural communities, especially in the Midwest. Prior to joining LFoA, Meg has worked for several nonprofit health agencies in Montana.

In her free time, Meg enjoys hiking, mountain biking, camping, and birdwatching. She has a deep appreciation for wildlife and frequently visits Yellowstone National Park. At home, she takes care of a large garden where she grows her own herbs, fruits, and vegetables. During the spring and summer months, Meg sells homemade marmalade and preserves at the Bozeman farmer's market.

Thank you Meg for all you do for the LFoA community!

Inspector - San Diego, California

Selena Johnson

Selena is a new inspector, which means that she will be working with patients and volunteers to ensure that both feel comfortable, safe, and excited to communicate with their new Friend! Selena is from Mexico City originally, and moved to California to be with her husband in 2013, who is in the Army Reserves. Selena has a degree in psychology from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM), and hopes to further her learning through direct contact with our patients at LFoA.

In her spare time, Selena loves to cook for her local church members and spend time with her new baby girl, Margaret, and she also loves to dance. We are excited you chose LFoA for the next step in your journey, Selena!