Staff members of The BridgeLine come from all walks of life to live, work, and learn from people with disabilities. They believe strongly in the ideal of service and in the mission of The BridgeLine. They want to integrate the values of their personal lives with the ideals of their working lives.
Daniela Pretzer, MD PhD – Executive Director
I obtained my medical degree in Germany and then pursued a clinical career, teaching, and research. A dedication to helping people, along with my interest in organizational development, brought me to The BridgeLine in the beginning of 2007. My commitment is to support everyone in The BridgeLine in any way I can to enable them to live their lives to the fullest.
Kenneth Howe, Finance Director
I joined The BridgeLine in December of 2015 after moving to the Charlottesville area from Washington, DC. I enjoy interacting with the staff, clubhouse members and residents, and I’m committed to using the skills and insights gained over my career as a corporate and not-for-profit financial manager to strengthen and improve the financial management, administration and internal controls at The BridgeLine. When I’m not working I enjoy fly fishing, photography and spending time with my wife, Susan, and our dogs, Remi and Peace.
Michael Nafziger, BA – Advancement Manager
I hold a BA in Economics and Peace & Conflict Studies from Swarthmore College. I believe that everyone deserves to live and participate in a safe and vibrant community and strive toward that reality in all my work. I use my skills in fundraising, program design, and data analysis to forward community and economic development. As a Charlottesville native, I’m grateful to serve this community through my work at The BridgeLine. Pursuits in my free time include playing and coaching soccer as well as exploring the great outdoors.
Leigh Wion, CTRS – Program Manager (BridgeLine Place)
I have many years of clinical experience in adult spinal cord injury and brain injury rehabilitation. In 2000, I was recruited to start a pilot program for persons who experience disabilities following brain injuries utilizing the clubhouse model of service delivery. I have served on the Board of Directors for the International Brain Injury Clubhouse Alliance and The Virginia Brain Injury Council. Prior to the merger with Building Bridges Charlottesville in 2015 to form The BridgeLine I was the Executive Director of Virginia Neurocare Foundation for 2 years.
Peter Michaels, MS – Unit Coordinator (BridgeLine Place)
I have a BA in Psychology and an MS in Family and Child Development, Specializing in Marriage and Family Therapy. I worked for over twenty years in mental health, primarily providing home-based services to families with at-risk children. I have lived in Charlottesville since June 2000 and began working at The BridgeLine in August 2019. When not working, I enjoy spending time with my family and friends. Hobbies include listening to live music and reading.
Beth Elliot, MA – Program Manager (Case Management; Residential)
I have an M.A. in Counseling Psychology and many years of clinical experience serving adults with physical and mental disabilities. I have worked as a case manager, mental health residential counselor, vocational counselor, and mental health therapist. I joined the BridgeLine in 2011 as a residential counselor and later became a Senior Residential Counselor. In 2016, I left the BridgeLine to gain experience as a case manager. In 2018, I returned to the BridgeLine and now work as a part-time case manager and part-time residential counselor. I am thrilled to be back at the BridgeLine – the individuals served and organization are wonderful.
Morgan Ballard, BS – Case Manager
I graduated from Millikin University in 2018 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology. After college, I began working as a mental health professional with individuals with severe schizophrenia. I began working at the BridgeLine in June 2019 after moving to Charlottesville from Illinois. In my free time, I enjoy going on walks with my dog and watching live bands. I am a dedicated, compassionate worker who will do whatever I can to help our members grow and live a better life.
Joan Bullard – Staff Aid
I have been with the BridgeLine since it’s’ beginnings in the early 1990s when it was called Rainbow Bridges. I work in the houses doing basic household chores and in the office to support the staff. My personal interests are digital photography and various types of bluegrass music. I enjoy being with The BrideLine residents.
Jessica McGowen – Residential Caregiver
I have many years of experience working in the mental health field serving adults and children. I have worked as a direct care worker, recovery specialist, residential specialist, and behavior health tech. I have experience working in group homes, transition homes, and hospital settings. I am very excited to now be at The BridgeLine.
Blue O’Connell – Residential Caregiver
I have been part of the BridgeLine team since 2013 as a caregiver. I have worked with people with disabilities for many years prior to my joining the Bridgeline. I am also a therapeutic musician and play music for patients at UVA hospital and nursing home patients.
L. G. Leake, MEd – Residential Caregiver
I was excited to join the BridgeLine community after a career as a school guidance counselor, and a vocational counselor for wounded soldiers returning home from active duty. I really enjoy seeing our residents discover new ways of living more independent lives. Staff and residents learning together and sharing activities creates true homes in our Residential Program.