Leslie Gold, Chairperson
Leslie Gold is the founder and Executive Director of Strides in Recovery. Gold is an RRCA-certified running coach who specializes in training the newly sober. As a volunteer at a residential addiction treatment program, she has coached hundreds of people in early recovery across the finish line of the Los Angeles Marathon, more than any other coach in the country. Years later, many of the participants still credit the group training and life lessons learned as critical to their long-term sobriety.
Inspired by these success stories and numerous testimonials about the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual benefits of training for a challenging endurance event with the support of a team, Leslie started Strides in Recovery. The mission of this non-profit is threefold:
1) Bring running/walking-based relapse prevention programs to more recovery communities
2) Create and strengthen the community of sober runners/walkers
3) Educate addiction treatment providers about the healing power of goal-oriented group training
Prior to starting Strides in Recovery in 2018, Leslie spent three decades leading clinical and financial performance improvement projects, implementing decision support solutions, and generating analytics for hospitals and health systems across the US. She holds an MBA from UCLA and a BA from the University of Virginia. She regularly runs 40-50+ miles/week and has joyfully completed a 50K, 9 marathons, and numerous shorter distance events. She is also an avid cyclist.
With an extensive background in athletics, from earning “Athlete of the Year” honors from The Chicago Sun-Times for his achievements as an All-American football player and being an undefeated State Champion wrestler, to coaching and personal training at every level of competition, Ryan fully understands and appreciates the value physical activity and social connection through teamwork have to offer.
After a career-ending spinal injury in tandem with a progressive addiction to prescription painkillers, as well as the mounting losses of teammates, friends, and family to overdose, Ryan became dedicated to his road of self-improvement and shifted his focus toward being of service to others and the world around him. Being inherently driven to produce solutions for those still suffering in the midst of the opioid crisis, Ryan created a form of addiction treatment known as “ESM” which is the Latin abbreviation for “Exercitium Semita Medela” or “Exercise as a Pathway to Healing.” This experiential approach to treating substance use disorder is a hybrid of cardiovascular conditioning, interval, and resistance training in conjunction with supportive psychotherapeutic approaches, promoting a robust mind-body connection for individuals newly entered into sobriety. Drawing from the work of Dr. John J. Ratey and Ryan’s personal experiences, ESM was developed based on the idea that exercise is a critical missing link in SUD treatment.
Given his background and education in Sociology and Counseling Psychology, Ryan has generated an unshakeable dedication toward helping others overcome addiction. Utilizing the cathartic agency that vigorous exercise and social connectivity possess toward healing the mind, brain, and body in those suffering from addiction, it remains Bain’s mission to help as many individuals as possible.
Learn more about Ryan’s role at Tree House Recovery.
Michael Ferullo is the founder of the Boston Bulldogs which was first established in 2008 at the HopeFound Shelter at Shattuck Hospital, Boston. In 2012, it was adopted by the Pine Street Inn, and in 2015, it was established as an independent organization to serve a broader community including those in recovery, family, and friends affected by addiction, the clinical and wellness communities, and the public at large who support the idea of wellness in recovery.
For his outstanding work and impact helping those in recovery, Mike and the Boston Bulldogs have been recognized by the New England Patriots as a “Difference Maker” and by the Boston Celtics as a “Hero Among Us.”
In the course of his recovery some 40 years ago, Michael found solace and wellness in running. A runner ever since, he is dedicated to the idea that through both wellness and community, we can all find the “kind-hearted warrior within.” The Coach, as he is known to members of the Club, is a clinical social worker with a degree in social work from the Boston College School of Social Work. He has spent most of his professional life as a therapist and consultant in public and private school systems in Greater Boston. He maintains a private practice in Brookline, Mass., and resides in Plymouth, Mass., with his wife. Mike previously served on the Sparking Life Board of Directors for four years.
In 2016 Keith founded Running2BWell, a nonprofit organization dedicated to helping people who struggle with mental illness and addiction develop healthier lifestyles. As the organization’s Executive Director, he is responsible for all operations from program development and mentor training to fundraising, marketing, board development, and special events/race directing. Running2BWell serves residents in Northeast Ohio.
His passion for making the world a better place in which to live is evident as well in his professional career as a rehabilitation engineer. Since 1993, he has been a Rehabilitation Engineer and Owner of AsTec, a company that assists disabled people to identify and use assistive technology. Specializing in computer access and home accessibility, Keith is responsible for all aspects of service provision, evaluation, research, set up, and training for customers. To date, AsTec has served over 3,000 consumers.
An avid runner in his free time, Keith has served as past president of the Ohio Rehabilitation Technology Association; and previously volunteered at Garage ministry in Wadsworth, Ohio, which serves at-risk middle school students.
Keith holds a Master’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering specializing in Rehabilitation Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign.
Barbara Shafer, CRPS-F, serves as a paraprofessional advocate for Palm Beach County, Florida with a focus on substance use prevention/educational opportunities. She is the Sr. Health Planner and Program Manager at the Health Council of Southeast Florida. Barbara also facilitates Project COPE (Connect for Overdose Prevention and Education) and GRASP (Grief Recovery After Substance Passing) support programs that offer a safe place to discuss meaningful and relevant topics of interest to families who share the experience of a loved one who has died of opioid overdose, survived an overdose, or are at high risk for overdose.
The opioid epidemic directly touched her family in 2015 when she lost her 21-year-old daughter, Alison, to complications from intravenous drug use. She has since participated in the HGTC Addiction Lecture Series in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in 2016, the 5th Annual Behavioral Health Conference—Ft. Lauderdale, and the Florida Behavioral Health Conference (BHCon2019 and 2021). She has made it her mission to help families affected by addiction and/or who have lost children to addiction. She aims to bring hope to those families and individuals struggling with substance use disorders and to change the conversation and reduce the stigma.
Barbara received her Bachelor of Arts degree in communications from the University of Dayton and has realized a successful 35-year marketing/publishing career. Her professional strengths include media and communications, and exceptional interpersonal relationship skills. Outside activities include triathlons, running, yoga, and long-distance swimming.
Barbara is active with the Palm Beach County Substance Awareness Coalition (PBCSAC) and serves as a member of the Sparking Life Board of Directors and as an ambassador at ALwayS for ALS. She is also the former Secretary for the Alliance of Women Executives.
Roger Schulte has produced and edited feature films and TV shows for over 20 years and is executive director of Film432.com. A graduate of the School of Visual Arts in 1989, Schulte began working professionally, with film and splicer, cutting From Hollywood to Hanoi (Film Forum, Telluride, Sundance Film Festival, Cinemax). He operated one of the earliest indie post-production facilities and mentored young filmmakers while editing the breakthrough LGBT series A Question of Equality and the acclaimed documentary Motherland Afghanistan, both funded by ITVS. Other notable work includes Portraits of Grief for New York Times Television and countless programs that have aired on A&E, Discovery Network, Court TV, PBS, and OWN.
Dedicated to work that’s related to social change, Schulte is committed to bringing his skills and expertise to a new generation of media creators through teaching and mentorships (School of Visual Arts, DCTV, Columbia Prep).