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Leadership At Gaylord

Leadership At Gaylord

Gaylord Leadership

Meet our CEO

Sonja LaBarbera President CEO

Sonja LaBarbera was appointed Chief Executive Officer and President of Gaylord Specialty Healthcare in January 2019. She is the first woman and speech-language pathologist to hold the position since the organization’s founding in 1902.

With nearly 30 years in the healthcare industry, LaBarbera is a patient-focused leader experienced in clinical operations, strategic planning, business development, leadership development, and philanthropy. She works with healthcare systems and academic and research institutions to foster collaborative efforts to support superior patient outcomes. Her signature, inclusive leadership style was profiled in the 2022 book “Conscious Accountability.”

LaBarbera’s vision fostered the launch of the Institute for Advanced Rehabilitation, which includes the state’s first residency program in physical medicine and rehabilitation, a nurse residency program, a Certified Nursing Assistant Academy, and the Milne Institute for Healthcare Innovation, which accelerates world-class rehabilitative research, technology development, and innovation.

LaBarbera earned her Master of Science in Organizational Leadership from Quinnipiac University and her Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from the State University of New York at Fredonia. She serves on the Board of Directors of Gaylord Hospital/Gaylord Farm Association Inc., which oversees all services offered by the organization’s care continuum.

LaBarbera advocates for the long-term acute care hospital industry on the National Association of Long-Term Hospitals board. She was appointed Diversity Officer of the Connecticut River Valley Chapter of the Young Presidents’ Organization and joined the board of Legacy Theater in Branford. She actively participates as a member of the International Women’s Forum of Connecticut, the American College of Healthcare Executives, the Healthcare Financial Management Association, the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, and as a member of the School of Health Sciences Advisory Board at the University of New Haven.

The Hartford Business Journal has perennially named LaBarbera to its Power 25 Healthcare list since 2020. She was the 2020 recipient of the New Haven Biz Women Who Mean Business award and named the 2019 Quinnipiac Chamber of Commerce Woman of the Year. In 2021 and 2023, Hearst Media CT recognized her as the “Top Leader” in the Large Employee Category. With LaBarbera at the helm, Gaylord Specialty Healthcare was named a Hearst Media CT “Top Workplace” from 2021 through 2023 and received the “Top Workplace Culture Excellence – Innovation Award” in 2022 and 2023. The organization was ranked among the nation’s “Top 150 Places to Work in Healthcare, 2022” by Becker’s Healthcare.


Meet the Team

Senior Management Team


Sonja LaBarbera, MSOL, MS CCC/SLP

President & Chief Executive Officer

Pete Grevelding-1

Pete Grevelding, PT, MSPT, NCS

Chief Operating Officer, Executive Director, Milne Institute for Healthcare Innovation


Chris Hayes, MBA, FHFMA

Vice President & Chief Financial Officer

IMG_5257Mike Ivy crop2-1

Michael Ivy, MD, FACS, FCCM

Vice President & Chief Medical Officer


Lisa Kalafus, MSN, RN, CENP

Vice President & Chief Nursing Officer


Tara Knapp

Vice President, External Affairs


Mitch Podob

Vice President, Human Resources


Craig Stearns

Vice President & Chief Information Officer, Compliance Officer

Meet the Directors

Board of Directors


Directors Ex Officio

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    Bo Bradstreet - Chair
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    Robert McHugh - Vice Chair
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    Diana Wakerley - Secretary
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    Robert Lyons, Jr. - Treasurer
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    Sonja LaBarbera - President & CEO Gaylord Specialty Healthcare
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    Stephen Holland, MD - VP, Chief Medical Officer, Gaylord Specialty Healthcare


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    Michael Brooder
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    Connor Dolan
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    Kim A. Healey
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    Brian Lawlor
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    Clement Lewin, PhD
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    George Milne, PhD
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    Ryan O'Connell, MD
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    Mary Pepe
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    Robert Preti, PhD
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    Steve Ryder, MD
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    William Simione III
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    Michele Volpe Esq.
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    Susan Whetstone