Our Coaches

Each of our Strides in Recovery coaches came to us on a different path, but we are each moving forward toward together the same goal. We are here to change lives. We are each here to bring our unique skills, background and passion to support people on their journeys to long term sobriety.

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Leslie Gold
Executive Director and Founder

Since 2013, while volunteering at a West LA residential treatment program, Leslie has coached hundreds of people in their first year of sobriety across the finish line of the LA Marathon. She saw first hand how life changing the experience was for the participants. In 2018, she could have retired from a 30+ year career in healthcare consulting, and taken life easy. Instead, she decided to start Strides in Recovery to bring the healing power of exercise to more addiction recovery communities. 


Today, in addition to leading Strides in Recovery, she still coaches the LA Marathon Team, as well as several of the Strides in Recovery teams.

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Michelle Shegda
Program Manager and Coach
Michelle, Founder of PACT (aka Girls PACT), is a professional life coach specializing in self-worth, limiting beliefs, self-talk, relationships, communication, and wellness.  She is recovering from perfectionism. It’s been a long and windy road, but she acknowledges (most of the time) that she is lovable, despite all her imperfections. She found strength in her pain and ultimately created PACT to love others until they could love themselves. 

Michelle values physical activity and integrates movement  in her daily life. Strides in Recovery provides the opportunity to share her enthusiasm for self-love and recovery. 

Hannah Bonaparte, LCSW

Hannah is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker who has been working in addiction recovery since 2014 and has been running for over a decade. Hannah first started running as a child with her father who is now 20 years sober. She came to truly love the sport as she learned how cultivating her physical strength and stamina positively affects her mental health.


In addition to working with the Strides in Recovery team and running her own therapy practice on the Westside, Hannah facilitates groups in addiction treatment centers around LA. She is a two-time marathoner and one-time half-marathon and hopes to complete more races in the coming years if her joints cooperate.

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Julia Norman

Julia is a graduate student and yoga instructor who found her passion for running in high school as a cross country athlete.   She continues to run or walk five miles daily.Julia became was motivated to become a coach after watching a close family member struggled with addiction since adolescence. She grew up helping and witnessing their struggles as they pursued the 12 steps program and went in and out of rehab. 


Movement meditation helped her overcome personal struggles with anxiety and depression in the past.   She is passionate about encouraging others to incorporate movement in their lives. As a coach, she hopes to offer encouragement, understanding, and positivity. 

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Devin Jamshidi

Devin gained an understanding of the importance of movement and healthy habits for those working on their sobriety when one of his family members was struggling with addiction. He knew he wanted to get involved with a program dedicated to helping individuals work toward the life they want through exercise.  


He has worked as a classroom teacher, soccer and basketball coach and has spent the last 5+ years as a trainer in EdTech and FinTech. In addition to running around the house with his young twins, he runs 50Ks and marathons. He believes working up a sweat outside, whether on a trail or on pavement, hiking or running, can be used as a great tool for supporting sobriety.

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Alex Aguirre

Alex is a trail runner with race experience ranging in distances from 5k to 50k.   He primarily trains in the Angeles National Forest that overlooks the San Gabriel Valley.  “Running has been such an amazing transformative tool in my own life and I love that I have the opportunity to help other reach their goals using those tools and skills.”

Alex has become a coach with Strides because he is a firm believer in everything the organization stands for and the positive help it brings the members. Alex’s philosophy is whether he sees you on the roads or on the trails all miles are good miles.

Jackie Monahan

Sober since 2017, Jackie does stand up at major comedy clubs all over the globe as well as at recovery centers, jails, hospitals, and institutions. You may have seen her on Adult Swim’s "The Eric Andre Show", Last Comic Standing, or Comedy Jam on Showtime; but what Jackie says she is most proud of is her sobriety. 

Fitness is also a big part of her life in recovery. “My mind doesn't fully wake up unless I am moving, so getting to run with newly sober people and help them get excited about life is beyond rewarding. I love working with people who are newly sober and helping them find their own passion. I know this work will have a beautiful ripple effect." 

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Joel Vasquez

Joel discovered the joy of running when he ran with Strides in Recovery at Fred Brown Recovery Services and met his goals. He found that not only did running help him physically, but also emotionally and mentally. The program has been an important part of Joel’s recovery.

When he is not running, Joel is working the 12 steps and socializing with others in recovery, meeting his daily goals, and learning to incorporate other healthy habits into his life, such as a good diet, walking, yoga and sleep. As a coach, he enjoys encouraging others and sharing his story. He wants to be a positive influence, just as others have been for him.  He has been clean and sober since 2019.

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Kristen Sasse

Kristen is currently working toward a degree in Social Work, and has prior work experience in various areas of mental health.  She has found that balancing mental and physical health is critical to overall wellbeing.


As Kristen explains, “Exercise not only increases motivation and energy level, but it also provides an avenue for engagement and being part of a group that is working towards a common goal. Exercise has been a coping skill that I have utilized to improve my own health, and I enjoy educating and motivating others to utilize it as a key complement in their journey of healing.”

Our Dedicated Volunteers

We couldn't do what we do without the support of our dedicated volunteers.  Our assistant coaches show up every week to make sure everyone feels supported, welcome, and included, regardless of level of fitness.   No matter what pace someone is going, a volunteer is there to offer uplifting conversation and make sure that nobody moves forward alone.  We also have people who give their time behind the scenes, keeping everything running smoothly, from social media to  accounting and more. 

If you would like to volunteer with Strides in Recovery, click here