OUR TEAM

The truth is, our team is made of rare individuals who have chosen to make a difference by helping others. Love that.

Our activity based trainers (ABTs) are certified through the NeuroRecovery Training Institute (www.neurorti.com) and have received extensive training through the NeuroRecovery Network and Dr. Susan Harkema, the world’s leading expert in Neurological Rehab. You will not find a better staff in the world, you are in great hands!


JOEL WENGER

EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

As Executive Director of NextStep, Joel is responsible for administering, overseeing, and modifying all of NextStep's fitness, health, and wellness programs. Joel has been an invaluable member of NextStep since the day we opened our doors to the public in June 2008.  Joel has held every position within the organization associated with the treatment of clients and now leads the Los Angeles staff and oversees all of our facilities across the country to ensure the quality of NextStep's programs.

With more than 10 years of experience working with neurological conditions, Joel is a leader in the field of neurological rehab and fitness. He has trained therapist from around the world and acts as one of the lead trainers in the annual NeuroRecovery Network National Summit held at Frazier Rehab in Louisville. KY. Joel completed his continued education from the NeuroRecovery Training institute.  NeuroRTI is a post professional education company dedicated to the promotion and delivery of evidence-based practice through transformational education efforts, with an emphasis on recovery. Joel is a NeuroRTI Certified Team and Lead Instructor. He has also been extensively trained for 8 years by Susan Harkema, PhD and Andrea Behrman, PT, PhD, the world's leading experts in cutting-edge neurological rehab, research, and activity based therapy.

Joel is highly skilled and has the ability to provide care to a full spectrum of clients with neurologic injuries or conditions. His strong base of knowledge of evidence-based practice and preventative and rehabilitative neurologic therapy techniques allows NextStep clients to maximize their recovery.

Prior to NextStep, Joel worked for the Ballys Corporation as a Personal Trainer while attending Fullerton College where he played 2 years of Collegiate Baseball. While working toward a career in Law enforcement, his schooling at West Coast EMT led him to seek employment in a related field.  

Joel is a proud husband and father of three and in his free time, he enjoys finger painting and mud wrestling. 

Fun Fact: Joel is often mistaken for Channing Tatum and happens to have dance moves just like him.


JILL YI

BUSINESS MANAGER

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Jill has a diverse background in operations including administration and accounting with over 18 years of experience in leadership roles.  In that time, Jill has worked closely with many levels of management in a variety of industries to include finance, manufacturing, retail, HR consulting services, and nonprofit.  In her leadership capacity Jill has played a key role in implementing process improvements and efficiencies with a keen eye for quality control.  Jill’s natural ability to manage multiple projects allows her to direct all aspects of the fundraising events for NextStep. 

Jill is constantly humbled by the extreme hard work and dedication of both the clients we serve as well as the staff she closely works with.  She is proud to be a part of such a meaningful organization with an equally meaningful mission statement.  In what little down time she has, Jill enjoys exploring her creative side by indulging in Korean calligraphy and reading books on Philosophy and Theology. 

Fun fact: Jill’s an avid pool player for the past 2 decades.


Fun fact:  Brandon plays wide receiver for the semi-pro Beach City Giants.

Fun fact: Brandon plays wide receiver for the semi-pro Beach City Giants.

BRANDON CHILDS

LEAD ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER

As an Activity-Based Trainer at NextStep, Brandon has adapted over 8 years of health, wellness, and fitness experience into training those with Spinal Cord Injury and various neurological conditions.

Since working for NextStep, Brandon has received advanced education from the NeuroRecovery Network (“NRN”), along with Dr. Susan Harkema. His NRN training includes Activity-Based Therapies, Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation, Locomotor Training, Functional Electrical Stimulation, and Evidence-Based practices designed by the preeminent rehabilitation research doctors in the world.

Brandon is a young athlete from Inglewood CA whose passion for sports motivated him to create a platform to help others achieve their fitness goals. His fitness career began at Carpe Diem Sports Academy alongside Nike Sparq Ambassador Eliel Swinton. At CPD Brandon coached young athletes on how to be successful on and off the field, building a reputation as a great mentor as well. Brandon has had the opportunity to share his knowledge at multiple youth coaching clinics and even at the collegiate level, giving back to the community as Coach E has always taught him to do. 

From this sports background Brandon took his knowledge to the fitness industry and joined LA fitness where he applied his athletic development knowledge to help others reach their fitness goals. As his knowledge grew through the experiences of working with many different backgrounds he gained a reputation as being creative, adaptive, and inspiring. These experiences have led to longterm changes in many lives which Brandon continues to pride himself on to this day with all of his clientele. 


JORGE HERNANDEZ

ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER

Fun fact:  He is an avid soccer player and also DJs in his free time!

As an activity-based trainer at NextStep, Jorge facilitates guided exercise including both strength and cardiovascular training. Jorge assists with Locomotor Training, while also educating and supporting clients with the use of Functional Electrical Stimulation (FES) and Neuromuscular Electrical Stimulation (NMES).

Jorge is excited to be a part of NextStep and the Reeve Foundation's NeuroRecovery Network.Their knowledge of activity-based training principles and techniques allows Jorge to access an abundance of evidence-based research and information from top professionals in the field of neurological recovery. Jorge knows that the ability to help people get better is a privilege and is always willing to give everything to people who want to give everything with him.

Jorge graduated from Cal State LA in June, 2016 with a B.S. in Kinesiology: Rehabilitation and Therapeutic Exercise. Jorge worked as a trainer in the Mobility Rehab Center at Cal State LA creating individualized rehabilitation-training programs composed of flexibility, functional mobility, strength training, range of motion as well as balance and coordination for clients. Jorge also volunteered with the locomotor training team for more than 2 years.  He is currently volunteering with the University’s Athletic training department and administering various modalities to injured players during their rehabilitations process. Jorge is looking forward to becoming a certified personal trainer by ACSM and pursuing other ACSM certifications. His educational goal is to attend physical therapy school and practice physical therapy in the future. Jorge loves to work at NextStep and continue learning and improving his knowledge in the field of rehabilitation.  

Fun fact: He is an avid soccer player and also DJs in his free time!


Fun Fact:  I don’t like Avocados or seafood. I have 7 tattoos.

Fun Fact: I don’t like Avocados or seafood. I have 7 tattoos.

SHELLE TARVER

ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER

Shelle earned a Bachelor of Science in Kinesiology and Sports Studies; Exercise Science from Eastern Illinois University and a Master of Science in Kinesiology and Exercise Science from Sacramento State University.

Prior to NextStep, Shelle worked as a Cardio Rehab Intern at Mercy General Hospital and a Certified Personal Trainer at California Family Fitness in Natomas, CA, and the Academy in Sacramento, CA.

Shelle holds several certifications including; American Red Cross CPR/AED in First Aid for Infant, Child, and Adult, NASM CPT, and FNS.

Born and raised in Chicago, Shelly moved to Sacramento, CA for her master’s degree and recently moved to Los Angeles to join NextStep. Growing up in a Christian household, where her grandfather was and still is a Pastor, Shelle learned about the importance of giving back and helping people. She also loved to play basketball and the combination of the two led to her decision to pursue a career in rehabilitation and fitness.


JAMES MORRISON

ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER

Fun Fact:  James is commonly mistaken for the rapper 21 Savage

Fun Fact: James is commonly mistaken for the rapper 21 Savage

James Morrison is currently attending California State Dominguez Hills where he will earn his B.A. in Kinesiology. He plans to obtain a doctorate in Physical Therapy in order to help better serve urban communities. Playing sports his entire life has led him to pursue a career that involves movement of the human body. He has worked with collegiate football and basketball teams as an assistant athletic trainer. He is a trained lifeguard. He has volunteered for a variety of different organizations.


TOAN LE

ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER

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Toan graduated from California State University, Los Angeles in 2018 with a Kinesiology degree with a minor in rehabilitation and therapeutic exercise. Toan is currently pursuing a masters in occupational therapy. His career focus and passion is to help people with neurological impairments. During his time in college, he held many leadership positions including; the Intercollegiate Council, President for the Vietnamese Student Association, and he served as the Vice President for Alpha Phi Omega. Toan was born in Vietnam and came to America when he was three years old.

Fund Fact: He plays Yugioh competitively, loves to sing karaoke, dance, and play billiards.

CHRISTIAN BASSMAN

ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER

MADISON TAKLE

ACTIVITY BASED TRAINER