Board of Directors

Mary Sanders, OCCOA Board of Directors PresidentMary Sanders, OCCOA Board of Directors President

Mary is the supervisor and assessor for Hayes Township in Otsego County. She graduated from Alma College and was a past secondary education teacher. She has done graduate work at Michigan State University and is a certified Level III Michigan Advanced Assessing Officer (MAAO). In addition to serving on the OCCOA board, Mary is the president of the Otsego Memorial Hospital (OMH) Board of Directors, and serves on the OMH Foundation Board of Directors, the Otsego County EMS Board, 911, LEPC, Otsego Economic Alliance, the University Center, and the OMH Auxiliary.

George MertzGeorge Mertz, OCCOA Board of Directors Vice President

In January 2013, Governor Rick Snyder appointed George Mertz to the 46th Circuit Court. He graduated from Michigan State University with a B.A. in History in 1996. In 2001, he received his Juris Doctor from the Detroit College of Law at Michigan State University.  In addition to serving on the OCCOA board, Judge Mertz is a member of the Rotary Club of Gaylord.  He is a past board member and secretary for the Headwaters Chapter of Trout unlimited (2004-2013) and was a member of the Otsego County Airport Advisory Committee in 2010.

Rudi Edel, OCCOA Board of Directors Secretary

Retired from the Otsego County judicial system after 36 years of service as a Trial Court Administrator/Magistrate, Rudi earned his B.S degree from Northern Michigan University and a Certificate in Religious Telecommunications from the University of Dayton.  In addition to serving on the OCCOA board, he volunteers for the Department of Defense and is a hearing officer for the Selective Service Board.  He volunteers for the Otsego County Historical Museum, Otsego County Food Pantry, Otsego County Leadership Development Program, and RSVP.  He is a mediator for Community Mediation Services of Northeastern Michigan, and a volunteer for the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Alpena County.  Rudi also volunteers his time for annual mission work in the Dominican Republic, Nicaragua and the Lakota Reservation in South Dakota.

Brett Bowen, OCCOA Board of Directors Member

Brett is a resident of Gaylord and a Vice President in Commercial Banking with mBank. He holds the CTP designation (Certified Treasury Professional), with over 16 years of experience in banking and more outside of banking. He is an alumnus of Indiana University, Colorado State University, and the Defense Language Institute. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army’s 101st Airborne Division where he was a linguist in military intelligence. He serves on the boards for the Otsego County Commission on Aging, the Otsego County EMS, the Otsego County Economic Alliance, and the Munson Healthcare Foundation East Region. He is a graduate of the Gaylord Area Chamber’s leadership program and a member of Rotary, the Northern Michigan Veterans Coalition, and the VFW. Brett is married and the proud father of two daughters.

Constance MessinaConstance Messina, OCCOA Board of Directors Member

Connie has been a registered nurse for almost 40 years. Recently retired, she now calls Otsego County her permanent home. She has been a hospital nurse for 35+ years. During this period, she served as a staff RN in hospitals in Detroit and was also a unit manager in a CICU. She most recently worked as a clinical manager at a private office and performed cardiac testing. She has served on many committees dealing with adult patient care, including community outreach services in the Detroit area, where she worked on behalf of the poor and underserved. She has also served on church committees. She enjoys the elderly and throughout her career has worked with adult populations. She has a lot of experience with many different types of people and believes everyone is deserving of respect, dignity, and as much comfort in life as possible.

Larry Platte, OCCOA Board of Directors Member

Larry is life-long resident of Gaylord. He has run several successful businesses in Gaylord and currently is the owner of The Porches of Gaylord Assisted/Independent Living Community, a 20-room state-licensed facility caring for the area’s senior population. He is currently in the process of building Phase II, with 20 more rooms, to accommodate light and full memory care. The Porches was born out of a very personal journey with Larry’s father and taking care of the senior population is close to his heart. Larry is graduate of Gaylord High School and an alumnus of Central Michigan University. He is a member of the Michigan Center for Assisted Living (MCAL) Michigan, holding multiple certifications and is NAB (National Association of Long Term Care Administration Boards) certified.

Nancy Ragan, OCCOA Board of Directors Member

Nancy has recently retired Munson Healthcare Otsego Memorial Hospital after 44 years in nursing. She received her Associates Degree from St. Clair County Community College and her BSN from Madonna University. Her healthcare experience includes hospital nursing, home care, hospice, software education and, most recently, Staff Development Coordination. She has facilitated the Caregiver Support Group for OCCOA for many years until 2020, when she became and instructor for Creating Confident Caregiver course, which enables family members with tools to provide care for their loved ones suffering from dementia. Nancy, and her husband Ken, have raised three wonderful children and are now enjoying their four grandchildren.

Rachel Smith, OCCOA Board of Directors Member

Rachel was born and raised in Gaylord. In 2008, she obtained her bachelor degree in Mortuary Science from Norfolk State University, Virginia. She is currently a funeral director at Gaylord Community Funeral Home & Cremation Service and is a graduate of Leadership Otsego County.

Doug Johnson, Otsego County Board of Commissioners Liaison*

Doug is currently the vice-chair for the Otsego County Board of Commissioners, representing District VII, and is the liaison to the Otsego County Commission on Aging Board of Directors.

*Otsego County Board of Commissioners Liaison – alternate- Unassigned at this time.

OCCOA Management Team

Dona J. WishartDona J. Wishart
Executive Director

“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.”
~ Warren G. Bennis