New board, advisory council and staff leaders poised to build out the Council on Aging’s vision of “a world that grows older better, together.”

Bend, Ore., Jan. 21, 2020 –  The Council on Aging of Central Oregon today announced that it has expanded its board, advisory council and staff leadership as it prepares to meet the increasing population growth, service demand and aging challenges for Central Oregon’s older adults and their unpaid caregivers.

“A quarter of Central Oregon residents are now over the age of 65, and that portion will continue to grow as the wave of Baby Boomers crests,” said Denise LaBuda, director of strategic initiatives at the Council on Aging. “We are reinventing how to support the community because of this massive demographic shift.”

“The challenges facing our older adult population can be daunting,” said Susan Rotella, executive director for the Council on Aging. “To address transportation deficits, aging-in-place assistance, the creation of an age-friendly Central Oregon and so much more, we need strength across our governance and an expanded staff to support this growing need. That’s why I’m thrilled to see such deeply experienced and engaged people join our teams. Their skill sets are being put to work right now to address the current needs of our clients and communities and to supporting our vision for aging in Central Oregon.”

The non-profit organization appointed a new board president, as well as five new board members. Dr. Anabel Pelham, the new board president, is a retired professor of Gerontology and the executive director of the Center for Age-Friendly Excellence (CAFE). Pelham is working with the Council on Aging to advocate for the accreditation of Bend as a city that is “age friendly” — vibrant, sustainable, supportive and inclusive for all generations.

Board Member Lou Capozzi formerly served as chairperson of the MSL Group, one of the world’s largest public relations firms, and has managed operations in 30 cities around the world. Locally, Capozzi served on the board of Bend 2030, a non-profit working on affordable housing, transportation and livability in Bend, Oregon. He participates in long-term transportation planning activities for both the City of Bend and Cascades East Transit.  He is also a co-founder of the Bend Mobility Lab at OSU Cascades, working to explore transportation technologies and innovations. Lou formerly served on the board of the Central Oregon Intergovernmental Council (COIC), focusing on public transit. 

Board Member Wendy Miki Glaus, MBA, JD, brings deep expertise in accounting and finance, and elder law. Given that the majority of elder abuse cases in Central Oregon involve financial exploitation, particularly by family members, Glaus is passionate about ensuring older adults are legally represented and supported. She also assists in determining eligibility for government benefits, such as Medicaid and Veterans long-term care benefits.

Board Member Peter B. Lekki, JD, is a retired attorney who ran a legal practice in northern New York for more than 35 years. Locally, Lekki served as a volunteer and former board member of the Central Oregon Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA). 

Board Member Jennifer Neahring, MD, is a consulting physician with more than 30 years of experience in internal medicine, nephrology, and palliative care. Neahring is working on a project in partnership with St. Charles Health System to provide medical advocacy for older adults. She also recently created an aging-in-place village in Salem, and hopes to do the same in Bend within the next year or two.

Board Member Emily Salmon is population health director at St. Charles Health System, where her team is working to transform health care delivery in a way that improves health outcomes in Central Oregon and beyond. She also serves on the board of the nonprofit Growing Tree Children’s Center in support of early childhood education. Additionally, Salmon is a member of the Central Oregon Health Council’s Operations Council to foster improvement and integration in health care and social services.

The new board members join sitting Council on Aging Board Members Peter Metherall and Jenna Corbly, and Advisory Council Representative Gerry Smith.

“The expanded expertise is already making itself felt in overall governance and the shepherding of our mission, vision, and strategy,” says Rotella.

Information about the Council on Aging’s new advisory council members and staff leaders is available on the organization’s website at

For updates and news about services and resources for older adults in Central Oregon, visit the Council on Aging website at or follow the Council on Aging’s Facebook page at


About the Council on Aging of Central Oregon

Since 1975, the Council on Aging has served as the designated Area Agency on Aging for Deschutes, Crook and Jefferson counties, offering adults aged 60 and older and their loved ones a range of support services. A nonprofit organization, the Council on Aging advocates for, empowers and guides older adults and their loved ones to live with independence and well-being in age-friendly communities — places where infrastructure, policies and practices are developed to make the community livable, accessible and responsive to the needs of people of all ages, especially older adults.

Phone: 541) 678-5483

Media Contact
Emily Burnham
Strategic communications and public relations manager
Council on Aging of Central Oregon 
(541) 678-5483