Compassionate. Collaborative. Reliable. Respectful. Principled. Meet some of the people who make the Council on Aging of Central Oregon a place for connection and community. Here’s who they are and why they value the work they do.


Susan Rotella, executive director

What I do: I lead a committed team of staff members and volunteers, who work tirelessly, and with great heart, to improve the lives of our older adult neighbors in Central Oregon.

Why I do it: I’ve always gravitated toward older persons, to their experiences, perspective, and hard-earned wisdom. Over the decades, my life has been enriched by elders… parents, teachers, friends, mentors, and clients. This role provides an opportunity to give back, while continuing to be enriched by the lives of those we serve every day.

Anni Hmelar, marketing director

What I do: Build the Council on Aging brand and help position it—and our communities—for longevity.

Why I do it: I grew up in a four-generation household, which included sassy, curious, kind, funny, direct, and guiding elders (that’s my mom in the photo) who taught me much and made my life big. Huge, in fact. That experience—and deep gratitude for it—underpin my desire to reciprocate with older adults here in Central Oregon. The Council on Aging lets me work to develop inter-generational communities in which we can all have the biggest lives possible.

Denise LaBuda, planning and product development director

What I do: Listen to the needs of older adults and their families so we can develop innovative tools and services that enhance a person’s ability to maintain a life of independence and choice.

Why I do it: I believe that every person should have the opportunity to live a long and healthy life. How wonderful it is to help create the environments and opportunities that enable people to be and do what they value throughout their lives.

Emily Burnham, strategic communications and public relations manager

What I do: Spread the word and share stories about the Council on Aging of Central Oregon and how we support our older adult neighbors.

Why I do it: Because we’re all in this life together and weren’t meant to do it alone. I’m here to learn from and support the generations who go before me, and help raise the ones to follow.

Bob DeBoard, nutrition services and facilities manager

What I do: I oversee our Meals on Wheels and congregate meals programs. I also maintain our two agency buildings.

Why I do it: The chance to help an older adult through even a few of their challenges as they age is very rewarding. The friendships and partnerships gained over my time here have been amazing.

Michelle DeLaPena, finance manager

What I do: I manage the financial department for the agency, ensuring constant revenue streams, while working with government and local partners in order to continue providing services to our aging population.

Why I do it: Because I enjoy working with numbers. And finding the right agency that helps support older adults is a bonus.

Cassie Regimbal, client services manager

What I do: I oversee the client services team, and manage many of the direct services that are offered through the Council on Aging.

Why I do it: I have always had a passion for working with older adults, advocating for and respecting individual stories and situations. I love being part of something that is making a difference in someone else’s world.