YMOW Board

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Paula Dykstra, Interim Chair/Treasurer

Paula Dykstra joined the YMOW Board of Directors shortly after her retirement in 2014. She now serves as board treasurer as will serve as interim board chair until February 2021. She is a member of YMOW’s Executive and Finance and Governance Committees.

A graduate of Michigan State University, Paula earned her master’s degree in developmental psychology from Purdue and an MBA in finance from EMU. She worked several years for two state bar associations before beginning a 30-year career in enrollment and registration/records for three major universities.

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Paula became an advocate for seniors as a member of the Housing Bureau for Seniors board several years before joining YMOW.

“YMOW is vital to the health and well-being of our low-income seniors. We provide a lifeline to many of these people and the need is only growing as the population ages,” said Paula, who said she is grateful for the opportunity to support YMOW’s mission.

A resident of Ypsilanti, Paula also volunteers with the Friends of the Ypsi District library. She is enjoying a new career as an independent travel agent specializing in all-inclusive resorts, cruises and land tours.

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Dieter Otto, Vice President

A lifelong resident of Ypsilanti, Dieter Otto joined the YMOW Board of Directors in 2016. But his support for the organization began years before.

Dieter’s relationship with YMOW began in the 1980s, when his family’s business, Bob & Otto’s Service in Ypsilanti, began servicing YMOW’s vehicles. That relationship deepened in 2008 when Otto’s father began receiving meals

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“YMOW was one of the support organizations that allowed me to take care of my father at home. By serving on the board, I could not have chosen a better way to give back,” said, Dieter, a member of YMOW’s Events and Fundraising Committee. “I have seen the positive impact that YMOW has had on the people of Eastern Washtenaw County. YMOW has a mission I believe in.”

DIeter is currently employed as Director of Custodial, Grounds, Motor Pool, and Waste Management at his alma mater, Eastern Michigan University, where he studied technology and business.

In addition to YMOW, Dieter serves on the board of the Ypsilanti Downtown Development Authority and leads the group’s grants committee. He represents EMU in the Washtenaw Area Transportation Study and chairs its technical board. Dieter also is active with the Ypsilanti/Eastern Michigan Town and Gown, which works to foster the relationship between Ypsilanti and EMU, as well as The Forum, a network of local business leaders and representatives of EMU.

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Cathy Day, Secretary

After retiring from a career as professor in the Department of World Languages (TESOL/ESL) Department at Eastern Michigan University, Cathy joined the Meals on Wheels Board of Directors in 2016 as a way to give back to her community.

Even before joining the YMOW board, Cathy was a longtime financial supporter of YMOW and a regular attendee at the annual Holiday Home Tour. She also sits on the YMOW Events and Fundraising Committee.

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“There’s a real need for what Meals on Wheels provides,” said Cathy, who wishes more people knew that Meals on Wheels isn’t only for low-income seniors, but for anyone who lacks the mobility to shop and prepare meals.

“It gives people one less thing to worry about,” she said, while providing two of life’s necessities – food and human contact.

In addition to YMOW, Day volunteers at the Ypsilanti Thrift Shop and with the Ladies Literary Club, which offers scholarships to help female Ypsilanti High School graduates pay for study at Eastern Michigan and Washtenaw Community College.

Cathy is a longtime resident of Ypsilanti who loves to travel, practice Tai Chi and walk her Shetland sheepdog, Cherry. As a pet owner, Cathy said she’s proud of YMOW’s AniMeals program, which provides pet food, supplies and veterinary care for clients’ four-legged companions.

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Susan Aaronson

Susan’s role with YMOW is a natural extension of her work as a registered dietitian.

“I wanted to use my skills and talents for the better of the Ypsilanti community,” said Susan, who became a member of the YMOW Board of Directors in 2016. She also is part of YMOW’s Marketing and Communications Committee.

Susan earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Nutritional Sciences from the University of Michigan and Wayne State University, respectively.

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She is program manager and director of the dietetics program at the UM School of Public Health in the Nutritional Sciences Department. Having worked with many sectors of the community throughout her career, Susan has a particular interest in food insecurity, community and educational gardens and the prevention of childhood obesity.

Susan also serves on the YMOW Marketing and Communications Committee and the board of Food Gatherers. She gives her time to Hope Clinic, Home of New Vision Recovery and other non-profit organizations.

Susan lives in Ann Arbor with her husband Keith, their dog Phife, and cat Fiona. She and Keith have three grown children. Susan loves to run, hike, garden, read, travel and cook.

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Terry Alexander

Terry joined the YMOW Board of Directors in 2017 after a long career that spanned from top-level management to non-profit work.

A graduate of Kentucky State University with a degree in education, Terry wants to do his part to promote YMOW throughout the community.

“I enjoy the work, I enjoy the people and I believe in the YMOW mission,” Terry said.

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Terry is a member of the YMOW Marketing and Communications Committee and also offers his time to the Salvation Army, Canton Leisure Services (Goodfellows), Henry Ford Museum, Score of Ann Arbor and Alpha Phi Alpha fraternity.

Terry lives in Canton with his wife, Annie. He enjoys going to movies, travel, auto racing and golf.

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James Belcher

When James went searching for a local organization that could benefit from his time, it was YMOW’s tag line, “More Than a Meal,” that caught and kept his attention.

“That piece got me excited. Knowing that we are not only supplying a meal but really an improvement to everyday life is something special,” said James, who joined the YMOW board of directors in early 2020.

As director of capital markets and lock desk at Home Point Financial in Ann Arbor, James helps to organize the company’s community outreach program.

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He also supports Food Gatherers, American Heart Association, Huron River Watershed Council, Give 365 Ann Arbor, Humane Society of Huron Valley, Ronald McDonald House Ann Arbor, Habitat for Humanity, Motts Children Hospital, Big Brothers/Big Sisters and Hope Center of Macomb, in the community where he grew up.

“I am hoping to spread the YMOW mission into the community. It’s my belief that there are many benefits in community involvement and volunteering when organized at the company level. The benefits are abundant on both sides of the relationship,” he said.

James lives in Superior Township with his fiancé, George, and their rescue puppies, Remy and Rue.

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Dan Carleton

Dan Carleton’s storied history includes stints as a lobster fisherman, English teacher and auto parts salesman. He now works as a consultant to the gear industry through his self-owned company, Gear Gear, Inc.

Dan holds a master’s of fine arts degree from University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and added YMOW board member to his list of credentials in November 2017.

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In addition to his service on the YMOW board, Dan also serves on the Marketing and Communications Committee and volunteers to help deliver meals whenever possible.

“I got involved with YMOW because I have a need to contribute to the people of my adopted community,” Dan said. “I believe in direct human-to-human service. And I get plenty of that delivering meals to the homebound.”

Dan said YMOW delivers life to its neighbors in the form of food and human contact.

Dan also volunteers at Huron Valley Humane Society is a member of the American Gear Manufacturers Association. He is a writer and poet, and enjoys preparing vegan meals.

Dan lives in Ypsilanti with Boewulf, an American Staffordshire Terrier/Great Pyrenees that he rescued from HVHS.

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Dr. Susan Gregory

Dr. Susan Gregory is Director of the School of Technology and Professional Services Management in EMU’s College of Technology. She holds a bachelor’s degree in marketing education and a master’s degree in hospitality and tourism from University of Wisconsin and earned her doctorate of education, as well as a degree in recreation and leisure management, from Temple University in Philadelphia.

Susan has served as program coordinator of the Hotel and Restaurant Management Program at EMU and is a past restaurant owner.

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Susan’s service on the YMOW board and Events and Fundraising Committee is her way of giving back to the community where she lives and works.

“I understand the value of living in a caring community. YMOW contributes to that,” she said.

Susan said she is proud of YMOW’s work to help people stay safe and healthy in their own homes.

“If not for the grace of God, so go I,” Susan said. “Not everyone has a support system and YMOW allows seniors to be as independent as possible.”

A resident of Normal Park, Susan is an active member of First United Methodist Church of Ypsilanti, where she works in the “Small World Shop” selling fair trade products. The shop provides farmers and artisans from around the world the ability to provide for their families and communities.

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Christine Laing

Christine Laing brings a varied background to her position as a member of the YMOW Board of Directors, a position she has held since 2015.

Christine worked as a software engineer until 2012, when she earned her master’s degree in physics from the University of Michigan. Laing then went on to become a CPA, earning a master’s degree in accounting from Eastern Michigan University.

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She is now putting that degree to work as finance manager at the People’s Food Co-op of Ann Arbor, as well as on the YMOW Finance and Governance Committee.

Christine’s work at the Co-op, as well as at YMOW, revolves around her strongly held belief that no one should go hungry.

“YMOW is a proven program. It saves money on medical care and improves the lives of our families and neighbors. It makes a difference to a lot of people,” Laing said.

Christine lives in downtown Ann Arbor and enjoys going to the gym and live theater.

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Lisa Maskill

Lisa Maskill

Lisa Maskill, attorney with the Michigan Advocacy Program, joined the YMOW Board of Directors in February 2019.

Lisa is a lifelong resident of Ypsilanti and a graduate of Eastern Michigan University. Since earning her Juris Doctor degree from Wayne State Law School, Lisa has worked as a legal aid attorney, offering free legal services to low-income individuals and seniors. She offers help pertaining to housing law, family law, public benefits and consumer issues.

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Lisa said YMOW fits perfectly with her commitment to Ypsilanti’s aging population.

“My current practice focuses on elder law and the legal issues that are unique to this population, many of whom are homebound and disabled,” she said. “I am passionate about serving the residents of Washtenaw County. YMOW’s mission is a great fit!”

Through her role with YMOW Lisa said she hopes to expand the reach of the Michigan Advocacy Program to YMOW clients in need of its services.

Lisa shares her Ypsilanti home with her wife, their daughter and a dog named Waylon.

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Cyndi Shepard

Cyndi Shepard joined the YMOW board of directors in 2020 as a way to get involved in her new home of Ypsilanti. A longtime resident of Ohio, Cyndi and her husband Bill moved to Michigan in 2017.

“I like the mission of the organization, as I have always valued the elderly and looked for ways to help those close to me,” Cyndi said of her choice to join the YMOW team. “Helping to reach out to a community full of people who need help, support and want to feel valued seems like the next step for me!”

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A former biochemist and high school science teacher, Cyndi hopes to share her time, ideas and a fresh perspective with YMOW, helping it to become an even stronger, more impactful part of the community.

“YMOW is looking for even more innovative ways to enrich the lives of all of its elderly community members,” Cyndi said.

Cyndi and Bill have three grown children and four grandchildren. Their house, which was part of the 2019 Holiday Home Tour, is also home to their Dalmatian, Rugby, and their two cats, Cami and Leo.

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6/16/17 PHO and CCMP staff headshots.

Tara Truax

Tara Truax first joined the YMOW board in October 2020, but her knowledge of our organization and its work in the community spans decades.

“I have been referring my patients and clients to YMOW for over 20 years,” said Tara, who currently works as a medical case manager at Michigan Medicine.

A licensed social worker with a master’s degree in health services administration, Tara is eager to share her knowledge and experience with YMOW and the community.

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Tara is passionate about improving systems of care and increasing access to care for vulnerable sectors of the population.

“I hope that joining the YMOW board will allow me to share some of that passion and knowledge to further the organization’s mission,” she said.

Tara is a member of the American College of Healthcare Executives. She fuels her fondness for fungi as a member of the Michigan Mushroom Hunter’s Club and supports several local and regional charitable organizations.

A native of northern Michigan, Tara has lived in Ypsilanti since 1995 and shares her home with her cat, Phoebe Levan.

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