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 Meet our BOD

 

Malana MaherMalana Maher
​Aging Connections
President /Founder

With an extensive background in the senior-focused healthcare industry, Malana has developed a true passion for the area’s aging population. Through her endeavors, she has developed a vast network of professional resources and has become very adept at matching an individual's needs with the best resources in the Michiana area. Over the years Malana has been involved in her local community and has volunteered for numerous organizations.  

 

As the founder and president of ACOM, she genuinely believes in the group’s vision: To be a community resource offering educational programming to meet the needs of the community and the professionals who serve the aging population. This can be accomplished by developing meaningful relationships with quality business professionals; inform and educate members about service availability, access and needs; discuss industry updates and trends; and explore “co-opetition” opportunities so that members will be able to better meet the needs of the people they serve.


Sam Fuller

Sam Fuller, MD
South Bend Orthopaedics
Orthopaedic Hand Surgeon

Plastic Reconstructive Surgeon

Sam Fuller, MD, is a Board-Certified Plastic and Reconstructive Surgeon with additional Subspecialty Certification in Surgery of the Hand (SOTH). He attended college at the University of Notre Dame and graduated Cum Laude with a double major in Spanish Languages and Literature and Pre-Professional Studies. He continued his education at the Pritzker School of Medicine at the University of Chicago. He then completed a Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Residency at the University of Chicago Medical Center. He went on to complete an Orthopaedic Upper Extremity Fellowship at The Curtis National Hand Center in Baltimore, Maryland.

 

Dr. Fuller won numerous awards throughout his training, including the 2016 Michael S. Murphy Research Award for his research, "Design and Use of a Novel Coupling Device for Tendon Repair and Reconstruction." Dr. Fuller and his co-authors also won Best Hand Paper in 2014 from the Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Journal for, "Fat Transfer to the Upper and Lower Extremity in Patients with Raynaud's Phenomenon- A Novel Therapeutic Modality."

 

Dr. Fuller specializes in hand, wrist, and forearm surgery. His diverse training allows him to bring a unique “hybrid” approach to the upper extremity. He is able to combine his plastic surgery knowledge of microvascular and soft tissue reconstruction with his orthopaedic training to accurately diagnose and treat bony and ligamentous injuries. This is particularly significant in the hand and wrist, which requires anatomic expertise to address skin, tendon, nerve, vascular, and bony problems as a functioning unit. Dr.

Fuller enjoys meeting his patients and establishing goals together in order to reach a satisfying and successful outcome through non-operative and operative treatment options. This may include injections, therapy, surgery, and the latest advancements in the field, such as Wide-Awake Local Anesthesia No Tourniquet (WALANT), endoscopy, arthroscopy, and collagenase injections.

 

As a Plastic Surgeon, Dr. Fuller also treats a variety of general plastic surgery conditions, including skin cancer (resection and reconstruction), soft tissue reconstruction following sarcoma resection and radiation, Botox for facial wrinkles, facial fillers for volume loss, post-bariatric weight loss and body lifts including liposuction, tummy tucks, arm lifts, belt lipectomies, and complex wound care that may require skin grafts and flaps.

 

Dr. Fuller participates in medical mission trips, leads regional cadaver dissection courses, and routinely gives lectures and presentations on his broad and rewarding practice.


Sondra Gardette

Sondra Gardetto, MS​
HealthMarkets Insurance Agency
Licensed Insurance Agent, Advisor & Consultant

Sondra Gardetto is a licensed insurance agent and advisor for HealthMarkets, serving Indiana and Michigan, assisting individuals and small groups with Medicare, health, life, accident, and supplemental insurance that meets their specific needs. Sondra has been in the health coverage industry for more than 20 years, and has influenced outreach, coordination and simplification of Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance programs in more than 20 states while with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. She also consults with organizations to optimize their business models to build organizational capacity and develop sustainable programs. Her services include strategic implementation planning, coalition building, program development, grant writing, board development, event planning and meeting facilitation, strategic partnership and board development, business management, training, budgeting, problem solving, and team building. 

 

Sondra earned her Master of Science degree in Administration from the University of Notre Dame, Notre Dame, Indiana, and is a Fellow of the International Center for Health Leadership Development from the University of Illinois-Chicago. She received her bachelor’s degree in music therapy from Michigan State University, East Lansing, Michigan.


Marlies Look

Marlies Look
Goshen Home Medical
Marketing

AC KOSCIUSKO COUNTY AREA DIRECTOR

Marlies has worked for Goshen Home Medical (Goshen Health) in Sales & Marketing since 2008 where she focuses on sales, marketing, public relations, events, educational programs, and in-service training. She also has extensive experience in designing, developing and implementing arts, education and recreational programs and events for Elderhostel programs (now called Road Scholar) at Oakwood Resort, Amish Acres and Chautauqua-Wawasee.

Jennifer Ludwig 

Jennifer Ludwig
Mishawaka Library
Director of Patron Services

Jennifer joined the Mishawaka-Penn-Harris Public Library system in 2000 as a teenager and quickly realized she had found her ideal career. Now with more than 20 years of library experience, she is the Director of Patron Services for the system. In this role, Jennifer works closely with her team to provide materials, services, and programs for patrons of all ages, including more informational, recreational, and educational programming to the area’s aging population.

 

She earned her MLS from Indiana University Purdue University Indianapolis and in her free time enjoys reading, crafting, and spending time with her husband and two children.


Michael McConnell

Michael McConnell
STAT Non-Medical Transportation Services
Owner

AC Vice President

Michael is a Physical Therapy Assistant with an Associate's of Applied Science, and a Bachelor of Science in Healthcare Management. Michael has been practicing in his chosen area of profession for almost ten years. His clinical interests include wound care/debridement, ortho rehab, and cranio-sacral therapy.

 

Some of his past experiences include performing market analysis to implement therapy-based programs, development and maintenance of strategic partnerships, and promotion of the continuum of health services throughout the aging process.


Doris Merkle

Doris Merkle
​Simple Office Solutions, LLC
Owner

 AC Treasurer

Doris Merkle currently works as an Administrative Assistant at St. Paul Lutheran Church and at Simple Office Solutions, LLC as a Virtual Assistant which she started in 2009. Doris provides services to small business owners, professionals, and personal clients with a variety of tasks. Data, entry, email management, bookkeeping, bulletins/programs, and newsletters (etc.) Doris was in the Commercial Auto & Property Insurance field for over 23 years before going out on her own and has been on the Board of Directors at her church for over 25 years as Secretary & Treasurer.

Marcia Namenye

Marcia Namenye, MSN(c), RN
Michiana Home Care
Clinical Nurse Educator/ Director of Business Development

Emeritus 

Marcia has professionally committed 45 years as a working registered nurse using an advanced practice clinical focus with emphasis on medical case management, business management, clinical education, insurance and reimbursement, rehabilitation, medical case management. Throughout her career she has been fortunate to work with an amazing network of seasoned professionals in both the healthcare and business arena. Today, she maintains close professional and personal relationships with whom she believes have succeeded with truly putting the patient first with personalized/person centered care working to achieve measurable high-quality care as their professional focus. She serves primarily the adult and aging population, their families, and caregivers and has provided care/collaboration/education for healthcare professionals and patients in critical care/ acute care medical centers, rehabilitation centers, insurance companies including utilization review /case management, long term/subacute care, assisted/independent living, and currently medical home health care - the full continuum. 

Megan Rogers

Megan Rogers
​State Health Insurance Assistance Program (SHIP)
Volunteer Supervisor

 AC Marshall County Area Director

Megan has worked 16 years in the social services field in Michiana and graduated from Bethel College with a double major in Sociology and Criminal Justice. She has 4 years’ experience working at the local Community Mental Health Center and ten working with the Area 2 Agency on Aging Real Services with the Aged and Disabled population. Currently, she is the Northwest Indiana Region Volunteer Supervisor and has vast knowledge of the Aged and Disabled, TBI, and BDDS Waivers; Nursing Home assessments and approvals; and Person-Centered Planning Techniques where each position required her to have an extensive knowledge of Medicare and Medicaid. Megan is a Certified Memory Care Professional and certified in two Suicidal prevention techniques: QPR (Question, Persuade, and Referral) and ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), as well as a certificate in Non-Profit Business Management from IUSB. She is also the primary caregiver to her mother and father and resides in Plymouth with her husband.

Ahmanda Smith

Ahmanda Smith
South Bend Orthopaedics
Physician Liaison

Ahmanda currently works as a Physician Liaison at South Bend Orthopaedics and has worn many hats during her 10 years there.  She enjoys connecting the community with the many services SBO provides and has a passion for serving others. She understands the needs facing our aging population and is determined to help find long-term solutions.

In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her two beautiful daughters, Harper & Cora. Ahmanda is proud to serve on the Aging Connections Board of Directors and cannot wait to help make a difference.  


Kristine Ullery

Kristine Ullery​
THK, LLP
Business Coordinator

Kris has been with THK for 11 years and always says she has a "fun job." She enjoys connecting the firm, and the good work that the attorneys do, with the community. Having an Elder Law section at the firm (2 attorneys and a paralegal) makes ACOM a great fit for her, and she has a personal affinity for our senior community. She was a caregiver for her husband's great aunt and saw how many seniors need guidance and often someone to be their "voice."  Kris enjoys traveling with her husband, working out, and just hanging out with her two grown children.

Patti Vandergrift

Patti Vandergrift
Always Best Care Michiana
Community Liaison

AC Membership Chair

Patti has a diverse professional background that truly exhibits her heart for our most vulnerable populations.  She has a BS from Bethel College and an MPA from Indiana University.  Her experience includes working with at-risk young children and homeless teens.  For the past decade she has found her passion in the healthcare community, working in the skilled nursing and hospital settings.  

 

Patti is currently The Community Liaison for Always Best Care-Michiana, and she considers it a personal goal to assist our aging community in finding the services that will provide them with the best quality of life.


Jill Welling

Jill Welling
AseraCare Hospice
Hospice Liaison

AC Secretary

Jill is currently working as a business development liaison with AseraCare Hospice in Mishawaka, and previously spent 12 years with Golden LivingCenters in several different capacities.   She is from the Mishawaka area but has grown up all over the country.  Having a passion for seniors and helping them to live their best lives, she has found that being a member of Aging Connections has allowed her to foster connections and relationships that have proven helpful to the Michiana Community. 

 

Jill lives with her beloved dog Jack and has two children and two grandchildren that mean the world to her.  In her spare time, she enjoys visiting the grandkids, going to her nephew’s Lacrosse games and spending time with family.  Jill is thrilled to be part of Aging Connections and to help further the mission of the organization.