Our Board

The Board is comprised of seven members appointed by the Governor and serves as an advocate for consumers of long term care in Wisconsin.  To carry out this statutory mandate, the Board operates the Long Term Care Ombudsman Program, the Medigap Helpline and the Volunteer Ombudsman Program.

Barbara M. Bechtel
Ms. Barbara Bechtel has been active in public health and advocacy for over 60 years. She is past president of Wisconsin School Health Association and past vice president of Wisconsin Public Health Association.  She has served on the North Shore Board on Health and the Facilities Study Committee for the Brown Deer School District.

She is a graduate of Mount Sinai Hospital School of Nursing and Marquette University School of Nursing and the Wisconsin Senior Statesman Program.

She has served as a volunteer for Milwaukee County Department on Aging Senior Meal Program, Brown Deer Historical Society, and North Shore Board of Health.

Her honors include Brown Deer Citizen of the Year, Milwaukee County Public Health Nurse of the Year, the Wisconsin Public Health Basic Prevention Award and recognition in the Milwaukee County Senior Citizens Hall of Fame.

Michael Brooks
Mr. Brooks was born in Wisconsin and raised in Colorado and Wisconsin.  He spent 38 years working for the Winnebago County Sheriff’s Office, retiring in early 2011 after serving the last 16 years as Sheriff.

Sheriff Brooks assisted seniors of the community in establishing 3 TRIAD programs in Winnebago County.   The TRIAD is run by the seniors and law enforcement serves as a resource to the TRIAD on issues dealing with quality of life and crimes against seniors.  Sheriff Brooks recognized a growing senior population would need the resources of law enforcement and other government agencies to ensure their quality of life in the community.

Mr. Brooks is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin Oshkosh, the FBI Academy, the FBI LEEDS program and the National Sheriffs Executive Leadership Seminar.

He has also served on the Boards for addressing the issues of Regional Domestic Abuse, Oshkosh Youth Baseball, Winnebago Community Credit Union and the Oshkosh Humane Society.  Mike also served on the National Sheriffs Association Homeland Security and Jail Denton Committees.

After Mr. Brooks retirement form the Winnebago Sheriff's Office, he served on the Winnebago County Board as the District 24 Supervisor for 3 years. 

Mr. Brooks expressed his eagerness to serve on a state board which addresses the rights of our Mothers, Fathers and Grandparents.

Mike lives in Oshkosh with his wife Cheryl.  He has 4 adult children and 5 grandchildren.  He has 2 favorite pastimes, golf and watching his grandchildren.

Abigail Lowery
Abigail Lowery is currently a stay-at-home parent. She also serves on the DeForest Village Board and has done so since 2017. She volunteers as a meal delivery driver for the DeForest Area Community and Senior Center. She serves on the DeForest Library Board and DaneCom Governing Board. She previously served as chairperson of the DeForest Housing Authority Board, which oversaw subsidized housing for seniors, people with disabilities, and those of lower incomes.

Previously, Abigail worked in various jobs supporting people with developmental disabilities of all ages: at-home autism line therapist, special education assistant, respite care provider, adult family home coordinator, and special education teacher. She continues to stay active regarding disability issues and advocacy as her brother lives in an adult family home in the state.

Abigail is a graduate of University of Wisconsin-Madison with bachelor's degrees in Women’s Studies and Special Education.

Tanya Meyer

Tanya Meyer our current board chair, has a Bachelor of Sciences from the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point with majors in Psychology and Organizational Communications. 

Tanya has been working at the Social Security Administration since 2005.  Prior to that, she had 20 years in long term and aging case management and program administration.   She has worked in various settings including nursing homes, Community Based Residential Facilities, county and Tribal agencies.  She has also served a diverse group including elders and persons with developmental disabilities.

Tanya enjoys spending time with her children and grandchildren. When she is not working, she spends much of her free time reading, tending plants, and enjoying time in the great outdoors.

Dr. Valerie Palarski​
Dr. Valerie Palarski is a registered nurse in Central Wisconsin.  She has been a registered nurse for over 3 decades.  Dr. Palarski received her diploma in nursing from Bellin College of Nursing.  She earned a bachelor’s degree from UW-Green Bay in Human Adaptability, a master’s degree in Fitness Management and a Doctorate degree in Higher Education and Organizational Leadership from Benedictine University.  She also has a master’s degree in Nursing with a specialization in healthcare education from the University of Phoenix.

Her specialty is cardiac nursing and leadership.  She has worked in Pittsburgh, PA and for the Rockford Health System in Rockford, IL where she was the Administrative Director of Case Management.  Dr. Palarski has authored research articles in the field of cardiac nursing for National journals.  Her current research interest is faculty to faculty incivility.  She currently teaches nursing in Wausau.

Dr. Palarski is the Past President of the DC Everest Area School District where she was also a Board member for four years.  She also served on the Cooperative Educational Service Agency District #9 board of Control.  She is a past member of the Wausau Region Chamber of Commerce Leadership Board.  She has been a volunteer for Junior Achievement.

She lives in the Wausau area with her husband and two dogs.  She and her husband have two adult children.  In her leisure time she enjoys hunting, fishing, scuba diving, traveling and cooking.​​

James Surprise
Mr. Surprise, retired May 2008 as a Social Worker after 32 years with the Waushara County Department of Human Services.  He provided services for physically disabled adults and elderly participants in the following Long ​Term Support Programs: Community Options Program/Waiver, CIP II, Nursing Home Relocations and Diversions, Guardianships, Protective Placements, and Elder Abuse. He also has experience with childcare certifications, custody studies and child welfare.

Mr. Surprise was a family member of two past participants of the Home and Community Based Waiver Programs.

From 1972 to 1976 he was the Assistant Director of the Boys and Girls Club of Milwaukee.  

Mr. Surprise is a lifetime member of the Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Group.  He is a current member of the Kiwanis in Wautoma.

Mr. Surprise resides in Wautoma with his lovely wife Kate and son Nick.

Dr. Dale B. Taylor
Dr. Taylor is an emeritus professor at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire where he founded the Bachelor of Music Therapy degree program and prepared students for careers in long term care settings and other clinical facilities. He served as Chair of the Department of Allied Health Professions which also included programs in Environmental & Public Health and Health Care Administration, the latter of which prepares administrators for long term care facilities. 

Dr. Taylor also served as a member of the Advisory Board of the Wisconsin Music and Memory Initiative. He previously served as Chair of the Turning Point Transformation Team, a statewide task force that wrote Healthiest Wisconsin 2010, the state public health plan, and served on the Board of Directors of the Wisconsin Institute for Public Health.  He received his bachelors, masters, and doctoral degrees at the University of Kansas and worked or trained in numerous treatment facilities. 

Dr. Taylor is a Board Certified Music Therapist and author of Biomedical Foundations of Music as Therapy, a book that is used in college and university undergraduate and graduate programs throughout the U.S. and in many other countries. He also taught Music Therapy courses at Alverno College and at Augsburg College where he served as Interim Director of Music Therapy.

Dale and his wife, Jennifer, live in Eau Claire.