The operations of the Otsego Community Foundation (OCF) are governed by a volunteer Board of Directors made up of community members. We are happy to announce the addition of Justine Hees and Brandie Meisner to the board starting in January. They will be filling the slots of Mary Tomaski and Paul Slough who were term-limited out. The staff and board would like to thank both of these dynamic individuals for joining the board and helping to steer the organization with their time, treasures and talents. Let’s learn a little about both of the new board members.

Justine Hees

Originally from Rhode Island, Justine moved to Gaylord in 2015 to settle down with her husband, a Gaylord native. She graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2010 with a BS in Chemical Engineering and a minor in Engineering Management. After graduation, she worked for Abbott Laboratories in an engineering leadership rotational program and then for Keurig Green Mountain. Upon moving to northern Michigan, she worked at HB Carbide in Lewiston up until having their first child. She stayed home for 3 years while having their two boys, Logan (3 yrs) and Luke (2 yrs), and has recently returned to work at her husband’s family business, Monarch Millwork, in Grayling.

In addition to work and chasing the boys around, she enjoys knitting warm things, reading and getting outdoors.

How did you first learn of the OCF?
I first learned of the OCF through Extreevaganza, which I attended with my husband the first year I lived up here.

Prior history with the OCF?
Last year, I was part of an initial group brought together by the OCF to work on the Next Gen effort. In addition, our family recently started a non-endowed fund with the OCF as a means of putting our annual Hees Family Foundation gift to an impactful use within our community.

Why you said yes to the OCF?
I have been looking for a way to get involved in the community in a meaningful way and this seemed like the perfect fit. Working with Dana and Karin in the past year while learning more about the OCF and the field of philanthropy has been enlightening and I am excited to continue down this road. I am grateful for this opportunity, will do my best to be an engaged and educated board member, and look forward to meeting all of you!

Brandie Meisner

Brandie Meisner serves as the Chief Financial Officer of M&M Excavating, a heavy highway contractor headquartered in Gaylord, where she and her cousin are transitioning their 47-year old family business to the third generation. Brandie’s responsibilities include management of all administrative, financial and human resource functions of the company’s $25M annual revenue and 75 employees and their families. As the immediate past president of Michigan Infrastructure and Transportation Association (MITA), Brandie contributes to industry-wide workforce development and safety awareness efforts, including 2019 MICA 2.0 Employer Champion for the Heavy Equipment CTE Program at Gaylord High School, Chairperson of the MITA Scholarship Committee, member of the Michigan Work Zone Safety Task Force and trustee of the Operating Engineers Local 324 Labor-Management Education Committee. Brandie is passionate about giving back to her hometown, serving on the St. Mary Cathedral Pastoral Council, the New Life Pregnancy Resource Center Board of Directors, the Otsego Community Foundation Grant Committee, and the Angel Giving Ministry. Together with her husband and two young-adult sons, Brandie enjoys traveling, downhill skiing, scuba diving and spending time in nature.

How did you first learn of the OCF?
I first learned of the OCF through Mike & Diana Deerfield while working at However, it was during [my son] Ryan’s participation on the Youth Advisory Committee that I more fully learned the mission of the Foundation.

Prior history with the OCF?
I have served on the OCF Grant Committee for the past several years, represent two donor-advised funds and support the efforts of the OCF through corporate sponsorships.

Why you said yes to the OCF?
I feel now is a good time to increase my commitment to the OCF through board service. I am continually impressed by the endeavors of the OCF in establishing best practices for non-profits and donors alike. Not only do I feel I may be able to contribute to these noble efforts myself, but also grow with the organization. I’m honored for the opportunity.

Justine and Brandie join current Board of Directors: Gracie Blust, Barb Brown, James Camiller, Bob Courtois, Bill Forreider, Paul Hartmann, Kaylie McKinley, Pat Morse, Cherie Nutter, Brian Pearson, Lisha Ramsdell and Katy Xenakis-Makowski in furthering the mission of the Otsego Community Foundation to activate generosity for a strong community.

In addition to these two new Board of Directors, we are excited to have the following individuals join committees and share why they have decided to join the OCF family.

Finance Commitee

Phyllis Mead

“As I have learned more about the support that OCF provides to our community, it has been truly inspiring. I feel that one of the most impressive parts of their mission is promoting volunteerism and philanthropy in our youth. Having the foresight to commit to our next generation seems like a great way to invest in our community’s future. I look forward to serving the Otsego Community Foundation.”

Jennie Zoll

“I have seen firsthand the wonderful work that OCF has done for our community. Not only in 2020 with COVID-19, but every year. I’ve seen the collaboration and networking that takes place between OCF and all aspects of the county. They work directly with small groups, non-profits, schools, businesses and everyone in between. I wanted to become a part of all of that great work. I’m excited to apply my skill set to the great work that is done throughout the community.” 

Grant Committee

Brandon Granger

“I have been wanting to get more involved in the community in any way that I could. Thankfully I have developed a friendship with Brandie and she asked me to join. I truly just want to serve and learn. This is a really humbling opportunity to learn more about the needs in this community, to meet new people, and be exposed to new ideas and ways of thinking. I think the OCF has already made a huge impact and I’d love to be another vessel for it to continue to do so.”

Julie Gregory

“Serving our community is something that I truly enjoy doing! We can only be strong and functioning at our best when we lift those around us and collectively work together toward a better tomorrow.”

Brian Switalski

“I feel it is important to be a part of many different aspects of the community. I look to partner with OCF so I can hear and understand more of the needs of the community and to find ways that I and the organizations I am a part of can work together to make Otsego County a great place for everyone to live.” 

Governance Committee

Laura Bowen

“My first introduction to OCF was through my daughter who was involved in the Youth Advisory Council and who also had the opportunity to be on the OCF board as a YAC representative. I saw the way OCF impacted the community’s well-being through her experience. In addition, because I recently finished a Master’s in Public Administration in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, I am interested in the Philanthropic Sector. The Greater Gaylord Community is a community that is incredibly generous in its philanthropic behavior and OCF is a key part of that generosity. I am honored and excited to learn more about the Foundation.”

Investment Committee

Tim Janis

“I was really excited to get the opportunity to join the OCF because it allows me an opportunity to serve the community that I have fallen so quickly in love with. Similar to most of you, my goal is to create a brighter future for our community, and the investment committee allows me the opportunity to bring value to a committee in which I have experience. I am truly grateful for the opportunity to be of service to the foundation and I’m really excited about being able to help shape the future of our community!”

Thank you to all of our new Board and Committee members for volunteering their time and talents.