Our Leadership & Board of Directors

Direction Home Akron Canton is a compassionate organization that takes a person-centered approach to care. This is in part due to the dedicated people who lead us.

Gary L. Cook, President and CEO

Mr. Cook has broad-based management experience and success at the strategic and operational levels in both non-profit and for-profit (Fortune 500) business sectors. At Direction Home Akron Canton, he has been responsible for the development and oversight of new service areas and business lines, including the Community-based Care Transitions Program (CCTP), a major CMS initiative. Under Mr. Cook's leadership, Direction Home Akron Canton was chosen as one of the first in the nation to carry out the CCTP program. In addition, he has been instrumental in the development of formal business collaborations with Managed-Care Organizations (MCO) to provide comprehensive care management of both acute care and long-term care. This move to private sector partnerships has allowed Direction Home Akron Canton to expand our long-term care management and other supportive services to MCO members of all ages with physical or behavioral disabilities.



Charles R. Alderson, Chief Operating Officer/Chief Financial Officer

Mr. Alderson brings nearly 40 years of healthcare financial leadership. He has seen the payment of healthcare services evolve from cost-based reimbursement to prospective payment, based on the diagnosis and level of care, to the most recent "value-based" payment models. Before joining the Agency, Mr. Alderson was responsible for the financial operations of the Mount Carmel Health System's Physician Organizations, which developed the System’s approach to population health management. Prior to that, Mr. Alderson was with the Summa Health System as Chief Financial Officer of its Southwest Region. He was a longstanding member of the Ohio Hospital Association, most recently serving as chairman of OHA's Finance Committee. He is also a past Director of the Northeast Ohio chapter of the Healthcare Financial Management Association. Mr. Alderson received a B.S. in Accounting from The University of Akron and completed the Executive Graduate Program in Healthcare Finance from The Ohio State University.



Ljudmila Burchfield, Vice President of Compliance and Legal Affairs

As VP of Compliance and Legal Affairs, Mrs. Burchfield uses her extensive legal healthcare experience to work with all divisions at the Agency in developing and maintaining our culture of compliance. Additionally, Mrs. Burchfield serves as the designated Compliance Officer for the Western Reserve Area on Aging based in Cleveland and the Area Agency on Aging 11 in Youngstown. Prior to this role, she served as legal counsel and compliance officer to hospitals, healthcare systems and healthcare plans. Her experiences include physicians' and corporate contracts, research, Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, acquisitions, HIPAA, Fraud/Waste/Abuse and corporate compliance. As the enactment of the Affordable Care Act and HITECH brought new challenges to the healthcare industry, Mrs. Burchfield assisted affected corporations in revising their practices to comply with the regulatory requirements. She is a registered nurse and licensed attorney with a certification in healthcare compliance.



Sam McCoy, Senior Vice President of Elder Rights

Mr. McCoy has been responsible for the operations of the Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program at Direction Home Akron Canton since 1993. Prior to that, Sam supervised the start-up of Direction Home's Care Coordination Program from 1988 to 1993. Under his leadership, the Regional Ombudsman Program has utilized innovation and evidence-based practices to successfully address consumer rights issues in an expanded thirteen-county region. Mr. McCoy's experience as the manager in one of the first specialized dementia care units in Ohio in the 1980s has provided valuable insight into the delivery of quality services to consumers and families. His broad consumer rights perspective has been demonstrated in many program initiatives including the development of essential roles for the Managed Care/MyCare Ohio Ombudsman, Veteran's Transition Program and the very successful HOME Choice transition program.



Abigail Morgan, Senior Vice President of Business Strategy and Performance

Mrs. Morgan joined Direction Home Akron Canton in 2013 and now leads a dynamic team responsible for managing our network of 200+ service providers, as well as the Agency’s planning functions. Mrs. Morgan collaborates across divisions to identify program needs and pursue new funding opportunities to support our strategic initiatives. She began her career as a case manager in the largest homeless shelter in Philadelphia. After graduate school, Mrs. Morgan worked with the National Aging Services Network. In the wake of the Medicare Modernization Act of 2003, she joined the staff of the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (n4a) and worked with AAAs across the country developing enrollment strategies for Medicare beneficiaries in the new Medicare prescription drug benefit. While at n4a, Mrs. Morgan contributed to the national survey of AAAs and the development of n4a's business acumen for AAAs.



Matt Reed, Senior Vice President of Communications and Administration

Mr. Reed has been with Direction Home Akron Canton for more than 15 years. He spent his first five years with the Agency as a Long-Term Care and Family Caregiver Consultant, designing programs and training for informal caregivers. Mr. Reed then transitioned to our Communications Manager, providing executive direction on public relations, marketing, fundraising and advocacy. In 2011 he was promoted to Vice President of Communications and Quality, adding provider network management, strategic planning, aging network funds management, and training and education to his responsibilities. As the Senior Vice President, Mr. Reed now supervises Acute Care Transitions, the Aging and Disability Resource Center, Communications and Human Resources. He has an undergraduate degree in Business and Organizational Communication from The University of Akron and a Masters in Public Administration from Kent State University. Mr. Reed volunteers on the Board of Directors for Regina Health Center, a faith-based nursing facility.



Susan B. Sigmon, Senior Vice President of Long-Term Services and Supports

Ms. Sigmon has been employed at Direction Home Akron Canton for more than 20 years. She has held a variety of positions at the Agency, starting as the Quality Assurance and Senior Friends Coordinator. Promoted to a leadership role, Ms. Sigmon developed the first Adult Protective Services program for Wayne County. During that time, she created the Wayne County Elder Alliance, which still meets to problem-solve challenging situations for the community's elders. Ms. Sigmon was then promoted to Vice President of the Managed Long-Term Care Division and created Direction Home Akron Canton's Community Services Division. Currently, her responsibilities include the clinical oversight of the Agency's Care Management unit, which includes 6,000+ members in a four-county area. In 2017, Ms. Sigmon was named the Ohio Association of Area Agencies on Aging (o4a) Service Person of the Year.



Board of Directors


David B. Reynolds, M.D., Board Chair
Charles L. Greene, Vice Chair
James Masi, Vice Chair
Fran D. Rice, Vice Chair
Julia T. DiFrancesco, Treasurer
Jack T. Diamond, Secretary
Jennifer Drost, D.O., MPH, Chief Medical Officer
David J. Peter, M.D., Immediate Past Chair


Pamela Banchy
Stephen Colecchi
Iris E. Harvey
Nancy A. Istenes, D.O.
Tom Keathley
Michael A. Novelli
Jon D. Oliverio, D.P.M.
Deborah Rutherford
Harvey L. Sterns, Ph.D.
Karen L. Talbott
Lorrie A. Warren
Matthew Wayne, M.D.
Keeven White

View Meeting Schedule

Foundation Board of Directors


Lee S. Walko, Board Chair
David B. Reynolds, M.D., Vice Chair
Fran D. Rice, Secretary
George F. Sesock, Treasurer


Margaret F. Medzie
Natalie E. Lindsay-Smith

View Foundation Meeting Schedule


Learn more about who we are and what we do as an organization.