Lawyer, elder worker named to lead Amherst’s senior services 

  • MARY BETH OGULEWICZ

Staff Writer
Published: 7/11/2019 7:56:22 AM
Modified: 7/11/2019 7:56:12 AM

AMHERST — A mental health attorney for a Springfield law firm who previously worked as a prosecutor for the Hampden County district attorney’s office is the town manager’s choice to become the new director of senior services later this month.

Town Manager Paul Bockelman announced Tuesday that he has selected Mary Beth Ogulewicz of Easthampton to replace Nancy Pagano, who retired at the end of June. Pagano worked at the Amherst Senior Center for 47 years and since 2004 had served as its director.

Ogulewicz said she is thrilled to be offered the job and, if appointed by the Town Council at its July 22 meeting, will begin getting out to listen to residents and understand how the Senior Center can meet the needs of Amherst’s elders. There are approximately 5,000 seniors living in Amherst.

“I consider this opportunity to serve the community of Amherst a privilege and look forward to extending the good work of the Senior Center to those who attend programs and reaching out to new communities who haven’t accessed the center,” Ogulewicz said.

Ogulewicz was one of two finalists a screening committee forwarded to Bockelman, though the other finalist withdrew before interviewing with the town manager. The town received a total of 28 applications for the position.

Bockelman said Ogulewicz brings a range of skills, including being a mindfulness educator for the past several years at the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, serving as a licensed clinical social worker working in the field of elder care, and having direct personal experience when she advocated for her aging parents.

“Mary Beth has a unique combination of legal skills honed through years of practice combined with a social work understanding of the interconnectedness of the medical, mental health and legal systems,” Bockelman said.

And although he understands that Pagano’s long tenure means she will be difficult to replace, he said he believes Ogulewicz can move senior services to the next level.

“I’m confident she will excel,” Bockelman said.

As a prosecutor, Ogulewicz focused on cases that included elder abuse, child abuse, sexual assault and homicide.

In addition to her employment at Morrison Mahoney, LLP in Springfield, she serves on the Hampden County Commission on the Status of Women, the Behavioral Health Network Human Rights Commission and the Women’s Fund of Western Massachusetts. She previously served on the Westfield School Committee for eight years.

Ogulewicz earned a bachelor’s degree from Boston College, a law degree from Western New England University and a master’s degree in social work from Westfield State University.

Bockelman’s choice is subject to a vote by the Town Council. The charter requires the town manager to give councilors 14 days notice for all department head hires. In this case, he submitted his choice to the Outreach, Communications and Appointments subcommittee Monday, which is expected to review his recommendation in advance of the Town Council’s July 22 meeting. That evening, the council can vote to approve or disapprove, or take no action, in which case the appointment is ratified.

The search committee included Julie Federman, the town’s health director and interim senior services director, Human Resources Director Evelyn Rivera-Riffenburg, Council on Aging Chairwoman Rosemary Kofler, Leisure Services and Supplemental Education Director Barbara Bilz and Kathy Bowler, director of member services for the Massachusetts Councils on Aging.

Scott Merzbach can be reached at smerzbach@gazettenet.com.


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