Executive Director | John Wayne Barker | Twitter: @bigbarks22
“JWB” grew up in Roseville, Minnesota. He graduated from St. Cloud State with a degree in therapeutic recreation that required a 10-week unpaid internship where he lived in the basement of building #7 on the Brainerd State Hospital Campus. Through that experience, he became dedicated to improving the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (I/DD). He went on to obtain his Master of Science degree in Management from Cardinal Stritch University. Before joining Merrick in 1998, JWB worked in the human services field for both the private sector and state agency side, including starting Focus Homes, Inc., a residential services provider and CLEAR Services, Inc., an adult education program for people with I/DD that continues to make a difference today. He is responsible for the implementation of Merrick’s strategic plan that encompasses the mission, vision, values, and goals developed in collaboration with the Board of Trustees; and facilitates the Development and Governance Committees. He provides leadership to the Director Team to incorporate the strategic plan into daily operations; prepare, submit, and manage the budget; represent the agency to external constituencies and on legislative matters; and support internal initiatives designed to enhance employee and client morale. JWB lives in Eagan with his wife Mary and three adult children. A dedicated Rotarian member (Club President in ’08-’09), and volunteer donor with the Red Cross Aphaeresis Unit, fly-fishing, and hunting with his dog Bean make up his time away from work. He has also served on the Eagan Athletic Association Board of Directors. To many people’s dismay, he shaves his head and has a fondness for Zubaz. Get to know more about JWB through his blog, Bark’s Bytes.
Human Resources Director | Jane M. Peltier
Jane grew up in northern Minnesota and graduated from the University of Minnesota, Duluth with a bachelor's degree in psychology. Her love for the human services field began during a six-week internship at the Minnesota Learning Centerlocated on the campus of Brainerd State Hospital. Following the internship, Cambridge State Hospital hired her as a Behavior Analyst. A few years later, she joined the staff of Merrick, Inc., with the same job classification. In 1987, she was promoted to management and then named Human Resources Director in 1991. Jane holds a Senior Professional in Human Resources (SPHR) Certification and is designated as a Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS). Additionally, she is a member of the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) and Trusight (formerly known as the Employers Association). As the HR Director, she is responsible for planning, developing, and administering the human resource functions within the company and facilitates the functions of the Human Resources Committee.She lives inStillwater with her husband, two grown children, three marvelous cats, and one dopey but lovable dog. In her free time, she enjoys reading fiction, traveling, baking, laughing with her family, and is a bit embarrassed to admit that she is a reality TV junkie.
Operations Director | Patrick Allen Hanson
Growing up in “Friendly Fridley”, Pat pursued both sports and his academic interests that led him to St. Cloud StateUniversity where he earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology, with an emphasis in behavioral analysis and management. He was also a member of the SCSU football and track teams (Go Huskies!) After graduating in 1984, Pat submitted an application to a small nonprofit social services program by the name of Merrick for the position of Behavior Analyst. Many years later, with a lot less hair and slightly poorer vision, the same organization still employs him. Although the name of the business and his position have both changed (Merrick, Inc., and Operations Director respectively) his enthusiasm and dedication have not. Pat oversees the production and operations of all on-site contracts, off-site contracts, and business ventures managed by Merrick. He supervises all production activities in compliance with Federal and State wage and hour guidelines and OSHA regulations. In addition, he is responsible for all maintenance systems used to ensure a clean, safe, and functional work environment. He also facilitates the functions of the Work Procurement Committee. Pat lives in Hugo with his wife Sue (also a longtime employee of Merrick) and their daughter Samantha.
Program Training & Resource Director | Colleen Timbers
Colleen’s involvement in the human services field spans 30+ years. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Social Sciences and a secondary teaching certificate from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. Colleen began working at Merrick in 1984 and became the Program Director in 1988. She is actively involved in a number of workgroups and committees related to voter rights, advocacy, conference planning, and leadership. Before moving to Minnesota, she worked with nursing home resident councils focusing on transitioning people with challenges out of nursing homes into their own homes, and also spent time teaching in secondary public and private schools. As Merrick’s Program Training & Resource Director, she promotes self-advocacy and the person centered planning process; encourages people to discover their own voice and find the power within them to lead the lives they choose no matter where they are in the spectrum of life. She facilitates Merrick's Advocacy Committee. Since Colleen is originally a Wisconsinite, her affection for the Green Bay Packers keeps a loving rivalry alive with Viking supporting clients and co-workers alike. Colleen is also an avid St. Paul Saints and Milwaukee Brewers fan. She is a 25+ year certified Skywarn volunteer with The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). In her spare time, she loves drawing, antiquing, watching movies, gardening, traveling, and going on annual treks to Door County with her family.
Technical Assistance Director | James M. Chicone
Jim grew up on St. Paul’s Eastside. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from St. Cloud State, a Master of Science degree in Continuing Studies in Special Education from Mankato State, and a Master of Science degree in School Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, River Falls. A Licensed Psychologist since 1982, Jim began his human services career in 1972. He gained valuable experience working in a variety of positions, in both residential and day service settings and arrived at Merrick in 1983 as the Staff Psychologist. As his roles and responsibilities evolved, his position title changed and is currently, Technical Assistance Director. Jim is currently on the Utilization Review Committee for Owakihi, Inc., and is a member or chairperson of a number of day program and residential Human Rights Committees. He serves as a subject-matter-expert to enhance Merrick’s compliance with statutory requirements governing, the use of controlled procedures, reporting of maltreatment of vulnerable adults, incident response and reporting, and emergency use of manual restraint. He acts as an internal consultant to the Director and Management Teams, and serves as the project lead for a variety of program and human resource development initiatives; he also facilitates the functions of the Human Rights Committee. Jim and his wife Donna live in Woodbury with two Portuguese Water Dogs, Jazz and Jive. As “empty nesters”, Jim and Donna thoroughly enjoy spending time with their son, daughter-in-law, and two grandchildren every chance they get. Jim’s goals in life are to quietly make a difference, and to be as good a person as Jazz and Jive think he is.
Development and Communications Director | Karen Herrera
Karen grew up in White Bear Lake and graduated from the College of St. Benedict with degrees in Spanish and government/political science. After a two-year volunteer stint of teaching in a high school in Belize, Central America, she accepted an administrative support position in the development office of a local nonprofit organization. Karen’s interest in fundraising grew out of the variety of projects she was involved in at the charity. After holding development officer positions within several area nonprofits, she began at Merrick in 2013 as the Development and Communications Director, overseeing fundraising, donor stewardship, events, and communications. Additionally, she facilitates the functions of the Development Committee. Karen and her husband Cadex who hails from Belize, are raising three sons in White Bear Lake. Away from the office, Karen volunteers for her sons’ Cub Scout Pack as the Committee Chair, and manages their soccer teams as well. She is an avid MN Twins fan – even in the “rebuilding years,” and is a fierce competitor when it comes to trivia games. (And just about any other game as well).
Program Director | Dede Hauck
As one of thirteen children growing up in a three-bedroom rambler in Brooklyn Park, Dede Hauck is no stranger to chaos. Sharing beds, clothing and personal space prepared her well for a career in human service. She began by caring for her brother Greg, who was born with hydrocephalus, and lived in the family home in his younger years; Dede now oversees his affairs as one of his co-guardians. After high school Dede spent a year at junior college and then transferred to Winona State University where she worked part time as a personal care attendant for a fellow student diagnosed with cerebral palsy and worked three years as a resident assistant, helping new students through the challenges of dormitory living as she earned her degree in Social Work. She came to Merrick fresh out of college and worked for nearly two years as a support staff, and then 26 years as a Support Service Coordinator before her promotion to Program Director. In her new role she is responsible for oversight of the program division with regard to compliance to licensing standards, supervision and support of managers and coordinators, and ensuring that service recipients are able to realize their goals and dreams. Dede and her family are experienced in marathons and triathlons and are avid fans of the Minnesota Vikings. They also enjoy spending time at the family cabin- swimming, boating, and fishing.
Program Director | Robin Mallek
Robin grew up in St. Francis, Minnesota, and graduated from the University of Wisconsin-River Falls with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. While completing her degree, Robin worked in the human services field at Demar Children’s Home for Mary T Inc. She joined Merrick in 1993 as a Behavior Trainer and shortly thereafter was promoted to Behavior Analyst. In July 2014 she was named Program Director after serving on the management team since 2001. As a Program Director, Robin focuses on providing program management and oversight which includes implementation of licensing requirements, ensuring Merrick’s Program Support Manager & Program Plan Coordinator responsibilities are fulfilled, reviewing Incident and Emergency Reports and taking corrective action if needed, evaluating satisfaction and ensuring the rights of persons served, and making certain that requirements for staff competencies, orientation, and training are met. Robin lives in Hudson, Wisconsin with her husband Keith, their two teenage boys, and three dogs. In her free time, she enjoys reading, traveling to Mexico, gardening, and spending time with family and friends.