Meet Our Team
Executives and Professional Staff
Chief Executive Officer
Bill Harriger has served Verland since 2014, when he joined Verland as the Chief Operating Officer. He succeeded Verland co-founder, Carol Mitchell, as the Chief Executive Officer in 2018.
Prior to joining Verland, Bill served as the Chief Financial Officer for Erie Homes for Children and Adults, an Erie-based organization much like Verland. He currently serves on the Board of Directors of Pennsylvania Advocacy and Resources for Autism and Intellectual Disability (PAR), which is a nonprofit organization that represents home and community-based service providers in Pennsylvania. Bill was recognized by PAR in 2015 as the "Advocate of the Year" for his efforts in securing a settlement agreement between the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the providers of home and community-based services.
Spending over 30 years in the healthcare and human services areas, Bill previously served as the CEO for Winter Park Urology, the Administrator for the Regional Cancer Center in Erie, and he founded Harriger and Associates, a physician practice management company. While working in the Oncology field, Bill served as the President for the Society for Radiation Oncology Administrators and the Association of Community Radiation Therapy Centers.
Bill lives with wife, Liz, in Cranberry and has two grown daughters.
Chief Financial Officer
Catherine Bogats is the Chief Financial Officer for Verland. In that role, Catherine leads the fiscal decision making for all three of Verland’s corporate entities. She provides strategic financial input to the CEO to help lead Verland, oversees the overall accounting process within the finance department, and plays a key role in developing and implementing financial procedures to improve the overall financial health of the organization, while stewarding the organization’s financial resources and ensuring fiscal responsibility.
Catherine began her career in public accounting at Ernst and Young. Before joining Verland, she served in the nonprofit sector for 17 years. She spent 12 years with Three Rivers Adoption Council as the Director of Finance and most recently served for seven years as the Director of Finance and Administration for the Pittsburgh Public Theater. While at the Pittsburgh Public Theater, Catherine and the team she led developed and deployed new accounting software for the organization. This implementation led to quicker and more accurate financial information for the team to analyze. This in turn helped to make accurate financial decisions for the organization.
Catherine is a driven financial professional who is able to see the details and to transform those details into effective strategic plans for the organization.
Catherine is a wife and a mother of three smart and beautiful children, ages 12, 14, and 17.
In her free time, she enjoys watching her children play sports, exercising, and socializing with her husband, family, and friends.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Melissa B. Richards is a 1996 graduate of the Pennsylvania State University after her time in the military. She serves as Verland’s Chief Human Resources Officer. In that role, she leads the HR team in talent acquisition and retention, employee and labor relations, leadership development, employee performance management and succession planning, and internal talent optimization. She also collaborates with the entire Verland leadership team in workforce management, compensation, benefits, employee engagement, employee growth planning with professional and personal development, internal and external communication branding and external marketing efforts, and technology enhancements with improvements to Human Capital Information Systems.
Before joining Verland, Melissa served as Vice President of Human Resources at M.J. Brunner Inc. in Pittsburgh; Vice President of Human Resources at several Penn National Gaming properties in Mississippi, Pennsylvania, and Ohio; Director of Human Resources at Caesar’s Casino Property, Harrah’s Philadelphia Casino & Racetrack, in Chester, Pennsylvania; and Director of Human Resources at Odawa Casino Resorts in Petoskey, Michigan. In addition, she held several other management level Human Resources positions in a variety of for-profit companies.
In 2010, Melissa was recruited to Northern Michigan as the Director of Human Resources at Odawa Casino Resorts and tasked by the owners of the casino and resort area, The Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, to create a succession program to prepare and retain tribal members into senior (director level) leadership roles. In the beginning, only 12 percent of top management positions were held by tribal nation leaders. In the four years that Melissa worked as the director, she and her associate, whom she closely mentored, through a three-tier program of succession and talent pipelining, increased the tribal nation representation in top management positions to more than 50%. Concurrently, Melissa mentored, coached, supported, and groomed her successor to the position that she would soon be vacating. She cites as one of her most rewarding professional experiences watching members of the LTBB tribe develop into leaders, growing professionally and building personal growth and wealth, while reaching beyond what they initially may have seen as their potential.
Melissa truly values people and believes that any organization should invest assiduously and conscientiously in their people. She understands that human capital that aligns with one’s vision, mission, and core values is crucial to creating a welcoming and fair place to work. And, she knows that an engaged workforce is a successful workforce, regardless of the definition of success.
Melissa’s first and most important role is being a mom to her 12-year-old daughter and a care partner to her own mother. She also enjoys riding her motorcycle, camping, singing, and spending time outside enjoying all of the seasons that Southwestern Pennsylvania offers.
Melissa is excited to spend the final years of her career at Verland, where people matter and a caring culture is not just a phrase, but a way of life every day.
Chief Facilities Officer
Jeff Romano has served as Verland’s Chief Facilities Officer for 20 years. In that role, he is responsible for maintenance of all Verland facilities, totaling more than 50 structures; real estate transactions; purchasing; Community Living Arrangements (CLA) warehouse; and the purchasing, disposition, and repairs of all Verland-owned vehicles.
Jeff earned his Bachelor of Science in Business Administration degree with a specialization in Accounting from West Liberty University in West Liberty, West Virginia in 1993.
Before joining Verland, Jeff served as Business Office Manager of CompuNet Consulting from 1997-2000, where his responsibilities included managing the office on a daily basis, interacting with clients on issues, and preparing pay statements for contractors. From 1993-1997, Jeff worked as Call Center Supervisor of Tele-Tech, where he managed the call center, prepared client reports, and performed employee training and coaching sessions.
Outside of work, Jeff enjoys playing golf at many courses throughout the region.
Jeff has two grown children, a daughter who is a Registered Nurse at Shadyside Hospital, and a son attending law school at Washington University in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Vice President of Clinical Services
Nicole Garcia, MSN, RN NEA-BC, is Verland’s Vice President of Clinical Services and is responsible for Health Services, Therapy Services, Behavioral Services, Records and Risk Management, Quality, Infection Control, and Dietary/Nutrition Services. She is also accountable for driving and sustaining best practices, safety, and quality in these areas. Nicole works closely with the Quality and Information Systems Departments to identify gaps and opportunities for organizational performance improvement.
Nicole has been an RN since 1997, held various nursing roles in acute and post-acute care facilities, and has held leadership roles since 2004. Prior to joining Verland, Nicole served as the Vice President, Patient Care Services and Chief Nursing Officer at Ohio Valley Hospital before the hospital was acquired by Heritage Valley Health System. She also served as the Director of Nursing at the Children’s Institute of Pittsburgh, supporting Nursing, Infection Control, and Respiratory Care for children and adults with physical and/or developmental disabilities requiring inpatient rehabilitation. Nicole is passionate about supporting and helping others to achieve their goals.
Nicole completed her Masters of Science in Nursing (MSN) Administration degree from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. She accomplished the ANCC certification for Nurse Executive, Advanced Board Certification (NEA-BC).
Outside of work, Nicole is a busy mother of four children and she enjoys superhero movies, relaxing vacations at the beach, and participating in the discipline of Taekwondo.
Residential and Program Services Director
Youcef Djedid has 24 years of experience with Verland in the field of Intellectual Disabilities. In his role as Residential and Program Services Director, Youcef oversees the overall needs of all individuals across three programs: Intermediate Care Facilities for Individuals with Intellectual Disabilities (ICF/IID), Intermediate Care Facility/Other Related Conditions (ICF/ORC), and home and community-based services (HCBS) in four counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania.
Youcef began his career at Verland as a Direct Support Professional in 1997. He worked his way up to House Manager in 2001, Resident Services Coordinator shortly thereafter, and Residential Services Director in 2005. In 2011, he also became the Program Services Director for Verland Community Living Arrangements (CLA).
Youcef received his college degree in education in Algeria, with a specialty in natural science teaching. Since emigrating to the United States and becoming a U.S. citizen, Youcef also earned an Associate Degree in Biology from Community College of Allegheny County, as well as completing two years of study in Bioengineering at the University of Pittsburgh. He has also earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Technical Management from DeVry University.
Outside of work, Youcef spends most of his time with his family. Youcef likes nature, real estate investing, and enjoys traveling to foreign countries.
Board of Directors
Elizabeth A. Bilodeau, DMD, MD, M.S.Ed.
Robert Devlin, M.Ed., CHRD
David P. Duessel, CPA, CGFM
Robert F. Gaertner
William F. Harriger, MBA
Raymond L. Huber
Paul B. Long, MBA, EdD
Carol B. Mitchell, M.Ed., DHumL
Daniel W. O’Malley
Jon M. Thomas