HDFS Alumna Spotlight Cassie Regimbal

Alumni Story: Cassie Regimbal '14

A mission to give the elderly a voice

When the Council on Aging of Central Oregon needed to find a new executive director in 2023, they launched an extensive search across the region to find someone to lead the agency into the future. 

The agency is Central Oregon's primary source for community members as they age, offering support, services and referrals to other agencies. CoA provides a Meals on Wheel service, Medicare counseling, family caregiver support and social engagement programs like Pet Pals which helps seniors care for and keep their pets as they age.

The search came down to three finalists and they interviewed them all in one afternoon. The final candidate, Cassie Regimbal, was a familiar face to the group. An OSU-Cascades student in 2014, she joined the agency as an intern and quickly moved up the ranks to become associate executive director.

“It didn't take us long to realize that Cassie was head and shoulders above the others,” said CoA board chairman Lou Capozzi. “No one knows the Council on Aging better than Cassie, and no one cares more about the well-being of older adults. She brings a wonderful combination of commitment and experience to the job.”

Alum Cassie Regimbal at Senior Center

Born and raised in Bend, Regimbal now leads the Council on Aging, a nonprofit that works to enhance the quality of life for older adults in the region by providing advocacy, community education, caregiver support and access to resources for assistance for seniors and their families. 

“I've seen firsthand the impact these programs have in keeping seniors safe and independent in their own homes,” Regimbal said. “To be able to provide guidance and resources and support that truly impact and improve their day-to-day lives is so powerful to me.”

It's been a long journey to her new position of leadership, and it all started with a phone call from a friend.

After graduating from Mountain View High School in 2003, Regimbal moved to Ashland to attend Southern Oregon University. She wasn’t there long when a friend in Bend called to say the memory care facility she worked at needed caregivers. She urged Regimbal to give it a try. 

“I didn't see myself working in this realm long term, but I ended up falling in love with it,” she said. “I really found a passion for folks with dementia — that was kind of my spark; to advocate for folks who couldn’t voice their needs and advocate for themselves.”

She stayed with the memory care facility for four years before an itch for adventure and a desire to get out of her hometown prompted a move to Arroyo Grande, California. 

It wasn't long before she moved back home to be with her now husband. She enrolled at OSU-Cascades to pursue a degree in human development and family sciences.

At the time, OSU-Cascades consisted of a single building on the Central Oregon Community College campus. But she remembers the impact her professors had on her during such a transformative time in her life.

Cassie Regimbal talking with Dennis Lynn

“Dennis Lynn, I'm so thankful to have had him as a professor,” she said. “The school is lucky to have him as well. The way he would facilitate and engage the students to share what they were doing in their lives; he was such a powerful professor.” 

Lynn, a 15-year professor at OSU-Cascades, worked closely with Regimbal during her practicum and internship at CoA and knew from the beginning it would be a long-term relationship. 

“She was convinced it was going to be a good fit and she’d be able to make a dynamic and enduring difference there,” he said. 

When Regimbal graduated, she didn’t leave OSU-Cascades far behind and Lynn is grateful for his former student’s continued involvement and support. 

She's on campus often talking with students about potential internships and opportunities in the field, assuring them that as their supervisor she will be with them every step of the way, invested in helping them flourish. 

“It's both encouraging and inspiring to see the work that’s being done and to see her continued professional development and her rippling influence in the community in positive and enduring ways,” Lynn said.

Regimbal also credited former OSU-Cascades instructor Clara Pratt as being a “huge inspiration” and someone she looked up to during her early years in the field. 

During her time at OSU-Cascades, Regimbal had her first child in 2013, which pushed back her graduation a bit, but didn’t lessen her enthusiasm for learning.

“It wasn't just the classes or the content. The people who are facilitating these classes are inspiring students to be the best they can be and encouraging them to follow their dreams and ask tough questions.”

Her internship with CoA involved working with case managers and following along as they did in-home assessments. She worked with the Meals on Wheels program and with the family caregiver program, sitting in on family care support groups and working closely with case managers. 

Less than a month after the internship started, a case manager position opened and the agency said they’d be happy to train her to fill the role. 

Her rise to the top accelerated as she held several positions along the way: client services manager, director of client services and associate executive director. 

But individual care was always a top priority for Cassie. Those around her say empathy is her greatest attribute. 

Cassie Regimbal talking to a senior client
Cassie Regimbal talking with undergrad students in classroom

“When we offered her the executive director position, Cassie had only one requirement,” Capozzi said. “That she could continue to look after one of the people that had been under her care for many years. That’s what caring means to Cassie.”

Regimbal said she’s gradually relieved her workload of individual cases, but still misses the daily interactions she had with clients over the years. 

“It's nice to hear about all the great work our organization is doing,” she said. “And every once in a while I’ll get to hover with our case managers — and that’s refreshing. It reconnects that little spark.”

Capozzi said the CoA board knows the agency is in good hands with Regimbal, saying she is deft at administering a complicated $4 million multi-faceted budget. 

And, he said, her leadership is benefiting the community at large. 

“Cassie knows the wheat from the chaff and has a firm grip on the operation,” he said. “As a result we are helping more people than ever before, finding creative ways to allow Central Oregonians to age well wherever and however they choose.”

Cassie Regimbal serving food at Senior Center

Last year alone, for example, CoA served more than 100,000 meals to older adults across the region. 

Regimbal said she has some big goals for the CoA and knows it will take some savvy handling of massive, legislative-led programmatic shifts coming down the pike in Oregon. 

“I want to make sure what we’re doing is sustainable as a nonprofit because funding is always a concern,” she said, adding that she's not exactly sure where she’ll be or what she’ll be doing in 10 or 15 years. “But I honestly don't see myself anyplace else.”

She said she fell in love with her work at the age of 18 and her experience at OSU-Cascades added fuel to her fire to continue helping others. 

Regimbal’s advice for students today is to listen to the direction and encouragement you get from OSU-Cascades faculty and staff and dive not only into the coursework, but the available experiences as well. 

Take that internship you’re unsure about. 

Enroll in that course you’re only kind of interested in. 

Take some chances to find out what you do or don’t want to do in life.

“If you put in the work and go out of your comfort zone to see what paths you want to take,” she said, “you never know where you might land.”