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Mark is OGR’s watchdog. He looks for trends that threaten Golden Rule funeral homes and watches for opportunities that will make them thrive. Along with the Board of Directors, volunteers and staff, he oversees efforts to turn strategic objectives into tangible benefits that will fulfill OGR’s mission of making independent funeral homes exceptional.
Prior to starting his career in funeral service association management 26 years ago, he earned a Master of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Advertising. He received a designation of Certified Association Executive from the American Society of Association Executives in 2006. Most recently, he achieved a Certified Crematory Operators certificate.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? I love challenging staff to come up with new ways to meet members’ needs. Sometimes that requires coaching staff, and other times it means getting out of their way. The first time I attended an OGR Annual Conference, I was struck by how willing members were to take other OGR members into their confidence. They openly share experiences and ideas with others and accept them as professional confidants and personal friends. It’s rare to see that in other membership groups.
What do you think is just “golden”? Golden: A loyal companion dog
What do you do outside of work? Being relatively new to Austin, Texas, I spend a lot of time exploring restaurants, music venues and local attractions. Being a gardener from the Midwest, I also spend a fair amount of time learning about Xeriscape gardening—installing plants and trees that can tolerate hot Texas summers with little water.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? My father gave me extremely good advice when I was very young. He said, “Learn from those who are wiser and nurture those who are less experienced.“ Those words have served me well, although at some point I realized I can learn something from everyone and that everyone needs nurturing.
Jessica is the Assistant Executive Director. She develops, oversees, and evaluates OGR’s learning programs, assists the Executive Director with management and implementation of OGR’s strategic plan, and manages the association’s social media and blog.
She has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and a Master’s degree in Applied Linguistics. Before moving into the nonprofit world, she taught college classes for 5 years. She recently completed the Certified Crematory Operators certificate and is a member of TSAE and NAPW.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? I like finding opportunities to help our members be the best they can be. I love hearing stories about how our funeral homes have helped families in their time of need, and it’s my hope that we can offer programs and services to our members that will help them continue to be the best at what they do.
What do you think is just “golden”? Drinking pourover coffee in a local coffee shop
What do you do outside of work? I go two-stepping (it is Texas after all, y’all), hiking, and kayaking. I’m involved with a book club and my church. Exploring new restaurants is also a pastime. Tex-mex is my favorite.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? My mother always says “lower your expectations and heighten your appreciation.” This has served me well already in life; so much of disappointment and frustration comes down to misplaced expectations. When you begin to appreciate what you have been given, it changes everything.
Denise is the Family Contact Program Manager. She manages the Family Contact Program and analyzes family feedback about members that she puts into reports and integrates into other helpful resources to improve or maintain member business growth. She also creates marketing materials to retain current participants and recruit new participants.
She has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from the University of Texas where she majored in English and minored in Sociology. She also has a Masters in Creative Writing from Texas State University. Her writing has been published in several literary journals and her work was nominated for a 2015 Pushcart Prize.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? I enjoy reading feedback from families about our members. I am constantly impressed by the compassion and thoughtfulness that our members display towards others during this sensitive time. It makes me want to work harder for our members when I read about how hard they are working for the grieving families that come to them for help and guidance. It also helps me to remember that any act of kindness can mean everything to a person who is suffering.
What do you think is just “golden”? When you are so into a book that you lose track of time
What do you do outside of work? I read and write. Poetry is my literature of choice. I enjoy art and live music. I also enjoy reading about random topics and often find myself lost in an endless “internet k-hole” on various subjects.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? I am lucky enough to feel inspired by many individuals, but this Walt Whitman quote always uplifts me and makes me focus on the importance of the moment— “Happiness, not in another place but this place...not for another hour, but this hour.”
Scott is the Communications Director. His days at OGR are filled with producing marketing materials, e-mails, event materials, web content, and OGR’s noteworthy Independent magazine.
He has worked in association management for over 20 years. Before coming to OGR, he was with the Texas Association of Builders in Austin. Before moving to Austin, he was in Washington D.C. with the Boat Owners Association of the United States.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? I enjoy visiting with members at our Annual Conference & Supplier Showcase and developing and producing marketing materials as well as The Independent. I find it rewarding to work with a membership that truly believes in and conducts business by OGR’s Standards of Ethical Conduct.
What do you think is just “golden”? I think it’s golden when you randomly grab the exact amount of utensils you need when setting the table. That is “Golden”.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? My father always said to be truthful. If you don’t lie, then you don’t have to remember anything.
As Member Resources Director, Laine oversees the buying network through Golden Services Group as well as develops new resources for members.
Laine is a Licensed Funeral Director and Embalmer in the state of Texas and has 30+ years of experience in funeral service. Before coming to OGR, he was with Batesville Casket Company as a cremation “Subject Matter Expert” and prior to that he was with Dell Computers as a Global Account Manager. He is also a Former Board of Director for Hospice Cup (The largest charity sailboat regatta in the country). He has managed multi-location funeral homes, start-up funeral homes, combination funeral home/cemetery locations with a focus on turning losing market shares for businesses.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? My position allows funeral home members to focus on the day to day business of serving families and it allows me to go out and find what new trends, products and services are coming so that I can put them in front of the membership.
What do you think is just “golden”? Unconditional love
What do you do outside of work? I like to golf, hunt, fish, ride motorcycles, eat dinner with friends, play poker with buddies, arm chair quarterback, cook BBQ and tour old funeral homes.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? “If you woke up without a plan, GO BACK TO BED” and “The beautiful thing about life is you get to start over with the coming of every new day.”
Diane is the Membership Manager. She supports member recruitment, retention, and renewal efforts, manages the membership database and record-keeping, and handles office administration.
She holds bachelors’ degrees from both Texas A&M University and St. Edward’s University.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? The work environment at OGR is wonderful. The staff, as well as our members are all very nice and a pleasure to work with. I also really enjoy reaching out to prospective members. It’s very rewarding when we bring a new member into the OGR Family.
What do you think is just “golden”? Silence is golden.
What do you do outside of work? I love animals and the great outdoors. I enjoy philosophy and political theory. Mystery novels are a sweet escape from the world.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? "It would be better for me that multitudes of men should disagree with me rather than that I, being one, should be out of harmony with myself." - Socrates
Maureen is the Member Concierge. She’s the “go to” person to find products, take orders, close orders and attend conferences and workshops whenever needed, and she also helps members find different services. She often helps other departments as well.
She has worked for OGR for 20 years. She is currently on the Board of Directors for the Funeral Service Credit Union as a chairperson for the supervisory committee for the last 12 years. She is also on the board of directors for Montgomery County Paws Care and is the COO of HH Ranch where she oversees the operations.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? I like working with the members. It’s interesting to learn about new things out there in the market for funerals. I learn something new every day about the funeral service industry.
What do you think is just “golden”? God. Because if it wasn’t for him nothing would be possible.
What do you do outside of work? I go camping, horseback riding, trail riding, fishing—pretty much any outdoor stuff except hunting. I volunteer with Paws Care— an animal rescue group. I volunteer at our local animal shelter. I am also helping our son raise German short haired pointers.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? My mom always said that honesty is the best policy and that’s pretty much what I try to live by.
Michael is the Accounting Director. He does accounting, including financial statements, budgeting, payroll, and related functions.
He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Accounting and an MBA. He has worked for over 30 years as a CPA and has 20 years in the not-for-profit industry.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? I enjoy contributing to the organization and interpreting information, perhaps providing an occasional insight. I also appreciate working with other staff who show a real commitment to the association and its members and who go out of their way to be helpful.
What do you think is just “golden”? Golden for me is having two wonderful, successful daughters – one a chemical engineer, the other finishing a Master’s Degree in Finance – who brought me a ton of joy, who never caused me a moment’s grief, and who still come home to visit me.
What do you do outside of work? I coach and referee youth soccer; I am an author, but unpublished so far; I am a failed chess master.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? When there is room for improvement, try to accomplish it, but still see the glass as half full.
As Staff Accountant, Gael handles all of the GSG Products & Services accounting functions in addition to assisting OGR accounting and operations. Her goal is to provide outstanding customer service to all of our members for both Golden Services Group and Order of the Golden Rule transactions.
Gael studied broadcasting at the University of Santa Clara before working at several AM and FM radio stations in the Bay Area and later on in Dallas. She has experience in on-air work, programming, promotions, and commercial scheduling at community and commercial radio stations. She has worked as an air-time billing and reconciliation expert and has consulted for several national broadcast companies. Her husband was transferred to Austin several years ago, and she first consulted for OGR before accepting a permanent position.
What do you like most about what you do at OGR? I have enjoyed learning about a new industry and all of the integral parts of it.
What do you think is just “golden”? Sunrises and Sunsets - and being able to watch them.
What do you do outside of work? I enjoy live music, cooking and baking, traveling, hiking and camping, snorkeling and scuba diving, and studying alternative medicine when time permits. I am a Certified Scuba Instructor and a Licensed Massage Therapist.
The organization as a whole tries to “follow the Golden Rule”. What other mantra do you try to live by? “Excellence is an art won by training and habituation. We do not act rightly because we have virtue or excellence – but we rather have those because we have acted rightly. We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence then, is not an act - but a habit.” Aristotle
Education: Online & In-Person