Commission Staff

portray of Karol Swartzlander



Karol has served as the Executive Director of the California Commission on Aging since August 2019. She achieved an increase in CCoA staffing that has enhanced the Commission’s advocacy, outreach and policy functions, and boosted its visibility among State officials, the Legislature and aging and disability stakeholder communities. With 22 years of state service focused on aging and long-term services and supports (LTSS) programs and policies, she has worked for the Departments of Aging, Health Care Services and Social Services. Karol also served as project director and provided leadership on multiple federal grant initiatives (Systems Transformation, Real Choice Systems Change, Aging and Disability Resource Connection) under the California Health and Human Services Agency from 2007-2014. Her work is guided by a passionate focus on innovative solutions and collaborations that support Californians to live in the communities and settings of their choice.

Prior to state service, Karol worked over seven years in the fields of international development and education. She holds a Master of Public and International Affairs from the University of Pittsburgh (Pittsburgh, PA) and a Bachelor of Arts in International-Intercultural Studies from the University of Montevallo (Montevallo, AL)."

portray of Leza Coleman



As the Legislative Director for the Commission, I am excited to support the Commissioners and advance the organization's legislative priorities as we work on statewide systemic advocacy focused on efforts to promote ""aging well"" in California.

Leza was introduced to the world of elder justice and self-determination as a volunteer Long-Term Care Ombudsman, where she honed her advocacy skills, supporting residents and their families in achieving the highest levels of care. Inspired to ensure dignity and respect for all residents, Leza obtained her administrator's license and joined the leadership team to open an assisted living facility committed to person-centered models of care. Not satisfied with serving seniors in a single community Leza became the Executive Director of the California Long-Term Care Ombudsman Association in 2012, where she supported, resourced, and magnified the work of the thirty-five local LTC Ombudsman programs in California till she joined the Commission in 2022."

portray of Marcella Villanueva



Marcella is the Logistics and Procedures Analyst and the Commission historian due to her many years of service to the Commission. She manages the logistics of events, represents CCoA at events, and responds to public and community inquiries. Marcella plans and coordinates meetings and manages communications with Commissioners, TACC Representatives, and state departments and agencies. Her work includes managing project workflow and timelines as well as implementing projects and new systems. She prepares, tracks, and analyzes office procurement and contracts with evaluations and status reports. She conducts research on program goals, policies, procedures, and opportunities. She lives in Sacramento surrounded by her close, intergenerational family.

portray of Patrick Smith



Patrick is the Policy and Research Analyst for CCoA where he provides analysis on legislation and emerging trends in aging. Prior to his current position, he worked on CalFresh policy as an analyst with the California Department of Social Services . He holds a B.A. in Political Science from UC Santa Barbara and a Masters in Public Policy from McGeorge School of Law. In his spare time, he can be found watching sports, playing golf, or looking for the best burrito in Sacramento."

portray of Marijke Melman



Marijke Melman is the Commission’s Outreach and Engagement Analyst. Her role is strategic, conceptual, and executional: leveraging design and communications to articulate vision, expand influence, and share solutions. Marijke has a background in communications, graphic design, marketing, and event planning. She produces CCoA’s outreach and marketing assets and contributes to the planning and support of the Commission’s meetings and events. She lives in Sacramento with her husband and sons and loves the outdoors, art, reading, community and travel.