A native of Nashville, he began his career 41 years ago as a Certified Public Accountant (now “Inactive”) with the Nashville office of Ernst & Young, formerly Ernst & Ernst CPAs. Mr. Shmerling has founded or co-founded multiple businesses since leaving the practice of public accounting, four (4) of which were ultimately sold to publicly traded (NYSE or NASD) companies. Following the sale of Background America, Inc. to Kroll Inc, in 1998, he joined Kroll – eventually serving as a member of the Board, EVP, Chief Operating Officer of Kroll Inc.; and subsequently a Senior Advisor to Marsh Inc., following the sale of Kroll to Marsh. He currently serves as Chairman of private equity firm Clearbrook Holdings Corp, formerly known as XMi Holdings.
He has received numerous Nashville Business Journal Future 50 – as well as INC. 500 Awards for companies in which he was involved. In addition to this recognition, he received the Tennessee Society of CPAs – Outstanding CPA in Business and Industry Award in 1999. In 2007, he was awarded both the Tennessee Society of CPA’s; and the American Institute of CPA’s Public Service Award. In 2009, he received Community Nashville’s Human Relations Award.
Mr. Shmerling currently serves as Founder and Board Chair of not for profit, Abe’s Garden. In addition, he serves on the Nashville Public Television Board and United Way of Metropolitan Nashville. He currently serves on two public company boards; Renasant Bank (“NASD – RNST”), and HealthStream Inc. (“NASD – HSTM”).
Chris has experience working as a certified nursing assistant, conducting observations and data analysis for Vanderbilt Center for Quality Aging. In September 2017, he completed his Master’s in Management of Healthcare from Vanderbilt University Owen School of Management. He has co-published two scientific journal articles.
Donna W. Coleman, MS, CFRE, Gift Planning Advisor
Donna Coleman has been a charitable gift planner since 1993. Prior to joining Abe’s Garden®, she worked at Otterbein Senior Lifestyle Choices for 23 years, and served as the Vice President of Charitable Gift Planning during her last six years there, leading a team of six fundraisers across 14 locations, consistently raising $2M+ each year. Donna’s focus is on building relationships with those who are interested in deepening their connection to the Abe’s Garden® and Park Manor mission through philanthropic support.
Prior to his role at Abe’s Garden®, Chad served as Director of Operations at Blackstone Restaurant & Brewery in Nashville, as well as Executive Chef at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville, Capital Grille, Serendipity 3, and The Cheesecake Factory. He has more than 20 years of culinary experience at multi-million dollar restaurants, including construction, menu design, consulting, and management training.
He received his degree in culinary arts from Johnson & Wales University in 1998. He is currently a member of the Animal Rescue Corp and the Make a Wish Foundation for Middle Tennessee.
Donna Finto-Burks, Nurse Manager
Prior to joining Abe’s Garden®, Donna was director of nursing at The Meadows, where she supervised assisted living and skilled nursing operations. She achieved the title of Nurse Practitioner upon earning a Master of Science in Nursing from Vanderbilt University.
Daughter of Abe Shmerling, after whom Abe’s Garden® is named, Judy worked with her brother Michael to found the organization in memory of their father. Judy helps families determine which programs and services meet their needs and lends support through the transition process. She also identifies needs to develop new community programs.
Judy brings a background as a psychotherapist and business owner, and has experience working as a director of clinical services and an expressive arts therapist at a special education school in Maryland.
A certified Activity Director since 1991, Brenda has over two decades of experience serving senior adults in skilled nursing facilities, assisted living and memory care communities. She has a Bachelor of Science in Education, is a Certified Dementia Practitioner, a licensed Nursing Home Administrator, and is NCCAP Activity Director Certified with a specialty in memory care.
Brenda has served on the board of directors for Therapy for Animals Reaching Clients since 2012.
Brenda especially enjoys including children and families in Abe’s Garden® programming, as well as incorporating musical performances and pet therapy. Her newest venture at Abe’s Garden® is developing and managing the Community Group for those with early-stage dementia.
An experienced and respected gerontologist with more than 30 years of experience in the field of aging issues, Beverly’s career has focused on both academics and community services.
Her education includes an MA in Studies in Aging from the University of North Texas and a Doctor of Humane Letters from Southern Wesleyan University, SC.
In Charlotte, NC, she served as Executive Director of the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Council on Aging, and Assistant Director of Services for Adults at the Department of Social Services. She also served on the faculty at the University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Central Piedmont Community College, Livingstone College, and Duke University Medical School, Durham, NC. And she was Director of Technical Assistance for the Community Partnerships for Older Adults. Most recently, she was Academic Director of the School of TransformAging at Lipscomb University.
Vicky joined the organization in May 2002. Her role focuses on Park Manor Independent and Assisted Living, which is an operational department of Abe’s Garden.
She brings to the organization over 27 years of experience in management, sales and marketing in a variety of fields. Vicky Raines has an extensive technology background, serving previously as an IT manager.
Vicky received her Assisted Living Administration Licensure Education from the University of North Carolina.
Beverly Theis, LCSW, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
Beverly has a Master’s Degree in Social Work at University of Maryland, with a specialization in aging. Her career has involved working with older adults in health care, mental health, skilled nursing and community settings. Prior to Abe’s Garden®, she worked at Vanderbilt Medical Center in Cardiology and Thoracic care.
Walter Wilson, Manager, Park Manor Assisted Living
Prior to joining Park Manor, an operational department of Abe’s Garden®, Walter worked at the Middle Tennessee Mental Health Institute. His previous experience also includes being Baptists Campus Minister at University of Tennessee Knoxville and Vanderbilt University. He completed a BS in psychology at The University of Southern Mississippi, and MDiv at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and his MSN/RN in Adult Psychiatric Nursing at Vanderbilt University.
Beth, a third generation Nashvillian, previously served as Middle Tennessee director for the American Diabetes Association where she annually exceeded fundraising goals and launched the Father of the Year Awards Dinner. She has experience in fundraising, board development, strategic planning, sales, marketing and public relations with organizations including the Nashville Symphony, Shirley Zeitlin and Company Realtors, and the Nashville Convention Center. Beth has successfully led numerous fundraising campaigns, maintaining positive relationships with donor prospects and developing the requisite leadership and organizational skills.