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A champion for student success
and community vitality

Vote by May 16, 2023

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As a seasoned communicator and education leader, I know how to advance Central Oregon Community College's mission in the name of student success and community vitality.

A vote for Erin is a vote for:

  • Experience

  • Energy

  • Effectiveness



Core to COCC's mission, I will work hard for policies and processes that reduce barriers to access, create equitable opportunity and ensure responsible budgeting to keep COCC affordable.



I will advocate for programs, curriculum and resources that meet the needs of our community and keep COCC at the leading edge of preparing students for tomorrow’s workforce today.



I will push for strong collaboration with employers to ensure they have a diverse pipeline for skilled talent, and to ensure students secure well-paying jobs in key areas like health care and manufacturing.



To help bolster recruitment and retention, I will promote a supportive workplace that fosters effective instruction and compensation that matches increased cost of living.


As a candidate for the board, I want to hear from you. I want to know what you care about, your concerns and where you think there's opportunity for COCC. I'm your advocate. Email me at

I’ve spent nearly 20 years as a marketer, communicator and instructor in education-centered organizations, including eight recent years in Oregon public higher ed where I made measurable contributions to recruitment, retention and reputation efforts. I’ve witnessed first-hand how community colleges jumpstart opportunity, interrupt generational poverty, fuel skilled trades and strong workforces, and fill society with critical thinkers and changemakers.


  • I work in K-12 and am in touch with the aspirations of potential COCC students. There is no one-size-fits-all offering in post-secondary education, and COCC adds tremendous value by offering a variety of options and entry points to help students achieve their goals.

  • As an instructor and storyteller at Portland State -- where half of undergrads are transfers --  I saw the head start that so many students enjoyed as a result of their community college experience.

  • I believe in community education, both inside and outside of the classroom, through thought-provoking courses, special events and exhibitions. Opportunities like lifelong learning courses, Cascade Culinary Institute, music, Season of Nonviolence, Chandler Lecture Series and rotating art exhibits enrich our broader community in meaningful ways.

  • I understand how an educational institution functions, how decisions are made, and how those decisions impact all of the school’s constituents. Education is at a turning point across the nation -- I'll be a voice for innovation, collaboration and responsiveness to meet the current and anticipated needs of our community.

I'll be an effective representative of my Zone 5 neighbors by listening to learn, staying curious, thinking big and participating in civil discourse. Together we will ensure that COCC is prosperous and an accessible asset to our community.


Proud parents of two rescue German Shorthaired Pointers. Bailey, left, is 9 and Goose is 14.

I currently serve as director of marketing and communications at Cascades Academy, Central Oregon’s independent PK-12 school, and I volunteer with City Club of Central Oregon. My parents instilled the value of lifelong learning and service to community. My father is an economics professor and former mayor of my hometown in Northern Michigan and my mother gave countless hours to support our local community, schools and sports teams.

Education charted my life's course and helped me reach my potential -- I want COCC to offer that same opportunity to Central Oregonians in an affordable and accessible way.

I've lived in Bend for over three years with my partner, Patrick. We relocated for Patrick's job as director of conservation programs at Heart of Oregon Corps, and he's also a Deschutes County Search and Rescue volunteer. Together with our two dogs, we are grateful to call beautiful Northeast Bend home.


The Bulletin
"Editorial: Jim Porter and Erin Merz for COCC board"

Bruce Abernethy
COCC Board and Former Bend Mayor
Jim Clinton
COCC Board and Former Bend Mayor
Erica Skatvold
COCC Board
Julie Amberg

Head of School, Cascades Academy

Erica Wagner
Vice Provost - Student Success
Tyler Running

Social Studies Teacher

Dustin Bessette

Thank you for your support!

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