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Meet Adult Guardianship Services Executive Director Carla Bayonnet

Legal News Reporter

Published: December 1, 2023

At the age of 13, Summit County native Carla Bayonnet spent her Saturdays volunteering at the former Akron City Hospital, delivering get-well cards, filling water pitchers and enjoying conversations with patients.
She said the overwhelmingly positive experience motivated her to pursue a nursing degree, which has empowered her to assist individuals in various situations throughout her career.
Most recently, she took on the position of executive director of Adult Guardianship Services (AGS) of Summit County Inc.
Formerly known as the Volunteer Guardian Program of Summit County Probate Court, AGS partners with county government, local agencies and service providers to assist those unable to advocate for themselves to ensure their safety, wellbeing, and dignity.
“My work at AGS stands as the most gratifying experience in my career,” said Bayonnet, who began her tenure at the organization in March 2023 and was promoted to her current position in May. “Given our agency’s small scale, I engage in a diverse array of responsibilities.
“In conjunction with my administrative responsibilities, I’m entrusted with overseeing and supporting several wards,” said Bayonnet. “My focus is on facilitating their transition to stable housing and ensuring safe appropriate healthcare.
“I sought a role that would position me at the forefront of creating real improvements in the lives of the wards we serve. Luckily my current position aligns precisely with this aspiration.”
“We are so excited to have Carla leading Adult Guardianship Services,” said Laura Villwock, president of the board at AGS. “Her project management and healthcare background are making a great difference for the agency’s strategic planning and care of our wards.
“Carla has already put AGS in a good spot for the future,” said Villwock. “She’s improved our technology,communication and community awareness. We’re lucky to have Carla leading AGS.”
Raised in the city of Green, Bayonnet began her career at the Visiting Nurse Service in Akron as an LPN (licensed practical nurse). She then went back to school and earned her bachelor’s degree in nursing from Malone University in Canton.
Eventually she returned to the hospital where she first volunteered, taking a position with Summa Health System as an RN (registered nurse) supervisor for Summa HomeCare now known as Summa Health at Home.
Several years later, Bayonnet was hired as a case manager for the PASSPORT program at Direction Home Akron Canton Area Agency on Aging & Disabilities.
Not long after she started she was promoted and led the local aging and disability resource center.
“The aging and disabled populations are some of the most vulnerable in our community,” said Bayonnet. “They need extra attention because many of them don’t have a support system and don’t know how to navigate the system.”
During the pandemic, she completed a master’s program in nursing with a concentration in organizational leadership at Western Governors University in Utah.
When she first joined AGS in March 2023 she was the director of special programs. After Susan Milne retired Bayonnet was promoted to executive director.
“Susan was a mentor to me and served as a guardian to several of my patients over the years,” said Bayonnet. “She brought a substantial depth of experience and compassion to her role. Filling her shoes and honoring her legacy in the field is a responsibility I take to heart, given her wealth of experience and dedication to those in her care.”
Bayonnet said she hopes to help the agency educate Summit County residents on the need for “compassionate and trained” volunteer guardians.
“The heart of our agency is our volunteer guardians who serve as surrogate decision makers to our wards and help provide them with the stability they need,” she said.
Bayonnet said one of her goals is to help AGS forge stronger bonds with its community partners to create a robust safety net for every resident of Summit County.
“Our wards face an array of challenges spanning from mental health and substance abuse issues to developmental disabilities and dementia,” she said. “COVID really showed us that addressing the issue of isolation is paramount and we actively strive to mitigate its impact by creating a dedicated team around them.
“At AGS we are working toward a more inclusive, supportive and compassionate environment for everyone,” said Bayonnet. “Our vision extends beyond the present and I’m excited to be a part of this valuable community resource.”