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Ginni Ring, Executive Director Ginni joined Alameda County CASA as executive director in 2010, now with 30 years combined experience in direct service to youth and families, supervision, management, fund research and development, and program and fiscal analysis in both public and non- profit social services and health care agencies. Over the past four years her focus has been on developing a strong professional internal team and collaborative partnerships with stakeholder agencies to serve more youth in foster cares and to improve standards of practice. She has lead initiatives to improve specialized training of volunteers in education and transition-age youth including piloting a Fostering Futures curriculum; implemented the Peer Coordinator model for coaching new volunteers; initiated a youth outcomes measurement pilot project, coordinated a diverse stakeholder strategic planning process in 2014, and secured numerous grants and unrestricted funds for the nonprofit organization. Prior to CASA, Ginni was a director of philanthropy advancement at the YMCA of the East Bay in Oakland, CA. From 1998 – 2005, through the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office, she was the executive director of CALICO Center based, a countywide public/private collaborative child abuse intervention agency. During her tenure at CALICO, the agency earned full member accreditation with the National Children’s Alliance organization in Washington, DC and opened a second interview facility for children at the Family Justice Center in Oakland. She holds a Master of Social Welfare Management and Planning degree from the University of California Berkeley and a Master of Divinity from Pacific School of Religion in Berkeley, CA.
Karen Schaefer began her time with CASA in September 2009, when she began the development of the CASA program in Shasta County under the umbrella of Northern Valley Catholic Social Service, Inc. In July of 2015, the agency decided to move towards a regional approach to CASA, seeing that they had the program in four counties, which is when Karen was given the position to oversee all four counties. She has been with NVCSS for almost 18 years, working in several social service areas (Independent Living Program; pregnant & parenting teens; homeless families; mentally ill homeless) but foster youth have always been her heart string, and she was excited when given the opportunity, to once again work to better serve this underserved population. Karen is currently the Northern/Rural representative on the California CASA Board of Directors.
As the Executive Director of CASA Ann Wrixon oversees CASA’s program to recruit, train, and support volunteer advocates as a powerful voice for the best interest of abused and neglected children during the court process, in order to help every child ultimately thrive in a stable and permanent home. Ms. Wrixon has more than twenty-five years experience in non-profit management as an Executive Director. She has worked in the nonprofit sector on a variety of issues including, adoption, education, child welfare, technology, media, seniors, and philanthropy. She has spent much of her career serving families, children, elders, and low-income communities. Ms. Wrixon has a BA from Rutgers University, a MBA from San Francisco State University and a MSW from California State University—East Bay. She has written extensively on issues related to the non-profit sector and child welfare, including two books about adoption.
Christine Slette is the Executive Director of CASA of Del Norte in Crescent City, CA. She began her journey with CASA 9 years ago when she was hired on as the volunteer coordinator and has not looked back.
With her background in business Management and Finance, Christine has dedicated herself to CASA Del Norte and the community, where she was raised, by focusing on collaborations and partnerships. Christine is a member of the Child Abuse Prevention Council, the Family Resource Center of the Redwoods Advisory Council, the Volunteer Advisory Council at Pelican Bay Prison, The Foster Youth Council for the Del Norte Unified School District, and the Foster Parent Advisory Council. CASA of Del Norte has grown under her leadership and has become an integral community partner advocating for children in foster Care.
Christine continues to identify resources, develops, and grows educational opportunities through the Positive Response program for CASA Del Norte which focuses on understanding brain development and trauma informed practice, to better serve the children and a very diverse community. Christine has 3 children and has served on 4 of her own cases. Her greatest passion is working with families under the jurisdiction of the court using an inclusive approach, which brings every possible family and support system to the table to create the most positive options for placing foster children in permanent, loving homes as soon as possible.
Steve Volow has been the Executive Director of CASA of Humboldt since 1999. From 1986 to 1999 he was the Executive Director of the North Coast Substance Abuse Council in Humboldt County. Steve relocated to California from Oregon where he and his wife Trina established a Montessori pre-school. Steve received his Elementary teaching credential from the University of Oregon in Ashland at that time. At the time of his hire at CASA Steve was and still is “honored to have been given the opportunity to lead CASA into the new millennium and to help CASA fulfill its mission.”
Alex Cardenas was born in El Centro, California in 1971. He was raised in El Centro where he attended local schools and graduated from Central Union High School in 1989. Alex has a Bachelor Degree in Public Administration from San Diego State University and a Masters Degree in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix. Alex Cardenas is the Executive Director for Court Appointed Special Advocated (CASA) of Imperial County for the last six years. Additionally, he is Lead Faculty Area Chair for the School of Business with University of Phoenix at the El Centro Campus. Alex Cardenas was elected to the El Centro City Council in 2013 and is currently assigned to numerous community task forces that include Friends of Community Services Foundations, Public Library, El Centro Public Safety and Imperial County Film Commission. Alex Cardenas is married to Brandie Cardenas and has two children Jason and Valerie Cardenas.
Wendelyn “Wende” Nichols-Julien is the CEO of CASA/Los Angeles. Wende has two decades of experience in nonprofit leadership, joining CASA after serving for five years as the Executive Director of the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ), a non-profit human relations organization dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry and racism through education, conflict resolution and advocacy. Wende is an attorney, but a facilitator by trade. She practiced land use and government law at the Los Angeles law firm of Manatt, Phelps and Phillips and worked and volunteered for two years with Public Counsel’s Immigrants’ Rights Project, specializing in representing victims of domestic violence and trafficking in their immigration cases. Wende started her career as a community organizer in Arizona and later in Long Beach, California, supporting residents with environmental and economic justice and dismantling systemic oppression. Wende has a law degree from the University of Southern California, a Masters in Public Administration and Certificate of Nonprofit Management from Arizona State University, and Bachelor degrees in Regional Development and Political Science from the University of Arizona. She is a certified mediator with significant experience in conflict resolution and restorative justice practices. Wende is a biological, foster and adoptive parent with a passion for mentoring young people. She speaks fluent Spanish and has worked as a court-certified simultaneous interpreter.
Caroline Fruth graduated in three years as a sociology major with honors from the University of San Francisco. In the years following she lived in San Francisco, California and Jinja, Uganda. While in the lively and diverse city of San Francisco, Caroline indulged in delectable food, ran a half-marathon and pursued her passion for working with youth as an Advocate for Community Engagement. During her time in East Africa, Caroline worked for the Foundation for Sustainable Development as an International Program Coordinator in Uganda. She loved working with college-age volunteers, facilitating internships & homestays, and riding a boda-boda to work. Originally from Oakhurst, California, Caroline loves photography, her family, and exploring new places. Caroline was excited to return to the Yosemite area as the Director of CASA of Mariposa County in 2013. Living and working in Mariposa brings together her passion for working with volunteers & youth, and a love for the mountain community where she grew up. She firmly believes every child has the right to grow up in a safe, loving and permanent home, and looks forward to the day when that is possible in Mariposa County. Caroline is passionate about serving her community, and the impact a dedicated individual can have in the life of a young person.
Sheryn Hildebrand has served as ED for the CASA program in Lake and Mendocino County since October 2001. Married to husband “Cook” since 1990, she has 3 wonderful children: Linda (44), Matt (33), & Kenzi (22); a wonderful daughter-in-law Jordan, and 4 granddaughters: Alexis (14), Chloe (13), McKenna(9), and baby Logan (9 months). To complete the family are many family pets that include 7 cats and a 700 pound pig named Peanut Butter. Prior to coming to CASA, Sheryn spent 21 years working in clinical laboratory medicine ending this career as a regional VP for a national laboratory covering San Francisco to the Oregon border. Growing up in an Ag family raising cattle, she continues this passion volunteering with 4-H & FFA youth in her community supporting Jr. Livestock opportunities through participation on local boards, local fairs, and serving as a community 4-H leader. She also serves as a regional coordinator for North Coast CAPCs liaising with State OCAP as well as co-chairing Mendocino County’s Policy Council on Children and Youth. For fun, she loves to coordinate family and friend’s weddings and significant events. Her favorite saying is, “There’s no such word as CAN’T!”
Cathie Lancaster With a Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management and a Master’s Degree in Business Administration, Cathie came to CASA after retiring from AT&T with 38+ years’ experience. In January 2017, Cathie started training to become a Volunteer Advocate; during training an Advocate Coordinator/Trainer position became available. With her background in curriculum development and Instruction at AT&T this was a good fit and Cathie became an employee in April of 2017. Effective June 1, 2017 Cathie became the Executive Director of CASA of Merced County.
Raised by parents who were very involved in the community and who spent a lot of time volunteering, Cathie was raised knowing the importance of giving back to one’s community. Cathie served as Chairperson for Sober Grad of Atwater High and Buhach Colony High Schools for 8 years. Over a 13-year period, Cathie was active in Relay for Life of Atwater in many capacities – Team Captain, Chair of Team Development and Recruitment, Chair of Kids Camp and Chair of Survivors and Caregivers. Cathie was also Director of the Wee Miss Atwater Pageant, part of the Miss Atwater Scholarship Pageant for many years as well as team Mom and Coach for many of her children’s sporting activities. Currently Cathie is a member of the Caring About Kids Council. In her spare time, Cathie enjoys spending time with her family and friends, traveling, reading and shopping.
“Working at CASA is more like a gift than a job. I like to say that at AT&T I worked to put money in someone else’s pocket. At CASA I work to bring a smile to the face of children in foster care. I personally believe that children should be treated with love and respect, not abuse and neglect. Everyone involved at CASA of Merced County works hard every day to keep our CASA kids safe and protected. A heartfelt thank you to all of our amazing CASA Advocates for their extraordinary gift of helping our CASA kids find their voice. I welcome everyone to learn more about CASA of Merced County. I would love to have you become a part of our organization; CASA makes a difference in a child’s life.”
Vicki L.H. Myers was appointed as the Executive Director for CASA of Monterey County in 2017, serving as a law enforcement officer for 31 years. A native “Michigander,” Vicki began her career as an Animal Control Officer with Ingham County, Michigan and earned her way to the rank of Chief Deputy with the Ingham County Sheriff’s Office. She was then hired as a Commander with the Mesa Police Department in Mesa, Arizona and attained the rank of Interim Police Chief. Vicki was then hired by the City of Seaside as Seaside’s Police Chief. From 2012 through 2015 she simultaneously served as the police chief of Seaside and the City of Pacific Grove. Highlights of Vicki’s formal education include a bachelor’s degree in business from Northwood University in Michigan, and a master’s degree in public administration from Western Michigan University, with honors. She is also a graduate of the F.B.I. National Academy in Virginia, the F.B.I. Law Enforcement Executive Development Academy in Virginia, the Leadership in Police Organizations program through the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Michigan Political Leadership Program through Michigan State University.
Marina Bernheimer was hired as the Executive Director of Child Advocates of Nevada County in 2016. She holds a Master’s Degree in Social Work (MSW) and has worked in support of vulnerable children and families for the last 25 years. Prior to joining Child Advocates, Marina was the Project Director of the countywide Safe Schools Healthy Students grant. This federal initiative increased access to mental health services for all students, implemented evidence-based social/emotional curriculum in ten school districts, and oversaw three Family Resource Centers with a wide range of co-located support services for local families. Marina served as the Regional Director for a Migrant Head Start program for 5 years, linking migrant farmworkers and their families with educational and social services in three northern California counties. She also worked as the Director of Family Services for a nonprofit community development corporation in Del Paso Heights, where she oversaw services for youth, families, and grandparents raising their grandchildren. Marina lives in Nevada City with her husband and two children.
Regan Phillips joined CASA OC as the Chief Program Officer in 2015, but she first became involved with CASA in 2001 as she pursued her Master’s degree in Social Work at Columbia University. A one-year internship experience at CASA in New York City prompted an interest in child advocacy. Regan then went on to receive her Juris Doctor degree from Chapman University in 2005, during which time she worked as an investigator for the Law Office of Harold LaFlamme, local minors’ counsel representing dependent youth in Orange County. During law school, Regan participated in various competitions as a member of the Moot Court Honors Board and the Alternate Dispute Resolution Board, for whom she served as President; she also spent a semester working as an extern for Justice Aronson at the Court of Appeal, Fourth District, Division Three. Upon passing the California bar exam in 2005, Regan was hired as an attorney with the Law Office of Harold LaFlamme, where she had occasion to work directly with CASA staff and volunteers in the courtroom. Regan went on to handle private adoption matters and to practice as an associate attorney with Rigg & Dean, a personal injury and liability litigation firm in Irvine, and on several cases was able to continue representing dependent youth in a different forum. Regan has also participated in several appellate cases related to both dependency and personal injury law. Regan served on CASA OC’s governing board for a period of four years commencing in 2009 and also volunteered as a member of the Holiday Luncheon Committee.Regan has a Bachelor of Arts degree from University of Southern California (2000), where she studied both Communication and Sociology, and is a local graduate of Mater Dei High School in Santa Ana, California. She currently lives in Santa Ana with her husband and three children.
Don Kleinfelder has worked in the non-profit sector for over 25 years, including 21 years as Executive Director. He holds a MS in Hydrology/Hydrogeology from the University of Nevada-Reno, and prior to entering the non-profit sector, worked in the private sector as a hydrogeologist, focusing on groundwater remediation and water resource development. Under his guidance, Child Advocates has grown from serving 25 foster youth in 2006 to over 500 foster and at-risk youth in 20165. He is a Board Member for the Nonprofits’ Insurance Alliance of California and is Co-chair of the Placer Collaborative Network. Don is a former member of the California CASA Board of Directors and the former Chair of the Placer County Community Services Commission. He is also an active CASA volunteer, working with his fourth youth. Mr. Kleinfelder assumed the Executive Director position in November 2006.
Kendrah Fredricksen is working part-time for CASA while her primary career is as Pastor of Our Savior Lutheran Church in Quincy, CA. She has previous administration experience in non-profits including with an agency contracted with the State of Wisconsin to provide Child Welfare Services. Kendrah has also worked in administration with an agency that manages group homes for people with Development Disabilities and in administration for county government in Health and Human Services. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in English/Business from Valparaiso University in Indiana and a Master of Divinity from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. Kendrah is very involved in many volunteer opportunities in her community and believes in trying to make a difference in the lives of children and adults in need.
Carol Noreen has served as executive director of CASA Sacramento since June 2006. She is a graduate of UC Davis and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She has practiced law in both the public and private sectors, with emphases in insurance and employment litigation. Carol is a former fellow of Sierra Health Foundation’s Health Leadership Program, Class X. She currently serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children and young adults in the foster care system. Carol’s concern for children brought her to CASA and she is committed to focusing the agency’s efforts in the areas of permanency, educational advocacy and preparing our young people for a safe and supported transition to adulthood.
Esther Curtice was sworn in as a volunteer advocate in January 2008 and is a graduate of the inaugural CASA training group in San Benito County. She joined CASA of San Benito County as a staff member in May 2008 and accepted the position of Program Manager under the direction of CASA of Monterey County. Her 19 year background and experience in Business Administration and passion to serve children in the community was a natural shift and transition into the non-profit world for the newly formed San Benito County Division. Ms. Curtice transitioned into the Executive Director position when CASA of San Benito County became an independent non-profit organization on July 1, 2013. As a long-time resident of the community, Ms. Curtice served as a member on the Grants Committee for the Community Foundation for San Benito County and is actively involved as a council member of Foster Youth Services and the Child Abuse Prevention Council.
Cesar Navarrete has been working with CASA of San Bernardino County as the Executive Director since July of 2014. He has over 14 years of experience in the non-profit sector working in program development, implementation, quality improvement, management, resource development and sustainability. Cesar’s passion has driven him to work with at-risk populations throughout his human services career, especially youth-at-risk. His goal as the Executive Director is to grow the CASA family, friends, and supporters so that together they can help change the lives of our foster youth through mentoring and advocacy. When Cesar is not at the office he is spending time with his amazing wife and four wonderful children.
Renée Espinosa, has over twenty years of experience in non-profit management with specific expertise in strategic planning, volunteer and program management, operations, resource and staff development. Having started her career at CASA in Orange County, she is the former Executive Director of the San Francisco Education Fund and in that position had oversight of a staff of 25 with a $2.6 million annual budget focused on teacher professional development, community engagement and the overall goal of increasing post-secondary success. She has also served as Program Director of School Volunteers and the Executive Director of the San Francisco Police Activities League where she collaborated with community organizations to serve more than 5,000 San Francisco youth and 500 volunteers annually. Outside of work, Renee enjoys spending time with her wife and two children exploring the City’s many dog parks with their two rescue dogs.
Jami Alexander is the Director of Family Services with the Child Abuse Prevention Council of San Joaquin (CAPC). Oversee CASA as well as other programs under the family services department. Has been with the agency about 11 months. Prior to CAPC was a Program Manager with The Sacramento Children’s Home for 14 ½ years. Received her Masters in Counseling Psychology from Loyola University of MD. Moved to CA in 2001 from Maryland. Married with 2 daughters.
SAN LUIS OBISPO
Teresa Rothe Tardiff has been Executive Director of CASA for Children of San Luis Obispo County since 2005, and on staff since 2002. She is an attorney, a graduate of UOP McGeorge School of Law, and has undergraduate degrees in Psychology and Early Childhood Education. Before becoming a staff member, Teresa was a CASA volunteer advocate for 8 children from 1994 to 2002. She is an active member of the local commission on foster care and dependency court stakeholders. She served two years on the California CASA legislative committee and was previously an elected member of the Avila Valley Advisory Commission. She has 2 sons and 3 grandsons who live nearby and loves being involved in their lives. In 2010 Teresa was honored to receive the San Luis Obispo County Bar Association’s John L. Seitz Award for Community Service. Teresa is a graduate of San Luis Obispo Leadership Class XIX. Teresa is very proud of the work accomplished by CASA volunteers. “I feel incredibly fortunate to be part of such a wonderful program that makes such a positive impact on the lives of children in our community. Our volunteer advocates are dedicated, caring people from all walks of life who share a commitment to helping children.”
In 2006, Kim Colby Davis began volunteering for CASA of Santa Barbara County, first as an advocate for children, and then in the office, helping with events and publicity. Before long, she became part of the CASA staff. At the end of her first year with CASA, the total of new volunteers increased by over 53% and the number of children served increased by nearly 65%. Fast forward to today, Kim is the Executive Director for CASA of Santa Barbara County (since 2009) and has led the team to growth that includes more than doubling the number of children served. With a team of 13 CASA staff, they now lead a volunteer force of more than 300 community volunteers.
Currently, Kim is serving on the Board of Directors for the Santa Maria Valley Discovery Museum and is a member of the North County Advisory Committee for CALM, and the advisory committee for the legal aid foundation. She is a graduate of Leadership Santa Barbara County, has served on the Santa Barbara County Blue Ribbon Commission on Foster Care and on the Child Abuse Prevention Council. Kim was honored with the “Woman of Excellence” award in 2014 in the category of “Women of Spirit.” In her spare time, Kim enjoys traveling with her husband and spending time with her many nieces and nephews.
Karen Scussel is the Executive Director of Child Advocates of Silicon Valley, the Santa Clara County CASA agency. Karen has been associated with Child Advocates for over 15 years. She began as a volunteer while working at Agilent Technologies, advocating for a teen girl removed from her home due to emotional, physical and sexual abuse. Since leaving Agilent in 2006, Karen has been a member of the Board of Directors, including Board Secretary and member of the Executive Committee, Interim Director of Volunteer Services, Interim Director of Programs, Education Advocacy Supervisor and, most recently, Executive Director for the agency. Karen has personally advocated for 15 children in the dependency system. In 2013 she was recognized for her volunteer service by the San Jose Junior League, receiving the “Volunteerism at its Best” Award. In 2014 the San Jose Business Journal identified Karen as one of the 100 Women of Influence in the San Jose area. Prior to joining Child Advocates, Karen had over 25 years of human resources management and executive experience at Hewlett Packard Company and Agilent Technologies. Karen holds a BA from Vanderbilt University and an MBA from Washington University in St. Louis.
Candice (Candy) Pierce has served as the Executive Director of CASA of Solano County since February 2010 after having previously served on the board of directors of the organization beginning in 2008. Candy has an extensive background in not-for-profit work including her work as the Solano County administrator for the American Red Cross, Director of Kids Country, and as the Executive Director of the Fairfield Hotel Association, now known as the Fairfield Tourism Association. In addition, Candy serves on the board of directors for various not for profit organizations including NorthBay Healthcare Foundation, American Red Cross, and the Ellen Meadows Prosthetic Hand Foundation. In addition to her work with CASA, Candy assists other not for profits with board development and mentoring and provides seminars dealing with strategic planning and visioning. Candy is also a leadership trainer for Rotary organizations on the west coast and in Hawaii. Candy is a member of the Governor’s Office of Emergency Services Children’s Justice Act Task Force. Candy served as District Governor for District 5160 of Rotary International in 2006-2007 and now serves as the Assistant Zone Foundation Coordinator as well as the Strategic Visioning Chair for District 5160. A long time resident of Solano County, Candy currently resides in Vallejo with her daughter.
Millie Gilson has worked in victim services in the nonprofit sector for 40 years, including 29 years in the CASA movement. She holds a Masters in Administrative Social Work from San Jose State University. Mrs. Gilson has had the privilege of administrating several nonprofit organizations including Second Start Pine Hill Schools, San Jose Ca, the Alliance Against Family Violence, Bakersfield Ca, CASA of Contra Costa County and in 1996 founded the Sonoma County CASA program where she continues to date.
Steve Ashman is the Executive Director for CASA in Stanislaus County. In addition to his role as Executive Director, he also represents twelve children in foster care as their CASA volunteer. A credentialed teacher, he is also a national trainer for the AVID program. A recognized expert in the field of Special Education Law, Steve has trained judges, social workers, attorneys, probation staff, and school district staff on Education Law and statutes related to those in foster care. He has also served on the National Governor’s Board Policy Committee on Education and has worked to develop policy changes to benefit all dependent youth in California and their educational outcomes. A proud father of three (including a child adopted out of foster care), Steve is a passionate advocate for all children, especially those marginalized by their circumstances.
Paul Moore has held the position of Executive Director of CASA of Tulare County since April 2016. He holds a Masters in Psychology/Marriage and Family Therapy/Certified Hypnotherapist, and Licensed Group Home Administrator. Paul became a CASA volunteer in 2011, at which point he became enamored with the mission of CASA. Immediately preceding his employment with CASA, he provided mental health treatment to clients suffering with co-occurring disorders in a residential drug treatment program and was a level 12 Group Home Administrator. Paul has extensive experience providing services to men and women in batterers intervention programs, and provids mental health treatment to college students at the local junior college. To maintain a healthy balance between personal and professional life, Paul enjoys fishing, four wheel driving, has a long history of gentling wild horses for pleasure riding, and metal fabrication as a blacksmith. He enjoys being a lifelong learner and looks forward to absorbing wisdom and understanding from his CASA staff, fellow E.D.s and amazing volunteers to continue the valuable work of CASA. He Thanks everyone who has reached out to help him along this path.
Teresa Romney is the Executive Director for CASA of Ventura County. She has had her own business consulting in Technology, Strategy and Business Process prior to joining CASA of Ventura County as Executive Director. Volunteering and giving back to the community has always been an important part of Teresa’s life. She served as Acting Executive Director and Board Chair for Habitat for Humanity of Ventura County and has utilized her non-profit experience in assisting CASA of Ventura County (CASA) in the following ways; initiated the process for CASA to become an independent 501(c) 3 organization in June, 2011, she became one of the founding members of the CASA Board of Directors, she acted as Co-Executive Director of CASA until August 2012, the Board Chair and acting Executive Director prior to becoming Executive Director in August 2016, and Teresa is a Ventura County native.
Tracy Fauver is the Executive Director of Yolo County CASA. As a licensed clinical social worker, Tracy has worked with and advocated for vulnerable populations since her start as an undergraduate student in Washington, DC. Tracy served as a CASA volunteer for four years while coordinating a transitional housing program for homeless families. Ms. Fauver took over the Yolo program at a difficult time and has created a well-respected, highly collaborative, financially stable program. In her past six years as the CASA program director, Yolo County CASA has doubled its revenues and more than doubled the number of active advocates and children served. In her role on the CalCASA board, Tracy envisions California CASA programs developing individual and collective strength in advocacy so that each community recognizes and supports the value of CASA which builds nurturing relationships to support children and build resilience for them and their families.