Louisiana CASA Honors “Special” Heroes for Outstanding Efforts in 2008!
LACASA, in partnership with its member programs, revived a past tradition by honoring outstanding individuals for their service to children through CASA. Although we value all of the outstanding volunteers, staff, and stakeholders we work with, CASA wanted to present special recognition for those individuals who have gone that extra mile for children.
In 2008, the honorees were recognized at a special CASA Assembly, which took place as a part of the In 2008, LACASA had a special luncheon banquet to continue the tradition of recognizing excellence in CASA statewide at the Together We Can Conference.
LA CASA Volunteer of the Year: Pat Schexnayder
Pat Schexnayder was sworn in September 1991 and has served sixteen children on nine cases. Pat is a shining example of an effective child advocate who has the highest level of ethics and respect for her role as a CASA volunteer. She is diligent and persistent with every case where she researches each child’s individual case, never assuming that two cases will be the same.
Pat Schexnayder promotes and supports CASA in the community by attending awareness events hosted by the Youth Service Bureau, even traveling to Bogalusa, a 90 mile roundtrip from her home, to attend events. She has been a guest speaker at CASA trainings, encouraging and motivating new CASA Volunteers.
Judge of the Year: Justice Kimball
Under the leadership and guidance of Justice Kimball, CASA programs have grown to serve record numbers of children. When Justice Kimball agreed to take the statewide CASA program under the supervision of the Supreme Court, she did so with little hesitation. Knowing that she and the Supreme Court staff would have the fiduciary responsibility for millions of dollars, the need to create and grow programs that were accountable not only financially, but for quality programming did not prevent her from accepting this responsibility. Justice Kimball continues to reinforce the importance of the CASA program each year as the Executive branch and the legislature debate the state’s budget, in particular the judicial budget.
She has raised awareness, not only with the public, but as a leader in the judiciary. As a Supreme Court Justice, she has become a role model for judges, statewide to actively engage in community concerns including children’s welfare. She has dedicated her time, expertise and resources to participate on policy making and implementation bodies to further systemic reforms. Justice Kimball has made it her responsibility to be an agent for change and a voice for children in Louisiana.
Leading By Example: David Sikes
David, the Executive Director of Rapides CASA, is a true leader in the community for issues involving abused and neglected children. His presence in the community has a significant impact in the lives of those that need a voice of care and concern. Furthermore, his passion and enthusiasm are evident and in motivating others to serve CASA’s population.
As Executive Director he doubled the number of children served by CASA volunteers, and ascertained strong relationships with law enforcement, judicial system, the school system, the Office of Community Services, United Way agencies and service providers in the area. He is tireless in is advocacy for children in need.
Outstanding CASA Staff Member: Beverly Johnson
When the call for nominations occurred, CASA Jefferson’s staff unanimously with certainty nominated Beverly Johnson for Pr ogram Staff of the Year. The quiet hero, Beverly Johnson is the engine that runs CASA Jefferson. Beverly is a conscientious employee who goes the extra mile to ensure that her duties are accomplished. The success of Beverly as Program Assistant is reflected in the everyday functioning of the program.
As CASA Jefferson’s Program Assistant, Beverly deals directly with potential advocates and is a vital part of the advocate certification procedure. Beverly connects with volunteers during CASA trainings and assesses their suitability.
Office of Community Services Award: Gail Lewis
Even organizations of advocates need an exponent of their own to quail the spindrift of skepticism. Gail Lewis was the advocates’ advocate. Gail Lewis was District Manager of the Terrebonne Parish OCS when CASA of Terrebonne trained its first eleven volunteers in 2001.
Gail Lewis proposed meeting with the Executive Director of CASA of Terrebonne. Thus, the beginnings of the “Working Agreement” were formed, which impelled an affable and obliging partnership.
Gail Lewis has since been promoted to Assistant Regional Administrator for the Thibodeaux Region OCS. She continues to exemplify dedication, professionalism, and cooperation. Her passion for child protection and welfare is inspirational.
Board Member of the Year: Boni Ritter
To assist volunteers, Boni consistently attends the training of new volunteers to share her CASA experiences. To help advocate for the CASA program, Boni has been a guest on radio, TV talk shows, and various speaking events to talk about CASA’s mission and share her experiences.
Boni’s commitment to CASA’s mission and the children that the programs serve was evident when she helped organize the steering committee to ensure that CASA in the 16th JDC would continue to provide advocacy to children. Furthermore, Boni helped procure the start up funds for the program to continue its mission of service.
Diversity Award: CASA New Orleans
Understanding the benefits of cultural diversity in the modern workforce avails the notion of the importance that entities working with diverse populations should itself be comprised of a diverse staff, board, and volunteers. CASA New Orleans has exhibited outstanding leadership in achieving diversity and inclusion among their board, staff, and volunteers.
CASA New Orleans has doubled the number of male volunteers and increased the number of African American volunteers from six to thirty. Furthermore, CASA New Orleans has increased the visibility of the CASA program by attending events targeting the African American community. CASA New Orleans also commits time and effort to support the policies and programs necessary to meet specific diversity targets and goals.
CASA New Orleans understands that diversity/inclusion is a journey- not a destination.
2011 LACASA Heroes
2010 LACASA Heroes
2009 LACASA Heroes
2007 LACASA Heroes