CASA Heroes

Geaux Blue for Kids Awards of Excellence 2017

CASA Media Professional of the Year
Johnny Chauvin, Child Advocacy Services

Johnny Chauvin, of Northshore Broadcasting and Tangi 96.5, grew up in the radio business, working alongside his family and siblings for many years. As a local celebrity, Johnny has made it his personal mission to connect members of the community with caring organizations. Over the past twelve years, Child Advocacy Services has appeared on the “Johnny in the Morning” radio show over 150 times to speak about the importance of CASA, recruit volunteers, and other outreach and awareness activities. A talented photographer, Johnny has volunteered to provide professional images for Child Advocacy Services, even photographing Hayward. He continually finds ways to go above and beyond the call of duty to promote CASA.

CASA Board Member of the Year
Craig LeBoef, CASA St. Landry – Evangeline

Craig LeBouef has been a member of CASA of St. Landry – Evangeline Inc.’s board since 2009 and served as board president since 2015. As a Certified Public Accountant, Craig makes it his personal mission to lend his expertise for the purpose of making his community greater. In addition to his service with CASA, he is also a dedicated Rotarian, and a member of the St. Landry – Evangeline United Way Board of Directors. He contributes both financially, and with his time, enhancing the quality of CASA of St. Landry-Evangeline Inc.’s financial records and audits and giving personally to show his support for the work of the program’s volunteers. His ability to explain finances in a way that everyone can understand has enabled the program to stay on-track financially. Under Craig’s leadership, the program was able to expand to serve children in Evangeline parish. His example and encouragement has greatly impacted the growth of CASA of St. Landry-Evangeline and increased the community’s confidence and trust in the program

CASA Legislator of the Year
Malinda Brumfield, Youth Service Bureau

State Representative Malinda Brumfield White has served in the Louisiana House of Representatives since 2015, though her history with Youth Service Bureau goes much further back. She was sworn in as a CASA volunteer in Washington parish in 2007 and served two terms on the Youth Service Bureau Board of Directors from 2010 to 2016. She is a tireless advocate for vulnerable children and families in the Legislature. She has used her platform to speak in support of funding for CASA programs, access to health care and education for children in rural communities, and other critical issues that may not get attention on a busy legislative agenda. State Representative White has also been recognized by United Way of Southeast Louisiana as an “Advocacy Champion” in 2016, and by Youth Service Bureau as their 2017 “Youth Hero.”

CASA Judge of the Year
Honorable James Lamz, Youth Service Bureau

The Honorable James “Jim” Lamz has presided over child in need of care, and juvenile delinquency matters since he was elected to the City Court of Slidell (22nd Judicial District) in 2004. When both the court and CASA office in Slidell sustained significant damage in Hurricane Katrina, Judge Lamz produced a 30-second PSA to recruit CASA volunteers. He knew that it would be challenging to recruit as the community rebuilt and was concerned that many of the children who appeared before him would be without an Advocate. Judge Lamz regularly speaks to the role of CASA volunteers as “champions” for children, noting their role of advocating for the best interest of the child with no other agenda. Judge Lamz’s efforts have also been recognized by the Louisiana State Bar Association and the Louisiana Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges Association.

CASA Program Staff Member of the Year
Susan Murrell, Capital Area CASA

Susan Murrell began her career in education, having been an elementary and pre-school teacher. Susan served 16 years as the Coordinator of the Children’s Program at the Baton Rouge Battered Women’s Program before joining Capital Area CASA in 2004. Susan has been an Advocate Supervisor and valued member of the Capital Area CASA team for fourteen years. She is dedicated to obtaining the best possible outcomes for the children served by CASA and inspires the same passion and commitment in the volunteers with whom she works. As one of her volunteers stated, “Susan is a professional, knowledgeable, helpful, motivated and caring individual with a high level of integrity and excellent communication skills. Susan’s dedication and commitment to her work has amplified my dedication to helping and nurturing the children in my community.” Because of her background and expertise in domestic violence, Susan is often called on to make presentations about domestic violence and the effects of violence on children. Susan is also a strong advocate for children with developmental disabilities and special educational needs. In her 14 years as a CASA Advocate Supervisor, Susan has guided countless volunteers in advocating for the best interest of even more Baton Rouge children.

CASA Program Director of the Year
Tommy Edwards, CASA of West Central Louisiana

Tommy Edwards has served as Executive Director of CASA of West Central Louisiana since 2012. Having previously served as a CASA advocate, Tommy understands that quality training is the key to effective advocacy for our children. Under his leadership, CASA of West Central Louisiana has sought to strengthen the skill sets of staff and volunteers alike through diverse training opportunities. Tommy brings awareness of the significance of a CASA volunteer in a child’s life wherever he goes. He advocates for the best interests of the children in Vernon and Beauregard parishes with numerous community organizations. Tommy seeks to engage the staff, board, and all corners of the community in promoting the core mission of the CASA program, encouraging them to see the importance of the work that CASA is doing for children in their own
community.

CASA Volunteer Advocate of the Year
Cynthia Ann Beeson, CASA of Terrebonne

Cynthia “Ann” Beeson was sworn in as an Advocate in 2012. Since that time, she has seen four cases through to permanency, ensuring that nine children now have a safe, permanent home. Affectionately known as “Gammy,” the children Ann serves know that she is always available, even for middle of the night teenage “emergencies.” She has traveled hundreds of miles across Louisiana working tirelessly to maintain contact with her children no matter where they were located. Most importantly, Ann recognizes that quality advocacy is the primary role of the CASA volunteer. Recently, Ann was called as a witness in a particularly challenging case. While testifying in court can be scary, she knew her case inside and out and was exceptionally well prepared to represent the facts and best interests for the children that she served.

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