Meet the Illinois CASA Staff
Illinois CASA champions children by supporting, uniting, and growing local programs to provide a court appointed volunteer advocate for abused and neglected children throughout the State.
Mari joined the CASA movement as a volunteer advocate in 2012. Shortly thereafter, she joined the staff of CASA Lake County and moved to the State Office in October of 2017. With a background in resource development, Mari understands the complex and diverse funding and organizational development needs of the Illinois CASA network.
Her previous non-profit experience includes serving as the Program Officer in Education at the Chicago Community Trust and working as the Board liaison at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. She began her career in management consulting. Mari is a graduate of Stanford University and completed her graduate work at the University of Chicago.
Mari lives with her family in Chicago, and you can find her at home in her kitchen or a yoga studio almost anywhere in Illinois.
Kim has spent her entire professional career working in the child welfare system as an advocate for abused and neglected children. After earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Northeastern Illinois University and a juris doctor degree from the Chicago-Kent College of Law, Kim started her career in the Cook County Office of the Public Guardian (“OPG”), Juvenile Division. Kim’s highest position in the OPG was Chief Deputy Public Guardian for the Juvenile Division, which she held for more than five years. Her responsibilities as Chief Deputy Public Guardian included administration and supervision of the Juvenile Division and its staff of over seventy-five attorneys, case workers, and investigators. Kim also served with the OPG as a courtroom attorney and supervisor in the Juvenile Division for nearly a decade before she was Chief Deputy Public Guardian, and also for eight years as a consultant for the OPG and a liaison between the office and the legal department of the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services. Since leaving the Public Guardian’s Office, Kim has pursued numerous volunteer opportunities in her community. Kim brings her deep experience and perspective on the child welfare system to CASA to benefit the children served by the organization.
Director of Accountability
Beatriz first joined the CASA family in 2015 at the local program level. Beatriz comes to the State Office after a tenure of over 4 years at CASA of Cook County. While at CASA of Cook County, Beatriz served in several different capacities including Advocate Supervisor, Internship Coordinator, Director of Programs, Interim Executive Director and Director of Operations. Beatriz understands the multitude of skills necessary to run a program, as well as the challenges faced by programs. Prior to joining the CASA family, Beatriz worked as a foster care case manager, foster care supervisor and clinical screener with Spanish speaking families involved with DCFS in Cook County and throughout Northwest Illinois. Moreover, Beatriz worked in the area of immigration, one of her other passions besides working with vulnerable children and families. Beatriz holds a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, a Master of Social Work from Loyola University Chicago, and a JD from Northern Illinois University College of Law. Beatriz is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Illinois since 2010.
Kristen joined CASA in 2009 working for the local program in Coles County as the Office Clerk, Advocate Coordinator and for the past 4.5 years as the Executive Director. As Executive Director, she expanded services in two ways: becoming a GAL program in Coles County and expanding services to Cumberland County. Kristen went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL earning an American Intercultural Ministry Bachelor’s degree. She resides with her family in Charleston, IL and enjoys playing her violin in her band Big Blue Mountain. Kristen serves on the local DCFS Foster Parent Recruitment Team and the Citizen’s Against Child Abuse by attending monthly meetings and participating in their public events. Kristen joined Illinois CASA in November 2018.
Outreach and Mission Associate
James is happy to join the Illinois CASA team as their Outreach and Mission Associate. James has spent the last 10 years advocating for youth in care and alumni in several capacities. James comes to Illinois CASA with both lived foster care experiences as well as being the chapter President for the Illinois Chapter of the Foster Care Alumni of America. James has written and passed over 15 pieces of legislation that directly effect youth in care and alumni as well as provides transparency into the Department of Children and Family Services.
Program Development Associate
Libby joined CASA in 2009 as a board member on CASA of Effingham County’s board, served as board president and later served as Executive Director for four years until 2016. During her time with Effingham’s program she served as Southern Regional Representative for Illinois CASA.
Libby attended Eastern Illinois University, earning a Bachelor's degree in Political Science. She resides with her family in Effingham, IL. She loves to kayak and go on long Jeep rides. Prior to joining CASA Libby worked as a case manager for drug, mental health and veteran’s courts in Clay, Effingham and Jasper counties. She has served on the Fourth Judicial Circuit Juvenile Justice Council since 2014 and is a commissioner on Effingham City Council.