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.
Chief Executive Officer
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.
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.
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.
Laurie joined CASA in 2020 as the Grants Specialist. A graduate of Concordia University, she has a background in non-profits with experience in event management, programming and grants administration. Laurie lives in Chicago where she enjoys exploring the city's robust restaurant scene and riding along the lakefront.
Vivian joined the CASA family in 2020. She joined us from DuPage County CASA where she was a long-time volunteer. She most recently worked at the DuPage Regional Office of Education in Early Childhood Education with vulnerable children and their families as the Bilingual Parent Educator Supervisor. She has extensive experience in early childhood education and holds a Spanish dual-language Transitional Bilingual Educator Endorsement Pre-k to 12. Prior to finding her passion in early childhood education and human services, Vivian worked as Director of Human Resources for over 10-years. Vivian has a Bachelor of Science degree and is working towards her Master's in Human Services Non-Profit Management and Leadership.
Vivian and her family live in Glen Ellyn, Illinois and they enjoy volunteering in their community as DCFS Foster Parents, playing musical instruments together, fly fishing, skiing, hiking, and scuba diving.
Adela joined CASA in 2020. Her five-year experience with various non-profit organizations and her passion for work with underserved youth has brought Adela to CASA. Adela earned a bachelor’s degree in Science of Business Administration from Purdue University Global. Over the past fourteen years, she has worked with medical, legal, court, education, accounting, and social service professionals. She has trained and volunteered as a youth mentor with specific training to serve at-risk youth in Lake County, IL. She previously volunteered and worked for Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center in Gurnee, IL from 2013 to 2020. She currently resides in Grayslake, IL with her two children and cat named Kitty.
Quality Assurance Manager
Karen joined CASA in 2017 as a volunteer advocate for CASA of Cook County. Her experience supporting families in Cook County ignited a passion for the cause, and Karen became a member of the Illinois CASA team in November 2020. Prior to joining CASA, Karen had extensive experience in the education sector. She has been a teacher, coach, trainer and quality assurance expert. She also has experience with board development, strategic planning and mentoring district personnel. Karen is excited to have a full-time opportunity to contribute to all the great work CASA is doing throughout the state of Illinois.
Karen lives in Riverside, IL with her husband, Tom, and their three crazy dogs.