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Who We Are

Illinois CASA Staff

Meet the Illinois CASA Staff

  • 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.

  • Deputy Director

    Beatriz first joined the CASA family in 2015 at the local program level. Beatriz has been with the Illinois CASA office since August 2019. She has served as the Director of Accountability and most recently in her current role as Deputy Director since 2020. At the state level, Beatriz has been instrumental in elevating the state office into a robust and actively engaged organization supporting the various needs of the Illinois CASA Network. During her tenure at Illinois CASA, Beatriz led the transition of the local programs to Optima providing various trainings on the topic throughout the years. Beatriz currently chairs the Equity Task Force and the Data Task Force within Illinois CASA. While at the local program level, 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 has 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 Juris Doctorate from Northern Illinois University College of Law. Beatriz has been a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the State of Illinois since 2010. Beatriz is also licensed as an attorney in the State of Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas.

  • Director of Training

    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.

  • Data Administrator

    Administrative Assistant of more than fifteen years. Determined, confident and well-organized with extensive experience in supporting mid and senior level managers. Born and raised on the Southside of Chicago. I love to read and travel. As a mother of three, I was drawn to this position because of my love for children. I’m a highly approachable individual with a willingness to make a positive mark.

  • Grants & Contracts Manager

    Jen joined Jerseyville CASA as a volunteer advocate in 2017 and was hired as the Executive Director of the program in 2020. Jen moved to the Illinois CASA office in 2022. She understands the challenges the local programs encounter and looks forward to utilizing her skills and passion to continue to grow the CASA mission in the state of Illinois.

    Jen has prior work experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry and possesses a Bachelor of Science degree in Business/Organizational Leadership.

    Jen currently lives in Alton Illinois and loves to hike, kayak and play pickleball!

  • External Relations Manager

    Bringing a wealth of experience in organizational management, fundraising, and event planning, Amy McNamara joins us following her impactful tenure as the Executive Director for CASA Kendall County. This background equips her with invaluable insights into the workings of local CASA programs, empowering her to bridge the gap between local and state organizations and provide enhanced support to our community partners statewide.

    With a natural knack for connecting with others, McNamara is poised to cultivate relationships and champion local programming across Illinois. As she aptly puts it, "I have never met a stranger!" Her genuine warmth and dedication make her the perfect community liaison for our cause, ensuring that every child receives the advocacy and care they deserve.

    McNamara is deeply committed to her community in Yorkville, extending her involvement beyond her professional commitments. She plays an active role in her children's schools within the PTO, serves as a dedicated coach in the local soccer program, and enthusiastically volunteers her time to various community initiatives.

  • Social Media and Training Coordinator

    Sophie joined CASA in 2023 and has a background working with a range of child advocacy non-profits. She has a passion to help create a world where all youth get a fair chance, and that is why she was drawn to this role. Sophie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Communication from Arizona State University where she graduated at the age of 19. Her experience includes program coordination, data integration, creating child advocacy informational vlogs, and non-profit Board organization. She is excited to be a part of the CASA mission in Illinois.

    Sophie has a passion for all things music and she loves camping, cats, and food!

  • Grants and Contracts Administrator

    Michelle comes to CASA with a wide range of experience from the roles she has held in both nonprofit organizations and public education. Her focus is on how she can contribute to the organizations sustainability through supporting the mission by effectively utilizing her background in budget/data management, grant administration, and strategic partnerships. Michelle understands the support our programs need and is excited to be a part of Illinois CASA.

    Recent empty nesters, Michelle and her husband reside in Chicago.

  • Our board and staff members are committed to the mission and vision of our organization.
    Our board and staff members are committed to the mission and vision of our organization.

Our impact this year has changed our community!

  • Children Served in FY23


  • Volunteer Hours in FY22


  • Volunteer Advocates in FY23


  • Number of New Volunteers in FY22


Thank you to our generous sponsors:

  • National CASA
    National CASA
  • Illinois DCFS
    Illinois DCFS
  • The Office of Illinois Courts
    The Office of Illinois Courts
  • Illinois Attorney General
    Illinois Attorney General