By Leslie Dunn, State Director of GAL/CASA | Office of Court Services
The 23rd Annual GAL/CASA conference “Giving Kids the Winning Edge” was recently held in French Lick. Nearly 700 GAL/CASA program staff and volunteers attended the event. Former NFL player and author, Shawn Harper, was the keynote speaker. He shared his story of overcoming challenges with the support of caring adults in his life. A recovering heroin addict and author, Herb Stepherson, also spoke and shared his powerful and inspiring story of overcoming addiction.
Awards were given during the conference for the CASA Director and Volunteer of the Year. Volunteers are nominated by their programs, and CASA program directors are nominated by their staff or peers.
The 2019 GAL/CASA Volunteer of the Year is Sheilah Williams, a retired teacher from Scott County who has been a volunteer for 11 years and has advocated for over 50 children. Sheilah also mentors new volunteers and helps the program with recruitment and special events.
Jane Christophersen (pictured above), Director of Montgomery County CASA, was the recipient of the CASA Director award. Jane has been the CASA Director for over 13 years and was part of the first training class when the program began in 1990.
In 2018, Indiana had certified CASA programs in 84 counties, where over 4,700 trained volunteers and staff advocated for 26,431 abused and neglected children. The Indiana Office of Court Services administers the State Office of GAL/CASA, providing funding and support to Indiana’s GAL/CASA programs.