Meet Winnebago County CASA’s Dedicated Staff
Taryn Marko - Program Director
Taryn Marko has served youths in the Winnebago County community since 2004. A lifelong resident, Taryn graduated from Eastern Illinois University with a Bachelor's Degree in Communications and returned to Rockford to work with the delinquent population through Juvenile Probation, many of whom were victims themselves of abuse and neglect. After 8 years in this area, Taryn joined the CASA program as the Advocate Facilitator to help young children and families connect to area resources so that they have the appropriate care and attention as they navigate the Juvenile Court System. In 2013, Taryn became the Program Director, working to increase the number of trained, compassionate volunteers to serve our children. Taryn has learned that it takes a team effort to advocate for the best interests for each child and is continually awed by the generous support of our community that not only keep this program moving forward but keep the focus on every child CASA represents.
Jillisa Bondurant – Advocate Facilitator
Jillisa Bondurant is a Rockford native that has a passion for helping others. After she obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Western Illinois University, she returned home with hopes of making a difference in her community. To achieve her goal, she is pursuing her Masters in Public Policy and Public Administration and has joined the Winnebago County CASA team. With this new endeavor Jillisa plans to assist the dedicated advocates; positively impact the lives of the children and their families; as well as take an instrumental role in community awareness and education.
Jessica Lane- Case Manager
Jessica joined our CASA program in February 2016 after becoming an advocate herself in 2014. Jessica will obtain her Bachelor’s Degree in Family and Individual Development in the Spring of 2016. Her ultimate goal is to attain her Master’s Degree in Family and Marriage Therapy and to continue working with abused and neglected children. She hopes to bring awareness and education to the community about child abuse and neglect. She has always had a love working with children and hopes to keep continuing to impact those around her. Jessica believes CASA is a great program that gives children a voice in court and provides the consistency some of these children may need.
Hope Phillips- Case Manager
Hope has worked with CASA in a child welfare capacity the past four years and brings her passion for helping families move forward. Hope has her Bachelor’s degree in Human Services from Judson University and is currently completing her Masters in Human Service Administration. She is active in the community and wants to continue to in a capacity to educate and support Rockford families. Hope is excited for the opportunity to work with CASA advocates who are out ensuring our community’s children are seen and heard.
Gail Wemlinger – Case Manager
Gail is a native Minnesotan but has lived in Northern Illinois for 30+ years.Gail has her B.A. in Psychology from Northern Illinois University and will be graduating in 2014 from NIU with a Master’s of Education in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Gail’s goal is to become a licensed counselor and use her education and experience as a CASA to continue helping CASA’s and the children that they serve in Winnebago County. As a single parent of two adult children and a life-long activist for human rights Gail is happy to be serving the families of Winnebago County.
Cassandra Richardson – Training and Retention Coordinator
absolutely loves children! The lifelong Rockford resident joined CASA in March 2014, after several years of wanting to volunteer with the program. . She obtained a degree in Business Administration from RVC and is currently working on a Bachelor’s in Accounting. Her love to be around kids of all ages was accomplished by being a foster mother and later an adoptive mom to two boys. To further that goal Cassandra decided in 2012 to leave her career in retail management to run a home daycare. Her desire is to help Winnebago County CASA provide a trained advocate to each and every child we serve.
Karen Schiller – Administrative Assistant to the CASA Board
Karen first became aware of CASA from a neighbor. She served on the board for several years before taking the Advocate training in 2008. Karen became Administrative Assistant in 2014. Karen’s job responsibilities are primarily in the areas of fundraising & PR for our CASA program. Karen loves being able to indirectly be of assistance in helping make a positive change for the many children who’ve been abused & neglected within Winnebago County. These children, who would otherwise have no voice in court, now have a CASA, a volunteer they can trust who will advocate for them & who will help them grow to be children living in a safe, loving home. That’s so important.