About CASA

Today, approximately 500,000 children in the US are caught up in the court and child welfare maze because they are unable to live safely at home. These children are removed from parents who can’t — or won’t — take care of them, and then into their lives come dozens of strangers: police, foster parents, therapists, social workers, judges, lawyers, and more. Hopefully, one of these people is a CASA volunteer.

Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs) are volunteers who are appointed by judges to watch over and advocate for abused and neglected children, to make sure they don’t get lost in the overburdened legal and social service system or languish in an inappropriate group or foster home. CASAs stay with each case until the child is placed in a safe, permanent home. For many abused children, their CASA volunteer will be the one constant adult presence in their lives.

Last year, nearly 60,000 CASA volunteers served more than 240,000 abused and neglected children through 954 nationwide program offices. CASA volunteers have helped more than two million abused children since the first program was established in 1977.

Winnebago County CASA’s History and Mission

In 1987, Judge Bradnor Riggs, then presiding judge over Juvenile Court in Winnebago County, met with the Junior League of Rockford to bring CASA to the children of Winnebago County. Today, more than 30 years later, Winnebago County CASA is a nonprofit, volunteer-based organization whose mission is to support and advocate for the best interests of children within the juvenile abuse and neglect court system. Since 1987, we have trained more than 700 volunteers and served more than 3,600 children in Winnebago County.

Our Values

We believe...
  • We believe that every child has the right to thrive in a safe and permanent home.
  • We believe that all advocates, members of the Board of Directors, and friends of CASA should be welcomed, trained appropriately, appreciated, and supported by the staff and provided with a healthy environment in which to gather, work, and volunteer.
  • We believe that our staff deserves a collaborative and conducive atmosphere that allows them to fulfill the organization’s mission, one that demonstrates respect and value for each individual’s talents and gifts as they enhance the leadership of the team; promotes respect for each individual’s role, opinions, time, and space; focuses on hiring competent people suited to each position in the organization; and provides continuing education opportunities.
  • We believe that our donors deserve to be educated and informed of CASA’s mission and goals, to see evidence of financial responsibility, to be inspired to invest in our longevity, to be recognized with respect and confidentiality for their gifts and generosity, and to have questions on how their dollars are spent answered in a timely and transparent manner.
  • We believe we have an obligation to our community to elevate awareness of our program and the broader child welfare concerns including poverty, diversity, mental health, substance abuse, domestic violence, and other issues impacting families and to continually expand collaborative efforts with other community agencies and court partners to achieve common goals.
  • We believe that our goals and objectives must always be aligned with our mission, vision, and values. We take great pride in being an organization that is united with our legal partners to ensure that all maltreated children have the right to competent, well-trained CASA/GAL volunteers who will positively impact their lives and future outcomes.

Our Team

CASA Board members, executives, and staff have three main responsibilities:
To train and inspire members of our community to become leaders in advocating for abused and neglected children
To act as support staff for CASA volunteers as they manage caseloads, attend scheduled court dates, and train new volunteers
To provide for equipment, purchases, and technology upgrades

Executive Committee

Leslie Erickson
Fred Muehlfelder
Vice Chairperson
Jennifer Muraski
Immediate Past-Chairsperson
Michelle Conti
Eric Wilson
Taryn Marko
Deputy Director
Advocate Representative
Mari Mattocks
Advocate Representative

Board of Directors

Jessica Cheney Nelson
Ron Clewer
Darlene Hanna
Paul Loner
Fran Rossate
Sue Gorski
empty white circle
Michelle Vella

Staff Members

Jillisa A. Bondurant
Jennifer Montoya Advocate Facilitator
Jennifer Montoya
Advocate Facilitator
Marcos Diaz
Marcos Diaz
CASA Advocate Supervisor
Johnnie Pentenburg
Johnnie Pentenburg
CASA Advocate Supervisor
Maureen Morrissey
Training and Retention Coordinator
Ann Bruce: Advocate Recruitment Coordinator
Ann Bruce
Recruitment & Outreach coordinator
Harold Sweeney
Education Advocate
Alejandra Chapel-Herrera
Alejandra Chapel-Herrera
Marketing Coordinator
Karen Schiller
Administrative Assistant to the Board of Directors