By Marilyn McQueeney, CASA Program Director
Due to COVID, we were unable to have our yearly gathering to honor you – our amazing Advocates. We believe we have the greatest Advocates in the world here in Montgomery County and honoring each and every one of you is something we love to do. You consistently go above and beyond for the children and families you are serving. Thank you for all your hard work over the past year.
We have, over the past few years, given out an Advocate of the Year Award, Rookie of the Year Award, and 10 Year Service Awards. Therefore, we have several Advocates we want to honor for these awards for the year 2020.
Advocate of the Year: Randy Hansen
By Jennifer Reitmeyer, CASA Case Supervisor
Randy Hansen has volunteered with CASA for almost 3 years and has touched the lives of 13 children in 8 cases. He takes his role as Guardian Ad Litem very seriously and always looks for the best way to connect with each child and their families.
Randy enters his case information into Optima, easily meets all the minimum expectations and goes above and beyond. He communicates well with all the professionals in each case and works as part of a team to get the best outcomes for the children.
He is currently still working for the best interest of a teen who was jailed several times after he aged out, and Randy was pivotal in finding a place that would take him in and support him as he got his life together.
Randy has participated in the Men of CASA meetings and has presented his experience to the CASA Board of Directors.
It is my pleasure to work with him, and we at CASA appreciate his dedication and commitment to the children in care in Montgomery County.
Advocate of the Year: Ingram Lee
By Susan Truscott, CASA Case Supervisor
Ingram Lee has been a volunteer Advocate with CASA since June 2018 and in this time he has worked on 9 cases; he is currently the Advocate on 4 different cases. During his time with CASA, Ingram has driven over 11,000 miles to visit with children in foster care and, at the time of writing this, had volunteered over 880 hours!
Ingram has the distinction of being one of the Advocates whose case was selected in 2019 for review as a part of the CASA Audit; he passed with 100% compliance, which comes as no surprise to anyone who has worked with Ingram, but is an accomplishment worth recognizing. Ingram’s dedication and (literal) drive to best help the children we serve at CASA is evident in the work he does to make sure he is advocating fiercely for the children he serves.
A retired attorney by profession, Ingram is clearly comfortable in the court room, and when negotiating with attorneys in the cases, but he also stands out as an Advocate who does an excellent job in researching, interviewing and visiting family members, speaking to the parents, the children, investigations, caseworkers and other interested parties. He is always thoroughly prepared for Court and is excellent at documenting his activity on Optima.
Ingram stands out as a great male role model for the children he advocates for, some of whom didn’t have a male role model in their lives before meeting Ingram. He has also been known to get his hands dirty and to help a child to fix their roller blades, which is another sign of his dedication to CASA and the children we serve!
It is this flexibility of style and ability to adapt to the needs of others that gives Ingram the qualities of a great Advocate. We are grateful to have him at CASA!
Advocate Rookie of the Year: Michelle MacLean
By Victoria Warmuth, CASA Case Supervisor
Why is she Rookie of the Year?
Michelle keeps in weekly, if not more, contact with her CASA children and caregivers, averaging between 10-20 hours a week of contact with those involved in her cases. She dedicates a significant amount of her time to supporting and modeling appropriate behavior to parents and caregivers when they face a behavior they are unsure of how to respond to. She asks open-ended questions of parties that encourage reflection and critical thought, embraces differences and seeks to understand the impact of said differences.
Michelle is thoughtful and careful in her advocacy and is not afraid of a challenge so long as the outcome is in the best interest of children. As a special education teacher, she fiercely advocates for the children she serves and is no stranger to ARD meetings. Michelle has an extensive background in international education, having worked in Dubai, Malaysia, Indonesia and Canada, which has allowed her to be creative in her approach to advocacy.
Michelle has been described as being “the most incredible, attentive, and observant listener I have ever met… She is diligent and willing to spend time and energy to understand, work with, and help. She does everything with “100% effort,” as voiced by a colleague. Another contact said this about Michelle, “[Michelle] has one of the purest and most connected hearts…She is compassionate and sincere. She listens. She leans in and makes sure she is present…Michelle is wholeheartedly committed to children.”
As her supervisor, I have the honor of collaborating with Michelle as she navigates her cases, and I echo the statements of her peers, having witnessed her engage with parties firsthand with the utmost professionalism and kindness. Michelle is compassionate, intentional, open to experience, a teachable spirit, and an incredible advocate.
CASA is greatly appreciative of her continuous dedication to the children she serves.
Advocate 10 Year Service Awards
We would also like to recognize amazing Advocates Judith Bartok and Rina French for 10 years of service as CASA volunteers.