THE TEAM 

 A Organization Built on Volunteers

CASA is a non-profit organization whose mission is run in large part by volunteers. In fact we  have more volunteers as an integral part of our organization than most other organizations. We are proud to say that Bergen CASA is run  95% by volunteers.

 

Board of Directors             

CASA is lead by a volunteer Board of Directors, a group of 15-25 individuals with varied skill sets who direct and lead the mission of  CASA. We are a working Board. We are always looking for Board members with skills we need or a dedication to help and make a difference. For info contact: SuzanneOrdasCurry@gmail.com.

 

Advocates

We have a base at any given time of about 75-150 volunteer advocates. These volunteers are the heart and soul of what we do. Many organizations raise money as their primary function, our primary function is to recruit and train volunteers.  An advocate is not a commodity we can purchase.

 

Staff

We have a small paid staff which is needed to run the day-to-day operations and be on call 24/7, as we are dealing with children and their lives. We have a full-time Executive Director, a full-time administrative assistant and four part-time case supervisors that oversee the volunteer advocates. As we are dealing with children, much of the work involves confidentiality and making sure what we do is carefully documented for State and National CASA and the state of NJ.

 

Volunteer Peer Coordinators

In 2015, we instituted a new level of management, the Peer Coordinator Model, which is a layer of management that is done by volunteers. These PCs  take some of the weight off of the paid supervisors, and mentor the advocates. Using this type of layer of volunteer management, we are able to serve more children at less cost.

Bergen County CASA Staff

lori@bergencasa.org

Lori received her Ph.D. in Sociology  from Northwestern University and her A.B. from Smith College. Prior to coming to Bergen CASA, Lori was the co-founder and Executive Director of CASA for Children of Mercer and Burlington Counties for 15 years.  She serves as co-chair of the National CASA Performance Measurement Committee, co-chair of the Mercer County Youth Homeless Committee, and is a member of the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect Staffing and Oversight Review Subcommittee.  Prior to becoming involved with CASA, Lori was a Research Scientist for seven years at Educational Testing Service and served as a Research Consultant for Princeton University Center for Arts and Policy and for the New Jersey Administrative Office of the Courts. Lori joined the staff in August, 2016.  Lori and her husband are proud parents of two grown sons and a daughter in high school.

ellen

ellen@bergencasa.org

Ellen joined Bergen County CASA as a volunteer in May 2008. She received her B.S. in Political Science from Boston University and her M.Ed. from Rutgers University. After a varied career in advertising and government, Ellen decided to use some of her community service experience to serve children in difficult situations. After advocating for a child for a year, Ellen joined the staff in August 2009. Ellen and her husband have two sons and have resided in Teaneck for over 30 years.

aarti@bergencasa.org

Aarti recently completed her Masters in Social Work from Rutgers University where she was elected to the Phi Alpha Honor Society. As an undergraduate, she majored in Criminal Justice and Social Work.  Aarti is very familiar with the family court system as she was an intern for the Office of Law Guardian in Hackensack and also was a Courthouse Clerk for Bergen County Court House. During graduate school, she interned  for the Mental Health Clinic of Passaic where she interacted with clients ages 6-11 with mental disabilities such as Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, ADHD, Autism and Major Depression. She also interned for a year with Bergen County Board of Social Services where she worked closely with clients who had issues related to abuse and neglect.  Aarti also is a volunteer national representative for the BAPS Organization which encourages the cultural development of children in order to connect them with their Indian heritage, including planning overnight events for over 600 children and teens.

lucy

lucy@bergencasa.org

Lucy volunteered for Casa in 2011 and after working on a couple of cases joined the team as a Case Supervisor in August 2014. Lucy has a varied career history, starting as a Cordon Blue chef working in the south of France before going to Bristol University to get a BS in Psychology and then working in advertising and market research. She moved to the USA in 1986 and has lived with her husband in Harrington Park for 22 years where she raised her 3 children.

lauren

lauren@bergencasa.org

Lauren got her B.A. in Child Advocacy and Policy at Montclair State University in May 2013. She has developed a passion to help children after working with them for the past 10 years; being a counselor at summer camps and after-school programs and being a head teacher at The Valley School in Park Ridge, NJ. She previously interned with Bergen CASA during her senior year of college and is thrilled to be part of our team since September 2014.

CASA Board of Trustees

Suzanne is a Bergen County native. She has owned Write Ideas Public Relations and Advertising for the past 25 years, providing services to local medical, legal and entertainment clients. Suzanne found out early on that PR is crucial for non-profits and has helped numerous organizations launch and grow, with an emphasis on those that help children. She has been on several boards and  is in her third term as an elected member of the Mahwah Board of Education. Suzanne is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick and graduated from Wallington High School.  She enjoys writing, walking, biking, watching movies and the Jersey Shore. Suzanne lives in Mahwah with her husband, Rob, of 26 years and her two sons, Ian and Shane.

Karen currently serves as Director of New Business Development for Panasonic Consumer Electronics Company in Newark NJ.  A native of Wallington, Bergen County, She currently resides in Woodland Park, NJ and recently lived in East Rutherford, NJ.  Karen is a graduate of Lafayette College where she received a BA in Economics and received an MBA in Marketing from Fairleigh Dickinson University.  She is a prior TWIN Women in Industry Award (2002) as well as a charter member of the Wallington High School Academic Hall of Fame.  Prior to her position as VP, Karen has served as a Trustee for CASA for four years.  She also participated as a charter member of the Wallington Public Schools technology development committees and other career events.

Greg currently is the controller for a nonprofit “UCEDC-Union County Economic Development Corporation”.  Prior to being a controller, Greg spent 30 years in public accounting specializing in audits of nonprofits and governments.  Born in Poland, Greg came over when he was 3 years.  He has lived in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida and currently resides in Wallington with 4 of his 5 children.  Greg graduated from Wallington High School, and received a BS in accounting from Montclair State University in 1985.  He has been a CPA since 1988.  Greg is also the Treasurer for the Wallington Family Football Association, and has been the Treasurer for the Sarasota High School Soccer Club and the FC Sarasota Soccer Club.

Ozlem currently serves as Assistance Vice President for Chubb Insurance in White House Station, NJ.  A native of Brooklyn NY, Ozlem currently resides in Wayne, NJ.  Ozlem is a graduate of Pace University where she received a Bachelor’s of Business Administration degree in Accounting.  Volunteering is very important to Ozlem and she is an advocate of volunteering being an integral part of giving back and participating in our local communities; be it with her family, friends or co-workers.  Ozlem has two grown children.

Balpreet was born and raised in Bergen County and therefore grew up in a diverse community. Both her parents migrated from Punjab, India to make a better life for themselves and their families. She graduated from Seton Hall University, majoring in Criminal Justice. Balpreet went on to earn her Masters in Corporate and Organizational Culture, a MBA, with a focus in Marketing, and finally a PhD in Health and Medical Sciences.

During these years in academia, Balpreet also became a part of the political circuit. She has been involved in multiple campaigns including Senator Cory Booker, Senator
Robert Menendez, and more recently Secretary Hillary Rodham Clinton. Balpreet worked at her father’s oil company for over ten years, as the Marketing Director and just joined Hackensack University Medical Center, in January 2016. She is the Director of Community Engagement, in the Department of Population Health.

Furthermore, Balpreet is an advocate for spinal cord injury. During Hurricane Sandy, a night before the 2012 Presidential Election, Balpreet’s father suffered a spinal cord injury, in a car accident. Her father, who holds giving back to the community an important mission, was helping get first responders, like firemen, police officers, doctors, and nurses fuel for their vehicles, so that they could help others. He didn’t know that he would need their help the most. Balpreet has spoken at multiple forums about spinal cord injury, even addressing an audience at a Congressional Briefing, in Washington DC. H

Balpreet holds three things very close to her-her family, her mission to help others, and her dedication to educate the community on healthcare issues. When Balpreet is not busy working, she’s spending time with her husband, Yoginder, and their very active two year old daughter, Sifth!

Daniel Ivers  is a graduate of Central Connecticut State University and worked at a number of impressive organizations as a reporter and editor including NJ Advanced Media and NJ.com. Currently Daniel supervises, directs and executes public relations and marketing strategies for a variety of clients in multiple industries, including real estate and public advocacy organizations at Beckerman PR.  Daniel is passionate about giving back to our community and doing all that he can to help our youth.

Rajesh Kandaswamy covers the banking and securities industries for technology and service providers at Gartner. He provides strategy and marketing direction by helping them understand key issues, market dynamics, trends, best practices, competitive landscapes and future scenarios. His focus areas include banking, securities, cards, payments, lending, risk management. He also cover recent trends in Fintech and Blockchain. Among provider segments, he has a deeper coverage of services, software, outsourcing and BPO. His coverage is global, with a deeper focus on North America. Mr. Kandaswamy has been frequently quoted in leading publications on items related to banking and fintech. Twitter: @rajeshkan Blog: http://blogs.gartner.com/rajesh-kandaswamy/

Kyle Kirkpatrick is an experienced writer, strategist, and media relations experts focused specifically on the commercial real estate industry in New York, New Jersey, and Philadelphia. A former member of the Public Information and Economic Development offices in the City of New Brunswick, Kyle has roots in government affairs and community development. He has also served as a speech writer, campaign coordinator, and social media manager for local figures and initiatives in New Jersey. He holds bachelor’s degrees in Journalism & Media Studies and Political Science from Rutgers University in New Brunswick, N.J.

Leslie is a graduate of Rutgers University, New Brunswick.  After a career as a Budget/Systems analyst in NYC, she changed gearsand opened a flooring and design company in Dumont, NJ.  With a growing family, Leslie opted to become a stay at home mom. Volunteering and activism have become an important part of her life.  Leslie sat on the Board of Directors of the Bergen YJCC, is an active member of the Mahwah HSO, and is an associate Trustee of the Mahwah Schools Foundation.  She and her husband and their two children maintain an active and health conscious life in Mahwah, NJ.

Zonie LeSane is a life-long resident of Bergen County and a devoted public advocate with her focus in the community. Attending the First School of Paralegal studies to become a Certified Paralegal Specialist lead her to work in areas of Trust and Estates as Managing Director for a boutique law firm and later moving on to work for the County of Bergen for over 8 years.

Her exposure to CASA began once she started working for the Bergen County Surrogates Court as an adoption paralegal for more than 3 years. Zonie is currently working in the Bergen County Adjuster’s Office, Department of Law assisting in investigations for Charity Care for eligible Bergen County residents.
Prior, Zonie worked for the Bergen County Department of Health Services receiving training in the following areas, Chronic Disease Self-Management Peer Leader Certificate, Emergency Management Institute FEMA, Disaster Relief Crisis Counselor Certificate, National Incident Management System (NIMS), Mental Health First Aid USA Instructor and Certified CPR First Aid.

Member of Emerge New Jersey for Woman, Shop Steward USW Local 755, Appointed to Bergen County African Advisory Committee, Ridgewood AM Rotary Member, Past Board Member Ridgewood Chamber of Commerce, Past Board Member for the Friends of the Ridgewood Library.

Currently enrolled in the Rutgers University – School of Administration and Public Affairs, Certified Public Manager Program (July 2017), Zonie will continue onward to pursue a Master’s Degree in Public Administration.

Sophie is a Director of Production and has worked in operations and as a general manager, most recently with Verisk Analytics. In the past she has worked for Prentice Hall, Addison Wesley, Pearson Education, and The Princeton Review. She graduated from Ramapo College and lives with her wife of 35 years and their three parrots in Fair Lawn, NJ.

Born and raised in Lyndhurst, Marion Plumley graduated Rutgers-Newark with a degree in Advertising Design and is currently Telerecruitment Supervisor for Community Blood Services of Montvale. Previously, Marion was Marketing Communications Manager for the Vacutainer blood collection division of Becton Dickinson in Franklin Lakes for ten years. Elected by the voters of Midland Park to a 3-year term on Borough Council in 2005, Marion served on several key committees including Finance and Health. Marion has been involved with many area nonprofits over the years, including Ramapo Bergen Animal Refuge (RBARI) in Oakland as an animal volunteer, Nutley Junior Women’s Club past president, and Friends of the Midland Park Library volunteer (communications, fundraising). Marion has lived in Midland Park since 1995.

Mr. Singh is an executive with domestic and international experience in growing,businesses from start-up to multi-million dollar entities. Using his formal education as a computer scientist, Mr. Singh has grown his primary company, The Fidelis Group into a well respected marketing services organization that uses the latest in data driven technology as the platform for all of it’s divisions.

He is a decisive leader with proven success in growing the bottom line while spearheading operational excellence across all of his business interests.Mr. Singh is an inspiring and motivational manager with first-rate interpersonal skills and the ability and passion to develop the vision of all of the companies and people he manages.

In addition to the above, Mr. Singh is a long-standing member of the Sikh Community. He was the Vice President of the Sikh Temple in Glen Rock. During his term as VP, he was instrumental in obtaining a Non Profit Security Grant for the Temple (NGSP). He worked with the US Department of Homeland Security from 2014 to 2016 on this grant, which provides funding support for target hardening and other physical security enhancements and activities due to the high risk of a terrorist attack. Currently as a Trustee of the Sikh Temple, he is working on the 2016 Grant to further enhance the coordination and collaboration in emergency preparedness activities among public and private community representatives, as well as the state and local government agencies.

Mr. Singh has done very well in paying back to the community by being a part of a non-profit organization, The Living Treasure. This organization promotes the doctrine of :The Universal Truth”;, which stands for equal value to every human, irrespective of caste, creed, color or gender.

Caren Zisk has been an early childhood educator for the past 35 years.  She currently teaches preschool and has previously worked in an early intervention program for the Northern Valley school District, CAP – a child assault prevention program for parents, teachers and children in the classrooms.  Caren has shadowed children with special needs in several different public schools in Bergen County.  She has also worked for the past 17 years in geriatric care working in recreational therapy with long-term and subacute residents in several assisted living ,nursing homes and rehabilitation centers throughout Bergen County. She still teaches Hatha chair yoga to her residents.  Caren grew up in New Orleans where she attended Tulane University  She has been living in Haworth, where she raised her children, for the past 28 years.