Maryland CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Association, the state organization dedicated to insuring that every victim of child abuse and neglect has the right to grow up in a safe and permanent home, shared an Aug. 28 release introducing the newest members to its board of directors for 2013 through 2015.
Donna Messersmith, who also serves on Maryland CASA’s PR committee, brings over 25 years of experience in marketing communications and advertising within the advertising agency and corporate environments.
“I was motivated to get involved with Maryland CASA by the mission of the organization and knowing that I can help to make an impact on the life of a child who is in the system and needs a voice to represent their best interests,” Messersmith said.
“And the fact that I can use my experience in marketing communications and advertising to contribute to Maryland CASA’s organizational strategic plan and goals presented itself as an ideal fit,” she added.
Michelle McLeod, recently earned a master’s degree in political management from George Washington University and completed master’s coursework in human resources at Georgetown University. She previously graduated magna cum laude with high honors from Quinnipiac University and received an associate’s degree from Gateway Community College, where she also earned the Student Leader of the Year Award.
In addition to serving as a Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) in Montgomery County, she has volunteered with Maryland CASA’s Sunsets and Safe Harbors gala, as well as its African-American Festival information booth.
Active with the Jack Kent Cooke Scholar Association, HandsOn Greater D.C. Cares, ONE Campaign and Jack Kent Cooke Foundation, McLeod earned Outstanding Volunteer awards from the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.
Sandra-Lynn Berson, earned a bachelor’s and honors degrees from the University of Cape Town, SA, and has volunteered with CASA for two years.
“I saw what a wonderful organization CASA is and wanted to improve the lives of foster children,” said Berson, who currently advocates for two children.
Berson is active in the Jewish Coalition Against Domestic Abuse and Har Shalom Congregation.
Charmayne Anderson joins the board with 20 years of industry experience, and is a partner with The Ferguson Group, LLC in Washington D.C. She earned both a bachelor’s degree and an MPA from George Mason University.
“I was motivated to serve on the Maryland CASA board in memory of my younger sister who was adopted into my family after living in foster care for years due to abuse and neglect by her biological mother,” Anderson said.
With memberships in Women in Government Relations and the Women’s Transportation Seminar, Anderson also volunteers at Stop Child Abuse Now of Northern Virginia and is active in the Washington Redskins Cheerleader Alumni Association.
Chris Sachse is the principal and co-founder of Horsetail Technologies. Sachse has 15 years industry experience and received his Master in Leadership and bachelor’s degree from Notre Dame of Md.
“I have a strong desire to give back to the Maryland community and am passionate about family rights,” Sachse said.
“As I was searching for opportunities to give back, I came across Maryland CASA and was excited by their mission.”
Sachse added: “I was further encouraged when I met with CASA to find that my skills as a marketer and entrepreneur would be utilized to address the current needs of the board and of the organization.”
Sachse also teaches classes, provides internships and mentors students in the YearUp program in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., which helps urban young adults enter the professional workforce.
2013-2014 Board Secretary: Francha Davis has worked for CASA of Montgomery County for 22 years and been its executive director for the past 12 years. A Maryland CASA board member since July 2012, she also serves on the program committee.
A member of Montgomery County's children's action and disproportionate minority contact reduction committees, Davis has chaired the Montgomery County Juvenile Justice Commission and its community and legislative relations committee.
Davis previously chaired the Alfred D. Noyes Children’s Center advisory board and served on the Montgomery Community Television board of directors
The Association also re-elected the following individuals to one-year terms as board officers.
President: Lisa A. Lunghofer, Ph.D. The executive director of Making Good Work, Lunghofer has 21 years experience conducting research and evaluation in the area of children’s exposure to violence, including studies of children involved with the child welfare system.
“I am extremely pleased with the progress the Maryland CASA board has made over the past year,” Lunghofer said.
“In the coming year, I hope to build on our momentum with a focus on increasing awareness of CASA statewide, providing more children with advocates.”
A Maryland CASA board member since 2008, Lunghofer previously served as a Court Appointed Special Advocate in Montgomery County and Durham, N.C. She resides in Gaithersburg’s Kentlands community.
Vice President: Angela Lunczynski-Hamilton. As director of procurement for Coca Cola Refreshments USA, Lunczynski-Hamilton has 23 years of experience as a supply chain professional. She also has served as a Md. CASA board member at large, as well as the chair of its public awareness and Sunsets and Safe Harbors gala committees.
Treasurer: Josh A. Sutherland, CPA. A principal with Katz, Abosch, Windesheim, Gershman & Friedman, P.A., Sutherland has 16 years accounting industry experience. He has helped children’s organizations for many years, in both his personal and professional life. When he was younger, he volunteered with the Big Brothers program. As a CPA, he has aided numerous clients that were non-profits working with children.
“I am happy to have Lisa’s, Angela’s and Josh’s continued leadership for another term, and welcome Francha, who brings the front line perspective from her 20-plus years with CASA in Montgomery County,” said Ed Kilcullen, Maryland CASA Association’s state director.
“The past year has been one of significant rebuilding and healthy progress and I look forward to working with this team to continue this process.”
Maryland CASA Association is a private, non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring the rights of all victims of child abuse and neglect to grow up in safe, permanent homes. This mission is carried out in partnership with the state’s15 Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) programs, which provide trained volunteer advocates to speak up for the best interests of children.
For more information about Maryland CASA Association, visit the website.