September 2015


Dear CASA/LA Community,

Happy New Fiscal Year and special thanks for your contribution to our strong results in the year just completed!  This twofold message is about our short-term focus on serving 1,000 children and youth this fiscal year, and our longer term goal of serving 3,000 children per year.

Our immediate goal is for CASA/LA to serve 1,000 children by June of 2016.

Reaching this goal is an essential step for our organization to take its place among the top 5 CASA programs nationwide.  We are committed to growing the impact of CASA in Los Angeles where over 30,000 children—the largest foster care population in the country—need and deserve a high performing CASA program to provide more advocates.

During this new fiscal year, we will continue our commitment to train staff and peer coordinators in the coaching approach to volunteer management.  We are grateful to our current group of almost 30 peer coordinators who are working with us to build the capacity to support larger numbers of volunteers.  Together we are blazing trails and seeking solutions to our geographically unique challenges.  Success is in our hands and up to us.

As an investment in our organizational vision to annually serve 3,000 children and beyond, last fiscal year we convened the Strategic Direction Task Force, with members representing our key stakeholder groups, to carve the path by which CASA will achieve sustainable growth over the next five years. On September 8, after intense research, discussion and review, our Board of Directors unanimously endorsed the Task Force’s final recommendations.

As an immediate next step, our Board has formed a Strategic Planning Team to develop the specific and definitive five year growth plan for moving forward towards advocating for 3,000 children every year.  Once ready, this draft plan will be shared broadly with our community for input, consideration and support.

While our long range vision is in the works, we must continue to focus on our annual goals.  Almost 500 CASAs advocated for over 860 children in FY2015.  Reaching the full 1,000 by next June will require engaging many more future advocates and donors by offering a volunteer experience like no other.

We greatly appreciate your dedication in taking CASA of Los Angeles to its full potential serving vulnerable children and families in our community.  Let us continue together our march to serve more of our kids!


James M. Rishwain, Jr.
Board Chair
Dilys Tosteson Garcia
Executive Director
Strategic Direction Task Force Recommendation Highlights

We believe that every child deserves a champion and the opportunity to thrive. Given the large – in both quantity and quality – unmet advocacy need of the children entering care in Los Angeles County, who deserve a top-performing CASA program, we formally commit to…

  • Serving at least 10% of the foster care population in LA County, or 3,000 children annually with dedicated volunteer advocates, Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs).
  • Fully leverage volunteer engagement in a variety of roles to support more rapid service level growth with the activation and support of larger numbers of volunteer advocates.
  • Drive expansion of volunteers serving as Peer Coordinators, allowing for cost effective expansion to support of larger numbers of volunteer advocates.
  • Develop a culture of continuous improvement with;

o   Training for staff and volunteers around all roles contributing to supporting a larger cadre of advocates,

o   Improvements in case management support,

o   Rigorous review and reflection on progress in individual advocacy plans, making adjustments rooted in an increasingly evidence based practice.

o   Using technology and communications tools to expand and facilitate access to training and resource information.

  • Apply ideas from experience of other programs committed to growing service levels, pilot-test-innovate.
  • Build community engagement – connect and build relationships with existing and prospective donors and volunteers – supporting a more impactful and robust CASA program in LA County, devoted to moving swiftly towards more children served,
  • Raise the $8-10MM needed annually to effectively and efficiently serve 3,000+ children/year at an effective and efficient annual cost per child of $3,000 or less.
  • Develop detailed operational plans mapping out the best pathways for reaching this higher level of service to children and families (the “how”).
  • Lean in to learning how to get there.

Special Thanks to Strategic Direction Task Force Participants!

  1. Jim Rishwain, board chair
  2. Anneli Stone, former board secretary
  3. Ed Nahmias, board treasurer
  4. Jeremy Davies, board member
  5. Steve Carlston, board member
  6. Allyson Pfeifer, board member
  7. Frances Ridlehoover, board member
  8. Dilys Garcia, executive director
  9. Sylvia LaMalfa, deputy director
  10. Lynne Gabriel, volunteer services director
  11. Camrin Christensen, volunteer recruitment and outreach director
  12. Lesley Bois, regional director, Antelope Valley
  13. Louise Bieschke, senior program coordinator
  14. Rosa Arevalo, senior program coordinator
  15. Jan Miller, CASA, 21 years
  16. Harriet Zaretsky, CASA, 19 years
  17. Robert Smith, CASA, 17 years
  18. Bruce Herron, CASA 10 years, former board chair
  19. Nina McCullaugh, CASA, 6 years
  20. Rosemary Hutton, CASA, 4 years
  21. Elois McGehee, CASA, 3 years
  22. Vince Schodolski, CASA, 2 years
  23. Erika White, CASA, 1 year
  24. John Ott, Center for Collective Wisdom, facilitator

Strategic Plan Timeline

June 2015

Strategic Direction Task Force (SDTF) completes recommendations after 8 work sessions between Nov 2014 and June 2015.

July 20

Strategic Direction Task Force Presents Recommendations to Board Executive Committee.

September 8

Board Chair presents Strategic Directions Task Force Recommendations to full Board; Board formally accepts the recommended direction and appoints a Strategic Planning Team for the next phase of detailed growth planning.


Strategic Planning Team preparing draft growth plan for review of Advisory Circle and Board Executive Committee.

November 2

Preliminary draft Strategic Plan to be presented for Board review, input, and discussion.


Draft Strategic Plan to be presented at CASA stakeholder meetings for input and discussion.

January 2016

Strategic Planning Team to finalize Five Year Strategic Plan for Board consideration and adoption, taking into account stakeholder input gathered Nov-Jan.

February 2

Board to review and adopt final Plan for implementation to begin in FY2017.