The CASA Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to Harriet Zaretsky. Click here to view Congressperson Nancy Pelosi’s award presentation to Harriet Zaretsky.
Originally from New York, Harriet earned her B.S. in Speech and Language Therapy at Boston University, and her Masters at University of Massachusetts at Amherst.
Upon her arrival in Los Angeles in 1974, she worked as an Aphasia teacher for LAUSD. Her experiences teaching special needs students reinforced her conviction that all children deserve the best childhoods we can give them. She has been a dedicated activist in her community, consistently advocating for children. Never has she wavered in pursuit of that passion.
Harriet went back to school to study law and became a lawyer in 1988. When her son Dillon was born in 1989, Harriet began her devotion to numerous community programs, serving as President of his pre-school and elementary schools, leading fundraising efforts for the schools, her synagogue, Rustic Canyon Park, and organizing many local events. She chaired the renovation of Canyon School’s library and auditorium and always had the determination to try to break new ground no matter how difficult the task. Her daughter Taylor was born in 1992, and currently is finishing her senior year at University of Colorado in Boulder.
Harriet has been a Court Appointed Special Advocate since 1996, and besides giving her CASA children her expertise in court, is active in trying to provide leadership in changing a flawed system that services abused, abandoned or neglected children. Her son Dillon supported this work, having shown unusual compassion for a boy his age along with his own gift of working with young children.
Harriet is President of The Dillon Henry Foundation (DHF), which honors the memory and passions of her son who died tragically in 2007. The Foundation has partnered with other non-profits to work locally and around the world to improving the lives of others, as well as working on environmental issues affecting our planet.
The DHF has also provided 60 scholarships to deserving college-bound seniors. Harriet treasures the relationships she has formed with these young adults, following their journeys through and after college. She serves on the Board of Jewish World Watch, a non-profit organization, which is dedicated to stopping genocide, currently focused on Darfur and the Congo. Additionally, in furtherance of Dillon’s passion for surfing and the preservation of our oceans, DHF has formed a partnership with the Surfrider Foundation. As part of the Dillon Henry Endowment, each summer two talented graduate students receive valuable internships to work with the staff of Surfrider on tackling environmental issues. Additionally, the DHF underwrote Surfrider’s new QUAD website for high school and college students, which has engaged young environmentalists around the globe.
Throughout her life, Harriet’s passion has been to improve and enrich the quality of children’s lives. She has dedicated herself to healing the world, filling the many holes that exist. She is a devoted mother to her daughter Taylor, and continues to share that joy with her husband, Stephen Henry.