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Celebrating Angels in Adoption

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November 22, 2019

Celebrating Angels in Adoption®

On November 14, hundreds of people gathered in Washington D.C. as part of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute’s Angels in Adoption® Program and Gala. The 21st annual event, Angels in Adoption honors and celebrates the extraordinary efforts of individuals, couples and organizations who work tirelessly to advocate for children in need of a family. We are thrilled to share that five members of the CASA/GAL network were honored this year: Carol Arnott, Dakota Roundtree-Swain, Gerry Rubey, Charell Star and Sandy Barber.

Carol Arnott has been a CASA volunteer, a Senior Case Supervisor and Educational Specialist for CASA for Children of Essex County, and is now the Assistant Director at CASA for Children of Morris & Sussex Counties in New Jersey. She is an exceptional advocate for children who have experienced abuse or neglect, and has developed expertise in the specialized and highly nuanced field of educational advocacy. In her day-to-day work, Carol is a recruiter and trainer for CASA volunteers. More than 5,600 foster children have benefitted from Carol’s educational advocacy and her training of advocates over the years. Carol was recommended for this honor by Representative Mikie Sherrill.

Dakota Roundtree-Swain is an inspirational young women who has spent years working to improve the lives of youth in foster care. Having aged out of the foster care system herself, Dakota is currently pursuing a Ph.D. at Brandeis University where she is focusing on how foster care policy affects children, youth and families. After graduating from Emmanuel College in Boston, she served as a CASA volunteer and created a program to help older youth in foster care. Her academic pursuits, volunteer time and professional career have all been for the betterment of vulnerable children and families. Dakota was recommended for this award by Senator Ed Markey.

Gerry Rubey recently celebrated her 20th anniversary with CASA of Ventura County in California, where she serves as a CASA volunteer and helps fellow volunteers as a Senior Peer Coordinator. This means that in addition to the 20 cases that Gerry has personally taken on over the years, she also provides essential support and supervision for other CASA volunteers with their cases. Over the past twenty years, Gerry has worked with 400 different volunteers. She’s also actively involved in presenting the pre-service curriculum to prospective new volunteers and was a foster parent for more than ten years. Gerry was recommended for this honor by Representative Julia Brownley.

Charell Star is the Director of Content and Innovation at Essence Global, a leading advertising agency, as well as a digital journalist and featured TV, lifestyle, tech and fashion contributor. She is also a former foster youth who spent much of her youth in the New York City child welfare system. As an adult, she uses her voice to advocate for the needs of youth in foster care and those aging out of the system. In 2015, she was the feature subject in “Feeling Wanted” an award-winning documentary that recounts Charell’s years in care. Charell serves on the boards of CASA NYC and City Living NY. She was recommended for this honor by Senator Cory Booker.

Sandy Barber has served as the Executive Director of the Fannin County Children’s Center in Texas for the past 18 years, where she manages the local CASA program and several other programs that help children who have experienced abuse or neglect. During her tenure, Sandy has led the organization through multiple major accomplishments, including dramatically increasing the agency’s budget and staffing, adding new counseling and child abuse prevention programs, launching the “No Excuse for Child Abuse” campaign, and much more. She has served on the boards of Texas CASA and the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Texas. Sandy was recommended for this award by Congressman John Ratcliffe.

Congratulations Carol, Dakota, Gerry, Charell and Sandy! You have our deepest thanks for your incredible contributions and commitment to helping children and youth who have experienced abuse or neglect.

(Photo: National CASA/GAL staff celebrating with Charell Star at the Angels in Adoption gala. From left to right: Elise Rowan, Tara Perry, Charell Star and Sally Erny.)