Tell us about yourself.
My name is Barbara Herzog, and I’m the Henrico CASA Executive Director. I became the Executive Director in 2008 after being promoted from Volunteer Coordinator to Program Director in 2004. Prior to joining the staff, I served as a volunteer Court-Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) for seven years. I have been active in responding to child-related issues for over thirty-five years. During this time, I worked with high-risk children as a daycare provider for low-income parents, peer counselor, parenting mentor, respite provider, and foster parent. I have also represented the interests of this vulnerable population by serving on multiple committees and task forces addressing their well-being, including serving on the Governor’s Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. A hundred years ago, I graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Parsons School of Design.
What is the focus of your work?
Each year, hundreds of children in Henrico County come to the attention of the court system because they have been abused or neglected. These children need someone to ensure they are not lost in the maze of social workers, attorneys, and judges charged with protecting their welfare. Henrico CASA provides trained volunteers to advocate for these at-risk children during their involvement in juvenile court. Our volunteer advocates are empowered to fully investigate each child’s situation and provide the judge a thorough report with recommendations for placement and services.
Our program is able to harvest the power of everyday citizens who use their knowledge, training and common sense to provide powerful advocacy while representing abused and neglected children who remain with their families or are placed in foster care. Frequently, the CASA is only constant in the child’s life during this tumultuous time.
What do you find most rewarding about your work?
Every nonprofit’s story contains the words we are making a difference. One of the things I love about working with our CASA volunteers is their amazing ability to make a discernible life-altering difference for every child they serve. All I have to do is go to court with one of them, and I instantly know it is all worth it – endless meetings, every late night, and another dollar raised to keep our program strong. While every child we serve does not end up in a fairy tale, the involvement of our volunteers always ensures that they are at the very least safe and in an improved situation.
Tell us about your biggest accomplishment in this position.
I am so proud of our program’s commitment to serving every referred child and ensuring that they are not reabused while assigned to a CASA volunteer. It has not been, nor will it ever be, easy. During periods of rapid growth – our staff numbers took time to catch up with the workload, our board had to learn to respond to our needs and truly become a governing board, and somehow we had to recruit enough volunteers, class-after-class. What I have learned from it all is that every nonprofit needs a hero and sometimes they need three or four. I am so thankful for those who step up each and every day to help us fulfill our mission.
What’s coming next for your organization that really excites you?
By combining a variety of part-time job responsibilities into one position, we have recently hired a full-time development manager. I am very excited about the possibilities this position opens for our agency, including growing our funding from individual donors!
How are you leveraging ConnectVA to achieve your mission?
Our program regularly uses the ConnectVA platform, including the Community Calendar to promote our events and training, the Job Posting list to recruit high-caliber staff, and we also make use of the Item/Needed-Available listing to give and receive.
Anything else you would like to share?
Have you always wanted to make a difference in the lives of our future – our children? Our program always needs dedicated volunteers to work as advocates for children, board members, advisors and to help with community events. Check us out at www.henricocasa.org!