Tulsa CASA’s New Executive Director

Exciting news at CASA! We are welcoming our new Executive Director, Elizabeth Fisher!
Elizabeth was our Program Director the last 2 years and previously a CASA volunteer. She is a graduate of Oklahoma State University and TAUW’s NeXtulsa. Board President Debbie King says,” We can say without hesitation that we’ve found a tremendous person to lead CASA into the future.” Please join us in congratulating Liz!

New SmartBoard = Improved Trainings

Thank you to the Gelvin Foundation for providing a grant that allowed Tulsa CASA to purchase a SmartBoard! We are so excited to use it for improving our training sessions, lunch & learn’s and in-services.

Volunteer Spotlight – Doann Nguyen

Meet Doann!

Doann Nguyen has lived in Bartlesville, OK for the last 10 years, working at Phillips 66 in a
variety of roles upon her graduation from Oklahoma State University. In addition to a successful career in IT, Doann is no stranger to community service.

She was sworn-in as a CASA in June 2018 and served her community in various other capacities prior to joining our program. Doann has volunteered for Big Brothers and Big Sisters, was a former City Councilor for Bartlesville, and has served on boards at other nonprofits. Doann is also a volunteer baker for an organization that provides celebration cakes to families impacted by the critical illness of a child.

When Doann is not busy with work or community service, she enjoys baking and all things culinary. She also likes to play piano and the accordion in her spare time. She and her husband, Brandon, have been married for three years, and enjoy spending time together by creating new things in the kitchen and hanging out with their pets. The star of the family is their feisty two-year-old French Bulldog, Henri, and their two cats: a sweet, fluffy, white cat named Lily and a grumpy, diabetic cat named Tucker.

Doann describes her typical responsibilities as a CASA as regularly talking with foster and natural parents, and visiting her kiddos as often as she can. She says that she learns the most about the children on her case when they are sitting on the floor and playing together. Other, less visible responsibilities include staying objective, checking her biases, and putting empathy first. We are grateful to have had such a wonderful new advocate join our program. Thank you for serving CASA children, Doann!

“Use a volunteer opportunity to expose yourself to something outside of your everyday experience. CASA serves Tulsa social workers and judges by dedicating a fresh pair of eyes and serves Tulsa children by ensuring that they’re truly seen. CASA proves to Tulsa’s underrepresented children that they don’t have to stay that way.” – Doann Nguyen

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Doann is an incredibly ambitious and driven advocate. She dove head-first into her very first case by
serving five children in two different foster homes. She goes above and beyond, traveling hundreds of miles each month to visit them, ensure their needs are met, and their voices are heard.

She has been a tremendous resource to both natural and foster families she works with, and often bridges gaps in communication between parties when necessary. No matter the circumstance, I can always count on her to remain professional and level-headed.

I truly enjoy working with such a passionate, outgoing advocate, and look forward to watching her grow in this role. – Kylee Jenkins

 

New Advocate’s
January 2019

2019 is off to a great start at Tulsa CASA. Congratulations to our newest volunteers for completing training and swearing-in as Court Appointed Special Advocates!

Volunteer Spotlight – Bruce Fensler

Meet Bruce!

Bruce Fensler started his CASA training the day after he retired in 2016. He retired from a career in IT and also spent over 20 years in the Oklahoma Air National Guard. Bruce moved to Tulsa 38 years ago from Topeka, KS to attend Spartan School of Aeronautics, but says that he hasn’t even worked on an airplane since graduation!

As you can tell, Bruce is our resident funny guy. When asked to describe himself in three words, Bruce chose “funny, joyful, and getting old”. A little known fact about him is that he received hitting advice from long-time Boston Red Sox left-fielder Ted Williams when Bruce was 10 years old.

When speaking on this experience, Bruce said: “it did not help”. We are delighted every time Bruce brings his kind personality and funny quips around the CASA office.

Bruce stays in regular contact with the children and families he serves—both biological and
foster. One of his strengths is being able to assess the child’s needs and meet them with accuracy.

Aside from volunteering with CASA, Bruce also takes part in other community work. He volunteers at Mitchell Elementary School in North Tulsa and is a volunteer children’s pastor at his church. When he is not giving his time to work with children, Bruce enjoys traveling. He has been to Peru 5-6 times and will be traveling to Guatemala later this year on a mission trip.

Bruce and his wife, Shio, have been married for 35 years and they have 2 children and 5 grandchildren. Bruce also enjoys walking and spending time with his grandchildren whenever he is able. Bruce—we appreciate the levels of dedication and kindness that you show to each family you come into contact with. Thank you for being an exemplary CASA volunteer!

“There are so many needs in our world. Find a place to help and bring joy to someone else.” – Bruce Fensler

A Note from his Advocate Manager

Bruce is the consummate professional when it comes to his CASA volunteering. He brings his kind, compassionate demeanor with him wherever he goes.

He remained calm and understanding towards a parent in the difficult stages of a domestic violence case, even when the parent acted indifferent to others. As time went on he developed a very nice rapport with the parent and stayed the course until the family was reunited—an outcome that he had hoped for.

Bruce is starting a new case with the previous DHS worker who was so happy when she learned she would work with Bruce again. If you have ever had the pleasure of meeting Bruce Fensler, I’m sure you recall his beautiful, warm smile.  I count myself lucky for knowing Bruce and working with him. – Julie Blake

New Advocates
September 2018

Congratulations to our newest advocates on being sworn-in by Judge Sparkman! This group is so energetic and passionate, they are going to do amazing things on the cases that they are assigned to. Welcome to the CASA team!

Volunteer Spotlight – Jessica Campbell

Meet Jessica!

Jessica Campbell got involved with CASA because she had been wanting to get involved in community work on a more regular and permanent basis than she had before. As Jessica would say, “around that same time I saw a CASA commercial and thought it sounded like a good fit for me” … we couldn’t agree more!

Jessica always goes above and beyond for the children on her cases, making sure that her CASA kids are safe, fed, making it to school, keeping in contact with caregivers for updates, and so much more. Aside from volunteering with CASA, Jessica has participated in other community work with the Tulsa Food Bank and Habitat for Humanity.

When she is not advocating for her CASA kids or pursuing other community needs, Jessica enjoys reading, gardening and being a soccer mom. Jessica and her husband Evan have three children, Conner, Beckham, and Evelyn, and a 12 year old Collie named Denver.

Professionally, Jessica is a Landman for an oil and gas company and one little known fact about her is that she dreams of being a farmer—and will be someday!

Her advice for someone looking to volunteer in the community is to “find something that touches your heart and plays on your strengths”. We feel so lucky that Jessica chose CASA as the organization to utilize her own strengths and gain more community involvement. Thank you for being a such a wonderful advocate for your CASA kiddos, Jessica!

“CASA offers dependable activists for children in our community who have likely never had anyone dependable in their lives.” – Jessica Campbell

A Note from her Advocate Manager

Jessica is determined, objective, and has a huge heart for every kid she serves. She is able to support children and their families, and fights for the best possible outcome in any case.

Jessica has made an impact in the lives of many children through CASA and I believe she will continue to do so in the future! – Kaitlin Brasher

New Advocate’s
August 2018

This was an extra special swearing-in day. Not only did we swear-in 10 truly wonderful people as Court Appointed Special Advocates, but we also swore-in our new advocate manager, Kristen Dake! Help us welcome our newest CASA’s and Kristen to the Tulsa CASA family! #WeAreForTheChild

Board Member Spotlight – Evan Kelamis

Meet Evan!

Evan Kelamis is a long-time Tulsan who proudly owns and operates Savoy Restaurant. As the fourth-generation caretaker of a 100-year-old family establishment, Evan understands the importance of family values and dedication—and not to mention baking the best cinnamon rolls in Tulsa!

Evan has served on the CASA Board of Directors since 2014, and currently serves as our Board President. As CASA’s Board President, Evan works to preserve and promote best practices in our organization that will ensure CASA meets it’s long-term goals. Evan has ambitious goals to promote the growth of CASA and our resources to enable us to serve even more children than we currently do today.

When Evan is not busy fostering an environment of teamwork and strategic thinking amongst CASA’s leadership team, he continues to improve our community in many other faucets of philanthropic work. As the owner of Savoy Restaurant, he is proud that the landmark Tulsa establishment supports local community events and charities benefitting the St. John Health System, the Tulsa Zoo, the Holy Trinity Greek Orthodox Church, the Coffee Bunker, and Tulsa’s long-standing Oktoberfest tradition, to name a few.

Professionally, Evan also serves as the President Elect of Entrepreneurs’ Organization Tulsa and he is on the Food Advisory Council of the Tulsa Health Department.

Evan enjoys music and music history, as well as reading. Evan’s family, including his wife Elizabeth and their three young children, particularly enjoy spending time outdoors—often hiking, camping, and attending summer musical festivals and local events in Tulsa.

They are also preparing to grow their family by ten fingers and ten toes, welcoming another baby girl due to arrive in October! With all of his many personal, professional, and philanthropic endeavors, we are so lucky to have Evan as our 2018 Board President. Thank you for all that you do to ensure the stability and longevity of Tulsa CASA, Evan!

“Although it is cliché, children truly represent the future of our community. CASA offers an indispensable service to be the voice and the best advocate in the court system for children who are tragically neglected and abused. CASA volunteers change the lives and futures of the children who are most in need of our support.” – Evan Kelamis

A Note from our Executive Director

Evan’s tenure as board president has been an asset not only to the board, but to the CASA program as a whole.  He is committed to our mission and his devotion to board development and process improvement have strengthened the organization immeasurably.

I especially value Evan’s thoughtfulness and business acumen – the changes made under his leadership will positively impact CASA for years to come. – Maura Guten