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Montana CASA/GAL Association

The Difference We Make October 2023

Montana CASA/GAL Association empowers advocacy for abused and neglected children.

The 16 Local Programs in the State of Montana have helped:

1,791 Children with

604 Advocates this past year


Letter from the


Jim Fitzgerald, Board Chair

MTCASA recently held our annual board planning retreat, September 7th & 8th in Fairmont. Our retreat agenda was forward-looking with an emphasis upon organizational focus and capacity building to achieve MTCASA’s desired missional impact. As a baseline, we reviewed the purpose of MTCASA and our recent work on vision and mission. Staff reviewed the many achievements, opportunities, and challenges of the past year followed by a presentation of their working priorities for 2023. Looking to balance staff workload and enhance focus and capacity building in 2024, we had a robust discussion about greater alignment of our MTCASA 2024 Strategic Plan with both staff work plans and board responsibilities.

As always, goal-driven focus demands prioritization of tasks, time, and resources, including what tasks or concerns will need to be dropped or addressed in a manner that does not impede our highest goals. This is the challenging work of being mission focused with an eye on optimizing our collective for children and local programs. In November, we will be finalizing this effort and look forward to sharing our MTCASA 2024 priorities and plans!

From the

Director's Desk

April Barnings, Executive Director

The past month was busy. We started September with a MTCASA board of director's retreat at Fairmont. Our board is made up of members who live all across the state, so we only meet in-person twice a year. It was great to see everyone and work on future plans for our organization. Maggie and I both attended the Montana Nonprofit Association Conference here in Missoula where we heard from great leaders, not only from Montana, but also from across the country. We ended the month in Great Falls, hosting our state conference for the CASA network. In partnership with local program leadership, we are excited about growing the annual conference to provide more opportunities to learn and network. A special thank you to our Premier Sponsor, The Montana Supreme Court Improvement Program. The conference would have not been possible without their support.

MTCASA Annual Conference

MTCASA hosted their first annual conference in Great Falls, MT at the Heritage Inn on September 28 & 29. Local program staff, volunteers, and board members attended the 2-day conference, where they heard from local judges, Office of Public Defenders, and more! This was a great opportunity to meet with other programs and share experiences and knowledge. Session topics ranged from volunteer recruitment and retention, liability and risk management, and the importance of the Indian Child Welfare Act (ICWA). 

MTCASA is honored to support our hard working local programs and plan to continue to provide this annual conference to provide valuable training and knowledge to CASAs.

MTCASA’s Conference was sponsored by the Montana Supreme Court Improvement Program (CIP) which strives to improve Montana’s court process for children in foster care.

Thanks to you, MTCASA and our local programs have been able to accomplish great things this year! Your continued support gives the children and families of Montana hope. As we near the end of 2023, please consider donating to MTCASA so we can provide a voice for every child in need.

Donate Now 

Thank You John Morrison and Morrison Sherwood Wilson & Deola

Three Montana law firms—Heenan & Cook, PLLC (Billings), Paoli Law Firm (Missoula), and Morrison Sherwood Wilson & Deola (Helena)—recently allocated over $1.8 million to the Montana Justice Foundation (MJF), the Montana Legal Services Association (MLSA), and Montana CASA/GAL Association (MTCASA). Cy pres contributions stem from recent class action lawsuits and are earmarked to enhance access to justice, ensuring that all Montanans receive equal justice, regardless of their income. Under the cy pres doctrine and Montana law, courts must allocate at least 50 percent of these residual funds to an access to justice organization.

John Morrison, a former Montana State Auditor/Commissioner of Securities and Insurance and now a senior partner at Morrison Sherwood Wilson & Deola (MSWD), recently distributed $232,000 to all three organizations. These funds stem partly from a legal case John Morrison filed and won on behalf of more than 2,600 Montana businesses. “These organizations’ steadfast dedication to ensuring that all Montanans receive the liberty and justice guaranteed to them by their constitution resonates with the core of this case,” said Morrison. “We are incredibly grateful to Morrison, Sherwood Wilson & Deola for this generous cy pres donation. These funds ($50,000) will support our work to ensure that every child has a voice in our courts, helping to navigate the most challenging time in their life,” said April Barnings-Executive Director of MTCASA.

Welcome to the MTCASA Board

MTCASA has the pleasure of welcoming two new board members to our team! Bob Brown and Stacy Leighton have great experience with CASA and we're excited to have them join us.

Bob Brown is a CASA in Yellowstone County

Read More about Bob! 

Stacy Leighton is the Executive Director of CASA of Southwest Montana

Read More about Stacy! 

Congrats to Kate Anderson

New Executive Director of 5th Judicial Voice for Children

My name is Kate Anderson. I am from Minnesota, and have a Bachelors of Social Work Degree obtained from Minnesota State University Moorhead. I moved to Montana in 2008 and absolutely love it here! My husband, our son and I recently moved to Dillon from Kalispell and we are very happy to call this small town home. 

Most of my experience working in the human services field is as a Social Work case manager with Home and Community Based Services/Medicaid Waiver program. I am new to working with CASA but am absorbing quite a bit as I am surrounded by a wealth of knowledge. Here at the Fifth Judicial District Voice for Children all of the volunteers have been long time volunteers and are an absolutely amazing group of people with an incredible amount of wisdom and experience. I am looking forward to continuing to work and make a difference in the counties we serve. -Kate


Without support, MTCASA/GAL wouldn't be able to fulfill their mission. Thank you for your generosity in supporting our vision.
Betsy & Bill Bayne
Brandon Green
Brugh Foundation
Elaine and John Meeks
Elisabeth Smith 
Glenda Noyes 
In Honor of Lisa Kuntz
Jan and Pat Munday
Jeff Montag
Jennifer and Christopher Burke 
Jim Fitzgerald
John and Jody Menyhart 
Karen and Burke Townsend 
Kelly Anne Dalton
Lael Gray
Laura Dever 
Laura & Larry Brehm
Local Montana CASA Programs 
Mr. and Mrs. John W. Lake
Ondrak Family Holdings LLC  
Sandy Black 
Tom and Carol McElwain 
Tom and Christine McCall 
Waverly Huston 

Montana CASA/GAL Board of Directors

Board Chair: Jim Fitzgerald, Helena

Secretary: Laura Dever, Polson

Treasurer: John Menyhart, Miles City

Elaine Meeks, Polson

Jennifer Boyer, Bozeman

Glenda Noyes, Bozeman (Program Director CASA/GAL Gallatin County)

Joe Walsh, Billings

Karen Townsend, Missoula

Allison Dunne, Florence (Program Director Bitterroot CASA)

Kim Casey, Great Falls (Program Director CASA-CAN)

Ryan Phelan, Missoula

Stacy Leighton, Opportunity (Program Director CASA Southwest Montana)

Bob Brown, Billings


April Barnings, Executive Director

Maggie Jensen, Executive Assistant

Visit montanacasagal.org for more information about our board, staff and mission.

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