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Montana CASA/GAL Association

The Difference We Make February 2024

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

The 15 Local Programs in the State of Montana have helped:

Approximately 1,250 Children with

577 Advocates this past year


Letter from the


Karen Townsend, Board Secretary

I am a relatively new Board Member of MTCASA and currently serve as Board secretary and as Chair of the Governance Committee and member of the Legislative Task Force. I was drawn to MTCASA because of my experience with CASA volunteers during my tenure as a District Court Judge in Missoula and Mineral Counties. I was honored in 2019 to be named as CASA Judge of the Year by the Missoula program. I know that the CASA volunteers helped me make reasoned decisions in the cases I had.

These past few months, MTCASA has been focused on beginning to implement our new Branding plan and awarding and monitoring the TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families) grants that we received from the 2023 Legislative Session. These grants are designed to help our local programs expand their work with kids and find ways to attract and train new volunteers for waiting children. The Board is also beginning the planning process for our Board Retreat which will take place in September.

The Board bids farewell to Elaine Meeks, Glenda Noyes, Jennifer Boyer, Allison Dunne, and Shyanne Wallace who have served MTCASA so faithfully. We are so sorry to see them go, but know they will continue to support CASA. We are happy to have two new board members, Bob Brown and Stacy Leighton, enter 2024 with us. We continually recruit and onboard new board members. If you are interested in participating as a MTCASA board member, please email Executive Director, April Barnings at aprils@montanacasagal.org 


The Passing of Judge David W. Soukup

We are deeply saddened to share the passing of Judge David W. Soukup, the founder of the court-appointed special advocate/volunteer guardian ad litem (CASA/GAL) movement.

Judge Soukup was a giant of a man in the CASA/GAL network and around court and child welfare innovation. When he started the first CASA program in King County (Seattle), Washington in 1977, the number of children in foster care topped half a million nationally and a new phrase, foster care drift, became a way to describe the increasingly long time many children spent in foster care.

For this incredible movement, and the work done day-in and day-out through state organizations and local programs, we owe a debt of great gratitude to Judge Soukup. His legacy is alive and well through the work of our network of over 900 CASA/GAL state organizations and local programs in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Our collective commitment to children and youth is stronger than ever. The world is immeasurably better because of Judge Soukup. 

We celebrate the life of Judge Soukup and are extraordinarily grateful for his vision, leadership, and remarkable support of the CASA/GAL mission at the local, state and national levels for over 40 years. We look forward to honoring Judge Soukup’s incredible work and legacy.

Thank You Outgoing Board Members

We are so thankful for the years of service that our outgoing board members have dedicated to MTCASA. We have been so fortunate to have their expertise, experience, and commitment brought to the CASA mission. We wish them luck as they continue to do great things in their communities! MTCASA is also happy to keep a few of these board members on as public task force members.

Jennifer Boyer

Bozeman, MT

Shyanne Wallace

Glasgow, MT

Allison Dunne

Florence, MT

Glenda Noyes

Bozeman, MT

Elaine Meeks

Polson, MT

Congrats to Lincoln County!

CASA of Lincoln County (CASA) is excited to announce they will be launching into 2024 as an independent program, making them the 15th Montana CASA/GAL program. The stand-alone program has been in the works since July 2023 after submitting their application to National CASA and the completion of an extensive vetting process to receive recognition along with the IRS tax-exempt status.

Establishing a local CASA Program in Lincoln County will provide the local communities an agency to recruit, train, and supervise community volunteers for the best interest of children and to support and strengthen families who are before the Court as a result of abuse or neglect.

The new CASA Program will allow Lincoln County to address issues related to the unique needs of their county, which expands a large distance of 60 to 80 miles between communities.

The CASA Program is located in the FVCC/Lincoln County Campus, Suite 211 and includes two part-time employees, Keeli Anderson, Executive Director and Kerri Fahland, Program Director (standing), along with the support of the 19th Judicial District Court Judge, Matthew Cuffe. They anticipate to create a sustainable support system in Lincoln County which assists the Court in identifying a safe, permanent home for the child(ren) they serve.

CASA of Southwest MT Welcomes New Director, Shannon Parker

Shannon comes to CASA of Southwest Montana with extensive experience serving vulnerable populations. Originally from Butte, Shannon began her career in Missoula, working for Youth Homes and Women’s Opportunity and Resource Development. These organizations allowed her to serve children in foster care, teen parents, TANF families (Temporary Assistant for Needy Families), and people experiencing homelessness. She later moved to Los Angeles, where she directed the Residential Services Program at Skid Row Housing Trust in Skid Row and was the Homeless Services Officer for the City of Long Beach. She is most recently from the Butte Native Wellness Center in Butte, MT. 

2023 MTCASA Impact Report

2023 was an exciting year for the Montana CASA Network. We're proud of the accomplishments and progress that have been made to continue to support children and families in Montana.

Download MTCASA's 2023 Impact Report


Jennifer & Christopher Boyer

Laura & Larry Brehm

Gerry Browning

Laura Dever

Allison Dunne

Jim Fitzgerald

Brandon Green

Jeff & Kelli Hoffman

Jeff Hoffman

Mr. & Mrs. John Lake 

Tom & Christine McCall

Randi Levin

Tom & Carol McElwain-In Honor of Jamie Campbell 

Elaine & John Meeks 

John & Jody Menyhart

Jeff Montag

Jan & Pat Munday

Glenda Noyes 

In Memory of Linda Shrock

Karen & Burke Townsend

Joe Walsh

Jeffrey Werstak 

Local Montana CASA Programs


Without support, MTCASA/GAL wouldn't be able to fulfill their mission. Thank you for your generosity in supporting our vision.
Montana CASA/GAL Board of Directors

Board Chair: Jim Fitzgerald, Helena

Vice Chair: Laura Dever, Polson

Treasurer: John Menyhart, Miles City

Secretary: Karen Townsend, Missoula

Joe Walsh, Billings

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

Ryan Phelan, Missoula

Stacy Leighton, Opportunity

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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