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Who We Are

Meet Our Staff

  • Bryan Abejon

    Has been an Administrative Specialist since April 2022. A graduate of the University of Washington and Tacoma Community College, Bryan previously worked at the Washington State Attorney General’s Office in Social and Health Services and Environmental Protection divisions as a Legal Assistant. Through this he gained experience in Dependency, Adult Protective Services, Environmental Crimes and Environmental Justice. He also has been part of a private law firm working on Social Security and Veterans Affairs cases. When time allows, he volunteers when he can to various causes, one being two years at Pierce County Juvenile Court in a diversion program for youth which abruptly ended due to COVID. He believes public service is important. Though he has picked up a few hobbies, his favorite one is eating.

  • Rashida Ballard

    Has been a CASA Supervisor with the King County Dependency CASA Program since March 2016. Rashida received both her bachelor’s degree in Sociology, as well as her master’s degree in Social Work at the University of Washington; she is also a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. Rashida has worked with children and families in a variety of settings for over two decades and began her work in child welfare in 2010. She is dedicated to the safety and well-being of our most vulnerable population and committed to supporting CASAs in their advocacy for them. Rashida is a proud Certified Diversity Executive and co-leads ongoing ESJ/DEI trainings and is a member of several ESJ workgroups established in the CASA Program and Family Court Operations. Rashida takes honor in not only having the opportunity to educate CASAs on these issues, but also in collaborating with them on ways we all can navigate the Dependency system while serving families with dignity and respect. Rashida could live on the beaches of Southern California forever and enjoys spending time with her baby dog, Pablo Money, as well as her family and close-knit circle of chosen family.

  • Elizabeth Berris

    Beth joined the CASA Program in 2013 initially as a Staff-Guardian ad Litem/Attorney and then as a Program Attorney since 2016. Beth received her B.A. in Political Science in 1996 from Stanford University. Beth's interest in child welfare issues sparked during her senior year while in her Children, Civil Rights, and Public Policy class and decided to pursue her law degree to fight for children's rights. In 2002, she graduated with Honors from the University of Washington School of Law and then served as an Assistant Attorney General representing CPS/DSHS in child welfare cases for 10 ½ years prior to joining CASA. Beth stays busy with her family including her very naughty but playful Beagle Hank, is an avid Sounders fan, and is always up for a hike or trip to the woods.

  • Sarah Childs

    Originally from San Diego, California but has called Seattle home since 2003. Sarah has four children, two sons and two daughters. She holds an Associates of Applied Science degree in Human Services from Highline College and attended the University of Washington & Central Washington University where she studied Public Health and Sociology. Sarah loves to cook and travel and considers herself a life-long learner, always seeking opportunities to further her education. Through her lived experience, she became passionate about empowering people and launched an apparel line, Stand in Strength, that creates visual affirmations of strength, hope & love. Working in the community is a significant part of Sarah's life in connecting people to resources, curating community events, and working with small business owners to thrive.

  • Laura Chunyk

    Has been a paralegal in the Seattle division of King County Dependency CASA since April 2015. She has a bachelor’s degree from Seattle University and a paralegal certificate from Highline College. In her position as paralegal, she assists three CASA attorneys, prepares daily court calendars, and attends to CASA’s busy group email box. Prior to her work at CASA, she was a legal assistant for eight years in the King County Prosecutor’s office criminal division. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, photography, physical fitness and spending time with her cat, Coco.

  • Jennie Cowan

    Jennie joined us in September 2018 as the CASA Family Treatment Court Attorney. Currently, she is a CASA staff attorney assigned to cases from DCYF’s Kent office. Previously, Jennie worked for the Office of the Attorney General where she was a dependency and termination trial attorney for DCYF for five years. She lives in Issaquah with her husband and two children. In her spare time, she enjoys practicing yoga, camping with her family, and jumping on the trampoline with her daughter.

  • Pauline Duke

    Has been a Staff Guardian Ad Litem Specialist with the KC Dependency CASA Program since December 2013. Prior to joining the CASA Program, she was a Children and Family Welfare Services social worker with Children’s Administration. Pauline received her bachelor’s in social welfare and master’s in social work from the University of Washington and has worked in the area of child welfare for the past 13 years. Pauline feels most passionate about supporting children and families. The ultimate goal is to ensure children and families receive the supports they need to be healthy, thriving individuals. Outside of work she enjoys traveling to sunny locales, attending soul/R&B concerts, and spending time with family and friends.

  • Carolyn Frimpter

    Carolyn has been working as part of the CASA program since 1999. She attended the Boston University School of Social Work where she focused on Community Organizing. While working with the American Friends Service Committee in the Boston area, Carolyn developed a volunteer-based program to help homeless families find shelter and access other benefits through their local Community Service Offices. In 1994, she moved to Seattle where she ran a large emergency shelter for homeless women. Prior to joining the CASA program, Carolyn was a defense social worker with the Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons.

  • Michael Griesedieck

    Michael joined CASA as program manager in March 2018. Prior to joining the CASA program, he worked as parent’s representation attorney in Kitsap County, followed by nearly 10 years as an Assistant Attorney General representing the Department of Social and Health Services in child welfare cases in King, Lewis, and Thurston counties. While at the Washington State Attorney General's Office, Michael was a member of the SHS Headquarters Team advising Children's Administration on program and policy matters and later was a member of the management team in the Seattle Social and Health Services Division supervising a team of six attorneys. Michael is a graduate of Seattle University Law School and Cornish College of the Arts.

  • Janet Horton

    Has been a CASA Supervisor since 2000. Janet has a BA in Psychology from the University of Washington and a Juris Doctorate, (J.D.) from Seattle University School of Law. She came to CASA after working as a public defender at Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons and after leaving private practice where she represented clients seeking Social Security Disability benefits. Janet is still an active member of the Washington State Bar Association but is truly passionate about being a CASA supervisor and advocating for children and families through her amazing CASA volunteers.

  • Brianna Johnston Hanks

    Brianna Johnston Hanks joined CASA as a Staff Attorney in September 2023 after acting as a contract Guardian ad Litem for the program since 2017. Prior to joining CASA, Brianna's practice included various matters impacting children and vulnerable adults, with an emphasis on dependencies in King County and numerous tribal courts. Brianna is a graduate of the University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law. Besides her work, Brianna delights in her children, hot summer days, bad puns, and good books.

  • Wai-Ping Li-Landis

    Has been part of the Dependency CASA Program since 2007. She has previously worked at different positions with the Superior Court as a Family Law CASA supervisor, FCS social worker and UFC case manager before she became part of the CASA staff team. Wai-Ping has a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington. She really enjoys working with the volunteers and staff to advocate for best interests of children involved in the dependency court.

  • Kathleen Martin

    Is a King County Dependency CASA Program attorney who began her CASA career volunteering with the new King County Program from 1978 to 1983. In 1993, she was lucky enough to both return to the Northwest (Vashon Island) and continue pursuing her passion for child advocacy. Since then, she has been a King County CASA volunteer, contract attorney, and since 2007, a CASA Program Staff Attorney. Kathleen is a graduate of Indiana University Law School.

  • Kathy McCormack

    With the CASA Program since 1988, Kathy has held a variety of positions within the office. She is in awe of the work CASAs do for our dependent children. Born and raised in the great Pacific Northwest, she enjoys traveling to sunny places and doing anything outdoors - especially skiing, biking, camping and working on her golf game. When not outdoors or traveling, you can find her cheering for our Northwest sports teams with family, friends and her yellow Labrador Retriever, Cooper.

  • Fred Pfistner

    Fred joined the CASA team in February 2018. He is a CASA supervisor working out of our Seattle office. Before joining CASA, Fred worked for DCYF for 28 years, and before that as a supervisor in group homes. During his time at DCYF, Fred worked in all of the DCFS programs, spending much of the time supervising CPS and CFWS. For a short time, Fred was Acting Area Administrator at ICW and White Center offices. Fred earned his Master of Social Work degree from the University of Washington, specializing in family and child development. In his spare time, he travels, camps, river rafts-floats, and enjoys good movies. Fred was a King County Dependency CASA volunteer very early in his career.

  • Stephanie Richardson

    Came to the CASA department in 2015 by way of the Skagit County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office where she gained a decade of experience in both criminal and family law. She loves supporting our department’s many volunteers. She is constantly amazed at the caring and dedication they have for the children they serve.

  • Shellie Roush

    Shellie Roush has been with the CASA program since August 2022 and has been involved in child welfare for almost two decades. After graduating from California State University with a degree in Sociology, Shellie moved abroad where she supported various programs by raising awareness and advocating for the best interest of orphans, internally displaced persons, and street children. She has ten years’ experience working in a residential setting for children and youth involved in the Dependency Court system, and prior to CASA, she worked for five years as a child and family welfare social worker for the Department of Children, Youth and Families. Shellie enjoys spending time with friends, adventuring, and biking.

  • April Rivera

    A graduate of the UW School of Law and U.C. Berkeley, April began as a volunteer with the Dependency CASA Program in 2005. She was hired as the Staff Guardian ad Litem/Attorney in 2007 and transitioned into her current role as a CASA staff attorney in 2014. April believes passionately in advocating on behalf of children and enjoys working with volunteer CASAs and GALs in a team approach and presenting training on a wide variety of topics. April is a transplant to the Northwest and if it is a sunny weekend, she is likely hiking somewhere off of I-90 appreciating the view.

  • Rie Takeuchi

    A CASA Specialist/Supervisor for the King County Dependency CASA Program since 2016. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology degree from Sophia University and a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Michigan. Rie is a licensed clinical therapist who has worked with children, youth and their families involved in juvenile court, dependency court and family court since 1998. She has a wide breadth of experience working as an evidence-based therapist with children and families, a case manager working with foster/adopt children both in the private and public sector, a court evaluator in ITA (Involuntary Treatment Act) Court, and most recently a court evaluator/mediator with Family Court Services within King County Superior Court for over six years. Rie enjoys the collaborative approach to supporting CASAs in their work with her combination of both clinical and direct case management experience in serving children and their families.

  • Reyana Ugas

    Has been with the CASA program since April 2015. She has a Master of Social Work from the University of Washington and a bachelor’s degree from Saint Martin’s University. Reyana previously worked as a social worker with DCYF specializing in Indian Child Welfare cases and has extensive experience working with youth experiencing homelessness and youth in foster care. Reyana speaks Spanish fluently. She is passionate about supporting CASAs in examining how their own world views impact their advocacy so they can be best positioned to provide quality, culturally responsive advocacy. Reyana finds joy in being with loved ones, baking, gardening, and running.

  • Deanna Watson

    Joined the King County CASA Program in 1999 first as a supervisor at the MRJC, then in Family Treatment Court, and now in our Seattle office. She has a bachelor’s degree from Cornell University and a Master’s in Social Work from the University of Washington. Deanna has worked in child welfare since the early 1990’s as a Caseworker and school-based Social Worker in New York State and as a Family Preservation Therapist, Intake Coordinator and Area Case Manager in Washington.

  • Virginia Whalen

    Virginia is a licensed independent clinical social worker with more than a decade of experience working with youth and families in a variety of roles. She holds a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Gonzaga University and a master’s degree in social work from the University of Washington. Virginia is also a graduate of the Child Welfare Training and Advancement Program and a member of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

  • Vickey Wilson

    Has been with King County CASA program since 1997. She graduated from Highline Community College with an AA degree in Paralegal. She started with the CASA program as an Administrative Specialist and has been a paralegal with the program since 2002. She has volunteered as a CASA and is very passionate about the work the CASA program does for abused and neglected children. Vickey loves photography, traveling and gardening. She also loves the SEAHAWKS!

Our Impact This Year

  • Children Served


  • CASA Volunteers


  • Volunteer Hours Estimated


  • Additional Volunteers Needed


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