Nicole served as an educational leader for almost two decades in the Lincoln-Sudbury and Boston Public School systems, where she championed the opportunity of quality education for all children. Her commitment to addressing the root causes surrounding the low achievement rates of some of her most vulnerable students compelled her to focus on the education and empowerment of families, communities, and local officials to create positive changes to support children. She transitioned to work in the non-profit sector and served respectively in the roles of Executive Director of the Berkshire Partners Blue Hill Boys & Girls Club of Boston; Program Director for Bridge Home Starr Program, a short-term residential stabilization program for children in the care of the Department of Children and Family Services (DCF); and Turnaround CEO for Homes for Families, a statewide policy advocacy organization for Emergency Assistance Shelters committed to ending family homelessness. She is also the principal and founder of Possibilities Here, Inc., a non-profit founded in 2014 out of a labor of love and a mission to break the cycles of poverty and abuse experienced by young women in and from the foster care system. In 2021, she created the Young Women’s Leadership Development program and partnered with Community Work Services to broaden its reach and expand young women’s opportunities to become self-sufficient.
Janon Rollins. Janon spent more than twenty years at DCF and held many positions within the department, including Network Specialist Contract Manager for the past six years in Central Office. Janon’s extensive skills and experience in senior leadership and her clinical and system knowledge are significant in strengthening and supporting the mission and growth of Boston CASA.
Director of Development and Communications
Karen has more than 25 years of experience in the development field; heading up fundraising shops, conducting capital campaigns, starting and growing philanthropy efforts, engaging in major gift work and consulting. Spending most of her development career in Rhode Island, she moved to Boston ten years ago and led very successful capital campaigns at both The Boston Conservatory and North Bennet Street School. Her most recent position was as a Senior Major Gift Officer at The Home for Little Wanderers. Karen graduated from Hobart and William Smith Colleges with a BA in Psychology and then immediately attended Cornell University where she earned her MBA with a concentration in Marketing. Before arriving at her chosen career, Karen worked in the banking and retail industries as well as attending RI School of Design and then working as an interior designer. For Karen, working in the field of philanthropy is a joyous and highly fulfilling venture, and she has a passion for causes that endeavor to provide resources and even the playing field for underserved and marginalized children and young adults. She is thrilled to be joining Boston CASA at this critical juncture and hopes to leverage her skills and experience to help maximize the organization’s impact and fundraising efforts. Karen can be reached by email here or by phone at 617-780-4055, ex. 103
Boston CASA is thrilled to welcome our newest Advocate Supervisor, Fernanda Suggs. Fernanda joined us in October and brings a wealth of experience to our team. Fernanda’s story begins in Guatemala City where she was born and raised. Fernanda emigrated to the United States when she was 18 years old. Fernanda began her educational journey in CCRI and finished by graduating with honors and a double bachelor (Spanish for the professions and Sociology) from Worcester State University in 2017. While still pursuing her education, Fernanda was able to obtain U.S citizenship to cast a vote in the 2016 presidential election. She also began her volunteer work during this time which included volunteer work in her community with “Meals on Wheels,” Catholic Charities, and the Community Youth Center. Fernanda joined the CASA Worcester team during her last semester in college as an intern/ volunteer in January of 2017. During that time, she continued to learn the importance of volunteer work and giving back to the community. Her passion is to serve others and bring hope to the hopeless. Her dedication stems from the example set for her by both her maternal grandparents at a very young age.
Susan Botzko joined Boston CASA as a new Advocate Supervisor in January 2021. Susan began her career in child welfare and juvenile justice working in Hartford, CT in the early 2000’s, after obtaining her degree in Sociology from Trinity College. Susan’s work in Hartford involved conducting research on female status offenders in the Juvenile Justice system as well as partnering with other agencies and community partners, including the Department of Children and Families and the Hartford Public School system. While working in Hartford, Susan also created and implemented a free grant funded afterschool art program, “Artistic Expressions”, at the Hartford Cultural Center. This art program provided art classes and community service projects for elementary, middle school and high school students, in addition to allowing college students to receive internship credit towards their degree. Susan was awarded the Samuel S. Fishzohn Award for Civil Rights and Civil Liberties for her community engagement work, as well as the state’s Higher Education Community Service award from the Office of Higher Education and Deputy Commissioner of Education for the development of “Artistic Expressions”.
Most recently, Susan worked as the Regional Manager for the DCF funded post adoption program “Adoption Journeys” through Child and Family Services in Massachusetts. Adoption Journeys is a statewide program providing in home clinical support, family advocacy, and social events to the post adoption community. During her years at Adoption Journeys, Susan provided trainings to professionals in the field on trauma informed practices and facilitated support groups for adoptive parents of color and teen adoptees. Susan is also a MAPP Trainer for pre-adoptive parents and has knowledge and experience in adoption and the foster care system.
Susan is a Korean American immigrant who lives in Boston and continues to be involved in social justice and advocacy work for local communities of color. Susan is passionate about serving underrepresented communities in her new role at CASA and is excited to work with the newly trained CASA class of volunteers!
Advocate Supervisor, Transition Age Youth Specialist
Mukesh Baral has a Master’s degree in Conflict Resolution from the University of Massachusetts, Boston. He has a Master’s degree in English Literature from Tribhuvan University, Nepal. He is a trained Mediator with an expertise in interpersonal conflict management. The desire to make a difference in children’s lives has always appealed Mukesh, one of the reasons he joined CASA. Mukesh worked with unaccompanied refugee minors for five years, through Ascentria Care Alliance and experienced first-hand the impact child advocates and social workers have in enriching the lives of minors in the foster care system. He is a passionate advocate of children rights and believes in providing individualized services, not only the basic services, to help children reach their full potential. Fighting for social justice and being the voice of voiceless has profoundly shaped his career. He is a cofounder of Advocacy for Refugee and Immigrant Services for Empowerment (ARISE) and has advocated for culturally competent mental health services, and equal educational services, for refugees resettled in Worcester. He is a board member at Center for Nonviolent Solutions, a Worcester based nonprofit, working to build a culture of peace. He started his career as an anchor and a television journalist and can be reached by email here or by phone at 617-780-4055, ex. 108.
From an early age, I felt drawn to be in the helping profession. I studied Health Sciences with a concentration in Human Services during my undergraduate years. As a full time, student, I also balanced 40 hours a week local YMCA position that served low-income families. There I cultivated an awareness of the inequalities seen across zip codes and how communities of color are disproportionately affected by the social determinants of health. While continuing my bachelor’s course work, and working at the YMCA, additionally I picked up a part time job as a childcare worker at Dayspring Christian Academy, a private school in a more affluent community. The comparison between working with a disadvantaged community and an affluent community further heightened my awareness of multiple inequalities that exist within our various systems. My specific work with different communities along with my educational background has helped shape an intentional career path in promoting equity regardless of race and socioeconomic status. After these two work experiences, I then pursued my master’s in Public Health at Hofstra University in NY and later transferred to Northeastern University where I pursued my master’s with an added concentration of Urban Health. My most recent position was as a post adoption worker for Adoption Journeys, my role included providing families with home-based counseling services, facilitating parent and teen support groups, as well as conducting trainings for other professionals on matters regarding adoption and trauma. The program required great flexibility and a broad skill set. We serviced many families from diverse backgrounds with various needs. Adoption Journeys provided me with a unique opportunity to hone my clinical and trauma informed practices both with direct therapeutic interventions with clients as well as providing the trauma and attachment lens to case consultation with multiple providers. As a woman of color and a Haitian immigrant, my passion remains in serving disadvantaged communities as well as other marginalized communities. I am excited to now be a part of the Boston CASA family!
Cora Wright is a graduate of Niagara University in Niagara Falls, NY. She graduated in 2017 with her Bachelor of Science in Social Work
with a Law and Legal Jurisprudence minor. Cora is a recent graduate of Boston
University, where she earned her Master of Social Work in 2022. Before joining Boston
CASA, Cora interned with the Rose Bente Lee Ostapenko Center for Race, Equity, and
Mission, where she mentored youth scholars through the Race, Education, Advocacy, College Credit Courses in High School (REAC3H) program. During this time, she was also responsible for organizing a series of student forums at Niagara University that brought students together to discuss and plan action towards racial justice. During her Master program, Cora interned for Possibilities Here, Inc., a nonprofit local to Boston, MA that reaches out to young women and female identifying persons in and from the foster care system to provide programming around aging-out and leadership development. Cora was also a volunteer for the Niagara Falls (NY) Health Equity Task Force in 2021. This task force was created to address concerns that Black and Latinx community members in the Falls were not receiving equitable resources to survive the pandemic. Cora has also worked for Buffalo Homeless Outreach through the Matt Urban HOPE Center and has volunteered for the St. Francis of Assisi food pantry in North Tonawanda, NY. She is passionate about working with young people and believes that they can do anything they set their minds to.
Sam Bello is passionate and committed to community-driven social change, youth-driven advocacy, and empowerment-based systems change. They graduated from Boston College with a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology, earning the “McGuinness Award” for outstanding achievement in and a commitment to excellence in the field of psychology or the social sciences at the B.A. level. Sam brings to Boston CASA their experiences and knowledge furthered through their work in two Boston Public Schools; as a Resource Advocate at a local emergency shelter; Program Coordinator for a community- and school-based youth arts, poetry, and education nonprofit; and, most recently, working on a clinical research trial at Boston University’s School or Social Work. In addition to Boston CASA, Sam is a local community organizer and activists with and for Latinx/e initiatives and movements as well as part of the core team of QueerCare NYC, a nonprofit providing free, post-operative supportive care to trans and gender non-conforming folks across the US. At the heart of it all, Sam is driven by a deep commitment to advancing and decolonizing the field of Complex and Intergenerational Trauma and empowering young people from mixed-status families, immigrant households, LGBTQ+ youth, and youth who have been trafficked, and believes in the power of narrative, spoken word, oral history, and testimonio. Sam is grateful and excited to be part of the CASA team!
Professional headshots by Nikki Cole:
Partner, Laredo & Smith, LLP
Payal is a practicing lawyer in the Greater Boston area and applies her legal and courtroom knowledge and her skills advocating for clients to advocate for Boston CASA. She is an avid volunteer in the Boston community, and is particularly committed to causes that concern kids and court-involvement, kids and homelessness, kids and food insecurity, etc. Payal grew up in India and moved to the US at the age of 17 for college. She has gone through the immigrant experience both by herself and later with her parents who have retired here. Her goals are to meaningfully contribute to the mission of Boston CASA, to help raise the organization’s visibility in the community and to help build new partnerships.
Board Vice Chair
Principal, New Leadership Group
Gale Batchelder is founder and principal of New Leadership Group Executive Search. Gale has extensive experience working with nonprofit boards and with academic search committees, helping clients assess the emotional intelligence, leadership competence, and strategic fit of candidates with their institution’s challenges and aspirations. She is an experienced executive coach, working with new and established leaders on professional development and job transitions. Early in her career, Gale was a psychotherapist and clinical supervisor in social services agencies in the Boston area and at McLean Hospital, a Harvard teaching hospital. Her interest in the application of psychology to organizational development and leadership coupled with a continuing commitment to mission-driven organizations led to a year at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where she earned a Master of Public Administration degree. Gale is a published poet and is a co-founder of Off The Park Press, a poetry collaborative.
Vice President at Crescent Capital Group LP
Mr. Hixon is a Vice President of Crescent Capital Group LP focusing on direct lending. Prior to joining the team in 2014, Mr. Hixon was an Analyst in the Leveraged Finance group of NewStar Financial where he focused on executing debt investments in support of middle market private equity buyouts across a variety of industries. Mr. Hixon holds a BS in Economics and Finance from Bentley University.
Liberty Mutual, Investments’ Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Officer
Michael Willock has been a long-time supporter of National CASA and joined Boston CASA’s board in February 2021. Michael’s step grandmother-in-law, Sue Baker, was the former Director of Chelan Douglas CASA in Wenatchee, WA. Michael brings more than 20 years of software engineering and technology leadership experience in buy-side investment management to Liberty Mutual. He joined in 2018 as LMI’s Chief Technology Officer from Fidelity Investments, where he held multiple SVP roles in support of various investment advisors and asset classes. Michael now serves as Liberty Mutual Investments’ Chief Technology Officer and Chief Data Officer. His role was expanded to lead the mobilization of data initiatives across investments, operations, and technology with the formation of the LMI Data Office.
President, Life Sciences, Oncology Analytics, Optum
As a proud father of 2 beautiful children whom Steve and his husband adopted through the Massachusetts foster system, Steve supports Boston CASA for the unique love and attachment that Boston CASA volunteers’ care offers foster children as they advocate for resources and services on their behalf. As a leader in population health analytics, Steve supports Boston CASA for the health and wellness the program delivers to its underserved population that is only supported through Boston CASA’s volunteer efforts. To Steve, this is a civil rights issue.
In his professional life, Steve has been a leader in healthcare data and analytics for 25 years. He currently serves as Senior Vice President, Data Strategy and Cross-Market Offerings at Optum (a United Health Group company) and leads the aggregation of data and it’s delivery to support population health in the Payer, Healthcare Provider and Life Sciences markets. Prior to Optum, Steve was on the founding team of Humedica, a Boston-based venture backed company that was acquired by Optum. Earlier in his career, Steve has been in leadership positions at Verispan (now IQvia), Prognosis (a CVS / Pfizer joint venture) and Mathew Thornton Health Plan (a Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center company).
Vice President at Crescent Capital Group LP
Mr. Ferguson is a Vice President of Crescent Capital Group LP focusing on direct lending. Prior to joining the team in 2015, Mr. Ferguson was an Associate in the Leveraged Finance group of NewStar Financial where he focused on executing debt investments in support of middle market private equity buyouts across a variety of industries. Mr. Ferguson holds a BS in Finance and Economics from Boston College.
Retired, former Director of Managed Care and Business Development at McLean Hospital
Sally became a CASA volunteer in 2014 and has had continuous case involvement ever since. She’s passionate about the mission and effectiveness of CASA and is a committed donor and member of the CASA volunteer community in addition to her case and board involvement. Sally served 6 years on the Board of Whittier Street Health Center and was a major donor during their capital campaign to build a new building. She is currently a Board member and newly elected President at Stone Rehabilitation and Senior Living Center in Newton, a 5 Star CMS rated facility. Sally is a graduate of U Mass/Boston and BU School of Public Health and retired from her role at McLean Hospital in 2014 as the Director of Managed Care and Business Development. She has extensive administrative, negotiation, and management experience.
CECILE Le CAMUS
Head of Global Medical Affairs Hemophilia chez Sanofi Genzyme
With 22 years of pharma and biotech experience, Cecile brings solid knowledge and expertise in strategy, Medical Affairs and the overall process of bringing innovative drugs to market. Key strengths are a strategic mindset coupled with strong scientific acumen, building teams, and leadership skills. After practicing as an ER clinician, her Medical Affairs experience has spanned through diverse therapeutic areas, from thought leader engagement to launch planning and execution, Medical Communications and publications, Medical Operations, Life Cycle Management, Early Access Programs and Patient Access support. She is passionate about patient outcomes and including the patient voice, with a long track record of building teams, developing effective working relationships with internal and external partners, and a true commitment to corporate goals and patient access to the therapies they need.
Director, Global Medical Affairs at Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Deirdre Karle is the Director of Global Medical Affairs and Grants at Vertex Pharmaceuticals. She’s an experienced professional in managed care account management, medical affairs and direct account sales. Deirdre has partnered with thought leaders in the area of Women’s health, Men’s health, Cystic Fibrosis and Gastroenterology.
Senior Director, NFT Marketplace- Revenue Operations, DraftKings Inc.
Meghan only works for companies and in roles that are challenging. She loves life, love her work, and feels blessed to have a great family in a city she loves. Meghan has advanced experience in, and passion for team building, brand strategy, consumer insights, new product positioning/launches, content/storytelling and distribution, integrated communication planning and creative development, cross-channel production, global GTM/integration with regions around the world, and agency management (creative agencies & media agencies). Meghan believes that genuine partnership, appreciation and respect make a huge difference in the output and effectiveness of the work. That there’s always more you can learn. And last but not least: the harder you work, the luckier you get.
JOHN J. MORIARTY III
Vice President of Acquisitions & Development, JW Capital Partners, LLC
John J. Moriarty III is a Vice President at JW Capital Partners, a real estate development and investment firm founded in 2010 that focuses on the acquisition, development and repositioning of urban multi-family and hospitality assets on the East Coast. John has been intimately involved in the investments in approximately $100 million of assets and is in the planning and permitting stages of a further $500 million. In addition to his fundraising involvement with his alma maters, he has served as a mentor to an underprivileged youth through the Big Brother Big Sister Program. John graduated from Colby College with a B.A. in Sociology. He has been a supporter of Boston CASA since 2012 and relishes in his role as a CASA ambassador.
Access to Justice Fellow and retired SVP and Assistant General Counsel at Bank of America
Evelynne is a recent retiree from Bank of America. At Bank of America, Evelynne served as an Assistant General Counsel and Senior Vice President in the Bank’s Litigation Practice Group, with responsibility for the management of the Bank’s post-foreclosure litigation defense throughout the United States. Prior to her position with Bank of America, Evelynne served as Senior Counsel with the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) and then as a litigator and senior counsel with BankBoston Financial and FleetBoston Financial. Evelynne began her legal career as an Assistant Attorney General for the Commonwealth in the office of then Attorney General Shannon. In addition to her law degree, Evelynne also has a Masters of Social Work (MSW) from Smith College School for Social Work in Northampton, Massachusetts. Prior to practicing law, Evelynne worked for ten years as a psychiatric social worker (LICSW) at Massachusetts General Hospital where she provided direct psychiatric clinical services to individuals, couples and families at MGH through several of its inpatient and outpatient departments.
VP Engineering at Optum Analytics
Jim has been a foster parent and knows firsthand how difficult the process is, even in a best-case scenario. He greatly values the work of CASA volunteers in taking on some of the most difficult cases in the court system. He hopes to help bring Boston CASA to the next level so that all of the kids in need can have this service. Most of Jim’s career has been working with technology, and he has extensive experience with startups. Jim also has fundraising experience from his recent role as the leader of the Corporate Social Responsibility program at Optum Analytics. He is presently enrolled in a Technological Entrepreneurship program at Northeastern University.
IN MEMORY OF
Lauren served on the Board of Boston CASA for almost three years. She was committed to social justice and equity. She was committed to the youth, families, staff, and volunteers of Boston CASA. Lauren contributed beautifully and created significant positive change here at Boston CASA. She is our dear friend and will be deeply missed.