The 10th Judicial District Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Board of Directors recently hired Jerri Willis as its new executive director and Constance Williams as its new volunteer supervisor.
The 10th Judicial District includes Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha and Drew counties in Southeast Arkansas.
Willis, pictured above on the right, will oversee the non-profit organization and help protect the best interests of Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha and Drew counties’ abused and neglected children.
Willis is a 2012 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello where she received a bachelor’s degree in general studies. She comes to to CASA of the 10th Judicial District from CASA of the 2nd Judicial District where she spent three and a half years. She will manage the day-to-day operations of CASA, recruit and train CASA advocates, improve awareness of the organization and the plight of the children it serves, increase court advocacy on behalf of abused and neglected children and to raise funds to sustain the organization.
“It is rewarding, both professionally and personally, to apply my passion, skills and work experience to work to advocate for abused and neglected children,” Willis said. “It’s a blessing to have the opportunity to continue with CASA. CASA of the 10th continues to broaden its outreach within the communities in the five counties we serve, and I feel privileged to be a part of it.”
Williams, pictured above on the left, will recruit, train, support, and supervise volunteers.
Williams is a 2016 graduate of the University of Arkansas at Monticello where she received a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. A native of Desha County, Williams is a former family service worker for the Division of Children and Family Services in Drew County.
“After the birth of my daughter, I left my career as a Family Service Worker to work with ADC and instantly knew that I missed providing services to children and families and that I wanted to return,” Williams said. “CASA has allowed me to return to the field that I love and provide assistance to foster children.”
According to 2017 statistical reports, there were more than 350 abused or neglected children in Ashley, Bradley, Chicot, Desha, and Drew counties’ court and welfare system, with more needing advocacy every year. CASA of the 10th Judicial District recruits and trains community members to work one-on-one with these children, advocating for their best interests. Essentially, CASA advocates “speak up” for these children in the court and child welfare systems, making sure they are safe and well-cared for, getting the services they need, and are placed in a permanent, safe, nurturing home as quickly as possible.
“It takes the skills and heart of people like Jerri and Constance to ensure that we are running smoothly and able to serve Arkansas’ children most effectively,” said Deborah Zeigler, president of the CASA 10th Judicial District Board of Directors.
CASA of the 10th Judicial District is part of a statewide network of community-based, non-profit programs that recruit, screen, train and supervise advocates to advocate for children removed from home due to abuse or neglect.
For more information, go to the CASA 10th Judicial District website or call 870-367-9449.