2011 Louisiana CASA “Awards of Excellence”
Louisiana CASA, in partnership with its member programs, once again honored outstanding individuals for their service to children through CASA. Although we value all of the outstanding volunteers, staff, and stakeholders we work with, CASA wanted to present special recognition for those individuals who have gone that extra mile for children.
The honorees were recognized at a ceremony at the Louisiana’s Old State Capitol in Baton Rouge, made possible with help from CASA Volunteer, and Secretary of State, Tom Schedler. The event was attended by nearly 200 CASA staff and volunteers from across Louisiana.
Judge of the Year: The Honorable Randall L. Bethancourt, Terrebonne Parish
Judge Bethancourt presides over many different types of cases, including cases involving abused and neglected children in the foster care system. As an adoptive parent himself, child welfare issues are of paramount concern in his court. An avid supporter of CASA of Terrebonne, Judge Bethancourt faithfully addresses incoming CASA Volunteers at new volunteer training to ensure that they appreciate how valuable their role as a CASA Volunteer is to the children they serve.
Media Professional of the Year: Emily Kern Hebert – The Advocate, East Baton Rouge Parish
Media exposure is an invaluable asset to local CASA program. Ms. Hebert has spent time with Capital Area CASA’s volunteers and staff, learning about the critical importance of CASA volunteers, and sharing that message with The Advocate’s readers. She has written three feature articles on Capital Area CASA, highlighting the positive impact volunteers have on their CASA child, and the struggles that older youth in the foster care system face. She is passionate about the mission of CASA and, through her words, has greatly increased the community’s awareness of CASA programs and the critical importance of its mission to achieve permanency for abused and neglected children.
DCFS Staff Member of the Year: Cidney Ordoyne, Lafourche Parish
An employee with the Thibodaux Region DCFS, Ms. Ordoyne spent many years as a Recruiter, dedicating her time searching for foster and adoptive homes for children in foster care where she was responsible for developing a “Heart Gallery” featuring photos of children available for adoption in an effort to gain positive exposure for children in need of a safe, permanent adoptive home. Currently a Child Protection Investigator, Ms. Ordoyne devotes her time to making sure each child she works with remains safe, and she takes every decision she has to make seriously.
Diversity Leadership Award: CASA of the 16th JDC
CASA of the 16th JDC, under the leadership of Executive Director Robin Hedge, has worked closely with Judge Charles Porter of the 16th Judicial District Court to facilitate change in the local child welfare system. The program has coordinated monthly stakeholder meetings since 2009 aimed at bringing court staff, child welfare professionals, attorneys, and community partners together to identify and address service gaps. The program’s participation in this multi-agency collaboration has resulted in the creation of the “One Church, One Child” program. The ongoing and creative efforts of the collaboration were paramount in the area being named as a Transformation Zone by social services.
Program Board Member of the Year: Ron J. Nezat, CASA of St. Landry
Mr. Nezat currently serves as the President for CASA of St. Landry’s Board of Directors. As a charter member of the board, Mr. Nezat is also a trained CASA volunteer; in the fall of 2007 he and his wife, Michelle Nazat, completed new volunteer training. The founder of GFR Companies and the President of GFR Property Investments, LLC, Mr. Nezat also serves as Deacon and Sunday School Director at First Baptist Church in Lafayette, LA. He is member of the Louisiana Health Care Commission and serves as Chairman of the Health Agents PAC Corporation.
Program Staff Member of the Year: Wendy Magee, CASA Jefferson
Ms. Magee has been an Advocate Supervisor with CASA Jefferson in Harvey for three years where she has been very committed to the program and the mission of CASA Jefferson. Her dedication was summed up in a quote by Eric Windmann, one of the CASA Volunteers she supervises, who said: “Wendy Magee has gone out of her way to help me feel comfortable in this program. She made sure I felt confident to work my cases, and ALWAYS provides priceless support along the way. Wendy is ALWAYS available and accessible, even during her maternity leave she made sure I had support and direction to successfully work my cases. Her input, experience and direction helped me gain valuable experience to perform as the children needed and expected. Currently, I am working a challenging case, but one that, now I truly feel I can be a valuable piece of the overall puzzle.”
Director of the Year: Mary Slazer, Youth Services Bureau
Ms. Slazer’s involvement with the Youth Service Bureau CASA program began as a volunteer in 1995. She joined the staff in 2000. A true diplomat and collaborator, Ms. Slazer’s fair-minded approach has earned her the respect of the court, social services staff, stakeholders, CASA staff and CASA volunteers. “As a judge of the City Court of Bogalusa, I preside over all City Court matters, including all of our Child in Need of Care cases. I appreciate the input of the CASA Volunteer on behalf of these children, and I note Ms. Slazer’s fine coordination of our volunteers” stated Judge Robert J. Black in his letter supporting Ms. Slazer’s nomination for the award.
Child Advocate of the Year: Joan Chardkoff, CASA of Northeast Louisiana
Ms. Chardkoff serves as a CASA volunteer with CASA of Northeast Louisiana. In the four years she has been a volunteer she has given over 664 hours of her personal time advocating for abused and neglected children in the region. Using her own resources, she has also driven 1,744 miles for her CASA children. “The CASA Program of Northeast Louisiana is a better program because of Joan Chardkoff. The children of Northeast Louisiana have more hope because of Joan Chardkoff. She is no ordinary advocate; she truly has a heart of compassion for children on every level” stated Greg Guthrie, Executive Director for CASA of NELA.
2010 LACASA Heroes
2009 LACASA Heroes
2008 LACASA Heroes
2007 LACASA Heroes