Yolanda Johnson, Case Supervisor(973)622-4833
Karen Burns, Executive Director Karen Burns has been the Executive Director of Essex County CASA since 2002. In this capacity she is responsible for the organization's overall planning, operations, staffing, fiscal control and development. She is also responsible for CASA's external relationships with local child welfare agencies and community stakeholders, the Superior Court of New Jersey, CASA of New Jersey and the National CASA Association where she has served on a number of key committees. Prior to joining CASA she served as a Managing Consultant for the Gallup Organization where she specialized in human talent application, workforce engagement and improvement. She graduated magna cum laude with a B.A. in English from Hunter College and has extensive graduate credits in organizational development and social welfare policy.
Dessie Thomas, Director of Operations Dessie Thomas joined CASA in September 2016 providing program support to CASA's administrative team. She has worn many hats related to marketing and fundraising, program reporting and evaluation, and general operations. Dessie comes to us with over 10 years in operational management experience. Dessie most recently worked for several start up charter schools in Manhattan and Brooklyn. Dessie received her B.A. in Economics in 2004 and her MPA in 2012. Dessie enjoys spending time with her husband and 3 children in her down time.
Constance Graham, Development Manager Constance joined CASA as the Development Manager in November 2014. Prior to working for CASA, she gained valuable experience in resource development working for the New Jersey Performing Arts Center and the United Way of the Greater Triangle in the Raleigh/Durham region of North Carolina. In her capacity as a Development Manager Constance oversees individual giving and annual events, implementing strategies to grow CASA’s awareness in Essex County and the annual revenue. Constance holds a B.A. (2005) and M.P.A (2007) in Public Administration from Kean University.
Denise Liddell, Office Manager Coming soon!
Carol Arnott, Senior Case Supervisor & Education Specialist Carol Arnott joined CASA in April 2010 as a Case Supervisor. Prior to joining CASA, Carol was a Deputy Attorney General and represented the Division of Youth & Family Services in Essex County. Carol has a long history of vounteering. She is currently a crisis response team volunteer and counsels victims of domestic violence in East Hanover and Hanover. She has also vounteered at Essex-Newark Legal Services and in May 2007 the NJ Bar Association honored her with the Equal Justice Medal for her volunteer efforts in securing justice for the disadvantaged. Carol is a graduate of Bucknell University with a B.A. in Economics and Psychology. She received her J.D. from Syracuse University College of Law and is licensed to practice law in New Jersey.
Johanna Arrascue, Case Supervisor & Adolescent Program Manager Johanna Arrascue joined CASA as a Case Supervisor in July 2013. Prior to working for CASA, she gained valuable knowledge of the Child Welfare System, working as a permanency worker and investigator for the Division of Child Protection and Permanency. Johanna also previously served as a school social worker and volunteered with the Newark Board of Education. She also works as a counselor providing direct, in-home therapeutic services to children with behavioral and emotional problems. She holds a B.A. in Social Work and graduated with honors from the Advance Standing MSW program at Rutgers University. She completed a Certificate in Child Advocacy at Montclair State University in 2009 and obtained her LSW in 2012.
Wadiah Lamadieu, Case Supervisor Wadiah Lamadieu brings a wealth of experience to her role. Wadiah holds a BA in sociology; an MPA in Public Administration and is a NJ certified social worker. She has spent many years in public and nonprofit social services organizations dedicated to the safety and well being of children and families. Her experience includes supervising prevention programs for children at risk for foster care placement, supervising a group home program for adolescent girls in foster care ; and as a caseworker for foster care and homeless families . Wadiah believes that working with children and families faced with challenges and adversity is her life's work, and is so happy to continue it with CASA of Essex County.
Neomi Bonilla, Senior Case Supervisor & Team Leader Neomi Bonilla joined CASA as a Case Supervisor in September, 2005. Prior to working for CASA, she gained valuable experience working for Hudson Cradle and Project Headstart, both located in Jersey City, NJ. In her capacity as a Senior Case Supervisor/Unit Administrator, Neomi provides peer support to three Case Supervisor colleagues and works closely with the Associate Director, Program Services to coordinate the administration of program policies and procedures. Neomi holds a B.A. in Psychology from Kean University.
Aman D'Mello, Case Supervisor Aman D’Mello joined CASA as a Case Supervisor in January 2016. Previously, Aman worked at The Center for the Study of Social Policy, the Brooklyn Young Mothers’ Collective, NYC Administration for Children’s Services, and Casey Family Programs. She has provided technical assistance to child welfare workers, administrators, agency providers, and community leaders to collaboratively improve child welfare practice and policies, and she has led initiatives to empower youth and families. She volunteers her time in various capacities in her local community and currently is on the Board of Directors of The Children’s Law Center of New York. Aman holds a B.A. in Criminal Justice from St. Edward’s University and an M.S.W. from The University of Texas at Austin.
Rebecca Rowell, Case Supervisor Rebecca Rowell joined CASA as a Case Supervisor in September 2016. She holds degrees in Business and Psychology from Emory University. With her background in corporate finance, Rebecca has over 14 years of supervisory experience. She spends much of her free time volunteering in her community. She has volunteered at the Food Pantry at Our Lady of Sorrows in South Orange for the past 7 years, helping as a coordinator for the last 3. Rebecca became a CASA advocate in 2015 and brings her experience and understanding of the volunteer role to her position as Case Supervisor
Lauren Kestenbaum, Case Supervisor Lauren Kestenbaum joined CASA as a Case Supervisor in September 2014. Prior to joining CASA, Lauren worked in the corporate world and also interned with the Honorable Judge Michael J. Nelson of the Superior Court in Essex County. She has also volunteered as an advocate with SAE of Essex County, the State of New Jersey's designated Rape Care Center for Essex County. Lauren is a graduate of Haverford College with a B.A. in History. She received her M.A. in Library Science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and her J.D. from Stanford Law School.
Maureen Lee, Senior Case Supervisor & Team Leader Maureen Lee joined the CASA team in March 2010. She holds a B.A. from St. Lawrence University and hails to CASA from a financial background as a former VP in the World Corporate Department at Bankers Trust Company. Impressed with CASA’s objectives and the organization’s long-standing success, Maureen decided to become a CASA advocate and volunteered her time for two years prior to joining our team. She has an extensive history volunteering her time in the local community. She was PTA President at two schools, President of the Junior League of the Oranges and Short Hills, chaired various committees and is currently on the Board of Trustees of the Community Congregational Church in Short Hills. In her free-time, Maureen enjoys hiking, reading and playing golf. She is married with four children.
Melissa Perales, Case Supervisor Melissa Perales joined the CASA team in August 2015. Prior to working for CASA, she worked as Assistant Director for Youth Advocate Programs for Hudson, Bergen & Passaic counties. Melissa has over 13 years of supervisory experience and 10 years of non-profit experience. Melissa worked as a Human Resources Director and Program Director at The Bowery Mission in New York City, and worked as the Executive Director of the long-term women’s recovery program at Water Street Ministries, in Pennsylvania. Melissa has a long history of volunteering primarily working with women and the homeless population. She currently teaches a class at her church in Wayne, NJ, for women recovering from life controlling issues.
Venetta Benjamin, Volunteer Manager
Venetta joined the CASA as the Volunteer Manager in February 2017. Prior to working for CASA, she gained valuable experience in capacity building, technical assistance, and volunteer and program management working with BCT Partners. In her capacity as a Volunteer Manager, Venetta oversees the CASA Volunteer Advocates, marketing strategies of CASA volunteer program, and retention and recruitment strategies to promote CASA volunteer program. Venetta received a Bachelor of Arts (B.A.) in Economics in 2010 from Richard Stockton College of New Jersey, and her Master’s in Public Administration (M.P.A.) in 2014 from Capella University. In her free time, Venetta enjoys travelling, visiting new restaurants, and spending time with her family, and loved ones.
Yolanda Johnson, Case Supervisor
Yolanda Johnson joined CASA in February 2017 as a Case Supervisor. Yolanda received her M.A. in Administration with a certificate in non-profit Development from Fairleigh Dickinson University and B.A. in Psychology from Kean University. Yolanda has over 20 years of non-profit and state government experience working with youth of all ages. As a former child welfare specialist, Yolanda brings a wealth of knowledge in policies and community resources regarding adolescents and families. During Yolanda’s spare time, she enjoys exercising, volunteering and sharing her singing gift with the Worship & Creative Arts ministry at her church in Rockaway, NJ. Her passion and commitment in impacting and assisting families daily brings her total fulfillment in her role.