UNION COUNTY, NJ  — Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County has appointed Marla Higginbotham as its new executive director. CASA is a nonprofit organization that recruits, trains, supervises and supports community volunteers to advocate for abused, neglected and abandoned children placed in foster care or residential facilities.

CASA serves all children removed from homes in Union County.  Since its founding in 2005, 52 Fanwood residents and 75 Scotch Plains residents have trained to become foster child advocates with th organization..

“The board is delighted to find such an impressive talent with sound leadership and operational experience in running a nonprofit whose work depends largely upon volunteers,” said Jennifer Mutch, president of the Board of Trustees. “She’s committed to helping children at risk and her experience at Jersey Cares makes Ms. Higginbotham just right to steer CASA as it continues to grow and broaden its community impact. She’s also just in time for this year’s Foster the Dream Gala fundraiser Nov. 4. Planning efforts are underway and we’re thrilled to have her on board at this exciting time.”

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Most recently senior director of operations and foundation relations at Jersey Cares, Ms. Higginbotham coordinated the grant process, managed the budget, executed financial operations and compliance, and oversaw all technology systems for the organization. In her previous position as senior program manager, she led all program efforts with more than 80 nonprofit agency partners statewide, managing more than 145 project coordinators and 1,200 volunteers monthly.

"It is with great pride I join CASA of Union County as executive director,” noted Ms. Higginbotham. “The years I’ve spent working toward empowering community volunteers to meet community needs dovetails wonderfully with this new and exciting opportunity. CASA directly impacts our community’s children at their most vulnerable, altering their lives for the better, and I so look forward to being part of it, working with all community stakeholders, and ensuring the best interests of Union County foster youth continue to be a top priority.”

Ms. Higginbotham holds a law degree from University of Cincinnati College of Law and undergraduate degree from Northwestern University, and is a former mediator/arbitrator for New Jersey’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit. 

Through court-ordered access to foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists and teachers, CASA volunteers ensure best interests remain a priority while working toward establishing a safe, stable and permanent home for each child.

There are currently 600 Union County children in foster care; CASA of Union County serves approximately one-quarter of those and its goal is to provide an advocate for every child that needs one. For more information, visit www.casaofunioncounty.org.