Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County welcomed former Westfield Mayor Andy Skibitsky and Chris Ryan, also of Westfield, to its board of trustees.

CASA of Union County is a nonprofit organization that recruits, trains, supervises and supports community volunteers to advocate for abused, neglected and abandoned Union County children removed from home and placed in foster care or residential facilities. There are more than 500 Union County children in foster care, and the organization currently serves just over half. Its mission is to be able to provide an advocate for every youth in care.

Skibitsky has spent his career in the animal health industry, with more than 30 years at Merck Animal Health in sales management, operations and marketing, and he currently heads a team focused on solutions for nonprofit animal welfare organizations nationwide. Skibitsky’s public service posts include 15 years as an elected official in Westfield — with more than 12 of those as mayor, more than any other in the colonial town’s 225-year history. He has chaired its Public Safety, Transportation and Parking Committee and Public Works Committee was inducted into the New Jersey Mayors Hall of Fame in 2015. A graduate of Rider College with a Bachelor’s of Science, Skibitsky and his wife have four children.

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“Friends who have volunteered for CASA,” said Skibitsky, “have said it was a very rewarding experience. Really, what could be more fulfilling than protecting our most vulnerable children?”

Ryan, an adjunct professor at Seton Hall University, teaches international marketing to business school students. Prior to academia, Ryan spent more than two decades with international wine importer Dreyfus, Ashby & Co., ultimately serving as president and chief executive officer. He has helped create several successful brands and adjusted the marketing of others to meet market trends and the evolving taste profile of the American consumer. Ryan earned a Bachelor’s degree and a Master’s degree in Business Administration from Manhattan College. He and his wife have two grown daughters and have called Westfield home more than 35 years.

Of his appointment to the board, Ryan noted, “At the end of the day it is all about our children — each and every one deserves the opportunity to be happy and content. CASA strives to make that happen every day with children who, unfortunately and through no fault of their own, have the odds stacked against them.” 

CASA volunteers have court-ordered access to foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists and teachers, and work to ensure a child’s best interests remain a priority while in care, and working toward a safe, stable and permanent home for each child. More community volunteers are needed to step up as advocates for children waiting for their own CASA volunteer. Contact Courtney at cgreen@casaofunioncounty.org or 908-293-8136 for details on upcoming trainings.