Court Appointed Special Advocates of Forsyth County recently welcomed Heidi Snarey as its new executive director.
Snarey first joined the organization in April as the interim executive director while the volunteers and staff gave their final farewells to previous director Paula Malmfeldt, who left for a new vocation.
Going forward, Snarey said she is excited to lead CASA and continue to grow the organization in the Forsyth community. She has extensive experience in child welfare, working with kids through Head Start and the public library system before serving as executive director at the Bald Ridge Lodge, a nonprofit residential facility for teenage boys in the county.
She worked there up until a little over a year ago when she retired. When she was asked to come serve as the interim director at CASA in April, she accepted the position without hesitation.
“It’s a great organization,” Snarey said. “I love child welfare and child advocacy, and it seemed like the perfect fit for me.”
As she began in the temporary role, she fell in love with the work she was doing with CASA. While she said she loved her time at Bald Ridge Lodge, she has loved CASA even more, having the chance to help not only teenage boys, but all kids and families in the Forsyth County area.
She is also excited to work within the Forsyth County community again where she said many residents and volunteers are very generous, and the juvenile court system works closely with them to provide the best support to kids.
“I love it,” Snarey said. “I’m excited about the partnerships that we work with — businesses, foundations and the government side of things as well.”
On the other hand, many at CASA are also thrilled to see Snarey take on the role.
“We are confident that Heidi’s many talents, her collaborative and engaging leadership approach and her wide-ranging experience will help us continue CASA’s record as a high-integrity, vibrant and growing organization,” said Lynn Jackson, board of directors chairwoman.
Snarey already has several goals in mind for CASA moving forward, an important one being a new permanent home for the organization.
CASA was previously located in the old juvenile courthouse before current renovations led to the offices being torn down. In the meantime, Tina Hammond offered up a building at Hammond’s Crossing for the organization to use for the next five years.
Until they can find a permanent building, Snarey also plans to focus on updating and sticking to a five-year strategic plan for CASA.
“[We need to make sure] our community knows the plan, our staff knows the plan and our stakeholders know the plan,” Snarey said. “That’s our roadmap to where we go, so I think my biggest goal is to make sure that we update our five-year strategic plan and work towards those things.”
At the same time, Snarey recognizes what a great organization CASA already is with hardworking community volunteers. Through the pandemic, she said the organization and volunteers “never missed a beat,” coming up with creative ways to continue serving kids and families.
While continuing to help families, they also continued with volunteer training over Zoom and online, preparing new volunteers to be confident and comfortable in a courtroom and with families as the organization expects to see a rise in cases as school begins again in August.
“We couldn’t do it without the volunteers and the court system as well,” Snarey said. “It just is a good thing all around.”
The organization is still currently looking for dedicated volunteers. For those interested, find more information on CASA’s website, www.forsythcountycasa.org.