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Groups shuffle leaders
Changes under way at Habitat, CASA
Walden Janet
Janet Walden - photo by Submitted

Spring change is in the air at a couple of local nonprofit organizations.

The Lanier area Habitat for Humanity-North Central Georgia and the Forsyth County Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA, are undergoing a change in leadership.

After eight years at CASA, Mary Lamond stepped down as executive director to serve Forsyth and Dawson counties as area director of Habitat.

“I’ve been volunteering with Habitat ... over the last five years,” she said. “I’ve met so many of the volunteers with Habitat and I’m so impressed with their dedication already.”

With Lamond’s departure, Janet Walden was named the new executive director of CASA, which trains volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused or neglected children in court proceedings.

Walden, who spent the past decade as volunteer services coordinator at Cumming First United Methodist Church, wanted to get back to her career roots of working with children in need.

“I got to dabble a little bit in that at the church, but I just really wanted to get a more singular focus ... to get back into what my passion is,” she said.

Walden said one of her goals for the organization is to create more funding opportunities and find more volunteers to partake in the September training program.

The organization is meeting the needs of the county’s court system, but Walden said staff and volunteers are stretched thin.

“I have some great ideas for building up a volunteer base,” she said. “I’m really pleased with where CASA is now and I think there are some great things to come.”

The church has not yet hired a replacement for Walden.

Lamond said she would miss CASA, particularly “working with the families who are really struggling and being an encourager to those families.”

She will train the next two months under current Habitat executive director Jackie Johnson, who will retire June 30.

Johnson, who has been with the organization for nearly five years, has been a great mentor, Lamond said.

“It is ... a tremendous plus to be able to shadow her,” she said.

Both organizations will continue to work closely with the Forsyth County Community Connection, which acts as a resource to join nonprofits and those seeking aid.

Nicole McCoy, the organization’s executive director, said the “change is positive.”

“Both Janet and Mary are extremely passionate about the community,” she said. “Janet has always had a passion for working with children and working with families, and Mary has worked with families to get them to more stable places.

“They will bring a great fresh approach to both organizations and ... both have fantastic experience that will make them both successful.”