Before being elected a U.S. congressman, Maryland lieutenant governor and state legislator, Anthony Brown served as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate (CASA) for foster children – an experience that helped shape his life in public service.
“I’ve been supportive of CASA ever since I served as one,” Brown said.
Brown became a CASA volunteer while a student at Harvard Law School in the early 1990s. He did it at the suggestion of the school that said it would provide him valuable courtroom experience and give needed legal aid to abused and neglected boys and girls.
“I was able to make a difference,” said Brown, who made sure that the children were properly housed and educated and getting necessary medical and therapeutic care. “The challenge when you first meet these children is winning their trust and confidence.”
Brown won their trust and confidence. And later, while in elected office, backed CASA programs across Maryland. He also served on the board of the Maryland CASA Association, and in 2005, received its Light for Children Award.
Brown represents Maryland’s 4th Congressional District, which includes much of Prince George’s and Anne Arundel counties. He discussed his time with CASA in an interview with CASA/Prince George’s County.
“For people who volunteer to a be a court-appointed special advocate, my hat is off to them,” said Brown, elected to Congress in November 2016 after eight years as Maryland’s lieutenant governor and eight years in the Maryland House of Delegates. “It’s important work.”
“As a court appointed special advocate, I couldn’t put myself in the shoes of these young foster children,” Brown said. “But it certainly got me closer to what I saw as their very challenging childhoods. You couldn’t help but become more emphatic and caring. You couldn’t help but want to do something.”
Brown urges others to consider becoming a CASA, but said they must understand that it takes time to have an impact.
“You have to have a patient sense of urgency,” Brown said. “There is an urgency to the challenges you’ll face, but you need to be patient because nothing happens overnight.”
Ann Marie Binsner, Executive Director of CASA/Prince George’s County, said, “Anthony Brown is a CASA champion. He’s also an inspiration for others to serve.”
Binsner said, “If you are interested in becoming a CASA volunteer or learning more about it, please contact me at (301) 209-0491 or go to www.pgcasa.org. Like Anthony Brown, you could make a real difference.”