Delivered April 8, 2013 at the National CASA Association Conference by Ann Marie Binsner, Executive Director of CASA/Prince George’s County

“Thank you Kappa Alpha Theta for this recognition. You are good friends to all of us at CASA and we are grateful for your continued and longtime support. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to receive this recognition from a network that I care so much about.

Twelve years ago, I was hired to begin the work of a new CASA program. It was the early support of National CASA and the Maryland CASA Association that ensured we were successful. The program support, moral support and funding that I received made all the difference. Thank you Maryland CASA and National CASA for believing in me then and now.

My parents are here today. They are as honored by this recognition as I am. They worked hard to make me into the person I am and by their example, I know how to serve the needs of my community and I know that it is my obligation to do it to the best of my ability. Thanks Mom and Dad.

I love my job. I get to go to work every day knowing that what I do is important. In my opinion, ensuring that children grow up in safe, permanent homes is the most important job in the world. Being surrounded by people who agree with that statement is invigorating and I am in awe of the strength of the people that I meet at CASA every day.

Now I haven’t served all the children in my jurisdiction or found the secret to securing ample funds from diverse resources. I just work hard for something I believe in. So thank you National CASA because by recognizing my commitment to the growth and success of my imperfect CASA program, you are also recognizing the commitment of all the CASA program directors across the country who strive every day to accomplish more with less but still believe and never give up.

Fear of Failure is a strong motivator. Failing our kids is not an option. My passion for the work comes from the absolute knowledge that we are working for what is right and just. Children deserve the best life can offer. I am convinced that our work, our advocacy, activism and voice ensures that someday all children will be treated with dignity and respect.

My staff and our volunteers also motivate me to keep working, to do more for our children and youth. Their passion reminds me every day of the real people who are impacted by the system that serves them. And they remind me of the limitations of that system. The limitations that they demand I do something about. I wish I could fix every failure with a well-placed phone call or a strongly written court report, but I can’t. The good news is that I witness CASA volunteers overcome these limits simply by believing that their child deserves better. No one can convince a courtroom of the needs of a child like a CASA volunteer. Once a CASA volunteer believes, limits seem to disappear.

I am so proud to be part of this network. The work is hard but it is made easier by the fact that there is no doubt that we are right. Everyone should know what we do. Our collective voices should be heard so no one can claim that they did not know that they too could make a difference in a child’s life simply by volunteering their time. Who doesn’t want the best for children? CASA volunteers demand it every day. Our challenge is to be heard beyond the courtroom and the halls of the child welfare agency. We need to be heard in the community, the board rooms and the State Capitols. It is up to us to demand that children in foster care come first.

I am challenged every day to be that voice. I struggle to find time and energy but every time I manage to climb out of the day to day and work with others to improve our system, I am rewarded with improved outcomes and a renewed spirit. Thank you National CASA for renewing my spirit with this honor.”

Click here to learn more about the Kappa Alpha Theta CASA Program Director of the Year Award.