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Raising the Bar

Mary Ellen Kutsenda Fitzsimonds and Laura Ware Doerre

Mary Ellen Kutsenda Fitzsimonds and Laura Ware Doerre. Photo courtesy of Archives, Kappa Alpha Theta Fraternity

One million dollars! At Kappa Alpha Theta’s Grand Convention in 2016, National CASA/GAL executives joined Theta leaders in celebrating the announcement of an unprecedented initiative: a three-year Theta Foundation campaign to raise $1 million for National CASA/GAL.

“Service is what ties all Thetas together; it’s in our DNA,” says Laura Ware Doerre, who was Fraternity president in 2016 and is an alumna of Theta’s Delta Xi Chapter at the University of North Carolina. This dedication to service means that it is not simply Theta as an organization enthusiastically supporting National CASA/GAL; it is also college chapters and alumnae groups working with state and local CASA/GAL programs to help provide advocacy for vulnerable children.

Yet only one in four children supported by CASA/GAL programs has a Theta chapter or group in their community. That was the spark that ignited the $1 million National CASA/GAL Initiative, a campaign to help provide National CASA/GAL with resources to become evidence-based and ensure the best possible outcomes for children all over the United States, including those without a nearby Theta presence.

Not only did the campaign conclude successfully—and ahead of schedule—it created unforeseen benefits. Taking this huge step to advance the CASA/GAL mission, explains Mary Ellen Kutsenda Fitzsimonds, Theta Foundation president in 2016 and an alumna of Theta’s Beta Kappa Chapter at Drake University, “helped broaden the Fraternity’s understanding of CASA programs’ needs and how Thetas could engage with and support their efforts.”

Laura agrees. “The $1 million campaign for National CASA/GAL was pivotal in the Theta and National CASA/GAL relationship. It helped us understand each other’s needs and capacities more deeply. The intangibles from this understanding will have long-reaching benefits.”

“‘Change a Child’s Story’ sums up so beautifully what CASA programs do. We are changing the world one child at a time.” —Laura Ware Doerre

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