October 22, 2020
State director shares his passion for serving children
At National CASA/GAL’s virtual Awards of Excellence ceremony, Alan Abramowitz was honored as the 2020 State Director of the Year – an award that honors a director who has demonstrated commitment to applying the National CASA/GAL mission, vision and strategic framework at a state level. Alan has been connected to a Guardian ad Litem (GAL) program since 1986, when he volunteered as a GAL advocate while in law school at Florida State University. Looking for volunteer opportunities, he learned about the GAL program and trained as a volunteer.
“I was assigned two siblings in my first case, and I know I made a difference.”
He continued to serve as a volunteer advocate when he was afforded the opportunity. Alan’s passion for working with volunteers – he’s a former member of the Peace Corps – and his passion for advocating for children were a perfect match for the State of Florida GAL program, and he was appointed by the governor as director in 2010.
Alan’s work as state director has been driven by a passion to support children in the child welfare system. The program prioritized getting input from children and youth in foster care and listening to their insights, and its strategic plan has been guided by that feedback.
Alan and his team have worked diligently with the state legislature year after year to advance initiatives to improve the experiences of children and youth in foster care. He has made statewide policy better by helping to remove barriers to youth in foster care obtaining a driver’s license, championing legislation for normalcy for children in care, and incorporating principles of trauma informed care in the program’s representation and culture.
Under Alan’s leadership the program has also grown in the number of volunteers – now with more than 10,000 GAL volunteers serving children and youth in the state. And, he’s ensured high-quality and accessible training for these volunteers so that they are equipped to provide best-interest advocacy for children and families.
Alan is an enthusiastic recruiter of CASA/GAL volunteers. The impact volunteers have on the lives of children and families is immeasurable, but he notes there can be personal benefits as well.
“I met my wife on the first day of GAL training,” he said. “You never know what connections can be made through a CASA/GAL program.”