ESSEX COUNTY, NJ — Court Appointed Special Advocates of Essex County has announced the selection of Marla Higginbotham as its new executive director. CASA is a nonprofit organization that has been recruiting, training, supervising and supporting community volunteers since 1986 to advocate for abused, neglected and abandoned children placed in foster care.
“The board is delighted to find such an impressive talent with sound leadership,” board President Darren Woolford said. “Ms. Higginbotham, is committed to helping children at risk and her experience in the child welfare arena makes her just right to steer CASA of Essex as it broadens its community impact. She is also just in time for this year’s spring fundraisers, the 12th annual Spin for a Child on April 2 and the 25th annual Golf Outing on June 15. Planning efforts are under way and we’re thrilled to have her on board.”
Most recently the executive director of CASA of Union County, Higginbotham led the smaller program to great success as it served more than 70 percent of the county’s youth in out-of-home placement.
“As a resident of Essex County for 21 years, it is with great pride that I join CASA of Essex County as executive director,” Higginbotham said. “The years I’ve spent working toward empowering community volunteers to meet community needs dovetails wonderfully with this new and exciting opportunity. CASA of Essex County directly impacts our community’s children at their most vulnerable, altering their lives for the better, and I so look forward to being part of it, working with all community stakeholders, and ensuring the best interests of Essex County foster youth continue to be a top priority.”
Higginbotham holds a law degree from University of Cincinnati College of Law and undergraduate degree from Northwestern University. Prior to joining the CASA network, she worked at Jersey Cares as the senior director of operations and foundation relations. She has served as a mediator/arbitrator for New Jersey’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit and as a trustee for The Montclair Kimberley Academy.
Through court-ordered access to foster parents, doctors, caseworkers, therapists and teachers, CASA volunteers ensure best interests remain a priority while working toward establishing a safe, stable and permanent home for each child. There are currently more than 1,500 Essex County children in foster care; CASA of Essex County’s goal is to provide an advocate for every foster child that needs one. For more information about becoming a CASA volunteer or how you can be a CASA supporter, go to www.casaessex.org.