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New Executive Director, Carla Baker

Hall-Dawson CASA Names Carla Baker New Executive Director

Hall-Dawson CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) is excited to announce and welcome Carla Baker to the team as Executive Director.

Carla joins Hall-Dawson CASA with a wide array of experience in non-profit management over the past 20 years. Carla is an accomplished non-profit professional in the community, most recently serving with Sisu of Georgia for more than a decade. She previously served at Challenged Child and Friends, and Ninth District Opportunity.

“We warmly welcome Carla into the CASA family,” said Hall-Dawson CASA Board Chair Linda Kern. “Her understanding of the impact of a safe, permanent home on a child’s life, her many years of non-profit service, and her deep roots in our community will skillfully guide us as we serve the children of Hall and Dawson counties.”

Carla is thrilled to have the opportunity to serve as the new Executive Director at Hall-Dawson CASA. “As a child I had the opportunity to experience a woven family that included children in foster care. For twelve years our family changed and evolved with each unique addition of a new child, simultaneous with traditional life events and change within our birth family.” Carla said. “I know these experiences to be the root of a personal and professional life that would be dedicated to valuing each child served by Hall-Dawson CASA to be respected as a unique individual with their own story, personality, challenges, opportunities, and accomplishments.”

Carla, a graduate of University of Georgia and Kennesaw State University, and her husband Dustin have lived in Hall County for most of their lives. Dustin serves as Regional Land Development Director for Kolter Homes. They have a son, Matthew, a sophomore at Emory University studying Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering, and a daughter, Catherine, who is a sophomore at Flowery Branch High School, varsity soccer player and competitive equestrian.

Hall-Dawson CASA’s mission is to ensure children who have experienced abuse or neglect have the right to a safe placement and permanent home. CASA provides trained, screened and supervised volunteers to advocate for the best interest of children requiring court intervention as a result of abuse or neglect.

2023 CASA Volunteer of the Year

2023 CASA Volunteer of the Year: Dian Hatfield

Dian Hatfield has been a CASA volunteer for almost 22 years. She was originally sworn in as a volunteer in Austin, Texas in 2001 where she was appointed to approximately 8 cases before moving to Georgia. She was sworn in with Hall-Dawson CASA in 2013 and has served 38 children and 22 cases with our program. Dian is a dedicated volunteer who frequently thinks outside of the box when trying to find solutions for the children she serves. She learns about the children’s needs and collaborates with DFCS, school staff, doctors, therapists and other treatment providers. She enjoys the ability to be creative and collaborative with them. Dian exhibits a persistence when faced with complex issues that sets her apart from other volunteers. Dian also volunteers weekly in the Clothing and Toy Center in the CASA basement.

“Ms. Hatfield’s long-term dedication to her cases shows in her thoroughness. She has worked on a variety of different types of cases with different permanency outcomes. Of particular note, she has worked hard to maintain children’s placement with family members while working delicately to address concerns about the family dynamics within the household before the children reached permanency and no longer had court involvement.” – Alison Toller, Chief Judge, Juvenile Court

Dian is an active CASA volunteer who visits the children on her cases frequently, documents all of her visits as required, and collaborates regularly with CASA staff. We are grateful to Dian for her commitment to the children serves, and for her willingness to share the CASA story throughout our community.

Georgia CASA honors Chris Hollifield with Board Leadership Award

We are so excited to share the news that our own Chris Hollifield, board member with Hall-Dawson CASA, has received the 2023 CASA Board Member Leadership Award in Georgia. Chris was officially awarded at the Georgia CASA Conference in Atlanta on August 12th.

An active member of the Hall-Dawson CASA Board for 16 years, Chris started as Treasurer, and in 2021 and 2022, he served as Board Chair during some challenging times. He is well-known in the Gainesville community as an audit and accounting professional, but his dedication to his family is what truly defines him.

Chris is an excellent communicator who thinks logically and in an organized manner. He sets a positive example for others to follow. As Treasurer and Chair, he has worked tirelessly to support the growth of Hall-Dawson CASA and ensure its mission to provide trained, screened, and supervised volunteers to advocate for the best interests of abused or neglected children requiring court intervention.

When Chris took over as Board Chair, Hall-Dawson CASA was undergoing many changes. Executive Director Janet Walden says that Chris was the perfect leader to ensure the changes were implemented successfully. She appreciated his leadership and knew he was the right person to guide them forward.

“The reason I serve CASA is the impact that CASA makes in a child’s life,” Hollifield says. “We tell their story when no one will listen. In their world we are the adult in their corner who will speak up for their best interest. My wife and I once had an opportunity to foster two boys for a short time and I saw first-hand what some children have to go through and the difference a CASA can make.”

Chris’s exceptional contributions and unwavering dedication make him a model board member and very deserving of the Georgia CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) Board Member Leadership Award.

Volunteer of the Year 2022