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Media Kit

Welcome Marina Bernheimer!

Court Appointed Special Advocates of San Luis Obispo County (SLO CASA) has a new leader. After an extensive national search, SLO CASA’s Board of Directors unanimously selected Marina Bernheimer, a renowned children’s rights expert, to take the helm of CASA.

“We are delighted that Marina accepted the position as Executive Director. She brings decades of experience fighting for the wellbeing of children, and we are confident that CASA will thrive under her leadership,” said Gil Stork, President of SLO CASA’s Board of Directors.

Marina is a lifelong advocate for vulnerable children. Until last month, she served as the Executive Director of Child Advocates of Nevada County, which administers three programs, including Nevada County CASA. Prior to that, she was Superintendent of Schools in Nevada County.

“I am honored and excited to join SLO CASA and its amazing team of staff and volunteers,” said Marina. “Together, we will work to ensure that every foster child has access to the services they need and deserve.”
Marina’s first day with SLO CASA will be December 5, 2022.

Mission Statement

CASA of San Luis Obispo County advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children within the court system. CASA recruits, trains, and supervises volunteers who advocate for this vulnerable population with the goal of ensuring that each and every child grows up in a safe, nurturing, and permanent home.

CASA's Origin

A Seattle judge conceived the idea to use trained community volunteers to speak for the interests of abused and neglected children in the court system. This Seattle program was so successful that soon judges across the country began utilizing citizen advocates. In 1990, the U.S. Congress encouraged the expansion of CASA, with passage of the Victims of Child Abuse Act. Today more than 900 CASA programs are in operation, with 62,000 women and men serving as CASA volunteers.

CASA of San Luis Obispo

CASA of San Luis Obispo County has been providing advocacy for local children since 1993. There are over 100 CASA volunteer advocates actively working on cases in our local community at any given time.
CASA volunteers investigate: seeking a clear and deep understanding of the child’s situation.
CASA volunteers plan: working with child welfare professionals to determine what strategies promote the best interests of the child.
CASA volunteers advocate: reporting to the court what they discover and working within other systems to make sure that children receive the services needed to advance their well being.
CASA volunteers connect: establishing strong relationships with the child, which is often the only stable connection in a foster child’s life. In California, the CASA volunteer is generally assigned to one child or sibling group.

Board of Directors

A dynamic and diverse group of community leaders serve on the board of directors for CASA of San Luis Obispo County. For more information about the board, visit our Team Page below.

Fact Sheet

CASA is an acronym for Court Appointed Special Advocates.

• CASA is a 501( c) 3 nonprofit organization and depends on community
donations to support the loca l program.

• There are more than 900 CASA programs in operation across the
United States, with more than 62,000 men and women serving as
volunteers .

• There are 650 children in San Luis Obispo County receiving county
services due to their abuse or neglect.

• There are over 450 children under the jurisdiction of the juvenile court
in San Luis Obispo County due to abuse and neglect .

• More than 180 abused or neglected children in San Luis Obispo County
have their own CASA volunteer to advocate for their unique needs and
to speak for them in court.

• More than a 150 concerned community members serve as CASA

• The goal of a CASA volunteer is to help every abused or neglected
child they work with find or return to a safe, permanent home and give
them hope for a better life.

• CASA volunteers receive training from legal, child development and
welfare professionals, and have advocate supervisors to advise them
on all aspects of their cases.

• CASA volunteers are responsible for reviewing records, researching,
and talking to everyone involved with their child, including social
workers, attorneys, judges, parents, teachers, family members and
most importantly, the children themselves.

• CASA of San Luis Obispo County is an equal opportunity organization
and believes that embracing diversity and inclusiveness strengthens
the status of children and their families and is vital to the
organization’s vision, mission and development initiatives.


Contact : Jenae Walters

CASA of San Luis Obispo County
(805) 541-6542 ext 110

[San Luis Obispo, CA, April 23, 2021] – You can help support child victims of crime from the City of San Luis Obispo by joining the Hike for CASA occurring throughout the month of May. This unique awareness event brings attention to abused and neglected children—right here in our city. It highlights the efforts of SLO CASA helping to improve their health, education, and welfare by providing a highly trained adult volunteer who often becomes the one person a foster child can count on for friendly weekly visits, advocating for their interests at court, and seeing that their health and education needs are met.


With assistance from the Grants in Aid program of the City of San Luis Obispo, the all-access Hike for CASA welcomes people to enjoy our beautiful community’s trails for every ability. Participants will receive CASA branded items to display while they walk, ride, stroll, roll, or wheel on sanctioned local trails and paths, then log their activities on a virtual “passport”. It is a great way to help others, in a safe manner, at your own pace, and on your schedule. CASA will award prizes to top individuals in multiple categories! All people and all ages—in families, groups, and singles—are welcome. Supporters are also encouraged to post about their activities on social media using the hashtag #HikeforCASA.


“Children with a CASA volunteer are more likely to finish high school, they spend less time in costly foster care, and they are more likely to find a safe, permanent home. CASA volunteers enhance social justice for abused children. Please help us assure these children never “fall through the cracks” of the child welfare system,” asks Teresa Tardiff, CASA’s Executive Director.


Sign up today at


This is CASA’s 28th year of providing advocacy for court-dependent children in this county who have been abused and neglected. Most of the youth CASA serves live in foster care and face many challenges to their health, education, and general well-being. It is the dedicated CASA volunteer who becomes the child’s advocate and trusted, consistent adult, regardless of changes to the child’s school or place of residence. In 2020, CASA volunteers served 329 children, dedicating over 10,000 hours to improving their lives.


PHOTO CAPTION: An all-access activity for people of all abilities, the Hike for CASA is a self-scheduled event where those who support abused and neglected children can walk, ride, stroll, or wheel on trails and pathways throughout the county.

For more information about volunteering or donating, please contact 


About CASA of San Luis Obispo: We are a 501c3 charitable organization, founded in 1993. We recruit, train, and supervise community volunteers who advocate for the best interests of youth in our county who have been abused and neglected. On a typical day, over 400 children are under the court’s care in this county. CASA provides a dedicated, one-on-one advocate to as many of these children as possible.


Contact info

Teresa Tardiff

Executive Director
CASA of San Luis Obispo County
75 Higuera Street , Suite 180
P.O. Box 1168
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
Tel: 805.541.6542 x 103
Fax: 805.541.5637

Daniella Barion

Recruitment and Retention Specialist
CASA of San Luis Obispo County
75 Higuera Street , Suite 180
P.O. Box 1168
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
Tel: 805.541.6542 x 105
Fax: 805.541.5637

Melanie Barket

Training Manager
CASA of San Luis Obispo County
75 Higuera Street , Suite 180
P.O. Box 1168
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
Tel: 805.541.6542 
Fax: 805.541.5637

Jenae Walters

Events and Development Coordinator
CASA of San Luis Obispo County
75 Higuera Street , Suite 180
P.O. Box 1168
San Luis Obispo, CA 93406
Tel: 805.541.6542 x 110
Fax: 805.541.5637