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A Message from Executive Director Vanessa Nordyke 

It is my honor to join CASA of Marion County as its newest Executive Director! I was born and raised in Salem, Oregon. I began volunteering at age 13, and have now served in various leadership roles concerning homelessness, veterans, criminal justice, mental illness, domestic violence, and more. I serve on Salem City Council, representing the neighborhood that raised me. My other endeavors include co-founding the Marion County Veterans Treatment Court and co-captaining a mock trial team of Latino/a students. Most Oregonians know me as the youngest ever-elected President of the Oregon State Bar, a unified bar of approximately 19,000 lawyers and judges statewide. As President for 2018, I led a statewide mental health initiative for the Oregon legal community. My passion for destigmatizing mental illness led me to develop and conduct mental health trainings all over the state. I am a proud graduate of South Salem High School, Georgetown University School of Foreign Service and University of Oregon School of Law.

I am a third-generation Salem lawyer, like my father and grandfather. Up until January, I was a Senior Assistant Attorney General at the Oregon Department of Justice (DOJ). Over 15 years, I handled civil litigation, appeals, and hundreds of child abuse cases. When it came to my child abuse cases, it was my job to keep child molesters behind bars. But at CASA, I can break the cycle of abuse, once and for all. That is why I am here.

If you’re a longtime supporter of CASA, then you know that our program gets results. Children represented by CASA volunteers spend approximately eight fewer months in foster care, reducing trauma and reestablishing safety. The pandemic piled on more challenges, so the need for CASA volunteers is greater than ever.

I’m always happy to meet CASA supporters for coffee, so please reach out anytime! I want to close with words of gratitude. I want to thank my wonderful DOJ colleagues for their support. I want to applaud Shaney Starr for her dedication to CASA. Now then, let’s get to work! Our kids are counting on us.


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