This week, after a six-month search, Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Los Angeles announced that it has found its next CEO.
At the end of October, Wendelyn “Wende” Nichols-Julien will replace Dilys Tosteson Garcia, who is leaving after six years with the organization.
CASA of Los Angeles is one of the largest youth advocacy organizations in the country. Part of the national network of Court Appointed Special Advocates, CASA of Los Angeles mobilizes and coordinates 530 adult volunteers to support and serve over 1,000 youth within Los Angeles County’s foster care system.
Prior to joining CASA, for almost five years Nichols-Julien ran the California Conference on Equality and Justice, an organization “dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry and racism through education, conflict resolution and advocacy.” Nichols-Julien also has a background in community organizing and facilitation, with degrees in law and public administration.
CASA of Los Angeles’ new leader understands the experiences and challenges facing children in foster care intimately.
“As a foster and adoptive parent myself, I know first-hand the incredible impact and importance CASA volunteers have on foster youth and on our greater community,” Nichols-Julien said in a press release this week.
Nichols-Julien will be stepping into the shoes of Garcia, who has been with CASA of Los Angeles since 2010. Garcia began her tenure at CASA as the organization transitioned away from being owned and operated by the courts, which faced significant budget cuts from the state, into the independent nonprofit organization it is today.
According to the press release, she “successfully overcame the critical issue of losing state and federal funding and rallied the local community to meet and surpass previous budgets,” ultimately more than doubling the number of children in the Los Angeles foster care system with CASA advocates.
For her next chapter, Garcia will be moving with her family to a small town in northern Michigan, she wrote in a letter on CASA’s website. She is confident that the organization she helped grow and shape is in “excellent hands.”