CASA of Los Angeles Appoints Wendelyn Nichols-Julien As New CEO
Los Angeles, CA, October 17, 2016 — CASA of Los Angeles, a nonprofit group that has been recruiting, training and managing volunteers to aid foster children for over three decades, has appointed Wendelyn "Wende" Nichols-Julien as the organization's new CEO. Ms. Nichols-Julien will replace outgoing Executive Director Dilys Tosteson Garcia, who has guided CASA/LA for the past six years.
Ms. Tosteson Garcia joined CASA/LA during a time of turmoil and financial challenges, leading the organization through its evolution from a state and federal-dependent organization to a wholly community funded 501(c)(3) non-profit. During her tenure she successfully overcame the critical issue of losing state and federal funding and rallied the local community to meet and surpass previous budgets. This enabled CASA/LA to increase the size and scope of services for Los Angeles foster youth, expanding the number of children with CASA/LA advocates from 350 to more than 1,000. Dilys also oversaw an organization-wide overhaul in processes and procedures that enabled CASA/LA to service more children, train more volunteers and incorporate online training and reporting protocols.
"My time at CASA of Los Angeles has been one of the highlights of my life both personally and professionally," said Ms. Garcia. "I feel confident that the organization is in excellent hands and, under Wende's guidance, will continue to grow and touch the lives of more at-risk children and youth than ever before."
Incoming CEO Wende Nichols-Julien was previously Executive Director of the California Conference for Equality and Justice (CCEJ), a non-profit human relations organization dedicated to eliminating bias, bigotry and racism through education, conflict resolution and advocacy. CCEJ's work focuses on dismantling racism and bias by training youth and adults to build and value inclusive communities. Wende is an attorney, formerly of Los Angeles law firm Manatt, Phelphs and Phillips, and has worked as a facilitator for over two decades.
Wende also worked and volunteered for years with Public Counsel's Immigrants' Rights Project, specializing in representing victims of domestic violence and trafficking in their immigration cases. She started her career as a community organizer, supporting residents with work related to environmental and economic justice and dismantling systemic oppression in Phoenix, Arizona and Long Beach.
"I am looking forward to joining the exceptional team of staff and volunteers at CASA/LA as we work together to impact the lives of thousands of the most vulnerable and promising young people in Los Angeles County. CASA volunteers are changing lives and changing the system -- creating a community where foster youth are successful, valued and safe. 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," said incoming CASA/LA CEO Wende Nichols-Julien. "I am pleased to continue on the successful path Dilys set in motion during her tenure, and excited for the challenge of leading CASA/LA as we bring in more volunteers and serve more foster youth throughout L.A. County."
Nichols-Julien has a law degree from the University of Southern California, a Masters in Public Administration and Certificate of Nonprofit Management from Arizona State University, and Bachelor degrees in Regional Development and Political Science from the University of Arizona. She is a certified mediator with significant experience in conflict resolution and restorative justice practices.
Wende is married to Peabody-Award-Winning Journalist Rolando Nichols and they are foster, adoptive and biological parents.
Founded in 1978, CASA of Los Angeles is a community-supported 501(c)(3) non-profit organization whose mission is to mobilize community volunteers to advocate on behalf of abused and neglected children in the overburdened foster care system of Los Angeles County. CASA's vision is of a Los Angeles where every foster child has an advocate and the opportunity to thrive. Through committed, highly trained everyday citizen volunteers, CASA brings the voice of a concerned community into the child welfare system. Studies have shown that children with CASAs receive more assistance and support than children without, and are more likely to be adopted or returned to their families and less likely to reenter the child welfare system. For more information, please visit the CASA of Los Angeles website: www.casala.org.