1224 Chapline Street, Wheeling, WV 26003
258 Jefferson Avenue, Moundsville, WV 26041
New Martinsville Office:
128 Main Street, New Martinsville, WV 26155
Susan Harrison graduated from Edinboro University with a BA in criminal justice in 2000, where she was a scholar athlete and member of the women’s swim team. After working for a few years doing behavioral interventions with a wrap-around agency, she moved to Morgantown, WV to pursue her MSW and MPA degrees. While in school, she was a graduate teaching assistant for the social work department. After graduation, Susan became a therapist for the Monongalia County Youth Services Center and worked at the Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center as the Coordinator of Interview and Community Services. While in Morgantown she met and married her husband Jeremy. With the opportunity for Jeremy to move home to Marshall County, Jeremy convinced Susan that the Ohio Valley would be where they could put down roots and raise a family.
Over the past 12 years, Susan has led and grown the CASA for Children Inc. organization to include 4 counties (Ohio, Marshall, Wetzel and Tyler Counties), 2 Court Jurisdictions and serving more than 400 children each year. In 2010, Susan and her husband founded Helping Heroes Inc., a program providing a ‘hand up’ to veterans needing housing stability assistance in the Northern Panhandle of WV. She is a member of the WV State Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Abuse of Children, the lead for the Marshall County Partners in Prevention Team and a trainer of the Mandated Reporting, Making a Difference Curriculum. In addition, Susan has taught social work classes at West Liberty University each year since 2012. Susan and Jeremy reside in Glen Dale and have a son Evan, now 10 years old.
A fun fact about Susan is that she is a triathlete at 40 (+)years old!
“A foster/adoptive parent once told me: 'you saved this kid' I don't know that I believe, I ALONE did or could do anything to save him, what I did was love him. When we look for the good in the children on our caseloads, it makes it easier to help find their forever family. I loved this kid, I introduced him to a family that will love him forever. I believe the potential is there for CASA volunteers to save kids, not always from their abusive homes, but sometimes we are saving them from a broken system. The connections that we make with our kids, their support systems, their schools... our job is to help put the pieces back together or in some case design a whole new puzzle. Our job is to work together with all the messiness that is today's child welfare system and somehow hope and pray that we have made the right choices, made the right recommendations so that in the end our children don't just survive but thrive. ”
- Susan J. Harrison MSW, MPA, LGSW
Executive Director CASA for Children, Inc.
“After graduating college, I started as a CASA Volunteer in Ohio in 2001. I was hired at that Juvenile Court, but remained and still act as a Guardian Ad Litem for that organization for the last 18 years. The last two years I have been working as a Volunteer Coordinator for CASA for Children, Inc. serving children in Tyler, Wetzel, Marshall & Ohio County, WV. CASA impacts children in the foster care system in many ways. I love getting to know the kids we advocate for! Most jobs in child welfare do not allow for special moments to just be there for a child. CASA Advocates have the unique opportunity to spend quality time getting to know children and their foster placement. This better prepares us to speak up for their best interest in more formal settings like MDT’s and court proceedings.I bring a lot of work experience to CASA from community mental health, working with individuals with developmental delays, juvenile probation and working for a large managed care organization. “ -Kristen Paynter
A fun fact about Kristen is that she loves to cook and take care of my family & friends!
Tori Smith graduated from West Liberty University with a BA in Criminal Justice in 2018. During her Senior Year she worked at Berry, Kessler, Crutchfield, Taylor & Gordon as a Legal Secretary. Tori then joined our team here at CASA for Children in July of 2019. Tori serves as our Volunteer Coordinator for Wetzel and Tyler Counties and is located in our satellite office in the Wetzel County Center for Children and Families in New Martinsville. Tori was born and raised in Wetzel/Tyler County area and is thrilled to be able to give back to the community she grew up in.
“Working for CASA has given me the opportunity to do what I love. As a CASA I get to be the voice for children who cannot speak up for themselves. Along with being an advocate, I also serve as a listening ear, a supportive person, a resource connector in difficult times, and a friend to children who are in the Child Welfare System. “A foster mother told me “I cannot express how thankful we are that you have taken the time to be a part of everything in our child’s life. You have provided not only our child, but our whole family with a support system during this difficult time.” I like to use the saying “It takes an Army to protect a village” when referring to the team work and collaboration it takes to build up broken family relationships and put together a plan to best help families within the Child Welfare System. Without the strong efforts, dedication, collaboration, and strong foundation of the Multi-Disciplinary Teams throughout the court proceedings, successful reunifications would not be possible.” -Tori Smith
Kate graduated from Wheeling Jesuit University with a degree in psychology, where she concentrated on children and adolescent psych. Kate’s career in advocacy started when she was employed with Head Start. After she had her daughter, Kate worked as an Outreach Coordinator for Home Base Inc., where she started to become familiar with the foster care system and how CPS operates. Kate moved on to coordinate Intensive Outpatient Treatment programs and the Office Based Medicated Assisted Treatment program at Northwood, where she saw firsthand the impact of substance abuse on our community. Kate wanted to work for CASA because she ultimately wants to work with children, break the cycle of addiction in our community.
“I love advocacy work. I am proud to work for an organization that advocates for some of the most vulnerable members of the community. The child can’t speak for themselves, but the advocate makes sure that the child’s voice is heard in the courtroom. Through CASA, a child is less likely to fall through the cracks.” -Kate Ernest
Abby graduated from West Virginia University in 2017 with her B.S. in Child Development and Family Studies with an emphasis on Family and Youth. While serving in the US Army Reserves, she worked in child care centers and interned with the Marion County Child Advocacy Center where she learned more about this field. Abby has experience working with our local youth, and serves as a volunteer with the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. She is trained in Applied Suicide Intervention Skills (ASIST) and Screening, Brief Intervention and Referral to Treatment (SBIRT) for substance use disorders. She became a CASA volunteer in May 2020, and joined our team in December 2020.
"Advocacy work is important because we get to advocate for those who need their voice heard while promoting their rights. It's important to me to help break stigmas and bring our community together. Selfless service is who I am, and I am thrilled to be part of the CASA Team to continue serving." Abby B.