Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County announces the appointment of six new members to its Board of Directors.

Joining the Board of Directors are Virginia Benson, Jim Burge, Jeff Hearn, Todd Moore, Dave Pankratz, and Thomas Parker.

“All six of our new Board members embody the spirit of community and bring talent, expertise and energy to the table. We are very fortunate to have them by our side as we continue to strengthen our presence in Santa Barbara County by serving more children than ever,” said Executive Director Kim Davis.

Jim Burge is joining the CASA Board of Directors in 2015 after serving on the Finance Committee beginning in October 2014.  He played a significant role facilitating development of the recently completed Strategic Plan.

Jim has extensive experience in corporate planning, financial analysis, business development, and mergers and acquisitions.  He worked for Smart & Final for 17 years as Vice President, Strategic Planning and later served as Director of Corporate Development for Farmer Brothers Coffee.  He began his career with Marriott Corporation after receiving an MBA degree from UCLA.

Jeff Hearn. After graduating from Cal Poly with a B.A. and M.A. in 1969, Jeff started his career on an Indian reservation in Covelo, CA. After one year of teaching and coaching he was called to active duty in the U.S. Army as a Second Lieutenant. Following one year stationed at Fort Knox, KY, Jeff was deployed to Vietnam. Upon returning in 1971, Jeff resumed his teaching and coaching career in Covelo and then in 1973 moved to Brawley, CA, where he spent one year teaching and coaching at Brawley High School.

From 1975-1984, he was a teacher, coach, counselor, athletic director, and administrator at St. Joseph High School. In 1984 he accepted a position as Assistant Principal at Santa Maria High School. He remained at SMHS until 2000, spending his last nine years as Principal. In June 2000, he was appointed Superintendent where he served until his retirement in June 2009.

Over the course of his time in Santa Maria, Jeff has served on a number of boards and been a member of several community groups including United Way, Fighting Back, SELPA of Santa Barbara County Education, Community Advisory Committee of the Santa Maria City Police Department, California Association of School Administrators, High School Network of California, and Meals on Wheels.

Todd Moore was born and raised in Ohio where he attended school and graduated from Kent State University. He earned a Bachelor of Science in Criminal Justice with a minor in Psychology. After marrying his fiancee, Ann, the couple moved to the Central Coast in 2002 as part of a church planting effort.

Todd and his wife are the Campus Pastors of Church for Life in Guadalupe, CA. Core to their belief is that the church as a whole should be a front runner in the community, especially concerning issues of social justice. This is evidenced through their extensive support and partnerships with SB County CWS, Salvation Army, Central Coast Rescue Mission, CareNet Crisis Pregnancy, and community revitalization projects including Serve Santa Maria and Guadalupe Ciclovia.

Dave Pankratz. As an aspiring entrepreneur, a younger Dave gained his business education in the real world as he picked vegetables from his father’s garden and sold them to neighbors and friends. Dave co-owns One Way Boardshop in Santa Maria which also operates a 7,500sq/ft. skate park.  One Way Boardshop and the skate park are the result of Dave and his partner, twin brother Dan’s passion to provide kids with a place to enjoy skateboarding in a positive and safe environment.

Currently, as CEO of Exchange Collective, Dave oversees the implementation of the company vision: giving retailers tools to compete within a challenging and quick-changing marketplace. Dave is committed to new product development, building corporate relationships and extending world-class customer service.

Thomas Parker spent more than thirty years in local and federal law enforcement and retired in 1994 as the Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the Los Angeles Regional FBI Office. He previously served as a police officer in northern California and as a National Park Ranger in Yosemite National Park.  He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s Degree in Public Safety Management and Education.

Tom is currently the Chair of the Santa Barbara County Superior Court Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention Commission and is a former Fire and Police Commissioner for the City of Santa Barbara. He is also a member of the Academy of Criminal Justice Sciences, the National Coalition for Juvenile Justice, the American Correctional Association, and the California Probation, Parole and Correctional Association.  He is an Associate Member of the California Attorneys for Criminal Justice.

Virginia Benson Wigle. For more than twenty-five years, Virginia Benson Wigle worked in the Santa Barbara non-profit sector, most recently serving as Vice President of Education for Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo. In her twenty year tenure with Planned Parenthood, Virginia served two terms on the California State legislative committee for Planned Parenthood affiliates, collaborated in writing and managing private, county, and federal grants, and developed and implemented health programs throughout the Central Coast.

Virginia participated and organized several local non-profit and school district steering committees including the Santa Barbara and Ventura County Public Health HIV/AIDS Task Force and the Central Coast Coalition for Responsible Parenting, Santa Barbara, Ventura, and San Luis Obispo Teen Task Force.

The mission of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Santa Barbara County is to assure a safe, permanent, nurturing home for every abused and/or neglected child by providing a highly trained volunteer to advocate for them in the court system.  For more information on how to get involved with CASA visit www.sbcasa.org or email tara@sbcasa.org.