With 16 full-time and about 10 part-time advocates, CASDA staff members bring a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences to our work. The following is a list of our full-time staff members and their individual areas of expertise, as well as some comments they have shared about their positions, passions, vision and community involvement.
Kelly Burger – Executive Director
If the job has existed at CASDA, then Kelly has done it. She has been at the agency for over 25 years. In addition to overseeing general operations, Kelly represents CASDA in many community groups.
Kelly says: “I have been with CASDA for 27 years. I began my career at CASDA as the Shelter Program Director for 8 ½ years and have since been the Executive Director for the past 18 years.
“I am responsible for the overall coordination and implementation of agency operations. I am also responsible for the implementation and evaluation of agency programming, finances, and public relations.
“My passion is ensuring that victims and survivors of abuse have a safe, confidential place to go to when they need support and resources.
“My vision is to advocate for a community effort to end violence.
“I recently graduated from the UW-Superior Leadership Program. I am a past Rotarian. I currently sit on several Coordinated Community Response Teams.”
Dana Doyle – Director of Program Services
Dana helps emergency shelter clients meet their immediate needs and plan for their future safety while supervising all shelter staff, four program coordinators, two full-time advocates and day-to-day shelter operations.
Dana says: “I supervise all our programs except for the legal program.
“My passion is my family and the clients we serve.
“I am also close to retirement so my vision is me lying on the beach, relaxing and enjoying my time!
“My job requires me to attend many community meetings and serve on many committees that work with issues of mental health, AODA, homelessness, domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse awareness/prevention.
“I am a Canadian citizen, Native, with a commitment to the movement and a passion to help others. I supervised a treatment home for Native youth for over 20 years until I moved to the U.S. We dealt with child abuse, sexual assaults and suicides, as well as many mental health issues.”
Ellie Warring – Sexual Assault Program Coordinator
Our Sexual Assault Program Coordinator is our resident expert on sexual assault, working with victims and survivors of sexual violence. She also works with community members and other local agencies to address the impact that sexual assault has on our community and make changes in order to prevent sexual assault from occurring.
Ellie graduated from UW-Superior in 2022 with a double major in psychology and criminal justice. In that time, she has retained a passion about advocating for survivors. One of Ellie’s goals is to provide education and training in the community that works to provide awareness on the harms that rape culture and myths have for survivors of sexual assault. Another major focus is to provide support to clients in their own personal path of healing through empowerment and advocacy. Ellie is excited to create more connections with other organizations in the community so there can be greater awareness and prevention efforts for sexual assault.
Ellie is involved in several teams including MDT, St. Louis County SMART, and Douglas County Human Trafficking Team. In her free time, she enjoys weightlifting, hiking, and spending time with her cat.
Brenna Follis – Domestic Abuse Program Coordinator
Brenna, our Domestic Abuse Program Coordinator, is our resident expert on domestic violence, working with victims in one-on-one appointments and by co-facilitating our educational/support group. She also provides education and outreach to the community, helps clients find housing, and accompanies clients to court.
Joanne Sanders – Shelter Program Coordinator
Joanne started out her colorful journey with CASDA first as a volunteer, then intern, and eventually was hired as a shelter advocate in January 2013. From there, Joanne retained enough experience working with shelter clients and was eventually promoted to shelter case manager, where she provides direct services and case management to all shelter clients and crisis line callers.
Joanne also conducts structured one-on-one appointments with shelter clients on a weekly basis to facilitate advocacy and goal setting. She acts as a liaison with area vendors and service agencies to ensure a safe, healthy living-environment within the shelter program. Joanne provides information and education concerning domestic violence, sexual assault, and child abuse.
“The system is hard to navigate and can be very frustrating. I am here to help break down walls and make connections within the community to better serve those affected by abuse.”
“A world free of violence would be my top goal but I don’t see that happening. I am empowered when I get to see the light come on in someone’s eyes after they have been in the dark for so long.”
Joanne facilitates three of our annual donation drives, as well as partakes in multiple committees inside and outside of CASDA.
Joanne’s range of experience within the organization comes from a decade of compassion, resiliency, and growth: “I wear many hats here.”
Ruth Hunter – Shelter House Manager
The House Manager is responsible for providing supportive services to adult and child residents in our emergency shelter, assisting callers on the 24-hour helpline, and providing facility maintenance.
Ruth says: “As an advocate my primary responsibility is to listen to, validate and empower our clients. As the Shelter House Manager it is also my responsibility to make sure that things around shelter are taken care of (anything broken needs to be fixed, clients and advocates do chores to keep shelter clean – generally try to make sure that things run smoothly in shelter). I also do the grocery and supply shopping, I make sure that food is being rotated and used so it’s not being wasted, and I do monthly food shelf stats and daily client stats.
“As a survivor myself, I have dedicated myself to helping others. There is absolutely no better feeling than watching a woman who came through our doors feeling broken and seeing herself as a victim become empowered, recognize her strengths and realize that she is NOT a victim, she IS a survivor. Being able to play even a minor part in that healing process IS my passion.
“I hope for more recognition that domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse are happening everywhere. We need everyone to stand up and get involved, whether through advocating, volunteering or donating, if we ever hope to stop the violence. We receive wonderful support from our community and I hope that it not only continues but grows.
“As full-time staff we are all asked to cover different outreach events. Because I am the only full-time staff member that doesn’t work the typical Monday – Friday schedule, I am not able to table at many events. But every year I am able to staff the WITC Job Fair in April with my Director of Program Services, Dana. I also attend anything related to our community food banks. Finally, I have to keep my Food Safe certification up to date so that I can pick up weekly donations from Kwik Trip.
“After being a paralegal in Rhode Island for many years I moved back to Wisconsin and became the office coordinator for my father’s businesses. After sustaining a brain injury, I was unable to work for a few years (and definitely couldn’t go back into law with my memory issues) so I was connected with the W-2 program. Through them I was asked if there was anywhere that I have ever wanted to work and/or volunteer and I said CASDA as I had received help from them in the past. They set it up for me to begin volunteering almost immediately!! So I started volunteering in the office for CASDA back in August of 2011. After that I was hired as a Shelter Fill-In Advocate and began working for CASDA in February 2012. Now, as of September 2013, I am the Shelter House Manager. I have absolutely no plans to leave this position or CASDA as I LOVE my job and feel that this is where I was destined to end up.”
Jaramy (Jay) Hansen – Attorney
As one of CASDA’s two attorneys, Jay provides advice and representation to victims as they navigate the court system. He also answers questions from clients and staff regarding legal matters. He is our resident expert on restraining orders.
Jay is passionate about helping victims and survivors navigate the legal system. His vision for his role is “to fill the gaps in the legal community between the legal system and victims and survivors.” You may have seen him around the Twin Ports community representing the Domestic Violence Coordinated Community Response Team (DV-CCR, which he chaired), Sexual Assault Coordinated Community Response Team (SA-CCR), Domestic Abuse Reduction Team (DART), Sexual Assault Reduction Team (SART), Wisconsin Bar Association, Michigan Bar Association, and the National Bar Association. Jay has been with CASDA since July 2016.
Cindy Sweetnam – Attorney
In addition to providing legal advice, Cindy offers representation for clients in family law matters such as divorce, custody/placement issues, and restraining orders.
Cindy says she helps families navigate through the sometimes confusing family law processes. She is passionate about splitting her time between being helpful at CASDA and her children and family. When asked about her vision for CASDA, she says that she likes CASDA’s strong community presence and strongly believes that the first step is being visible and showing up to be helpful to the community. She is very involved in her church and her children’s school. She also tutors kids in math and advocates for building a better math and science foundation that she hopes will open doors for the children later on in life. While she doesn’t feel that she has made change to policies or procedures, as an attorney, she has followed the procedures already in place and has helped families get the best results. CASDA thanks Cindy for her service, which started in July 2016.
Brittany Westmoreland – Children’s Program Coordinator
The Children’s Program Coordinator provides supportive services to child and teen victims and witnesses of abuse. She provides safety planning assistance as well as help with healthy communication skills, setting boundaries and improving self-esteem.
Brittany started her journey with CASDA in May of 2021 as a Shelter Advocate. Throughout her time
working with clients and their children in our shelter, Brittany developed a passion for advocacy and a
new understanding of how vital our mission is at CASDA to our community as a whole. Brittany plans to
take the knowledge she gained as an advocate and apply it to her new position as our Children’s
Brittany says, “My mission as the Children’s Program Coordinator is to strive to be
who I once needed as a kid by offering my full support, resources, safety planning and awareness of
what goes on inside the mind of a child experiencing trauma. My clients will always have a safe space
that is free of judgment or high expectations, along with unique and strategic sessions with me based on
their personal development and needs. I hope to give each child in my program a new set of skills to
guide them through the barriers they face, and the confidence to use them.”
Outside of CASDA, Brittany’s hobbies include spending time with her two kids, camping, hiking, and
being in the company of friends and family.
Desiree Otterino – Housing First Program Coordinator
The Housing First Program Coordinator coordinates housing-focused flexible funding and advocacy services for victims/survivors of domestic abuse in CASDA’s service area. The Housing First program focuses primarily on helping survivors who face multiple barriers secure and maintain stable, long-term housing. The Housing First strategy addresses homelessness first, making other challenges faced by survivors easier to manage.
Desiree joined CASDA in March 2022. A mom of four, Desiree says that she has a large extended family that leans on each other for everything. Previously, Desiree was a domestic violence advocate, as well as a special education paraprofessional and an advocate for families of children with special needs. She then stepped away from the work-life to be with her family more. With strong ties to her Native heritage, Desiree has been a powerful voice for her community and within the MMIW (Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women) movement. Through her MMIW work, Desiree discovered she wanted to be on the other end of this spectrum: instead of solely looking and advocating for those who are missing, she wants to work to prevent tragedy, create a safer environment, and advocate from the start of the journey.
Becca Demars – Triage Advocate
The Triage Advocate provides initial crisis intervention for victims and survivors of abuse who contact us through our 24-hour help line, web site, or in person. She provides support, peer counseling and information and referrals.
Becka has been in her position since July 2018. She explains that every morning she goes to the Superior Police Station to go over new cases of domestic violence that have been reported. She then takes that information and reaches out to the survivor(s) to see if there is anything she can help them with. Some of her other duties at CASDA include answering phones and helping clients find the resources that he/she/they need. One big project she is working on is trying to help the court system adjust perpetrators’ bail so that it better personalized to fit the perpetrator’s history of crime.
Becka is passionate about bike riding, kayaking, and her firm belief that victims are not inherently female and perpetrators are not inherently male, as our society often portrays. She is passionate about wanting to change the stereotype about gender. She wants people to be held accountable for what they have done. When she was young, her grandfather told her something that has stuck with her her whole life, “nothing in life is lost if we can learn from it.” She has also been influenced by something that Dr. Gary Keveles, a professor at UW-Superior said, “hurt people hurt people,” or people who have been hurt are more likely to hurt others, and thus the cycle of abuse continues.
In the future, Becka has dreams of fostering kids and animals (maybe not at the same time), and also wants to teach self-care, self-defense and bystander intervention at UMD, UWS and possibly Northland College.
Gabe Sexton – Sexual Assault Campus Advocate
Our Sexual Assault Campus advocate is responsible for providing advocacy services to students from the University of Wisconsin – Superior (UWS) campus who have experienced sexual violence. This advocate coordinates campus education events, provides community and campus information, and gives referrals. They also serve as CASDA’s liaison to the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) community.
My name is Gabriel Sexton. My pronouns are he/him and I super excited to get tot work with not only cool and caring individuals, but with a supportive team as well. I am from Foxboro, WI and I’ve lived in this area my whole entire life! I love the natural beauty and the fact you almost never run out of things to do around here. In my spare time I love to workout, hunt, and find new adventures. I’m known for my sense of humor as well.
I graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Superior in December of 2022 with my bachelor’s in Communications and my minor in Psychology. The reason I came to CASDA is because I want to make a difference in the world. I have always felt my purpose in life is to help people and I believe this is a good place to be in order to do that!
Denise Selden – Outreach Advocate
The Outreach Advocate provides ongoing support, peer counseling and information and referrals to long-term clients who are victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and/or child abuse. She provides these services via community-based advocacy — collaborating with community partners, accompanying clients to goal-related appointments, and making in-home visits to safe locations.
Denise says that she assists clients with the process of later steps of recovery by helping them get an apartment and do other things to help get their life in motion after their trauma. She has a passion for helping clients be independent and reach personal goals. Denise realizes that in a perfect world, she and the whole of CASDA would not be needed. Although, she says, CASDA is a great place for recovery and reconciliation, Denise would prefer it if domestic and sexual violence didn’t exist and create a need for agencies like CASDA. She is an avid part of the community, working on the Mental Health Coordinated Community Response (CCR) Team, and the AODA CCR. She is also an ambassador for the Make It Okay Campaign, and in a humble response to the question “What impact have you had on community policies or procedures,” Denise reported that she feels like she hasn’t had an impact as of yet. Denise has been in her current role since late 2016.
Mollie Gilbertson – Community Engagement Coordinator
While the Community Engagement Coordinator occasionally works with clients, this individual’s main focus is engaging the wider community with CASDA’s mission by coordinating the efforts of interns and volunteers, assisting with fundraising activities and overseeing CASDA’s Public Education and Internship Programs.
Mollie attended college at University Wisconsin-Stout and University Minnesota-Duluth where she studied Fine Arts with a concentration in painting, printmaking, and drawing. From there, Mollie applied her creativity and passion to help others as a special education aide. By being a part of the team and often leading creative arts groups, it was there that she grew her ability to advocate for students with social and physical barriers. As well as provide resources and support for students to become successful moving forward.
Mollie went on to gain more experience working as a youth care counselor. She retained the knowledge and deepened compassion for preteens and young adults struggling with general mental health, sexual abuse, substance abuse, and behavioral issues.
Within the last year, Mollie worked in administration for a nonprofit with a mission to uplift the creative arts community. After having been exposed to how the operations of a non-profit organization worked, Mollie felt her priorities shifting, especially due to the recent regression to woman’s rights. Mollie believes she has found a home in CASDA, as it is a position where she can express her creativity, apply skills from past work experience, and contribute to CASDA’s passionate drive to make a difference.
OPEN – Bayfield County Outreach Coordinator
As the sole CASDA staff member in our Washburn office, Desirae provides support to rural survivors of domestic violence and further extends our reach as a community resource. Desirae graduated from Northland College with a degree in Sociology/Social Justice in 2016 and joined CASDA’s team in March 2020. With prior experience working for Child Protective Services, Desirae is excited for a new change of pace at CASDA’s Bayfield office and the opportunity to share her perspective. Desirae hopes to create a bigger presence for CASDA in Bayfield and Ashland counties. She would like to promote our programs we offer there as well as community events to build awareness of our services. Desirae’s hobbies include hiking with her two dogs, as well as walks by the lake!
Kim Keskinen – Overnight Advocate
The Overnight Advocate helps provide direct services to clients, including crisis counseling, housing advocacy, and referrals to other agencies.