With 15 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.”
Nicole Thole – 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.
Nicole’s vision is for Superior citizens and other residents of our service area to recognize the impact that violence has on a community. She also encourages the growth of leaders and workers who take actionable steps to help those who experience violence as well as to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence. She envisions a community full of individuals who support positive sexuality, comprehensive and inclusive sexual health, and the use of consent in relationships.
Along with her enthusiasm for CASDA’s mission, Nicole is passionate about holistic health, poetry, nature and cooking.
Lisa Jordan – Domestic Abuse Program Coordinator
Lisa, 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.
She would love to see conflict resolution become more peaceful through systemic and family education and changes.
Lisa is involved in the WITC Advisory Committee, teaches yoga classes, and has a women’s group with friends where they discuss mindfulness and health. Her passions are yoga, meditation, her children, and going on hikes.
Joanne Sanders – Shelter Program Coordinator
Our Shelter Program Coordinator provides comprehensive case management services as well as assistance in short- and long-term goal planning for shelter clients.
Joanne says: “My responsibilities are endless. My main goal is to help our residents with anything that they need to become self sufficient. I also help them set short- and long-term goals. Education is key. I wear many hats in this position. But that is it in a nutshell.
“My passion is to help women and children who find themselves in a situation. I’ve been there, so I know how hard it is to navigate through the systems when you need help.
“My vision…hmmm… I can’t stop DV (domestic violence) in the world as much as I would like to… I guess my vision is to see people educated on DV in their communities and when clients leave the shelter, to be able to live in peace and feel safe.
“As for community involvement, I am on many different committees: Behavioral Health Coordinated Community Response Team (CCR), Alchohol and Other Drug Abuse (AODA) Community Coalition, Human Services Advisory Committee, and Anti Poverty Coalition (APAC). I also table at different events and run our bi-annual donation drives at Walmart in the spring and SuperOne in the fall. We also just added an August donation drive at Sams Club. We provide education and related statistics on display boards at the drives.
“One of the reasons I am on all of these committees is to raise awareness in our community and make things happen. It takes a village.
“I have been employed at CASDA since 2013.”
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
The paralegal supports victims as they navigate the court system and provides answers to questions from clients and staff on legal matters. He is also 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 Cooordinated Community Response Team (DV-CCR, which he chaired), Sexual Assault Cooordinated 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, the attorney 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.
Sherry Boock – 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.
Sherry says: “I rejoined the CASDA team in April 2017. In the past, I had worked in the Shelter Program here as an advocate but for the majority of my working life, I have worked with kids. As a daycare and preschool teacher, I was always drawn to the kids who needed a little extra support, the so-called “naughty” ones. That led me to work in an elementary school as a special education para-educator, working with those kids who required behavioral and educational support. My position here allows me to broaden my scope to not only support and educate children but their families and the community as well.
“CASDA’s Children’s Program offers its clients advocacy, crisis counseling and a safe, trusting and confidential chance to work on emotion management, self-esteem, safety planning, and goal-oriented progress. As victims and/or witnesses of abuse and assault, children are confronted with a barrage of very specific issues and need a strong support system in order to work through them. I provide that necessary support. My program is available for children ages 4-18 as well as parents who would like support in understanding and coping with a child affected by abuse or assault. In addition to working with individual clients, I am also teaching protective behaviors, aspects of teen dating violence, and healthy boundaries in area schools. I’m always working to strengthen relationships between CASDA and the community to provide support to as many children and families as possible.
“Some have asked me if this job is depressing, simply knowing there is a need for a Children’s Program at all. Though it can be terribly sad, it is not depressing. It ignites a passion in me. It is everyone’s wish that my program and our agency weren’t necessary but until there is an end to violence, I’m going to support and educate these kids, their families and my community to the best of my ability.”
Becka 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.
Jordan Zabel – 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. He coordinates campus education events, provides community and campus information, and gives referrals. He also serves as CASDA’s liaison to the Wisconsin Indianhead Technical College (WITC) community.
Jordan joined CASDA’s staff in 2021. He says, “I came to CASDA because I have always been an advocate for sexual assault survivors and victims since college when friends and colleagues came to me about their experiences. I have experienced sexual assaults in my life as well and want to help see an end or downturn in the number of cases. I also have a passion for non-profits and trying to leave the world a better place than how we found it.”
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.
Jill Hinners – Community Engagement Coordinator
While the Community Engagement Coordinator does work with clients, her main focus is coordinating the efforts of our volunteers, assisting with fundraising activities and overseeing CASDA’s Public Education and Internship Programs.
Jill says: “As Community Engagement Coordinator, I am responsible for engaging the wider community with CASDA’s mission by recruiting and coordinating volunteers and interns; directing the Public Education Program; developing and implementing CASDA’s social media strategy; and participating in fundraising efforts, such as grant writing and special events. I also provide direct client services as needed.
“I am passionate about helping people of all ages and backgrounds find safe ways to disclose, discuss and recover from abuse. I am passionate about learning (and I learn from the amazing advocates and survivors around me, every day). I am also passionate about using my skills, such as writing, to serve a critical community need. Finally, I am passionate about trying to stay grounded in a positive outlook — continually coming back to the ideas of hope and possibility.
“With respect to CASDA’s mission, my vision is for a community, country and world where non-violence is the norm, and abuse is not tolerated OR, if it occurs, victims feel safe talking about it because it is a given that they will be believed and supported, and that perpetrators will be held accountable.
“In my role, I frequently represent CASDA in the greater community, such as presenting in classrooms and attending community events. However, I don’t belong to any community task forces as some of my colleagues do. Outside of CASDA, I am a word nerd who believes in the value and power of poetry!
“I think that my program’s impact starts with individual awareness because so many people introduced to CASDA become one more ambassador for our mission and services, helping us expand our reach and communicate what we do throughout the community. The more people who understand what we do and its importance, and understand that yes, abuse does happen here and we need to talk about it openly, the more effective we can all be at advocating for a community effort to end violence.
“I have been at CASDA since September 2012. In a mid-life career change, I switched from a retail/customer-service focus to a human-service focus. I was hired at CASDA as the Volunteer Coordinator. About two years later, my position expanded into other areas and was re-named “Community Engagement Coordinator.”
Desirae Leavens – 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
Kim has worked at CASDA since 2014. She helps provide direct services to clients, including crisis counseling, housing advocacy, and referrals to other agencies. She started as a part-time shelter advocate and then moved into the full-time position when it was created about three years later. She loves to be able to see clients succeed despite all of the barriers that survivors of domestic violence face with housing, jobs, transportation, etc.
She wants to see both agencies in the community and community members come together and work to end violence, reduce the stigmas that survivors face today, and see more accountability for perpetrators. To help reduce barriers, she would also like to see more funding for transportation so that it can expand and to have more housing options.
Kim does most of her volunteering for CASDA itself with donation drives, fundraising events, etc. She also helps out at Superior schools with their bullying awareness programs and with class field trips, and she has volunteered for a local election campaign.