MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

Local News

March 9, 2014

Change of guard at CASA

Chapter’s new executive director experienced in victim services

After six years of helping crime victims get through the legal system, Suzanne Hughes now seeks to be “a voice for the children.”

Hughes, 31, is the new executive director of the local chapter of Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children. She replaces Kathryn Eaton, who retired last week.

Hughes spent six years working in victim services for District 27 District Attorney Brian Kuester. The district covers Wagoner, Sequoyah, Adair and Cherokee counties.

“I helped children, adults, anybody who was a victim of crime. We’d walk them through the system, prepare them for court, help them every step along the way,” she said.

“She seemed to be a great fit because of her experience,” said Muskogee CASA President David Kolb. “We just lucked out finding her.”

Hughes said she absolutely sees the new job as a good fit.

“When I found out the position was open, I knew that it was something I truly wanted to do,” she said, adding that she was attracted to the job because of the possibility of “working with children, making a difference, speaking up for children and helping the community.”

Hughes started her job about two weeks ago, which enabled Eaton to mentor her, Kolb said.

“Kathryn had been good to me; she helped me through the job,” Hughes said.  “I am so thrilled about it.”

She said she and the staff “are going to work great together.”

CASA trains volunteers to advocate for the best interests of children who are going through the legal system. Judges assign volunteers to children.

Muskogee’s CASA has 47 volunteers serving children in Sequoyah, Wagoner and Muskogee counties.

“We are the voice for children,” Hughes said. “Volunteers step in and help out, meet with these children, make sure they are in a loving home. They report to the judge.”

She said she plans to continue to expand the program and recruit volunteers.

Hughes said she is recruiting people for spring volunteer training April 28-May 8.

Eaton said Muskogee’s CASA has grown in the eight years she was director.

“We went from 30 volunteers to close to 60,” Eaton said. “We now have a Wagoner office and are moving into Sequoyah County.”

The need also has grown, she said.

“The number of abused and neglected children continues to rise.”

Reach Cathy Spaulding at (918) 684-2928 or cspaulding@muskogeephoenix.com.

Meet Suzanne Hughes

AGE: 31.

HOMETOWN: Wagoner.

CAREER: Executive director, Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children.

EDUCATION: College in Bakersfield, Calif.

FAMILY: Husband, Jacob Hughes; one son.

HOBBIES: T-ball, reading, being with family.

You can help

Court Appointed Special Advocates for Children (CASA) is seeking people to be trained as volunteers. Sessions will be 5 to 9 p.m. April 28 and 29 and May 1, 5, 6 and 8 on the seventh floor of the Severs Building, 215 State St. Information (918) 686-8199.

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