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Meet the Illinois CASA Staff

Illinois CASA champions children by supporting, uniting, and growing local programs to provide a court appointed volunteer advocate for abused and neglected children throughout the State.

Mari Christopherson

Executive Director

Mari joined the CASA movement as a volunteer advocate in 2012. Shortly thereafter, she joined the staff of CASA Lake County and moved to the State Office in October of 2017. With a background in resource development, Mari understands the complex and diverse funding and organizational development needs of the Illinois CASA network.

Her previous non-profit experience includes serving as the Program Officer in Education at the Chicago Community Trust and working as the Board liaison at the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago. She began her career in management consulting. Mari is a graduate of Stanford University and completed her graduate work at the University of Chicago.

Mari lives with her family in Chicago, and you can find her at home in her kitchen or a yoga studio almost anywhere in Illinois.


Tami Wacker

Director of Program Development

Tami joined Illinois CASA in December of 2017.  She brings with her over 15 years of working in the field of advocacy and not-for-profit program management and development.  As Director of Program Development, Tami’s responsibilities include assisting the development of new local Illinois CASA programs within the state and providing programmatic and organizational support to the existing network of the 30 local programs. Tami received her Bachelor’s degree in Organizational Leadership from Eureka College and her Master of Arts in Human Services from the University of Illinois in Springfield.  Tami loves spending time with her husband, two boys and two dogs at their home in Bloomington, Illinois.


Kristen Bertrand

Director of Training

Kristen joined CASA in 2009 working for the local program in Coles County as the Office Clerk, Advocate Coordinator and for the past 4.5 years as the Executive Director.  As Executive Director, she expanded services in two ways: becoming a GAL program in Coles County and expanding services to Cumberland County. Kristen went to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago, IL earning an American Intercultural Ministry Bachelor’s degree. She resides with her family in Charleston, IL and spends time playing her violin and using her voice in a bluegrass band, Big Blue Mountain, or on the worship team at Home Church. Kristen serves on the Citizen’s Against Child Abuse agency as the Secretary and attends monthly DCFS meetings for the Foster Parent Recruitment Team. Kristen joined Illinois CASA in November 2018.