Escareno leaving CASA to lead the United Way

1/23/2013

By RACHAEL GRAY

By RACHAEL GRAY

rgray@gctelegram.com

The executive director of a local child advocacy organization is leaving that post to become the new executive director of the Finney County United Way.

The United Way Board of Directors announced Tuesday night that it had chosen Susan Escareno, current executive director of Spirit of the Plains CASA, to be the new executive director of the United Way.

Grant Elpers, Finney County United Way Board of Directors Chair, said Escareno will be an asset to the agency.

"Susan brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to the position. The Finney County United Way mission of 'focusing our community and resources to make the greatest difference in meeting identified human needs in Finney County' will of course be Ms. Escareno's focus, and we as a board are committed to supporting her in the pursuit of that mission. We look forward to a smooth transition," he said.

Escareno, who will begin as United Way executive director on March 11, said she is looking forward to the experience.

"I am excited to be a part of the Finney County United Way fundraising and community impact effort. Assisting all of the worthwhile partner agencies and becoming a bigger part of the community will be very rewarding for me," she said.

Escareno had served for seven years at CASA, and was a longtime volunteer before becoming executive director.

The agency is an advocacy group that helps support children involved in the court system.

Alicia Harp, CASA board president, said the agency was sad to see Escareno go.

"I have been on the CASA board for many years as treasurer and most recently as president. Susan has been a longtime volunteer for CASA, so when she became the director for CASA seven years ago, her heart for CASA just continued to grow as her responsibilities increased," Harp said. "She has always gone the extra mile in her job, and we couldn't have asked for a more dedicated director. Her shoes will be hard to fill, but just because she is leaving as director, we know she will always continue to be an advocate for CASA, and we feel very fortunate for that."

Escareno said she plans to still volunteer for CASA.

"It was a very, very difficult decision to make a change. It's a program that is very near and dear to my heart," she said.

Escareno had volunteered for 19 years before becoming the director.

"It's been very rewarding. As a volunteer, I learned a lot. And I've learned so much since being a director, on how the child welfare system works. It has just been amazing," she said.

Prior to serving CASA, she worked for USD 457 for 16 years.

She and her husband, Phil Escareno, have five children and nine grandchildren.

Escareno will replace Consuelo Sandoval, current Finney County United Way executive director, who will leave her post in March.

Sandoval has been executive director since June 2010 and was a United Way volunteer for 21 years. Most of her career before becoming director was in social services, including jobs as a school district paraprofessional and with Harvest America and United Methodist Mexican-American Ministries.

Sandoval replaced Margaret Anderson, who served as United Way executive director for 14 years.

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