It was 2003. In Northwest Arkansas, there were 699 children in foster care. CASA of NWA was a young nonprofit, formed just six years before. With a small, yet mighty, group of 82 dedicated volunteers, CASA served as a voice in court for 258 children that year.
Enter Crystal Vickmark. New to the area with a Master’s degree in Counseling and Human Resources Development from South Dakota State University, Crystal applied for an assistant position at CASA of Northwest Arkansas. Brought to the area with her husband’s career at Tyson Foods, Crystal had years of experience working in social services. She had managed a housing facility for adults with disabilities, had supported elementary aged students as a school guidance counselor, and had served as a family service worker for a youth services agency for troubled youth. It was during this last position that she came to understand what CASA was and the impact that it could have on children and their families.
Crystal accepted the assistant position as she was motivated by the CASA mission and exceptional work that was being done. It didn’t take long for her talents and experience to be recognized, and she was quickly promoted to the Advocate Supervisor position. When the Executive Director left unexpectedly within six months of Crystal’s arrival, Crystal was asked to serve as the interim director. And, the rest is history!
Over the past 15 years, Crystal and her “can do” attitude have propelled this organization to greatness. Under her leadership, we have grown to serve 744 children annually (nearly 74% of the children in care). Crystal constantly challenges the staff to do more and to do better for the children of Northwest Arkansas. This has led to an incredible growth of volunteers (a corps of 296 as of March 2018) and funding (FY2018 revenue will exceed $1,000,000). All the while, Crystal leads through example and with love. Crystal expects the best from everyone, including herself, and is always available to support her team.
“I work with a number of nonprofits, and it’s truly rare to find a leader who’s been with the same organization for as long as Crystal has been with CASA. It’s impossible to separate the growth and success CASA of NWA has seen over the years from the leadership, hard work, and dedication Crystal has provided” says CASA Board President Mike Schmandt.
We certainly agree. Please join us in thanking Crystal for an amazing 15 years of service.