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Staff


karen_biernacki.jpg Karen Biernacki - Chief Executive Officer

While taking a Social Work class at Purdue University North Central in 1989, my research led me to NationalCASA and the concept of utilizing volunteers to advocate for abused and neglected children. In January of 1991, I became the first Director of the agency. I received a degree from Indiana University in 1999 and a Mediation License in 2002 from Valparaiso University. Currently, I am a member of the Child Abuse Advisory Team, Family Court Advisory Board, Juvenile Court Advisory Board, the Domestic Violence Task Force, Women in Management, Kiwanis, and the League of Women Voters. I also serve as an appointed member to the Indiana Commission on Abused and Neglected Children and Their Families and the Advisory Commission for GAL/CASA to the Indiana Supreme Court. Contact me at kbiernacki@lpfamilyadvocates.com


2007-09-13_19.19.02.jpg Maggie Fritzen - Executive Assistant

I started working at Family Advocates in June 2014 after getting my Bachelor's Degree from Purdue University North Central in Marketing. Family Advocates is the perfect fit for me because it allows me to do work I love for people who need it. Contact me at mfritzen@lpfamilyadvocates.com.




April Greetham - CASA DIRECTOR

In 2006, I graduated from Purdue University Calumet with a B.A. in Sociology. After graduation, I worked as a case manager at Madison Center, working with children and joined the Army National Guard from 2009 to 2012. My husband and I had our first and only son in 2011 and I made the decision to become a stay at home mother. After 4 ½ years, I returned to social work, working with the elderly and disabled community. I grew strong bonds within this community but my passion lies in bettering the lives of children, the reason I went into social services in the very beginning. With my new role within Family Advocates, I will be able to advocate and fight for the best interest of the children we serve, helping to create a better community. Contact me atagreetham@lpfamilyadvocates.com


Neki McCray - CASA Volunteer Coordinator for La Porte County

In 2015, I received my Associates of Science in Business. I went on to further my education and received my Bachelors of Science in April 2018 from Indiana Wesleyan University. I have always been concerned with the past, present and future lives of the children. In my new role here at Family Advocates I am able to be effective and possibly make a difference in their lives.Contact me at rmccray@lpfamilyadvocates.com.




Elissa Affeld - CASA Youth Specialist

In 2016, I graduated with an Associate of Science in Human Services, and I became a Board Certified Human Services Practitioner. In 2018, I will hold a Bachelor's of Social Work. My husband and I blended our families in 2012, and now we have four amazing little girls. I started as an intern for the Harmony House program, and soon after I accepted the Guardian ad Litem position with the CASA program. My passion fighting for the best interests of the children I serve, Contact me at eaffeld@lpfamilyadvocates.com.


Tracey Pollock - CASA Program Guardian Ad Litem for La Porte County

In 2009, I graduated from Indiana University Northwest with a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and minors in Psychology and Sociology. My husband and I started a family in 2010 and we now have 3 beautiful daughters. While being a stay-at-home mother, I developed a strong passion for wanting to help abused and neglected children, so I began volunteering as a CASA in 2015. I became the voice for the child. A position opened as a Staff Guardian ad Litem and I was hired in 2016. I really enjoy working with these children and advocating for their best interests. Contact me at tpollock@lpfamilyadvocates.com



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Brenda Stellema - CAYA Program Director

After the company I worked for closed, I went back to school after 29 years to pursue a college degree. I attended Ivy Tech Community College where I received my Associates Degree in Human Services and went on to obtain my Bachelor’s Degree in Social Work from Indiana University. I served on the Board for Harmony House/CASA for a short time when the opportunity arose to develop a program for the at-risk youth in our community in July, 2013. My commitment to our community continues as I work to reduce the risk factors that contribute to negative outcomes for struggling youth. Please contact me with any interest you may have in the program. Contact me at bstellema@lpfamilyadvocates.com


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Cheryl Highsmith - Harmony House Program Director

I started working with Harmony House/CASA in February 2005. I first began working as a visit supervisor, then was promoted to Harmony House Program Coordinator in September 2005, and most recently to my current position as Harmony House Program Director. I love working with families and watching their interaction. Before coming to Harmony House I worked at Christian Haven, Inc. working with at-risk youth for eleven years. Contact me at chighsmith@lpfamilyadvocates.com


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Lesley Lefeber - Harmony House Program Coordinator

My career began with Harmony House in 2006 as a visit supervisor. I continue to enjoy working with families through the supervised visitation program. In fall 2013, I accepted the position of Harmony House Program Coordinator. As I enjoy the added responsibility, I am still able to work one-on-one with families to work towards the goal of a better future for all. Contact me at LLefeber@lpfamilyadvocates.com


Harmony House - Visit Facilitators

  • Alexis Foster
  • Kylie Foster
  • Debra Miller
  • Stephanie Minix
  • Alix Zimmerman

For questions or concerns regarding a supervised visit, contact chighsmith@lpfamilyadvocates.com

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Banana - Therapy Cat - We are sad to say goodby to our sweet Banana who left us at the age of 15 on April 7, 2017. She will be missed and continue in the hearts of our staff and families forever.

In February, 2008, I was adopted by Harmony House/CASA Program from the Maple City Animal Hospital. This is my fifth and forever home now. I have lots of friends that come and visit me on a regular basis and I love my new family. I have even been a great mouse deterrent so I am working for my keep.