Q&A: CASA Youth Advocates’ Leigh Anne McKelvey
The executive director of the Chester and Delaware counties branch shares her passions.
Leigh Anne McKelvey was earning her MSW from the University of Pittsburgh when she was first introduced to CASA Youth Advocates, which supports children going through the legal systems. She’s been committed on some level ever since. Dedicating 11 years of her career to the organization, she was recently named executive director of the Delaware and Chester counties branch.
Leigh Anne McKelvey's Five Favorite Things
Seven Stones Cafe. “They serve La Colombe coffee, which is my obsession. I typically get their large brew of the day with peppermint syrup.”
Ben Folds. “He’s probably the person I’ve seen more frequently than anybody else. I just saw him recently at the Fillmore.”
Fit4Mom. “We work out at 5:30 a.m.—really fun high-intensity interval workouts.”
Quotations in Media. “It’s where my husband and I had our first date.”
FreshDirect. “Being a working mom of two kids under 2, grocery delivery has changed my life.”
MLT: How did you first become involved with CASA?
LAM: I became involved with a program in Allegheny County as an intern when I was in my master’s program at the University of Pittsburgh. The program director from that agency came and spoke to one of my classes. I had never heard of CASA, but I immediately knew that it was what I wanted to do.
MLT: What are some of the struggles these children face?
LAM: Kids in the foster care system unfortunately often get bumped around from home to home, and they spend a long time in the system looking for permanency. Our goal is ultimately to find permanent homes for our kids, whether that’s reunifying biological parents, finding an adopted home or a relative that will take custody of them, but often times that journey is a long one. In the mean time, we work hard to make sure that kids are having their needs met, whether that be special education services in schools, tutoring, or mental health therapy for particular traumas they’ve gone through.
MLT: What do you find most rewarding about your work?
LAM: I really think it’s seeing the dedication of our volunteers, and seeing the relationships that volunteers build with the children that they serve. They oftentimes become the most trusted adult in our kids’ lives because they are so often bouncing from foster home to foster home, seeing a turnover in caseworkers and other professionals that work with them. It is truly inspiring to see people give of their time and energy like that.