Meet our Leadership


Melissa Protzek, Esq.

Executive Director

Melissa Protzek, Esq., Ex-Officio Board Member, is the Executive Director of CASA and has been with the program since 1996. Ms. Protzek earned two B.A.s from Penn State University and her J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. She sits on the Pennsylvania Bar Association’s Charitable Organizations Committee and as a member of the Greater Pittsburgh NonProfit Partnership, the National CASA Urban Council and the National CASA Standards Committee. She previously served as a member of the Allegheny County Child Death Review Team, the Steering Committee of the Allegheny County Dependency Court Improvement Project and as a Board Member for the Pennsylvania CASA Association. Ms. Protzek was also an adjunct professor at Penn State University New Kensington Campus where she taught a course in Juvenile Delinquency. She previously served as CASA’s Program Director, Training Coordinator and Volunteer Recruiter and was named CASA Volunteer of the Year in 1998. Because of her work improving the child welfare system and the region, Melissa was named as one of Pittsburgh Magazine's 40 Under 40 for 2004, one of the Top 25 Women in Business for 2010 by The Pittsburgh Business Times and the National CASA Program Director of the Year in 2010.

Read "Message from our Executive Director" here.

Chase Karsman, Esq., serves as the President of the CASA Board of Directors.  As the Managing Director of the Labor Law Group for FedEx Ground Package System, Inc., he provides strategic direction to the executive team on labor risk and labor and employment relations issues in both the United States and Canada. He received his J.D. from the George Mason University School of Law where he graduated magna cum laude, and previously worked in the capacity of Senior Attorney for FedEx and Associate Attorney for Jones Day Pittsburgh and Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP, Washington, DC.  In addition to his service to CASA, he is a member of FedEx Ground’s Pro Bono Committee and an active participant in the Protection from Abuse program; as well as a volunteer at the Woodlands Foundation, World Vision, and United Way.

Barrett Mitchell, Esq., serves as the Vice President of the CASA Board of Directors. He is the Managing Attorney, Legal Compliance/Strategic Projects Groups for FedEx Ground Packaging Systems, Inc. where he is responsible for leading the compliance, regulatory, and investigative groups within the Legal Department. He previously served as Associate Counsel at Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, VA, Counsel at LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP in Pittsburgh, and was an Associate at Gorr, Moser, Dell & Loughney, P.C. in Pittsburgh. Mr. Mitchell received his J.D. from the University of Pittsburgh and his undergraduate degree in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia.

Michael Kirk, CPA, serves as Treasurer of the CASA Board of Directors and is the Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of Mars Bank. He is formerly the Director of Regulatory and Mortgage Accounting and the SEC Reporting Manager for the Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh. A Pittsburgh native, Mr. Kirk was the Executive Vice President and Chief Financial Officer for Pittsburgh Financial Corporation and Bank Pittsburgh and received his Bachelor of Science in Accounting at Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

Kathy Slencak, Secretary of the CASA Board of Directors, is the Manager of Public Relations for CentiMark Corporation. She has held this position for over 15 years, managing not only all corporate communications, but also community and employee relations as well as the coordination of three Foundations that administer annual donations, grants, special events, and community programs for over 150 nonprofits. Ms. Slencak also coordinates CentiMark Cares in the Community Program for 65 CentiMark offices in North America. She holds a Masters of Public Administration degree from the University of Houston, as well as a BS in Urban Planning from the University of Pittsburgh. In addition to her busy professional schedule, Ms. Slencak is an active volunteer with Girls Hope as a Mentor to Girls Hope Scholar and is the founder of the Girls Hope Book Club, as well as a volunteer teacher with the Washington County Literacy Council. Ms. Slencak is also a past volunteer for CASA of Allegheny County, advocating for two families totaling 10 children.

Jarene Barnes, has a long and active history with CASA both locally and at the national level. Ms. Barnes previously served as our agency's Training and Volunteer Coordinator, and was a past member of the National CASA African American Advisory Committee/Tribal American Advisory Committee. Ms. Barnes is a Certified Professional Development Trainer and has served as a workshop facilitator and case manager for local social service agencies serving Welfare to Work participants, incarcerated women and their families, and clients within the juvenile justice system. Currently, she serves as a Placement Officer for the Bidwell Training Academy.

Susan L. Mason, PMP, is Senior Interoperability Project Manager for Cerner where she drives project implementation and strategies to onboard aligned healthcare partners to the United States’ largest healthcare information exchange (HIE) and cultivates and manages external partner relationships to achieve the HIE’s business objectives of providing quality healthcare to patients. She received her BA in Communication – Journalism and an MBA in Management Information Systems from Duquesne University. Ms. Mason earned a master's certificate in Project Management from Lehigh University, a master's certificate in eCommerce from Duquesne University and is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). She is a graduate of and volunteer with INROADS, Inc., and a member of the Project Management Institute.