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.

Barrett (Barry) D. Mitchell, Esq. serves as President of the CASA Board of Directors and is the Managing Director of the Legal Compliance and Ethics Group at FedEx Ground Packaging Systems, Inc. headquartered in Moon Township, where he leads a team of attorneys and other legal professionals implementing regulatory, contractual and compliance programs, and overseeing administration of the Code of Conduct, ethics hotline, fraud prevention efforts, vendor compliance and complex internal investigations.   He previously worked as litigation and trial counsel at law firms: Hunton & Williams LLP in Richmond, VA, LeBoeuf, Lamb, Greene & MacRae LLP in Pittsburgh, and Gorr, Moser, Dell & Loughney, P.C. in Pittsburgh. Mr. Mitchell received his J.D., magna cum laude, from the University of Pittsburgh School of Law and his B.A. in Foreign Affairs from the University of Virginia. Mr. Mitchell is admitted to practice law before numerous courts in the United States, is a credentialed Certified Fraud Examiner, and is a Fellow of the Allegheny County Bar Foundation.

Michael Kirk, CPA, serves as Treasurer of the CASA Board of Directors and is the Executive 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 serves as Secretary and Program Chair of the CASA Board of Directors and is the Manager of Public Relations for CentiMark Corporation. She has held this position for 26 years, managing all corporate communications, community and employee relations as well as the coordination of two foundations that administer annual donations, grants, special events and community programs for over 150 nonprofits. She holds a Master of Public Administration 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 Boys Hope Girls Hope of Pittsburgh; Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh; Junior Achievement and Meals on Wheels. She serves on the Boards for PA Women’s Work, Volunteer and Ambassador Committee; and FBI Pittsburgh CAAA, Board President.  Ms. Slencak is also a past volunteer for CASA of Allegheny County, advocating for two families totaling 10 children.

Jarene Barnes is Diversity & Workforce Development Specialist with UPMC, world renowned healthcare provider and insurer.  Ms. Barnes is a highly effective professional with an emphasis on diversity and workforce related activities which include human relations, recruitment & retention, identifying growth opportunities, and DE& I advocate. Ms. Barnes demonstrates strengths in nonprofit leadership, cultural competency, training & development and exuding a high level of personal integrity.  Ms. Barnes has served as an active board member with CASA of Allegheny County, former employee & volunteer advocate.  In addition, she has served with National CASA’s African American Advisory Committee, Native American & Tribal Advisory Committee, and grant reviewer.

Elizabeth Campbell is a Software Development Professional, currently teaching Data Engineering and Java Full Stack Web Development for Genesis10’s Dev10 Software Developer Training Program.  Beth mentors adult learners, both recent graduates and career changers, in the technical and social skills necessary to thrive in a new career in technology. She received her BS in Computer Information Systems from DeVry University, and worked in the CIS field, developing software solutions and leading diverse teams in the US and India, up until her pivot into teaching.  She also served as a volunteer with CASA of Allegheny County from 2019-2020.

Meredith Crimmins is employed by The Hill, an American newspaper and digital media company based in Washington DC, focusing on politics, policy, business, and international relations. Meredith’s work focuses on corporate communication efforts related to Diversity & Inclusion, Corporate Social Responsibility, Healthcare, and many other timely policy issues in Washington, DC.  Meredith earned a B.A. from The George Washington University and lived in our nation's capital for a decade before moving to Pittsburgh, PA in 2020. Meredith is a Pittsburgh native and very passionate about her community. In joining the Board of Directors, she is following in the footsteps of her late father, Martin X. Crimmins, a former Board President.

Chase Karsman, Esq. serves as President of the CASA Board of Directors and is the Managing Director of the Labor Law Group for FedEx Ground Package System, Inc. where 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.

Susan L. Mason, PMP, is Lead Oversight Interoperability Project Manager for Oracle Health 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.