Glenn Brooks, Grants Management Executive Director, first joined Texas CASA in 2004 after retiring from his longtime role in the Criminal Justice Division (CJD) of the Governor’s Office. Today, he oversees our Grants Management Department, which distributes more than $26 million a year in pass-through state and federal funds to the 71 local CASA programs across the state.
Tell us about your career before you joined Texas CASA.
I grew up in a small suburb of Houston named Jacinto City, and I graduated from Galena Park High School in 1969. From there I went to The University of Texas at Austin. I graduated from UT in 1973 with a degree in history and minor in government. I also ended up with 24 hours of accounting.
After college I worked several years for the Budget department of Brackenridge Hospital in Austin and several years for Electronic Data Systems (EDS), who managed the Medicaid contract for the State of Texas. I was hired in late 1978 by the Criminal Justice Division (CJD) of the Governor’s Office as an auditor. In 1984 I was promoted to the Program’s section and started managing juvenile and victim’s related grants. I assisted in the managing of a new federal grant fund in 1985 called the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA). I retired from CJD in 2004, and during the final 10 years at CJD I was the Director of Criminal Justice Programs which included Juvenile and Victim Services. I oversaw a grants budget of $120 million a year.
How did you get involved in the CASA cause?
I was hired by Texas CASA in June 2004 to help fully develop the Texas CASA Grants Department, as CJD was about to provide a VOCA block grant to Texas CASA for the first time. In addition, the state CVC award had just gone up to $3 million a year. Our pass-through grants to local programs were going from under $2 million to $6.5 million.
Because of my experiences at CJD, I had a great interest in all things juvenile related, whether it be juvenile justice or child abuse victim services. When the then-CEO of Texas CASA Megan Ferland approached me about joining the team, I jumped at the opportunity and haven’t looked back. Today, in Fiscal Year 2018, we are managing $26.2 million in pass-through funds.
Tell us more about your role as Grants Management Executive Director.
As the Grants Director, I have the honor of supervising three excellent staff members: Tom Jones (Senior Grants Management Specialist), Mary Hightower (Senior Grants Management Specialist) and Elizabeth Mast (Grants Management Specialist). All of us are very knowledgeable about the state and federal grant regulations and administrative guidelines that pertain to Texas CASA funding. My duties include managing the grant funding formulas, the grant application process, the various required reports to our funders, our Board’s Grants Committee, and the Requests for Reimbursements (RFR) process.
During FY 17 the Grants Team along with our Data Manager Karen Dvorak, helped to bring about our new Online Data Manager (ODM) system that is used for our grant applications, statistical reporting and RFRs.
How have you seen Texas CASA and the CASA network grow and change over the years?
Texas CASA has grown quite a bit since I first came here in 2004. As previously noted, we now distribute over $26 million a year in pass-through state and federal funds to the 71 local programs, and our Grants team has grown from one position to now four positions.
The number of CASA volunteer advocates has grown from less than 4,000 in 2003 to more than 10,400 in 2017. We now have a significant presence at the State Capitol and with the Governor’s Office. Texas has the largest CASA network in the country, and we are the envy of every other state CASA organization.
Why is CASA meaningful to you, personally?
My father was an orphan at age 11, and at age 14 he hitchhiked from Little Rock, Arkansas, to Spring, Texas, to be reunited with his older brother who had been taken in by an aunt and uncle. That need for a real family was such a huge pull on him. As soon as World War II ended and my dad and his brother were back in the U.S., they went out and found their two younger sisters so they could live with them until both were able to be on their own.
This need by children to have a family hasn’t changed over the many years since my dad faced a possible life with no close family.
Why do you think the mission of CASA is important?
I firmly believe that all abused and neglected children need a safe and loving home with people that truly care for them. Siblings must be kept together if at all possible. A CASA volunteer advocate helps foster youth have a voice in the system. The volunteer serves as a true advocate for that child and seeks the best placement possible for the child and their siblings. The volunteer also advocates for the educational and medical needs of the foster child which is so vital for their life development and future successes.
It has always felt very rewarding to be part of an organization that has a mission to make a positive impact on the lives of vulnerable children. Every child deserves the opportunity of a happy and productive life. CASA pushes with every possible means to ensure that this opportunity actually exists for all abused and neglected children.