Texas CASA Spotlight: Veronica Marquez Forsyth

Veronica Marquez Forsyth, Chief Administrative Officer, first joined Texas CASA after working as a supervisor for CASA of Travis County. Her passions include helping others grow and develop as well as serving as a CASA volunteer. Veronica feels that she has been given a lot, so she is committed to giving back a lot – and CASA has been the greatest place for her to grow in this respect.

Tell us about your career before you joined Texas CASA.

Before going back to the states to get my master’s degree I started working at the largest soccer club in a city of Mexico as the Director of Human Resources. I worked at St. Luke’s Episcopal Hospital from 1990 to 2001 as the International Public Relations Ambassador and International Patient Coordinator. Soon after, I began working for Omnilife USA as the Chief Operating Officer. I engaged in work that required me to develop innovative, dynamic strategic business initiatives; corporate planning; oversight of operations of distribution centers and corporate offices which employed 150 staff. I did this until 2006, and then I started doing work for MPOWER Labs as the Vice-President, Customer and Employee Strategies. It was after working for MPOWER that I became involved in CASA of Travis County, working as a supervisor from 2009 to 2012.

I had never been in the nonprofit world, so this was not a job I was used to doing. But something in my heart told me that I needed to take a chance. I had been asking myself if making money was the only thing I want to be doing for the rest of my life. Making money for others, making money for myself, it’s not a bad thing but I was thinking: “Is this it?” That’s the question I was asking myself. When this came up I saw that I could take a chance and when I did I completely fell in love, with the people I was working with, with the mission that we had, and with coming and joining forces with the Department and others who alleviate the suffering of the children that are put into foster care. And making every effort possible to give them the best outcome possible and help them meet their needs and above that during the course of the case. I was very committed to working with our families, parents and volunteers.

What encouraged you to become involved with Texas CASA, and how long have you been involved with the organization?

An opportunity with Texas CASA came up and by that time I felt that I could start applying more of the other skill sets I had. I thought to myself, “I need a bigger playground so I can start working on other things I’m passionate about.” Knowing what Texas CASA does, I was very excited because I knew that was the next step to not only my career, but the desire I had to serve in a bigger space. I have been involved with Texas CASA for a little short of six years now and it has been a wonderful experience to work with all of these multi-disciplined departments, learning from each other, and bringing these resources to the programs to help them become stronger and better at what they do.

I think that the combination of experience that I have in nonprofit, as well as the for-profit experience and hospital experience, has helped me evolve into a better manager. Working with people and developing those people to become their fullest best is one of the things that I’m most passionate about. We all carry with us a “package,” and some of us know what we have in that bag and some people don’t see it until somebody comes along and helps them discover that. I see myself as that person many times – I’m very passionate about developing others and bringing them to their fullest best and giving people the space they need to grow.

How has CASA impacted you personally?

I have learned so many things that I have been able to apply to my personal life. Things that have to do with trauma, working with families, learning about my own biases, and learning how to become a person of service which I hold very deep in my heart and is the core of my values. I have been given a lot so I am committed to giving a lot. CASA has been the greatest place for me to grow in this respect.

What empowered you to become a CASA volunteer?

When I first came to Texas CASA, coming from the local CASA Travis County program, a case came back that I had. I couldn’t say no – there was this urge that I had to try my best to serve in this capacity. Once I was done with that case I couldn’t stop. So I took another case and another… this is very common in volunteers because you’re in the trenches, you’re working side by side with your child, with your family, with the Department, and it is exciting to watch all of the different views and perspectives of those involved, but the common theme everyone is focused on is the wellness of the child. I love the power of that.

What is it like to be a CASA volunteer?

It’s very empowering. To begin the process, you are matched with a supervisor that will give you direction and will help you during the course of your case. From there, you put your heart in it and become a fierce advocate for this child that you will know better than anybody else, because you will have dedicated all this time to get to know the child in their own settings and their own world. You receive a lot of this child’s trust through the process, and you have to be very mindful of that because it’s very important that you keep your word, stay in touch, and hold your commitment with your child. I am so grateful for this opportunity, and it has made me learn a lot. Being a volunteer is one of the best opportunities to really see your work be put to good cause.

What is your favorite thing about being a CASA volunteer?

If you look around my office you will see a child’s drawing hanging on my wall. That one was drawn by a little girl that I was serving. She asked me if she could draw a picture of me, and I said of course! She drew that picture and told me that she was going to need three pieces of paper because I’m tall. She drew me and she said to me, “I made your head like a heart because you have a big heart.” I think that says it all. This is a big and wonderful responsibility to have the trust of a child that has had his or her trust broken before. You have a responsibility to become the best advocate for this child. It’s a unique opportunity.

If you had to do it in three words, how would you describe the impact Texas CASA has on the local CASA programs and the children we serve?

Capacity, quality and commitment. Build capacity, strong quality and commitment. We’re committed to the children, whatever they need.

Check out our other Texas CASA spotlights!