John D. Knight is President-Elect of the Texas CASA Board of Directors and has been a member of the Board since 2015. John has previously served on the Board of Directors for CASA of Ellis County, both as a member and as Board President. John was a CASA volunteer with his local program for four years.
I grew up with the most amazing parents and had very little idea of what kids in Child Protective Services (CPS) faced. I’m a banker by trade and 12 years ago we adopted a little girl. With the adoption of this little girl, my eyes opened to that world and I felt compelled to try and make a difference.
Tell us about your involvement with Texas CASA.
I started as a CASA volunteer at CASA of Ellis County, and from there I joined their Board of Directors. As part of that experience I started our Legislative Advocacy Team, which brought me to Austin a number of times. I developed relationships with people at Texas CASA and then was asked to join the board four years ago. This past year, I became President-Elect of the Texas CASA Board.
What is your vision for Texas CASA as future president of the board?
Just to continue the great work that has happened before me. Also, to continue to push the mission and organization forward.
I want us to work to have better connectedness between the Texas CASA Board and the local programs as a resource. That means taking our personal networks and introducing them to CASA, and then taking our personal knowledge of other child welfare groups or groups that support the same kids we’re trying to serve and connecting them into the Texas CASA network. There’s a place in this quest for everyone. So if you don’t have time to be a CASA, can you be a CASA donor? Can you be an advocate of CASA to your friends that have time to be volunteers? Connectedness also challenges each individual to find a way to plug in and help these kids have a better future and outlook.
What has your experience been like serving on the Texas CASA Board of Directors?
It’s been fantastic! It’s a great group of people who are very passionate and knowledgeable. It’s been a wonderful experience to work with both the board members and Texas CASA staff.
What has been your favorite thing about working with Texas CASA?
Knowing that we are making a difference. Helping local programs serve these kids that desperately need someone there to be their advocate and be in their corner.
Why is CASA personally meaningful to you?
It’s very personal to me because I feel this is my way of paying it forward and paying it back to my amazing parents that loved us, cared for us and raised us. I feel very grateful for the parents that I have. Once my world was exposed to the plight of some of these kids, I felt compelled to step up and make a difference in those kids’ lives.
Why is it important that more men volunteer and become CASA Advocates?
The foster youth population looks much like the population in general, half male and half female, but our volunteers are overwhelmingly female. We need men to step up and volunteer to advocate and help out these precious children! Men have a whole different approach to serving as a CASA and do a really good job, just like our ladies!
How can a positive male role model impact a child in foster care?
Many times the children we serve are lacking positive male role models. This is a great way for our kids to see what “being a man” means. Men also have directness that is often needed with the children we serve. It is alarming at how many children in the system have parents that were in the system. If we can positively impact this child, at this very critical point in time, we may change the trajectory of this family for many generations to come!
What would you say to men considering becoming involved with CASA?
Do it! It is tough, and can be heartbreaking, but nothing feels better than loving a kid, fighting for a kid and giving that precious child hope at a very dark time in their life. Our volunteers are amazing – true heroes!