Cultivating Virtual Community Leadership: CASA of Travis County

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month so let’s take a look at CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates) of Travis County.  This organization provides a voice for the best interests of abused and neglected children in court, at school, and in the community. CASA’s mission is to provide trained volunteers to advocate on behalf of these children in efforts to find them a safe home and promising future.

The framework to achieve CASA’s mission is to educate and empower a diverse community of volunteers to ensure each child’s needs remain a priority. In situations where the parents or guardians responsible for protecting a child are not fulfilling this fundamental need, the state takes over that responsibility.  This is when a judge appoints a trained CASA volunteer to make independent and informed recommendations and help the judge decide what’s best for the child.  Today, CASA of Travis County is one of the top ten CASA programs in the nation, supporting more than 550 volunteers who advocate for at least 1,500 children a year.

Since I have been writing this blog and analyzing local nonprofits, CASA of Travis County has the most social networks of all the organizations I have covered.  Their online presence can be found here:

(CASA’s Facebook banner)

Debra Askanase, engagement strategist and Community Organizer 2.0 blogger, discussed Redefining Community Leadership for an Online World and explored the role community plays in the development of an organization.  Askanase explains that when an organization creates its social media networks, it opens up to an online audience and expands its community.  This transforms a traditional community leadership model to one that accommodates a social media savvy audience.  Askanase emphasizes that once an organization cultivates a virtual community, it is the organization’s responsibility to engage with these individuals as you would face-to-face.  She gives the example of a community of parents in a school. Just as you listen to their suggestions and thoughts, you need to do the same with any virtual community. CASA has a well-executed social media strategy that not only engages their stakeholders, but it has the capacity of building new relationships and enhancing old news. If the aim is to open up the virtual community to all types of users, this is a great organization to use as a model for diverse techniques.  Kudos to CASA of Travis County! Stay tuned…

 

About abehara

Studying Communication at St. Edward’s University, specializing in PR and Advertising. Born and raised in the Rio Grande Valley. Happily married and Austin resident for the past 10 years.
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