Our Team

Our Team

Executive Director
Brooke Nelson

Brooke Nelson is a new New Yorker who has a passion for advocating for the greater good of her community. After graduating with a Bachelor's degree in Fine Arts she continued on to earn a Master of Arts in Education to teach Performing Arts. During her student teaching, Brooke made a special connection with a student with special needs. He was not able to speak but through his writings he could see his words come to life. This was an amazing experience, offering clarity to Brooke’s purpose. This serendipitous interaction inspired Brooke to pursue a teaching certificate in Special Education. In her role as a Special Education Teacher she developed curriculum that taught essential life skills, preparing students for life after high school. This community-based program enabled Brooke to collaborate with organizations across Arizona to ensure a lifetime of success for these students. It was this transition program that was the catalyst for Brooke's desire to work with non-profits to continue helping those in need. While in Dallas Brooke was an Advocate for CASA, a fundraiser for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, a volunteer Stylist for Attitudes and Attire and founded her own non-profit, Coterie Dallas, supporting local emerging artists, providing tools needed to grow their brand. Brooke is excited to bring these experiences to her role as a Board Member for CASA and be a helping hand for the community of Ulster-County.

Program Assistant
Jessica Jacques

Jessica is a native New Yorker having left only to receive her Bachelor of Science degree in sport, fitness and leisure from Salem State College in Massachussetts. She discovered her true calling of educating children in 2008 while working at a Montessori School in Connecticut. She has since worked in various daycares and preschools and also ran a licensed daycare from her home. In addition to providing care for children in the community, she is a mother to three of her own. A former member of the Junior League of Kingston, Jessica really looks forward to collaborating with other organizations to advocate for the children in the foster care system. 

Maura King

Maura A. King has over 20 years of compliance experience in the financial industry and higher education. Throughout her career in the financial industry Maura worked at various broker-dealers and investment banks assisting in the development and implementation of regulatory requirements. She has been employed at The Culinary Institute of America as the Director-Compliance since 2014. Maura received a JD from Fordham University School of law and a BA from the University of Scranton and she relocated to the Hudson Valley in 2012 from Manhattan. 

Vice Chairperson
Sharon Zepel

Sharon is a retired Social Worker with over 40 years of Social Work experience. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Social Welfare (BSW) degree from San Diego State University, San Diego, Ca and a Masters in Social Work degree from California State University, Long Beach, Long Beach, Ca. Sharon worked in various social work capacities; with children who were Developmentally Delayed, Mentally Challenged and abused, abandoned and neglected. The majority of her career was at Orange County Department of Social Services, Children and Family Division in Orange County, Ca. Her life's work was protecting and advocating for children. In addition to working with children, she was a Preceptor for MSW interns from USC, UCLA, Loma Linda University and many other local California colleges. She trained classes of new Social Workers and loved being involved in shaping the future of Social Work and future social workers. In addition to CASA, Sharon has served on the Jewish Family Services of Ulster County Board, and has over 20 years volunteering with Organ and Tissue Transplant Agencies from coast to coast. She is an ardent advocate for organ and tissue donation. Sharon and her husband, Arnie, moved to Kingston in 2006 and are delighted to call the beautiful Hudson Valley home since 2009.

Alesia Donner

Alesia has a BA in Social Science from the University of the Virgin Islands and a JD from New York Law School. Before relocating to the Hudson Valley, Alesia was Clinical Director of the Brooklyn Treatment Court, which links non-violent felony offenders to drug treatment as an alternative to incarceration. Currently, Alesia works at home, caring for her three children and managing a busy household. In addition to serving on CASA's Board, Alesia volunteers much of her time at school and PTO events. She loves to read and travel (especially to Disney World and the beach) and greatly values spending precious time with family and friends.

Ken Cole

Kenneth Cole began his professional career joining the US Army in 1989. He joined served with 854th Combat Engineers, 7th Light infantry, and 52nd Medical Evacuation Battalion. While stationed overseas he developed training programs that were later used force-wide. After several years he returned home with the intention of becoming an educator. Working in residential schools for Emotionally Disturbed Children he quickly realized his strengths were more needed in the realm of crisis intervention and therapeutic child care. Ken worked as a crisis responder, supervisor and trainer in residential treatment centers and schools throughout the Hudson Valley, work he found enormously gratifying. It was only the tragic events of 911 that pulled him away from his work with children to re-enter the military and join the NY Air National Guard for an assignment in aviation. During this time Ken provided isochronal inspections for military cargo aircraft at Stewart ANGB. Through this transition he continued his education completing a BS in Organizational Management from Nyack University. Most recently he has been reassigned to assist with the restoration of the C-5 Super Galaxy, the largest airframe in the US military towering 70 ft. high and as wide as two football fields. Ken was part of the original steering committee for this historic project working with multiple air bases, aviation engineers, and civilian contractors. He happily assists as the final 52 aircraft receive new engines, new avionics, and a total cosmetic makeover. Kens family history in the Hudson Valley goes back nearly 200 years, originally residing in the Oliver House of North Marbletown. He, his wife and their five children presently reside in New Paltz NY.

Michael Bonse

Michael has twenty years of law enforcement experience here in Ulster County. He is currently a Police Lieutenant with the City of Kingston Police Department. In his current position, he serves as the Team Commander for the Emergency Services Unit, the Accreditation Program Manager, and is responsible for the Administrative and Training Divisions. Michael plays an active role in the Ulster County’s Gun Initiated Violence Elimination (GIVE) partnership and oversees many of the police department’s community relations functions. He is also the Academy Director for the Ulster County Law Enforcement Training Group, our local police academy, which is a collaborative partnership between SUNY Ulster and the local police agencies. In addition to his work locally, he contracts with the New York State Division of Criminal Justice Services as both a Law Enforcement Accreditation Program Assessor and as an Instructor/Consultant. He has assisted in the development of several NYS police training course curriculums. Michael received his Bachelor of Science from Marist College in Organizational Leadership and Communication and is currently pursuing a Master of Public Administration. He resides in Hurley with his wife and two sons, who keep him very active in sports and outdoor activities.

Annie DeWitt Morse

Annie, who works for Ulster Greene ARC, first learned of CASA through her former role at Fleisher's Meats as Director of Outreach. Annie attended Nazareth College in Rochester and resided there for twenty two years. She became involved with a program run by the Sisters of Saint Joseph which at that time provided foster care, daycare, and respite care for medically fragile children. In 2010, Annie returned to her Ulster County roots. She volunteers as a Speaker Series Coordinator at Rondout Valley Central Schools and enjoys spending time at her family's dairy farm in Accord. As she was born into and eventually adopted out of foster care, the mission and service CASA provides is close to Annie's heart and she is excited to have the opportunity to pay it forward.

Peggy Ploss

Peggy received her Bachelors degree from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Oswego and a Masters degree in Education from SUNY New Paltz. She was an elementary teacher in the Saugerties School District for twenty seven years. Her interest in community service includes being a former CASA advocate volunteer, a HOPE Fund mentor, a member of the Healthy After School Committee in conjunction with Cornell Cooperative Extension and an administrative assistant for Lifespring. In addition to her service on CASA's board of directors, Peggy is currently a United Way Community Committee member and a volunteer for RSVP (at the Office of the Aging). Peggy also serves on the RSVP Advisory Council and is on the Board at Fair Street Nursery School.

Skit Rabbino

For the past forty years, Skit has been involved with various social service agencies as a volunteer for the betterment of children and adults. In New Rochelle, Skit worked with the Guidance Center. They ran an adult program and a pre-K program that involved children of parents who had been pre-K in the Guidance Center as a child. The study is still ongoing. Skit worked for and administered The Center for Family Therapy in New Rochelle for many of she lived in that Westchester County community. Since moving to the Kingston area several years ago, Skit has served on the Board of The Children’s Home of Kingston and Gateway Industries. Skit is also one of the two founders of Jewish Family Services of Ulster County. 

Walter J. Torres

Walter J. Torres was born in Manhattan and raised in Manhattan, the South Bronx and Puerto Rico. Gifted in basketball, Walter initially attended Dewitt Clinton High School in the Bronx before moving to Puerto Rico, where he completed high school and continued playing basketball. After playing in college and as a semi-prof, Walter returned to Manhattan, where he married and had two children. As his children became school age, Walter moved to Rockland County and, after stints in Puerto Rico and Ulster County, retired to Ulster County. Prior to his retirement, Walter worked in sales and management and as a clothing consultant. Walter lives in the Kingston area.

Rhetta Eason Welch

Rhetta Eason Welch, MPS, MSW has more than thirty years of experience in the social services field. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from John Jay College; a Masters in Public Service from SUNY New Paltz and a Masters in Social Work from Fordham University. Rhetta worked as a teacher at Secondary Tech in Georgia, an alternative school for students not succeeding in the normal high school environment. She worked as Deputy Director for Path Stone (formerly known as Rural Opportunities, Inc. Section 8 Housing Program), overseeing the Hudson Valley Region 2 programs. In addition to her role at CASA, Rhetta, who lives in Wallkill, is the Board Secretary for the Federation for the Homeless in Sullivan County and a founding member of the HOPE’s Fund Leadership Council. She is employed by Catholic Charities.

Our Volunteers 

The heart of CASA's work is done by a loyal and committed cadre of local volunteers — women and men who, with high-quality training and support, achieve the extraordinary. Our volunteers come from all walks of life: teachers, lawyers, case workers, medical professionals, local business owners, artists, musicians, etc.
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