STAFF

CASA of Missoula employs a dynamic team of individuals who are all passionate about empowering children and families in our community. Each member of our staff team dedicates their time to furthering the mission of CASA of Missoula and are committed to supporting the CASA volunteers who advocate for abused and neglected children in Missoula and Mineral County.

Scott Appel

Executive Director

Staff Bio:
Scott and his family have a long history with CASA. Scott served on the CASA of Orange County Board of Directors for six years, the last two as Chairman. Scott’s wife, Maura, was an Advocate in Orange County and two of his children started a club in their high school to raise money in support of CASA. Scott and Maura recently moved to Missoula after falling in love with the community during their visits to their son, who is attending the University of Montana.

Scott has over 35 years of professional experience providing public and private companies with accounting, auditing, financial reporting and business advisory services. He spent the last 20 years in executive management positions with professional services organizations. Scott recently retired from Hein & Associates LLP where he served as the Office Managing Partner of the Irvine Office and as a member of the firm's Executive Committee and then from NextLevel where he served as the Managing Partner of the Seattle Office.

Why did you decide to join CASA?
I believe that we have an obligation to provide every child with a safe and healthy environment and the opportunity to grow and thrive. CASA helps make that happen for those children most at risk.

Office: (406) 542-1208 ext. 100
Fax: (406) 542-1211
Email: [email protected]

Emily Landsiedel

Development & Outreach Manager

Staff Bio:
Emily is a Helena native who graduated from Helena High School in 2006. She received a Bachelor's degree in English, minor in history, and a secondary teaching certificate at the University of Montana in 2011. For eight years, Emily primarily worked in English education. Five years into her teaching career, Emily and her husband decided to take time off to travel the world for nine months before moving from East Helena back to Missoula. During their travels, they visited 25 countries on 5 continents. Through this life-changing experience, Emily witnessed the struggles people face in developing countries; it made such a powerful impact on her that she decided to shift to a career in nonprofit. Emily started at CASA in the summer of 2019 as the Volunteer Coordinator and lead CASA trainer. She is currently working toward a Nonprofit Administration Certificate through the University of Montana that focuses on grant writing, fundraising, social media, and other essential elements of a nonprofit.

Why did you decide to join CASA?:
CASA speaks to me as an organization because it gives a voice to our community’s most vulnerable youth. As a teacher, I saw the impact an unstable home life had on a child. Kids can’t focus on learning, relationships, or personal growth when they aren’t safe or their basic needs aren’t being met. If they’re experiencing abuse or neglect, it affects every aspect of their lives. I enjoy working for CASA because it allows me to help the kids who need it the most, while still utilizing my writing, communication, and marketing skills to support CASA volunteers in their role.

Office: (406) 542-1208 ext 103
Fax: (406) 542-1211
Email: [email protected]

Kirsten Pulito

Program Manager

Staff Bio:
Kirsten was born and raised in Helena, MT. She went to college at the University of Montana and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Communication Studies and Human Relations in 2009. Kirsten joined CASA in January 2010 as an Americorps Vista, which is a one-year program designed to help organizations build capacity. Six months after her Vista term ended, Kirsten applied for a Volunteer Coordinator position with CASA and became CASA’s Volunteer Coordinator in July 2010. For the next 5 years, Kirsten held various positions at CASA, and acted as the interim director for 8 months during that time. In 2015, Kirsten left CASA to pursue an opportunity in San Francisco, but Missoula has a way of bringing people back. Kirsten returned to Missoula with a new enthusiasm for Montana and rejoined the CASA team in December 2016. Kirsten enjoys all that Montana has to offer. She loves the pace of life here and getting outside. She lives with her husband Steve and their big, black dog Jayne.

Why did you decide to join CASA?:
When I was assigned to CASA as an Americorps Vista it was meant to be! I was quickly blown away by the mission, the volunteers, and the impact that CASA volunteers make in the lives of children. I am so humbled by the time and heart our volunteers put into their cases and the children and families they work with. Being a CASA is the biggest volunteer position I have ever heard of. The impact that an engaged CASA has on a child is remarkable. I feel so lucky I get to work with our wonderful volunteers; our volunteers are some of the very best people out there. I also really enjoy my co-workers and the work we do matters a great deal to me.

Office: (406) 542-1208 ext. 101
Fax: (406) 542-1211
Email: [email protected]

Margaret Person

Education Manager

Staff Bio:
Margaret grew up in Cascade, where the plains meet the mountains in Central Montana along the Missouri River. She first traveled to Humboldt State University in Northern California on a high jump and triple jump scholarship but later transferred home to finish a Marketing and Management degree at the University of Montana. Margaret became an AmeriCorps Senior Leader for the Montana Campus Compact, focusing on post secondary education for first-generation college students in Montana. Later, she began her work for the Missoula Food Bank & Community Center focusing on programs for the youth of Missoula as well as the senior population. These two roles greatly impacted the trajectory of her career and further ignited her passion for the Missoula community. Margaret enjoys rafting, fly fishing, running, gardening, cooking and spending as much time as possible outside with her two dogs, Caddis and Keta, and her husband Jake.

Why did you decide to join CASA?:
I greatly admire the work that CASA provides for our community, and the positive impacts that it makes for so many children. I am constantly inspired and throughly enjoy working with volunteers and discovering their unique qualities, along with their selflessness and dedication to the mission of their choice. Volunteers make the world go round, and I’m so happy to be there to offer support!

Office: (406) 542-1208 ext. 102
Fax: (406) 542-1211
Email: [email protected]

Grace Benasutti

Volunteer Coordinator & Retention Specialist

Staff Bio:
Grace (she/her/hers) grew up in Southwest Colorado and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Psychology from University of San Diego. She moved to Missoula in 2018 as a Jesuit Volunteer - a branch of AmeriCorps - serving survivors of domestic violence at the YWCA and folks with barriers to employment at Missoula Works. She has since worked as a Community Organizer with Forward Montana during the 2020 Census, 2020 Election, and 2021 Montana Legislative Session. She’s passionate about systemic reform, community care, and transformative justice. Grace finds joy in: friends and family, too seriously identifying with the enneagram, house plants, cuddling with her COVID pup Paisley, and finding new hobbies to match the season.

Why did you decide to join CASA?
“CASA volunteers take on a tremendously supportive role in the lives of vulnerable youth. During this vital stage in a person’s development - childhood - this particular impact can be lifelong. I’m excited to be part of an organization that uses both preventative and restorative measures to ensure the safety and well-being of young people in our community. Huge shoutout to our widely dedicated volunteers - your deep compassion is appreciated!”

Office: (406) 542-1208
Fax: (406) 542-1211
Email: [email protected]

Lindsay Nugent

Volunteer Coordinator & Data Analyst

Staff Bio:
Lindsay grew up in Somers, New York, and went to Siena College just outside of Albany, New York, where she majored in Political Science. After graduating in 2020, she spent a year with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest, where she served as a JV/AmeriCorps member with Missoula Interfaith Collaborative here in Montana. There, Lindsay served primarily as an Employment Specialist with MIC's division Missoula Works— where she assisted folks from marginalized backgrounds to reenter the workforce— while also working with different aspects of MIC's Housing Advocate Network. During her JV/AmeriCorps year, she fell in love with Montana and is thrilled to be back in Missoula working with CASA. Lindsay's simple pleasures are caramel iced coffee, an abundance of sunshine, and befriending every cat and dog that crosses her path.

Why did you decide to join CASA?:
"I had heard so many wonderful things about the important work that CASA of Missoula does in our community before joining this organization. Connecting dedicated volunteers with children in need can make an incredible difference in those kids' lives, and I'm so excited to be a part of that process!"

Office: (406) 542-1208 ext. 104
Fax: (406) 542-1211
Email: [email protected]

INTERNS

CASA of Missoula is fortunate to work with several students interested in learning more and furthering their college careers by interning. Each year, CASA of Missoula welcomes students to apply to intern throughout the semester. Each intern position is non-compensated, but introduces students to the court system and strengthens valuable skills. We encourage our interns to attend the Fall or Spring CASA Pre-Service training (30 hours) to gain a well-rounded perspective of the program, abuse and neglect cases, and the social welfare system.

 

A HUGE thanks to Renske Wilson Photography for donating her time and talents to CASA of Missoula!