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Pinellas domestic violence center CASA names Lariana Forsythe as interim CEO

in The Bay and the 'Burg/Top Headlines by
Lariana Forsythe

After an extensive, nationwide search, the St. Petersburg-based Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) is naming Lariana Forsythe as its new interim CEO.

Forsythe brings extensive nonprofit leadership experience most recently serving as the vice president/chief development officer of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Metro Phoenix. During her 17 years with the Boys & Girls Clubs, Forsythe held a variety of roles within the National Multiple Sclerosis Society and Special Olympics.

“We set out to find a person who could combine vision, leadership, communication and passion for the mission, with a strong business acumen and dynamic fundraising experience to lead CASA into the future,” said CASA Board President, Nicholas McDevitt. “We feel like we have found that in Lariana.”

While Forsythe’s tenure officially began June 5, she will temporarily continue as Interim CEO until she completes Florida Administrative Rule requirements before becoming permanent.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to help change the image of domestic violence in Pinellas County,” Forsythe said in a statement. “So many domestic violence survivors live in the shadow of this systemic issue, which affects as many as 1 in 3 women and 1 in 4 men, and often fear the undeserved stigma and false assumptions that can come with it.”

CASA, which is celebrating its 40th year, is amid a significant expansion of programs for survivors of domestic violence throughout southern Pinellas. Longtime employee Suzanne Horn, who had served as Interim Director during the transition period, will become CASA’s chief operations officer; Harry Linn has been promoted to chief financial officer.

“I look forward to getting to know and working closely with the leaders in our community to ensure St. Petersburg is a vibrant and safe community for everyone,” Forsythe said.

As the official domestic violence center for southern Pinellas County, CASA is also a member of the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence (FCADV), the professional association for Florida’s 42 independent, certified domestic violence centers.

FCADV’s President/CEO Tiffany Carr celebrated Forsythe’s hire in a statement.

“FCADV is pleased to welcome Lariana as CASA’s Interim CEO,” Carr said. “We stand ready to assist Lariana as she immerses herself within the domestic violence field in Florida and learns the challenges and rewards of engaging in this critical work in our great state. I commend the CASA board of directors for engaging in an exhaustive national search that led to the hiring of this candidate.”

CASA operates Pinellas County’s 24-hour hotline and 100-bed emergency shelter, as well as offering community support groups, provides courtroom advocacy, assisting the Child Protective Investigative team and conducts community and corporate training.

In addition, CASA’s Peacemakers teach anti-bullying and healthy relationship curriculum throughout the Pinellas County school system to end the generational cycle of violence.

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