Woman of the Year – Greater Manassas Christmas Parade

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Provided by Greater Manassas Christmas Parade

Charlyn Hasson-Brown has been with CASA for nearly 22 years and this year, she retires. Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) provides specially trained advocates, who are court appointed, to abused, neglected and abandoned children whose cases are before the court. She is herself a foster-adopt child and when she first heard of the CASA program in 1994, she applied to become an advocate and was accepted into the first training class in the newly organized, Greater Prince William CASA, 31st Judicial District. In January of 1995, she was appointed to her first case where a child had been murdered. In 1996, she became Program Coordinator and in 1997, the organization was struggling with financial issues and had had three Executive Directors in its first three years. It was in process to be closed when she asked for the opportunity to turn it around. She became interim Director and began working to insure the future of the program. In January of 1998, she officially became the Executive Director and brought the organization forward from serving 60 children to serving as many as 515 children in one year and serving nearly 4,000 children collectively since 1994. PWL When she became interim director there were 18 active advocates – today there 165 specially trained advocates working with the children. CASA was incorporated as Greater Prince William CASA in 1993 and then in 2012, Ms Hasson expanded the program to include the unserved children of the 20th Judicial District which includes Fauquier, Loudoun and Rappahannock counties.

In 1998, the CASA Board Chair, Sharon Thomachak Owen, created a fundraiser called Evening Under the Stars to help sustain the organization. Ms Hasson-Brown grew that event to one of the largest events of its kind in the area with over 1,000 people attending each year at the Loy E. Harris Pavilion in Manassas. The event was named one of the top three Best Charitable Events in Virginia for 2015 by Virginia Living Magazine. She was honored by Mayor Hal Parrish at the 2015 Evening Under the Stars event with a Commendation for her years of service to the children of Manassas.

Through all the years, her personal goal and part of the mission of CASA was to empower abused children to understand that they have great value and can achieve much in life, despite all that has happened to them. She believed that by supporting these child victims, encouraging them, advocating for needed services, helping to insure that they are not re-abused and facilitating their having a safe and permanent home as quickly as possible, these children of trauma can become physically, mentally and emotionally healthy. A favorite quote of hers from Hemingway is “The world breaks everyone and in the end, some are strong in the broken places.” She wanted to help the children to become “strong in the broken places.”

She has served on and been a member of many boards, councils and committees in Greater Prince William over the past 20 years, including the Juvenile Justice Advisory Council (Chair), Juvenile Justice Accountability Administration Team, Commonwealth of Virginia CASA Board, PWC Multi-Disciplinary Foster Care Review Team, Girls Group Home Advisory Committee, the Juvenile Crime Control Council, Truancy Intervention Team, Drug Court Advisory Team, Human Services Coalition, Domestic Violence Council, and Child Protection Partnership. She also served on the board of Historic Manassas, Inc., is a Leadership Prince William alumni, chaired the Chamber of Commerce Not-for Profit Council, and chaired the Children’s Needs Committee within the United Way. She will be speaking, as a foster adopt child, at this year’s National Adoption Day on November 20th at the Prince William County Courthouse.

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