CASA MN Board of Directors

The CASA MN Board of Directors meet monthly to discuss and vote on the affairs of the organization. We always have numerous initiatives underway— from strategic planning, fundraising, marketing and legislative activities to public speaking in the community. If you are interested in joining the board or learning more about its activities, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us to learn more.

Gerard Bodell, President

Gerard is an experienced business leader recognized for developing customer focused marketing strategies, connecting operating plans and ensuring successful execution. He has a broad and diverse set of business experiences including a senior controllership in a start-up business, leading large operations, and transformational change leadership. His corporate experiences include Target, Ernst & Young and Novus Media.

Gerard initially became involved with CASA MN when he volunteered as a Guardian ad Litem and he continues to volunteer in that capacity today. Gerard grew up in Minnesota and enjoys our great outdoors by getting out on our lakes, hiking, cycling, and playing as much pickleball as possible!

Gerard joined the CASA MN Board in June of 2021 and currently serves as President.


Bilal Shalash, Vice President

A Southern Gentleman originally from Kentucky, Bilal has lived in Minnesota since 2019. As a Network Account Manager at UnitedHealthcare, Bilal and his team negotiate contracts for in-network providers across the state. In his freetime, Bilal enjoys cooking, watching and playing sports, traveling, singing in a community choir, and learning how to fly!

Bilal has been a member of the CASA MN board since August of 2020 and recently threw his hat in the ring to be our Vice President in February of 2021. Throughout college, Bilal was very involved with DanceBlue- a 24 hour no sitting/no sleeping dance marathon to raise funds for the Kentucky Childrens Hematology/Oncology clinic. As of 2020, DanceBlue has raised more than $17.3 million towards the fight against pediatric cancer! Additionally, Bilal serves on the Advisory board for Chi Psi fraternity at his alma mater, the University of Kentucky and the Alpha at the University of Minnesota.

He has a passion for non-profit volunteering and hopes to continue serving foster children throughout Minnesota through his contributions as VP and as part of the Communications Committee. 

Picture of Bilal Shalash

Maurice Harris, Secretary

Maurice Harris is the Research Manager at the GREATER MSP Partnership. Before moving to Minneapolis – Saint Paul, he was a board member for Heart of Missouri CASA in Columbia, MO.  Originally from St. Louis, MO, he obtained his Master’s Degree from the University of Missouri in Public Affairs, specializing in Public Policy Analysis and Regional Development. His earned his Bachelors Degree from Knox College majoring in Political Science and History. Maurice also serves as a City Councilmember on the Golden Valley City Council.

Picture of Maurice Harris

Roxene Freese, Treasurer

Roxene is an accomplished and results-driven business account executive with a history of achieving objectives through creative strategies and efficient implementations. She is skilled in collaborating with multiple stakeholders and her corporate experience includes Carlson Marketing Group, RBC Financial Services and a wide range of Fortune 500 clients. Her business experiences include a broad range of objectives nationally and internationally working in several areas of North America, Europe, Central America, Asia and Africa.

She is a Minnesota native and life-long resident and continues to enjoy traveling. In addition, she loves the vast range of natural and cultural resources that our state has to offer.

Roxene joined the Board in October 2021 and currently serves as Treasurer.

Ariana Guerra

Ariana Guerra currently works for the Hennepin County, Ramsey County, and MN State Bar Associations. Ariana is a foster care alum and began as a volunteer GAL in 2016. She then transitioned to working as a full-time GAL for 3 years in Ramsey County before moving on to her current role. Ariana continues to volunteer and is passionate about ongoing advocacy for children and youth in the foster care system.

Picture of Ariana Guerra

Megan Johnson

Megan Johnson is a Finance Director at Ecolab. She holds a BS in Environmental Engineering from Northwestern University, an MS In Environmental Engineering from Stanford University and an MBA from the University of Wisconsin.  Megan has served on the CASA Minnesota board since 2015.

Photo Megan Johnson

Kayla Payeur

Kayla Payeur is an Associate Director, Human Capital with UnitedHealthcare. Kayla started her career in Human Resources almost 15 years ago at Lawson Software and has been with UnitedHealth Group for the past 8 years. Kayla completed both her Bachelor of Science degree (2007) and Master of Arts degree (2009) at Saint Mary’s University. Kayla also passed two different HR credentialing exams; Professional in Human Resources (PHR) through Human Resources Certification Institute (HRCI) in 2010 and SHRM Senior Certified Professional (SHRM-SCP) through the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM) in 2019.

Kayla values relationships, compassion, and integrity in all she does and finds ways to give back to the community as often as possible. Even as a teenager, Kayla enjoyed spending time volunteering in the classroom at a homeless shelter. Providing stability, educational assistance, and compassion Kayla was able to not only help the children academically but to also help build their self-esteem. For nearly 15 years, Kayla has been a volunteer for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of MN bringing hope, strength, and joy to children with critical illnesses as a Wish Granter. In her free time, Kayla loves spending time with her family and all the adventures that come with a large family. Kayla’s family enjoys spending time together outdoors: camping, boating, hiking, and rock climbing; playing games; attending kids sporting and arts events; and traveling.

Picture of Kayla Payeur

Mike Tikkanen

Mike Tikkanen is the author of INVISIBLE CHILDREN, a national speaker, CASA volunteer  Hennepin County guardian ad-Litem, founding board member of Friends of Children Foundation, CASAMN and founder of the nonprofit KARA, Kids At Risk Action. Mike’s mission is to speak for abused and neglected children and bring attention to their profound Impact on our schools and communities.

Photo Mike Tikkanen

Kristen McKittrick

Kristen is a Principal Associate in the Leadership Development Rotation Program at Medtronic. Prior to joining Medtronic, she was the Director of Development at Great MN Schools and previously worked at Children’s Hospitals Foundation and Citizen Schools. She received her M.B.A from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota and a B.S. in Marketing from Seton Hall University.

Kristen joined the CASA MN Board in 2019 and serves as Chair of the Development Committee.

Guardian ad Litem Program
590 Park Avenue, MC L878
Minneapolis, MN 55415

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Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Minnesota is a member of the National Court Appointed Special Advocates Association (National CASA). A grant from National CASA supports this website and our efforts to encourage communication, development, and effective advocacy for CASA volunteers and Guardians ad Litem statewide.

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