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.
Kelley Leaf, President
Kelley Leaf started at the Hennepin GAL program as a volunteer in 2001. In 2003 she became a supervisor in the program where she remains to this day. In 2012 she obtained a Master’s degree in social work. In 2019 she took on the new role of president of CASA MN. In her non-work life she is a voracious reader, and rescues cats.
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.
Gretchen Koehn, Treasurer
Gretchen Koehn is a strategic and accomplished Executive Leader and Board of Directors member with expertise in organizational strategy, growth initiatives, and risk assessment. She drives organizational growth through innovative strategy, aligning resources, and team accountability. Throughout her career Gretchen has served in numerous C-Level positions and currently assumes interim executive roles in several industries.
Gretchen is consistently acknowledged for strengths in developing vision and strategy and translating those into workable operational plans. She has gained strong career success moving organizations toward change in environments of rapid growth. As a leader, Gretchen has a direct approach, is a strong decision maker committed to organizational growth.
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.
Carlo Faccini is a family law attorney at Johnson Turner Legal. Through his day job, Carlo is finely attune to the importance of programs like CASA-MN. A graduate of Creighton University School of Law, Carlo feels that CASA-MN is one small way in which he can strive towards helping to provide cura personalis, Latin for the care of the entire person, to as many as possible.
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.
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.
Kevin Marquardt is the Manager of Data Privacy at CenterPoint Energy. He graduated from the University of Minnesota Humphrey School of Public Affairs with a Masters of Science in Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy and holds two bachelors degrees from Iowa State University in Psychology and Environmental Studies.
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.
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.
Monica Staley is a certified health coach, yoga instructor & Isagenix Executive. She has been a volunteer Guardian ad Litem with Hennepin County since 2010 and joined the Court Appointed Special Advocates Board in 2016. Monica makes it a priority to educate as many people as possible about the abused & neglected children in our communities by holding CASA educational & recruitment meetings. She also co-manages the CASA MN Facebook page, event & educational postings, and calls for action.