Rosie McNeil-Cusick’s lifelong commitment to equity

CASA board member Rosie McNeil-Cusick’s lifelong commitment to equity has transcended borders, sectors and generations.

“My focus in everything I do is to provide equitable environments for people to thrive,” Rosie said. “My desire to promote equity comes from the life story of my mother, who grew up as a little girl in a small, segregated town in Ohio. She broke down so many of the barriers in her way—going on to graduate from college and become a successful agent with the FBI. In all that I do, I want to break down barriers for people.”

Drawing inspiration from her mother’s story of breaking barriers, Rosie spent two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Namibia, teaching middle school students in a rural village—students that often faced enormous adversity in their home lives.

“Working in a very rural setting, far from many necessary resources, taught me so much about resiliency. There were so many things that could have broken the students’ resolve—receiving their only meal of the day at school, not seeing their families for years on end due to financial burdens, or sleep deprivation from working in the fields before class—but they always bounced back. Their joy and positivity in the face of steep challenges was remarkable, and I think about their example all the time in considering what is possible.”

Now with a daughter of her own, Rosie has come to see the fight for equity for all children on an even deeper level.

“Having a little girl of my own makes me so grateful for the possibilities she has before her due to the barriers my mother broke and that I have broken. But at the same time, I can’t help but think about all the kiddos that could use a little extra help and a few tools to navigate this world. I love being her mom and getting to see her grow, but it’s my goal to do anything I can do to help other kids break down the barriers in their paths.”

Joining the board of CASA is one of those ways Rosie strives to promote equity in youth in our community.

“I heard about CASA through my graduate program—several of my classmates worked at CASA. Working in the nonprofit world, I knew how big of an impact the organization had on the lives of kids experiencing neglect and abuse, and I was thrilled to be able to join the board. I think volunteering is so important—of course because it helps the community, but it is also about how it shapes the volunteer and the way they interact with the world. For all that a volunteer gives to CASA, it will always come back threefold because it’s the type of work that shapes you.”

Thank you, Rosie, for your commitment to fighting the good fight and breaking down barriers for all kids.