Denim and Diamonds C.A.S.E. 2024 Gala Program

2024 CASE Gala Logo


Thank you for joining us for this sparkling evening benefiting the adoptive, foster, and kinship families we serve. Please enjoy the cocktails, dinner, DJ and dancing, live and silent auction and gala program. Your participation tonight provides critical operating funds for C.A.S.E. and helps more families in need afford the cost of therapy.

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Gala Program Guide

  • Select An Option
  • Evening Program - Auditorium
  • Live Auction
  • Gala Co-Chairs
  • Gala Host Committee
  • Sponsors
  • Vendors
C.A.S.E. Emerging Leaders standing together with C.A.S.E. CEO Debbie Riley

Developed in 2020, the Emerging Leaders Advisory Board work closely with the C.A.S.E. Board of Directors and staff to enhance the organization’s local and national presence in the adoption, foster and kinship care communities.

They offer advice and recommendations to the organization, while also participating in public speaking, advocacy, and special fundraising events. While the council members are dedicated to their current role at C.A.S.E., they work with the intent to eventually assume leadership roles within the organization.

This evening members of our Emerging Leaders Advisory Board will share their stories and passion for our cause.

Meet our C.A.S.E. Emerging Leaders
Jessica Willis Fisher

Jessica Willis Fisher is a singer/songwriter, performing artist, speaker, and author who believes that sharing our stories with one another will change the world. Raised playing traditional folk music from an early age, she performed with her family band, The Willis Clan, in the Irish, Country, and Bluegrass music scenes and made appearances on the Grand Ole Opry and America’s Got Talent. At 24 years old, she left her seemingly happy family life due to the escalating danger and long-term abusive treatment from her father.

She dove into therapy to try and understand the events of her childhood which enabled her to participate in bringing her abuser to justice. Her memoir Unspeakable: Surviving My Childhood and Finding My Voice, sheds light on the trauma of sexual abuse and shares her journey to reclaim her voice in music and life. Jessica is a passionate advocate for fellow survivors and further shares her story through her deeply personal debut solo album, Brand New Day.

Racially diverse adoptive family posing for photo

The generous donations of C.A.S.E.’s philanthropic community provides the ability to offer a sliding fee discount to families each year who do not qualify for grants but are unable to afford the full fee for our services. Please consider making a donation this evening so we can continue offering financial support to families in need.

C.A.S.E. Fund-A-Family Scholarship Testimonial:

“The scholarship we received through C.A.S.E. provided our family with strategies and tools to help us communicate more effectively. We were able to have a greater understanding of our adopted children’s thoughts, fears, and feelings. We are thankful for the time we spent working with our C.A.S.E. therapist and the generosity of those that made it possible.”

– Andrea

Zoe Evans

Zoe Evans was born in Huanggang, China and adopted in 2004 when she was 18 months old. Prior to her adoption, Zoe was living with a foster family that also worked in the Huanggang orphanage.

Zoe’s story of unpacking her adoption began with a middle-school assignment called “Where I’m From.” Ever since creating and presenting the knowledge she accumulated through interviews with family members, looking at photos, and researching the geographical and historical aspects of her birth country, Zoe has continued to take her interest to a deeper level.

Zoe was nominated to be the leader of an adoption group in middle school in Washington D.C., has continued to write several academic papers on her identity as an adopted, Asian American female, and centered her artwork to target different aspects of her story whether it’s through symbols or the selected color palette.

Zoe is currently an undergraduate at Marist College, in Poughkeepsie New York where she is majoring in social work. Working with kids has always been a passion of Zoe’s. She hopes to use her own insights and experience to help others overcome challenges they have faced in their adoption journey.

Kristiana Sullivan

Kristiana’s adoption story started when she and her birth mom were sheltered by the family that would eventually foster and then adopt she and her sisters. They lived with the family starting when Kristiana was 5 and stayed for 2 years before her birth mom got Section 8 housing. Within 6 months Kristiana and her sister entered into the foster system. The same family who has sheltered she and her mom fostered and adopted them in 2018, when she was 9 and her sister was 2. In 2019, her youngest sister, Kamrynn, joined the family. Kristiana has been in trauma therapy since entering the foster system and continues to this day. Additionally, she does EMDR therapy weekly.

Kristiana has struggled with anxiety, grief and loss and had to learn how not to be the momma bear to her sisters, looking different than the rest of family, and finally coming into her own. She went from sitting in the back of the room with a hoodie over her head, to easily making friends and being a joy to her friends and family.

Kristiana is 15 years old and is in 9th grade. She’s the seventh child out of nine in her adopted family. Her favorite subject in school is geography because she loves to cook and learn about different cultures. Kristiana is also a swim coach for kids on the Lancers swim team. She enjoys singing and playing video games in her free time. She loves her pets, especially the family goldendoodle, Xanny. Kristiana is very happy to be getting this award and wants to thank her family and friends and her counselor, Ms. Mari.

Bernadette Fonkoue

Bernadette has navigated the foster care system in Washington, D.C., since the age of 14. She faced numerous challenges throughout her academic journey, yet successfully graduated high school and was accepted to Bowie State University. Bernadette is a rising senior involved in many extracurricular activities related to theatre. She recently received unsettling news from her academic advisor that she may not be able to graduate in 2025 due to a shortfall in credits. Bernadette is determined to turn this setback into an opportunity for growth and resilience in pursuing her dreams. She was a theatre acting and directing major but has changed to communications and public relations. With the support of the scholarship, Bernadette is committed to finishing her education, obtaining the required credits, and graduating on time. She looks forward to the possibility of starting her own business and making a meaningful impact.

Debbie Riley, C.A.S.E. CEO Headshot

Debbie B. Riley, LCMFT, is C.A.S.E.’s Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer.

She earned her Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy and her Bachelor’s Degree in Family Studies from the University of Maryland. Since C.A.S.E.’s inception in 1998, Debbie has grown the organization into a national and international mental health resource for foster and adoptive families as well as for the professionals who support them.

Among her many professional accomplishments is her co-authoring of the book, Beneath the Mask: Understanding Adopted Teens. Debbie also founded the TAC (Training for Adoption Competency Curriculum) currently taught in 17 states across the country. Through a recent federal five-year grant awarded to C.A.S.E from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families (ACF), Debbie serves as the Principal Investigator to establish a National Adoption Competency Mental Health Training Initiative (NTI), created to build the adoption competency capacity of child welfare professionals and mental health practitioners that serve youth moving toward permanency as well as youth living in permanent adoptive or guardianship homes.

Debbie is proud recipient of the Children’s Bureau 2015 Adoption Excellence Award nominated by Rita Soronen, President and CEO of the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. Debbie’s unwavering commitment to providing resources, support and advocacy for children, teens and family members touched by adoption and foster care is in itself extraordinary.

Long Island Beach, New Jersey Vacation Home

Vacation home in Long Beach Island, New Jersey

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Summer 2024 Availability
July 6-13
August 17-24
August 24-31
September All weeks

Summer 2025 Availability
June 21-28
July 12-19
July 19-26
July 26-2
August 2-9
August 9-16
August 16-23
August 23-30
September All weeks

Washington Nationals Seat Map

Enjoy 24 Washington Nationals Baseball Game Lincoln Suite Tickets! Includes 4 parking passes, complimentary food and beverages.

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Tracie Peschke

Tracie is former C.A.S.E. board member, and former congressional staffer. She is an ardent supporter of the goals of the organization – providing excellent mental health services for the adoption and foster care community.

Tracie completed her education at George Washington University and spent several summers studying abroad. She has developed a vast network of work and service experiences throughout her communities enabling her to reach out to a wide variety of audiences. Tracie and her husband John chose to build their family through adoption.

Tracie has extensive experience in working with the community. She has organized fundraisers for her daughter’s schools and has been instrumental as a volunteer in developing and improving resources for children and parents at each school. She has extensive experience in recruiting and organizing volunteer forces for a variety of good causes. Tracie was responsible for the development and continuation of Cecily’s Advocacy Workshop which is an annual symposium that highlights new research and best practices in fostering growth for K-12 students. This is a key resource in the Washington metro area, attracting an audience of over 300 parents, educators, and child development professionals.

Professionally, Tracie has served as staff in both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives requiring that she have in-depth knowledge of legislation affecting heath care, social security and other programs in the social science area. She spent time working and coordinating with not only Members and staff but also constituents. She developed great skills at coordinating people, issues and activities and became proficient in how the legislative process works. She is well-versed in the process and understands how advocacy can influence the process.

David Bulitt

David Bulitt is a partner in the Washington, D.C. Metro law firm of Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA. For more than a decade, he has been chosen as one of the area’s top divorce lawyers by multiple publications and recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” and a Washington, D.C. Metro “Super Lawyer.” Praised as “the lawyer who epitomizes stability and old-fashioned common sense” by Bethesda Magazine, David has a particular interest in families with special needs, foster and adoptive children as a result of his personal experiences.

He and his wife, a therapist at C.A.S.E., are the authors of two top selling books on relationships and families, The Five Core Conversations for Couples and Secrets of Strong Couples. David has also published two fiction novels and served as a managing partner of his law firm for more than eighteen years.

Pam Krooth

Currently, Pamela serves on the C.A.S.E. Board of Directors. Pamela has over 15 years of experience as a psychotherapist working with children, families, individuals and groups. She specializes in anxiety, depression, infertility, postpartum, marital and family conflict, and adoption. She has worked as a Contract Therapist at C.A.S.E., facilitating the Kids Adoption Network (KAN) Support Groups for adopted children.

Pamela graduated from New York University with a B.S. in Cultural Anthropology and an M.S. in Social Work. She is also a graduate of the Ackerman Institute Post Graduate Program in Couples and Family Therapy. Pamela is a parent by birth and international adoption. She co-chaired the C.A.S.E. Annual Gala from 2013-2015.

Catherine Leggett

Catherine has helped entities to grow, restructure and build cultures of trust. She has held executive leadership roles in several corporations, including public service, retail, marketing, and financial services. Employers include American Airlines, Hechinger, Freddie Mac, PG&E Generating Company and ICMA-RC. She is expressly valued for her strategic business partnerships, employment law acumen, organizational effectiveness, creativity, and innovation.

Catherine is Chair of the Montgomery County Advisory Board of the Greater Washington Community Foundation, a lifetime board member of Montgomery Hospice, a board member of Maryland State Commission for Public Art, Imagination Stage, Olney Theater Center, Montgomery County Family Justice Center and the AFI advisory board.

Catherine received a B.A. in sociology and psychology and J.D. from Howard University in Washington, D.C. and is an employment lawyer by profession. A long-term friend to C.A.S.E., Catherine has regularly volunteered and impacted the organization on many levels. She co-chaired the $5.2 million C.A.S.E. Growing Together Campaign and has served as co-chair of the Honorary Committee for the annual gala since 2012.

Jeffrey Slavin

Jeffery Slavin grew up in Bethesda, Maryland. A former real estate broker, he is a dedicated community activist, philanthropist, and businessman, and believes strongly in social justice. Giving back to the community motivates Jeffrey to make connections every day that strengthen the community through giving, growing, and organizing.

A graduate of Tufts University, Georgetown University Law Center, and the State and Local Government Program at Harvard’s Kennedy School, he currently serves as the Mayor of the Town of Somerset, Co-Director of the Sanford and Doris Slavin Foundation, and President of the Montgomery County Media Board of Directors. Jeffrey was inducted into the Montgomery County Human Rights Hall of Fame and recently completed a term as chair of the LGBTQ+ Caucus of the National League of Cities.

Jeffrey is tireless in his efforts to make life better for those in need, and regularly helps nonprofits like C.A.S.E. engage smarter, organize better, and grow their organization with meaningful advances. He has been instrumental in opening so many doors for C.A.S.E. connecting the organization to key constituents and like-minded organizations.

Cecelia & Mike Battle
Cathy Bernard
Caren & John Camp
Sheryl Brissett Chapman
Melanie Folstad & Rick McUmber
Meri & Phil Gibbs
Katrina Holliday & Khaled Rabbani
Rosalyn Jonas
Trina Leonard
Jena Belinkie Riley
The Honorable Carol Schwartz
Rich Shaw & Carol Shoemaker

Bernard Family Foundation

The Gibbs Children

The Grasmick Family Charitable Fund

AGM Financial Services, Inc.

Caren & John Camp


HMS Insurance Associates, Inc.

Colleen & Ron Luzier

Christina & Rick Powell

Murray, McGehrin & Shiery 

Heather Quinn & Laura Shores

Synergy Enterprises, Ltd.

T. Rowe Price Associates, Inc.

CAM Construction Co., Inc.


Fort Lincoln Realty Company, Inc.

Katrina Holliday & Khaled Rabbani

Mitchell Kaneff, CEO, Arkay

Catherine & Ike Leggett

The Leonard Family


PolicyWorks, Ltd.

Richard Shaw & Carol Shoemaker

Jeffrey & Rebecca Breslin


The Bulitt Family

Capitol Document Solutions | Ricoh

Alyse & Gary Cooper

Richard & Simone Devaney

Lois Fried

Barbara Jo Gertzog

Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA

Agnes & Alan Leshner

Madison Mechanical Contracting, Inc.

Padmini Mahurkar

The Peschke Family

Southway Builders, Inc.

STAR Turbine, Inc.

Tydings & Rosenberg, LLP

Heidi Will

Absolute Supply and Services, LLC

Ayers Creek Adventures

Dan Bell

Kevin Bruce & Colleen Cordova

Kim Chamberlain

The Cheeseman Family

Compass Advisors, LLC

June Dorn

   Families Rising

Heather Q Hostetter & Derek H Chollet

Melanie Folstad & Rick McUmber

Harkins Builders, Inc.

Rosalyn Jonas


Pam & Tony Marquez

Mechanical Sales, Inc.

Rhonda Meegan

Charles & Sherrie Mitchell

Murray & Co. Real Estate

National Council for Adoption


Kathleen & Paul Ravenscroft

RCM&D + Consolidated Insurance

        Reliable Automatic Sprinkler Co., Inc.

Holly & Sean Riley

 Michael & Susan Schindler

Terry Schubert

Strosniders Hardware


Jenny & Kent Warren

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