Get to Know Elizabeth Barnes

How did you first come to know C.A.S.E.? I first met Debbie when I was a rebellious teenager. We met in their first office office building off of Colesville and New Hampshire Ave- a long time ago!

How has your work with C.A.S.E. impacted you and your family? C.A.S.E/Debbie helped me learn how to communicate and make sense of my emotions better. I was struggling with communication and power struggles with my parents. I think both my parents and I learned how to communicate better and in addition I felt heard. It was a safe place to just let it all out without judgement about how I felt.
Why did you want to become an Emerging Leader at C.A.S.E., and what do you hope to achieve during your time as a Board Member? Being a Korean international adoptee is part of who I am. Having the opportunity to be an Emerging Leader at C.A.S.E. is a way I can give back the invaluable support I was given when I needed it. I’ve grown up and like to think become a little wiser and believe I can contribute to helping C.A.S.E. achieve its goals. There are so many people who have been adopted or been in foster care and have had to work through their struggles alone. I hope to be an advocate in order to increase C.A.S.E.’s reach. As a board member, I hope to be able to provide a different perspective as an adoptee and learn more about how I can help with C.A.S.E.’s needs.
Tell us about your life outside C.A.S.E.: What do you do professionally and what are your interests outside work? I am the Senior Director for Adult and Senior Services at Easterseals DC MD VA. I’ve worked in disability services for 14 years, the majority being in nonprofit. I love to fish! My biggest catches locally being a 60lb blue catfish out of the Potomac River and a 52lb Trophy Rockfish out of the Chesapeake Bay. My husband who is a DCFD firefighter/EMT and I also are small in home breeders for French bulldogs focusing on health and temperament. Anything related to being outside or at the beach, I’m game for!
The theme of this month’s newsletter is Mental Wellness and Self-Care. The Covid-19 pandemic has us all struggling… what do you do to maintain mental wellness and self-care? This time has been all about adapting to and embracing the lack of normalcy. I’ve learned some things along this journey that have helped me during this time. I have to make sure that I have a balance of work and other parts of my life. It is so challenging working from home and not working constantly. I have to turn off my computer completely when I need to unplug. I know myself well enough that I need to get enough sleep. A benefit working remotely for me during COVID was that I was able to get exercise and work out a lot outside and at home since I had more time. Getting those endorphins going has been really helpful. With being home, I’ve also been able to spend more time with my mother who I care for and it helped keep he left stable and prevent decline. Another thing I found out about what I needed was that I have to get up and get dressed out of my pajamas before “going to work” or I don’t feel right. Finding out what worked for me were things that I needed to discover as the pandemic continued on and accepting that there is no framework or best formula since we are all learning this together. I am a very active, physical and social person so I had to get creative to ensure I maintained healthy mental health and that I was able to listen, recognize and apply what I needed to take care of for my mother and myself.


Elizabeth Barnes is an international adoptee from Seoul, South Korea. She came to the US when she was 3 months old. C.A.S.E supported her during her adolescence. She volunteered as an airport greeter for other international adoptees and spoke on panels with C.A.S.E about international adoption. Professionally, Elizabeth is currently the Senior Director of Adult and Senior Serviced at Easterseals DC, MD, VA. She currently sits on the National Adult Day Services Association board and is the president-elect for the Maryland Association for Adult Day Services. She holds a Bachelors in Clinical Psychology from UMBC and a Master’s of Science in Healthcare Administration from Utica College. In her spare time, she enjoys fishing, going to the beach and playing with her dogs.