Meet The Staff
Abby Gilbert is the office manager of CASA of the Pines as of January 2021. She has a great passion for being active in the community and being apart of a greater change. Her strong suits are her drive and ambition. Excited for this life alternating opportunity. Abby spends her free time fishing, hiking and being with family.
Lora Huerta is a Casework Supervisor for Angelina County. Lora began with CASA as a volunteer in 2012 and joined the CASA Staff on January 1st, 2015, after a 20 year career in the Information Technology field. Lora has a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Stephen F. Austin State University. Lora and her husband Dan have two sons. Lora and Dan are also Foster Parents. Lora enjoys spending time with her family, spoiling her three dogs, and traveling.
Patrina Mitchell is a Casework Supervisor for Angelina County. She acknowledges her greatest accomplishment is giving her life to Christ; additionally, she feels that social work is part of who she is and she enjoys being a means to an end for various individuals personally and professionally. Outside of CASA she has a passion that began many years ago as a Sunday School Teacher, a youth director, mission teacher and then an ordained minister. Patina has been married for over two decades and is blessed with two beautiful girls to whom she strives to be an example for daily.
Natalie Thornton began as the Executive Director at CASA of the Pines in August of 2009. Prior to her CASA employment, she was the Executive Director of Junior Achievement of Angelina County and a high school teacher prior to that. Since she began at CASA, the program has grown from serving 136 children to over 400 children. She is married to Jay Thornton. During her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family, and particularly her two young adult sons, Joseph and Riley. She also enjoys outdoor activities and socializing with friends.
Susan Green Faver is program director. She has worked for CASA since 2010. Before becoming program Director in 2015, she was a Casework Supervisor in Angelina and Houston Counties. Susan first became involved with CASA in 1996 when she completed CASA training with the inaugural training class in Angelina County. She served as a CASA volunteer from 1996-2001. Susan holds a BBA in marketing from Abilene Christian University. Along with her experience in nonprofit management, she has experience in both sales and finance. Susan and her husband Kent, have lived in Lufkin 24 years. Susan enjoys working out, cooking and spending time with her family.
Yvonne Smith is the Recruiting and Training Director. She transitioned into this position in July of 2020 after previously serving as the Office Manager since 2017. Yvonne has a passion for serving others and looks forward to utilizing her many years of experience with the program to fill this role with the CASA program. She and her wife, Pamela proudly serve the community in many areas. They are both CASA advocates as well as spending their free time serving in the animal rescue community.
Yzel Hernandez joined the staff of CASA of the Pines in August 2020 as the Office Manager. Yzel took over the Houston County Casework Supervisor position in January 2021 after graduating from Stephen F. Austin State University. She received a Bachelor of Human Sciences with a concentration in Human Development and Family studies. Yzel has 6 years of experience in working with families and children. She is passionate about helping children and families and making a difference. Yzel enjoys running, traveling, and spending time with her family.
Carrie Speed, Casework Supervisor
Carrie Speed is the Casework Supervisor for Polk County. As the Casework Supervisor, she is responsible for mentoring and guiding the CASA volunteers as they advocate for children that are in the custody of Child Protective Services. Carrie joined the CASA of the Pines team in 2015. She studied Psychology and General Business at Stephen F. Austin State University. Carrie enjoys reading, traveling, hiking, and spending time with her husband and children.
Recruiter- Outlying Counties
Houston and Polk Counties
Deanna Grisson is the Recruiter - Outlying Counties for Houston and Polk Counties. She joined the staff in 2018 after being a CASA advocate herself for many years. Deanna enjoys speaking with others about her passion for helping children and families involved in foster care system as well as her many years of experience with the CASA program. Deanna resides in Livingston with her husband, Jerry. Deanna enjoys spending time with her husband, children and grandchildren. Deanna also loves to travel in her spare time.