CASA bids farewell to a 'Hero'

ALBION – It was 13 years in the making, Kristi Bachman’s legacy and impact as executive director of Northeastern Indiana CASA. Recently Bachman announced her retirement and will officially step down from her position at the beginning of November.

“I have learned so much from each and every one of you,” said Bachman to her volunteers at an annual appreciation banquet. “I will always be your biggest fan and cheerleader. Thank you for this wonderful opportunity to have led you on this amazing journey the last 13 years. It has been one of the biggest honors of my life.”

Northeastern Indiana CASA serves five area counties, Noble, LaGrange, Steuben, DeKalb and Whitley, as a nonprofit aimed at advocating for children in the middle of judicial proceedings. When Bachman first joined the nonprofit, she was originally hired by the judges in those counties.

“This program has grown and evolved. I’ve grown along with it,” Bachman said. “There have been so many people I’ve watched give their all to this program and it’s been inspiring. Working with you all has been an honor and a blessing.”

During the annual appreciation banquet, volunteers and board members submitted their own sentiments, which were shared by board members Julie Jensen-Kelly and Margot Phillips.

“Kristi is my hero,” one volunteer shared. “She is the momma bear of this organization. CASA is like one of her children. She loves it, she’s proud of it and she was worked tirelessly to make it the best it can be. Her smile and laugh is contagious. I know I am a better person because she was in my life.”

Another board member shared, “Kristi is an amazing individual who has transformed this program to best serve the needs of children in our community. She serves her community with love and understanding.”

“Thank you Kristi for all of your energy and hard work you have contributed to CASA for so many years,” commented another board member. “You have made our jobs very easy. You have been a driving force behind this organization for so long.”

Jensen-Kelly said, “Kristi has been our executive director for 13 years - that title hardly describes this wonderful lady. The members of the board of directors have worked with Kristi for a collective 60 years. It has been a pleasure and an honor.”

Bachman’s retirement plans were timed with her husband Paul’s retirement and the couple is looking forward to a time of relaxation and time with family. Kirby Cool, of Auburn, will be taking over the executive director position. Cool is coming to CASA after having served with the United Way of Whitley County.

“I am going to miss CASA. It’s been such a big part of me for so long, but I am looking forward to the next chapter of life, “ Bachman said. “It’s probably going to take a bit of time for me to get used to not having to go to the office and do the job. However, I am ready to learn what retirement is like. I am very confident in Kirby’s ability to take over. I feel this organization is in good hands and she’s the perfect fit to take CASA into the next 13 years.”

 A snapshot from a past volunteer banquet, Bachman visits with some of her volunteers and shares a laugh with Bonnie Schoppman.

A snapshot from a past volunteer banquet, Bachman visits with some of her volunteers and shares a laugh with Bonnie Schoppman.

 Bachman, right, is pictured with her staff members at a recent conference.

Bachman, right, is pictured with her staff members at a recent conference.

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As Kristi Bachman gave her final remarks at the Annual Volunteer Appreciation Banquet, the crowd gave her a standing ovation and thunderous applause. Bachman is set to retire her position as executive director after 13 years with her last day being Nov. 5th.

 Bachman visit with some volunteers at the annual banquet, her last event before retiring.

Bachman visit with some volunteers at the annual banquet, her last event before retiring.

 Kirby Cool, the incoming executive director, takes a moment to greet the crowd of volunteers after Bachman introduces her.

Kirby Cool, the incoming executive director, takes a moment to greet the crowd of volunteers after Bachman introduces her.

 Part of Bachman’s role allowed her to make numerous community connections, such as this one with the Auburn Moose Family Center.

Part of Bachman’s role allowed her to make numerous community connections, such as this one with the Auburn Moose Family Center.

 After 13 years, friendships were formed and relationships made with people touched by Bachman’s heart for CASA.

After 13 years, friendships were formed and relationships made with people touched by Bachman’s heart for CASA.