Our Story

Safety, Empowerment and Prevention programs to end domestic violence

Founded in 1977, Community Action Stops Abuse (CASA) is the official certified domestic violence center based in Pinellas County, FL., serving Pinellas and Marion Counties.

In Pinellas County, CASA operates the area’s 24-hour hotline and emergency shelter; non-residential programs, such as support groups, economic empowerment and legal advocacy; Child Protective Investigative Team support; community and corporate training; Justice Advocacy including Injunction for Protection legal assistance, housing assistance, and the CASA Peacemakers school-aged anti-bullying and healthy relationship school curriculum.

In Marion County, CASA Marion operates the area’s 24-hour hotline and emergency shelter; non-residential programs, such as support groups, economic empowerment and legal advocacy; Child Protective Investigative Team support; and community and corporate training, with additional services to be added in the near future.

Our Humble Beginnings

CASA was founded in Pinellas County, FL. by Sr. Margaret Freeman in 1977 as the “Free Clinic Spouse Abuse Shelter,” a service of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic providing emergency housing for up to 8 domestic violence survivors at a time. It soon became an independent 501c3 nonprofit organization, able to expand its services with financial support from a network of caring community organizations and members.

CASA Today

A community champion

CASA was incorporated in 1981 as an emergency domestic violence shelter to accommodate 22 participants, children’s programs, and an outreach department to provide support groups and peer counseling. The fundraising groundwork was laid to open a 30-bed shelter in 1992.

Under the leadership of Linda A. Osmundson, CASA grew to include enhanced support groups, a 24-hour domestic violence hotline, outreach services, training for law enforcement and other community members, and youth programs such as the Peacemakers Program teaching violence prevention in Pre-K through 8th grade classes. CASA Collections Thrift Shoppe was opened in 1998 to collect items for domestic violence survivors and raise funds for CASA.

CASA opened the doors to a newly constructed 99+ bed domestic violence center in July, 2015. In addition to providing safe refuge to more than three times as many people than before, it adds an integrated array of on-site support services such as a resource center and rapid re-housing program to help domestic violence survivors attain safety and economic opportunity.

In July 2017, Lariana Forsythe, an experienced executive with more than two decades in the nonprofit sector, became the organization’s Chief Executive Officer

Under Lariana’s leadership, CASA’s services have grown and expanded to include an Injunction for Protection legal team, robust housing opportunities, multiple service sites, and in October 2022, CASA opened Florida’s only Family Justice Center, earning the 2023 National Purple Ribbon Award for Outstanding New Service Launch in the United States.

CASA once again expanded service in January 2024, extending certification within Marion County.

22-23 Audit Report

CASA’s fiscal year runs from July 1 – June 30 and publishes an Audit Report in the Fall of each year.



CASA’s fiscal year runs from July 1 – June 30 and publishes an Annual Report in the Fall of each year.


CASA 990 Form


Whistleblower & Conflict of Interest Policies

Whistleblower PolicyConflict of Interest Policy

Executive Leadership

Lariana Forsythe, MBA, CFRE


Matt Klein

Chief Financial Officer

Sherry Clester

Chief Operations Officer

CASA Board

Ian Womack, Chair

Division Chief, St. Petersburg Fire Rescue

Stephanie Morge, Vice Chair

Dir. of Learning & Development, Power Design

Rita Wesley, Secretary

Executive Aide to the Mayor, City of St. Petersburg

Chris Bennett, Vice Secretary

Dir. AI Transparency & Education, Motorola Solutions

Rachel Carpenter, Past-Chair

CEO, Intrinio

Rick Giglio, Treasurer

Senior Litigation Counsel, Travelers Insurance

Judith Ploszek, Vice Treasurer

CFO, Tampa General Hospital (Retired)

Ken Ausley

CEO, Ausley Construction

Mark Dawson

Senior VP Commercial Banking Division, Wells Fargo

Major David Gerardo

Asst. Chief, City of St. Petersburg Police

Sarena Irwin

Sales Executive, Smith and Associates Real Estate

Brittany Maxey-Fisher

Attorney, Maxey-Fisher, PLLC

Justin McClain

Home Again Counseling

Patty Robinson

SVP, Commercial Banking, Seacoast Bank

Lieutenant AJ Scarpati

Crimes Against Persons, Pinellas Co. Sheriff’s Office

Michelle Stone

Commissioner, Marion County

Rima Terradista

Head of Loan Review, Raymond James Financial

David Tillman

President, Tillman and Associates Engineering

Marcus Wilson

SVP, Investment Mgmt, Dynasty Financial Partners

Billy Woods

Sheriff, Marion County

Board Emeritus

Jim Kennedy

Sheila King

Patrons For Peace

David Baldwin
Foundation Member Emeritus

Brian Clark

Mark Dawson

Harvey Goodman

Bob Heyman

Sheila King

Jean Krause

Dan Mageras

Our Programs

Program Overview

CASA staff members understand the courage it takes to disclose abuse, and they work with the community to build a network of support for survivors and their children.



Learn about our domestic violence support programs.

CASA in the


Learn about our proactive engagement in the community.



Discover how you can help us end domestic violence.

Our Awards

#1 Best Non-Profit, Community Service

St. Pete Life Magazine: Best of St. Pete

2024 Housing for Everyone Award

TD Charitable Foundation

Four-Star Rating for Financial Health and Accountability (2018-2023)

Charity Navigator

2023 ‘People Love Us’ on Yelp

CASA Thrift Boutique: Top Tampa Bay Business

Best One-Stop Shopping for Domestic Violence Survivors

Creative Loafing – Best of the Bay 2023

2023 Good Burger Award – Community Conscious

St. Petersburg Area Chamber of Commerce

2023 Purple Ribbon Award


2020 TBBJ One Tampa Bay Honoree

Tampa Bay Business Journal

2018 Business Woman of the Year

Tampa Bay Business Journal

Nonprofit of the Year

Pinellas Park / Gateway Area Chamber of Commerce

2017 Be More Knowledgable and Be More Entertaining Awards

WEDU Be More Awards

2016 Best 501c3 Nonprofit

LocalShops1 8th Annual Community Awards

2016 Outstanding Achievement in Preventing Domestic Violence (Elyssa Broussard)

Pinellas County Domestic Violence Task Force

2016 Outstanding Victim Advocate of the Year (Vanessia Washington)

Florida’s Attorney General Office

2015 CDFA Florida Financing Board Roundtable Excellence Award

Council of Development Finance Agency

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