Generations of Service: Family demonstrates decades-long commitment to CASA and children in need 

Summit County family helps local children through creation of CASA program, volunteer work and service to CASA board 

Amanda Carroll’s CASA journey started in a unique way. 

Carroll signed up to become a CASA volunteer while taking a tour of the renovated Summit County Juvenile Court building as it was re-dedicated in her grandfather’s honor in 2004. Her grandfather, Judge William P. Kannel, is the man who established CASA in Summit County. 

“I was never told you need to volunteer, or this is a requirement. He truly believed in the rehabilitation of children and giving them the best leg up. It was just his passion. It was his calling,” said Carroll. 

It was a passion and dedication instilled in Carroll and her family, largely by his example. 

Having recently graduated from college, Carroll volunteered with CASA for around 10 years, later serving on the board, and then coming back to now serve as the board chair. 

“It’s probably the most powerful volunteer job you will ever do,” said Carroll. “I kind of live on the theory of, you can get overwhelmed with all the problems in the world, but, you can do your part to make your bubble just a little bit better.” 

Carroll says her grandfather always displayed a commitment to service. After serving in World War II, he worked at the Summit County Juvenile Court for over 40 years. In 1971, he was appointed judge and was then elected to 3 consecutive terms after that. He retired in 1989.  

Judge Kannel started the CASA program in Summit County in 1981, making it the second program in Ohio. 

“He was so ahead of the curve,” said Beth Cardina, Summit County CASA Program Director and former Ohio CASA Board member. “He wasn’t about being punitive. He really was more about rehabilitation and believing kids deserve a second chance often because of their circumstances.” 

Cardina has served as program director for about 17 years and knows Judge Kannel’s work directly, having testified in front of him when she worked at Children Services. 

Pictured: Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio, Amanda Carroll, her parents and other supports. Photos courtesy of the Summit County CASA Program.

Since 1981, the Summit County CASA Program has grown. There are around 200 CASA volunteers serving children in the community. 

“You can make an impact in your own backyard. You don’t have to go very far to help a child in need,” said Cardina. 

Cardina shared there is always a need for more CASA volunteers in Summit County and across Ohio 

The commitment to CASA remains strong in Summit County. Judge Kannel swore in current Summit County Juvenile Court Judge Linda Tucci Teodosio. Judge Teodosio was awarded “Child Advocate of the Year” at Ohio CASA’s 28th Annual Celebrate Kids! Conference in 2023.

In addition, the Judge Kannel Award is presented every other year to a community member who has helped children. 

Carroll and Cardina hope by talking about his legacy, and the work of this family, it can help share the word about CASA.  

“This is a way to make a life changing impact in the life of a child without becoming a foster parent,” said Cardina. “I really feel like if we’re able to get in there and maybe interrupt a cycle, then we could impact generations in the future.” 

Carroll’s own family is continuing its commitment to CASA and children in need. Her mother serves as the Treasurer of the Women’s Board at the juvenile court, and Carroll’s daughter also helps at different CASA events. 

“This is one of those unique volunteer experiences in the fact that you have a huge influence on the destiny of a child,” said Carroll. “I think it’s just so important to give them a chance, speak up for them and be their voice.” 

If you are interested in learning more or becoming a CASA volunteer in Summit County or anywhere in Ohio, please click here.