About

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CASA of Park and Sweet Grass Counties is a 501 (C) (3) nonprofit organization that provides volunteer advocates to represent the best interests of child abuse or neglect victims. CASA of Park and Sweet Grass Counties serves the Sixth Judicial Court District and is affiliated with both Montana CASA/GAL Association and the National CASA Association. Our organization covers 100% of child abuse and neglect cases in this district.

The CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) is responsible for investigating the case, reviewing the best alternatives for the child, and make a recommendation directly to the District Judge. In addition, the CASA will follow the child throughout their journey in the welfare system, always advocating on their behalf.

For more information about the role of a volunteer, please review the volunteer page or call 222-4904.

Meet the Team

Board of Directors

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Marcus Lilly

Board Chair
Marcus moved to Livingston in February 2005 after attending college at MSU-Billings, studying Marketing and International Business. Born and raised in central Montana, he has a great love for sports, animals, the outdoors and working with kids. Marcus is not only a board member, but is also a volunteer for CASA of Park and Sweet Grass county. In addition, he is a former director of the state chapter, Montana CASA/GAL Association. He runs his own hand-forged lighting business. In his free time, you can find him spending time with family, friends and his two dogs, Khloe and Diesel. He loves riding his horse Ruger, and spending as much time outdoors as possible.
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Betsy Baxter

Treasurer
Mary Baxter hails from long-time ranching families in Wheatland County. She earned a Bachelor of Science in geology from Stanford University and a Master of Management degree concentrating in finance and accounting from Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University. Mary has recently returned to central Montana after ranching for 19 years on O’Fallon Creek in Fallon County. She enjoys hiking and cross country skiing and keeps up her ranching skills by doing occasional fencing and cattle work.
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Kim Burgess

One of the newest Board Members, Kim came to Livingston for first time in 2006 to work at what is now Livingston HealthCare and fell in love with the area and its people. She officially moved here from West Virginia in 2015 after having purchased a small home in 2012. Kim is a self-employed contract physician whose work has taken her around the country. Most recently she has been working through the Indian Health Service on the Navajo Nation in New Mexico. Kim is a Colonel in the US Army, having served over three decades thus far, including four combat tours to Afghanistan and Iraq. She is currently in the Montana Army National Guard. When she is not traveling the country on “work adventures,” Kim enjoys hiking, cooking and being pushed to the limit by a local personal trainer at the gym.
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Mary Ellen Cremer

Mary Ellen Cremer, a Montana native, has lived most of her life in the state. She earned graduate degrees in Economics and Business Administration and worked for a few years at Deloitte and Touche in Seattle before returning to Montana to reside south of Big Timber on the little ranch where she raised her family.
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Lesa Mayer

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Peggy O'Neil

Peggy received an R.N. Degree from Northern Montana College in 1975. She worked as a Psychiatric Nurse from 1975 to 1977 at Warm Springs Hospital. From 1977 to present, she has worked at Livingston Healthcare, located in Livingston, Montana as Infection Prevention and Charge Auditor. Peggy has served on the Park County Health Board and has been a Therapeutic Foster Parent for over 13 years. Peggy has 3 children of her own. In her spare time, she owns and operates Happy Feet and Hands Day Spa in Livingston, Montana. In Peggy’s own words, “I love working with children, doing what I can to help them along their journey. A loving home and feeling safe should be the right of every child. Our youth is our future and so many are missing the basic - food, shelter, safety, HUGS. CASA is essential in the lives of these children who have lost everything that is familiar to them (no matter how bad); it's still their family and home. An advocate for them, a special friend to be there through the process acting in the interest of the child gives them a light in an especially dark time. I am proud to be a part of this organization working with youth and ensuring their needs are heard.”
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Nels Swandal

Wm Nels Swandal graduated from the University of Montana School of Law in 1978; he earned his undergraduate degree, with honors, from Montana State University in 1975. Following graduation from law school, Mr. Swandal was accepted into the U.S. Army Judge Advocate Generals Corp and served as a trial attorney, defense attorney and chief as the legal assistance office during his three years of active duty. Nels then spent seven years with the U.S. Army Reserves, and 20 years with the Montana Army National Guard, retiring as a Colonel and as the State Staff Judge Advocate for the State of Montana. From October 1981-1982, Mr. Swandal engaged in a general legal practice with his mother’s law firm. He was then elected Park County Attorney and served in that capacity from 1983-1994. He then served as the District Judge for the Sixth Judicial District from 1995-2012. He has then recently re-entered private practice with his daughter, Rebecca Swandal, and has served as a Montana state senator since 2015.

Staff

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Ann Schilling

Program Director
Ann M. Schilling graduated from Montana State University in 1973 with a B.S. in Family Life Science and a Secondary Education Degree. She moved to Livingston in 1977 where she and her husband owned and operated an agricultural services company until 2000. Ann has raised two very successful children and is active in her church, community, and with her grandchildren. From 2002-2004, Ann helped to establish CASA of Park and Sweet Grass Counties, developing board policies and procedures. From 2004-present, she has been the Program’s Director. She currently sits on the Montana CASA/GAL Association State Board of Directors and was instrumental in passing state legislature mandating CASA/GAL appointments in each child abuse and neglect case in Montana.
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Ashley Peterson

Development and Volunteer Director
Originally from Maine, Ashley came to Montana during the summers while attending Springfield College in Springfield, Massachusetts and worked in Yellowstone National Park. After graduating with a B.A. in Communications and Sports Journalism and a B.S. in English, she moved from Portland, ME to Portland, OR where she landed her first job in the nonprofit sector. Using her writing, marketing, and communications skills she realized the full satisfaction of non profit work and enrolled in a graduate program at the University of Southern Maine. In 2011, she graduated with a Masters in Public Policy that focused on Nonprofit Administration. Ashley has successfully procured over $300K in grant funding over the past 6 years while working with the Yellowstone Association, Livingston HealthCare, and now, CASA of Park and Sweet Grass Counties. She is extremely proud of the necessary and delicate work the organization does for children in the community and grateful for the opportunity to fight for child abuse and neglect victims. In her spare time, you can find her in the wilds of the Northern Range of Yellowstone, après ski after a day on the Bridgers, or singing with the local community choir.