Board of Directors
Diane Koellen – President
Diane Koellen is the President of White Star Construction Inc., a commercial general contractor in the Sacramento area established in 1995 that is committed to constructing quality projects. White Star has been the contractor of choice for such projects as The Falls Event Center Elk Grove, Paychex Headquarters, Level One Communications/Intel, GEICO Insurance, California Correctional Peace Officers Memorial and the California Department of Corrections. White Star has business and professional clients that range from high profile technology companies to local entrepreneurs.
Feeling that it is important to give back to our community and help others, Diane has been involved with several local non-profit organizations. She is a past Board Chair for Make a Wish of Sacramento & Northeastern California, a founding member of the Circle of Red for the American Heart Association, a 100+ Women Who Care member, a Red Rover volunteer, a Pet Partners volunteer and a Sutter Paws on Call volunteer.
Diane has been a CASA Board member since 2018 and served as board secretary prior to becoming vice president. Diane believes that CASA provides structure, guidance and mentorship in the life of an at risk child; something she strongly supports.
Diane has Bachelor of Science degrees in Political Science and Spanish from the University of Wisconsin – Madison, and has a California Contractor’s B license since 1995.
Elizabeth Leet Jackson, Esq. – Vice President
Bio coming soon.
Eric Jones, CPA – Treasurer
Eric Jones is the Office Managing Partner of the Sacramento Office at CohnReznick, LLP—a national accounting, tax and advisory firm. He has more than 16 years of public accounting experience. Eric specializes in providing domestic tax, financial accounting, and tax consulting services in several industries including: multi-family affordable housing, commercial real estate, business real estate, not-for-profit, and hospitality. He manages Federal and state compliance with partnership tax allocation requirements; tax planning; and tax compliance reviews for partnerships and corporations. Eric also has significant experience in planning and supervising tax engagements for multi-tiered partnerships, limited liability companies, and syndicated real estate funds.
Eric is passionate about volunteering and helping in the community and he supports organizations such as WEAVE, The Child Abuse Prevention Center and Habitat for Humanity to name a few. He feels it is critical to give the children of CASA a voice that they may not have otherwise.
Jeannie Benoist – Secretary
Jeannie Benoist brings over twenty years’ experience and a passion for leading business transformation initiatives through leadership development, organizational change management (OCM) and project management, She also motivates professionals to achieve their full potential through project management, leadership, business analysis and human resources courses at Sacramento State College of Continuing Education.
Jeannie is a Gallup-Certified Strengths Coach, Certified Project Management Professional (PMP), an active member of the Association of Talent Development Sacramento and National Chapters and is certified in the Change Management process in accordance with Prosci® methodologies and tools.
Jeannie is dedicated to giving back to her community. Previously she spent six years volunteering as a Mentor with People Reaching Out, mentoring two at risk high school students through their graduation. She also served on the board of directors for the Junior League of Sacramento and is currently in her seventh year as an active member as well as a new member of the National Charity League. Most importantly, Jeannie previously served six years on the Sacramento CASA board, including serving as President. Jeannie is grateful to have another opportunity to support this phenomenal organization. The positive impact CASA has had on the children in the foster care system, giving them a voice when they didn’t previously have one, will make a difference for generations to come.
Bio coming soon.
Barbara Flanigan is a retired Certified Public Accountant, who was the owner of her own public accounting firm, Flanigan & Company, for over 25 years. The firm specialized in tax and accounting issues for small businesses and their owners, as well as estates and trusts and their administrators. The firm’s clients included corporations, partnerships, limited liability companies, sole proprietorships and non-profit organizations. Prior to establishing the firm, she was a Tax Manager at Sacramento’s largest local CPA firm. She holds a Master of Business Administration Degree, Concentration in Accounting from San Diego State University, where she graduated with honors.
Barbara has served on the board of Family Promise of Sacramento for several years and is a former board member of the Sacramento Estate Planning Council. She served for two years as a CASA Volunteer to a youth in the foster system and is a member of the CASA Finance Committee.
Bio coming soon.
Angelique Keys currently serves as the Director of Development for Eat REAL, where she builds philanthropic support and strategic partnerships to connect children to healthier and more sustainable foods through changing the menu of the largest restaurant in the U.S. – our public school system.
She has extensive experience in both the non-profit and higher education sectors. Previously serving as: the Director of Development at Sacramento State (her alma mater) where she raised money for equity programs and student services; and the Director of Alumni Relations and Engagement for the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law, where she was responsible for planning and delivering a strategic program for 14,000 alumni throughout the world with the primary goal of increasing alumni engagement and philanthropic support for the institution. In addition, Angelique served as the Development Manager for East Oakland Boxing Association and managed a $11 million capital campaign, which included performing a feasibility study, securing $2 million in seed funding, designing campaign materials, and securing gifts of $25,000 and higher.
She began her career in Sacramento at Sacramento Food Bank and Family Services where she served as the crisis manager connecting Sacramento families with emergency services (utilities assistance, rental assistance, food, clothing, etc.), before transitioning into a community relations position. It was here, where her passion to give back began.
When she’s not working or volunteering, she’s enjoying time with her family or traveling.
Jeanne Reaves entered the banking field when professional opportunities for women were few. From a secretarial position at Wells Fargo, she soon showed the desire and aptitude to succeed. She welcomed the challenge of learning new responsibilities and forming new relationships. In her tenure at Wells Fargo, Jeanne’s role advanced from secretary to Note Department Supervisor to Assistant Vice President/Loan Team Leader, to Assistant Vice President/Commercial Loan Officer and finally to Assistant Vice President/Assistant Manager.
The Bank of Alex Brown recruited Jeanne in 1983. There, she rose from Vice President/Loan Administrator, to Senior Vice President/Loan Administrator, to Executive Vice President/Loan Administrator. In 1989, The Bank of Alex Brown merged into First Interstate Bank, where Jeanne served as Vice President/Real Estate Manager, covering territory from Bakersfield to the Oregon and Nevada borders. She joined River City Bank in 1990 as Senior Vice President/Credit Administrator. River City Bank’s board of Directors appointed Jeanne President and CEO in 1998.
Jeanne was the CEO of River City Bank for a decade; under Jeanne’s leadership, the bank’s assets grew to one billion dollars, making River City the largest locally-owned bank in the Central Valley. Equally adept in the board room and the break room, Jeanne fosters a familial company culture. She personally demonstrated that every employee, regardless of position, was valued as a contributor. Following her example, the bank became a respected leader in sound business practices and in Sacramento’s philanthropic community.
Her accomplishments and prominence in corporate and nonprofit sectors have been widely recognized and honored. Named one of Sacramento Magazine’s “Fifty Most Powerful People” and honored by the Sacramento Metro Chamber as “Sacramentan of the Year” in 2009, Jeanne draws upon her vast business talents to help many organizations succeed.
Bio coming soon.
Tracy Simmons, MA, JD
Tracy Simmons is the Senior Assistant Dean for Admissions and Financial Aid at University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She received her JD from Golden Gate University School of Law and her MA in Education with an emphasis in Multi-Cultural Counseling from San Diego State University.
Dean Simmons has worked in law school admissions, financial aid and diversity initiatives for more than 21 years. Prior to attending law school and prior to working in law school administration, Tracy worked as a social worker for FamiliesFirst, Inc. in Northern California.
Dean Simmons been active with the Law School Admission Council. She is currently as the Chair for the Annual Meeting of Law School Professionals. She has served on the Board of Trustees. Past committee work includes Services and Programs Committee twice, being a member of the Forum Review Work Group, Diversity Initiatives Committee, Finance and Legal Affairs Committee twice, served as a member of the Annual Planning Work Group and served as chair of the New Admission Personnel and Faculty Members Workshop Planning Group.
Dean Simmons has serves on the Board of Directors for the Sacramento Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) since March 2014, is immediate past Board President and current chair of the Program Committee. Dean Simmons recently joined the Sacramento State University Division of Criminal Justice Community Advisory Committee and the California System Involved Bar Association Advisory Board.
Benush Venugopal, MBA, ME
Benush is a Principal with Deloitte and serves as lead partner of Deloitte’s California and Washington strategic accounts. He specializes in large scale technology enabled government transformation initiatives and is instrumental in delivering a number of award winning and successful client engagements. He is passionate about programs that support vulnerable children and has led a number of events to raise money to support at-risk kids.
Benush holds an MBA and a Masters in Economics. He lives in Sacramento with his wife and two daughters.
Alan Wolf (retired) formally the Division Manager of the Sacramento Division of Swinerton Builders. He made the move to join Swinerton from the Midwest in 2003 with his wife of 33 years and two daughters. Alan has worked in the construction industry since 1983 after earning a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from the University of Illinois, Champaign Urbana.
Under his leadership, Swinerton successfully completed several high-rise construction projects in the Sacramento region including The Sawyer Hotel at the Sacramento Downtown Commons CalSTRS and the 2020 Natomas Gateway building. As a dedicated construction professional, Alan strived to enhance the Sacramento Division with exceptional service to clients while becoming their trusted partner.
He has been active with many local organizations including: Sierra Forever Families, American Heart, Make a Wish, Sacramento Tree Foundation, Region Builders and Design Build Institute of America (DBIA).
Alan is very excited to be a part of the CASA Board, helping children in long-term foster care to have a voice. Alan hopes his efforts at CASA will help to afford other children and adults alike the opportunity to experience adventures and endeavors that only a family can bring. Alan states “I have been very fortunate in my life and want to do what I can to give back to my community.”
Carol Noreen, JD – Executive Director
Carol has served as executive director of CASA Sacramento since June 2006. She is a graduate of UC Davis and the University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law. She has practiced law in both the public and private sectors, with emphases in insurance and employment litigation. Carol is a former fellow of Sierra Health Foundation’s Health Leadership Program, Class X. She currently serves as a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children and young adults in the foster care system.
Carol is committed to focusing the agency’s efforts in the areas of permanency, educational advocacy and preparing our young people for safe and supported transitions to adulthood.