In 1991, Dunning joined Monroe County CASA Inc., then known as the Monroe County Guardian Ad Litem Project.
A licensed social worker, she has been invaluable to this program by providing a unique perspective, working closely with local judges and attorneys to create the training curriculum for the pro bono attorney program, and creating the first CASA mentoring program.
Dunning is an advocate for children, but also an advocate for her community and for the volunteers of the CASA program.
Sandy Rampley recalls the beginning of their friendship:
“Deborah Dunning and I met in graduate school. … We shared parenting stories between classes, finally graduated, and went our separate ways. Years later, having returned to Bloomington, I received a call out of the blue from Deb asking if I was interested in working at CASA while she was out of the country. Thus, a beautiful friendship was born. Deb would be good at anything she chose to do but working with people is her forte. She is charming, funny and genuinely interested in each person she meets. … I can’t imagine CASA without her.”
Dunning has gained the lifelong friendship of colleagues and the respect of judges.
“I consider Deb Dunning the voice of CASA. She is that rock-solid advocate who keeps working to find the right solution to the child’s problem. Judge Frances Hill said of Dunning, who she states “will be missed as a lifelong professional and child advocate, and as a personal friend.”
Juvenile Court Judge Stephen Galvin described Dunning as “hardworking, patient, and understanding” and calls her “a forceful advocate for children.” Galvin remarks, “With her wealth of experience and her steady demeanor, Deb has guided a generation of CASA volunteers in their representation of child victims.”
An open house will be held in Dunning’s honor 4:30-6:30 p.m. June 26 at the CASA office, 201 N. Morton St.
CASA invites members of the community to “…join us in celebrating the upcoming retirement of Deborah Dunning, Monroe County CASA’s longest-serving staff member.”
Monroe County CASA is a 501c3 non-profit, volunteer-powered program which provides representation in juvenile court for child victims of physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect. The program recruits, screens, trains, and supervises adult community members who volunteer their time to serve as Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASAs), with full legal authority set forth by the State of Indiana. CASAs provide advocacy to child victims to ensure that they remain at the forefront of the court proceedings and find a safe, permanent home as quickly as possible.