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Cassandra “Casey” Emery, 31 

President and Chief Executive, YWCA

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Parents often exert their greatest influence through their actions.

When she was a child, Casey Emery spent weekends performing educational puppet shows with her parents, who volunteered for Stop Child Abuse Now. As a teenager, she wrote an advice column for her mother's family support newspaper.

This foundation of helping others has led to Emery becoming one of the region's rising stars working on child welfare issues, from her early childhood development work through the Greater Richmond Chamber to her current position as president and chief executive of the local Young Women's Christian Association.

After completing the double whammy of a law degree from the University of Richmond's T.C. Williams School of Law while a grad student at Virginia Commonwealth University, Emery anticipated a career prosecuting child abusers and sex offenders. Instead, her work involves intervention and prevention with families in crisis. “I just fell in love with getting to work with families from birth all the way through to adulthood,” she says.

A member of West End Assembly of God, she credits her faith and values as a strong motivator. And although she's been at the YWCA for only seven months, she's already grooming the organization to meet greater community demands.

“Recognizing every small accomplishment and not expecting huge changes is important,” she says about her new role working more directly with clients on a daily basis. “What some people consider a small step is actually a huge achievement in individual lives.”

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