Board of Directors

  • anne gribbin

    president

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  • Michael Landi

    vice president

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  • Dan Veith

    treasurer

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  • Thomas Grenchik

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  • stephanie padgham

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  • Teresa Yao

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  • James Nalls

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  • Cassie Statuto Bevan, Ed. D.

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  • Cheryl Holley

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  • Madeline Watkins

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  • Jessie Tappel

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Get to kNOW YOUR BOARD: STEPHANIE PADGHAM

Gabriel Network: How do you feel about serving on the board?

Stephanie Padgham: I enjoy being on the board. I help the board envision the main promise of Gabriel Network: our Angel Friends program. Angel Friends make us stand out from any other ministry. I see how the Angel Friends ministry works in tandem with the housing ministry and other activities. It is how we change lives. When you have true friendship with someone, that is when change happens. It is because you feel loved: when you know you are loved, then you feel safe enough to try changing your life. So we serve these moms not as an authority over them but as a friend with them. It is how we share Christ, so that these mothers see Christ in real life.


GN: How did you join Gabriel Network?

SP: Probably in 2000, just after I came into the Catholic Church. I quickly became involved in pro-Life ministry. I attended St. Augustine Church in Washington, DC. There, I volunteered as a parish coordinator for Gabriel Network. We assisted the mothers in our community. In just a few months, we had partnered volunteers with 17 different moms and 18 or 19 newborn babies—one or two mothers were carrying twins. I helped Gabriel Network by getting our name in the church bulletin, organizing “volunteer nights,” inviting Jim Sharbaugh [a Gabriel Network founder] to visit, mounting Gabriel Network signage, etc.


GN: How did you go from being a parish coordinator to serving on the Board of Directors?

SP: I was a parish coordinator for two years, then I stopped after I had my own daughter. However, I also couldn’t find daycare. There were wait lists all over DC. So I had to resign from my job. But Paul Mulligan, the Gabriel Network executive director at the time, invited me to join the Gabriel Network staff, instead. I moved my family to Bowie, MD, and helped. I served on the full-time staff for about a year. Then, I stayed on as an after-hours coordinator managing the Help Line, 1-800 ANGEL OK. For a couple years, I answered late-night phone calls, coordinated and delivered material assistance, and so on. Finally, in 2013, Jim Sharbaugh approached me about becoming a board member. So, having volunteered and staffed each of the programs—Angel Friends, Maternity Homes, and the Help Line—I have seen all the views of Gabriel Network.


GN: What would you say to people who aren’t yet involved?

SP: Consider helping a mother out. Consider trying to provide for and help out a child. What we all need is a helping hand. We’ve all had situations that could have gone very bad for us. Contribute to Gabriel Network so you can be Christ to somebody else. Remember that nobody wants abortion. They choose it because they feel they have no other choice. You can give them another choice.


GN: Why do you care about pro-Life issues in the first place?

SP: I’m the type of person who, if I am going to do something, I am going to go 100 percent—all the way. So, when I became a Catholic, I was going to learn what the Catholic church teaches. I joined a young adult group. We talked about the church’s approach to human sexuality, to life, and it just clicked: it made sense to me. I learned why the church believes what it does and I learned how its beliefs are for our own good. And I learned that the church plays a motherly role in our lives: she understands our humanity and provides us with wisdom to avoid pitfalls, but when we do fall down and hurt ourselves, the church provides the band-aids for us to heal.

get to know your board: Mike Landi

January 2017


Michael Landi is vice president of the board of directors at Gabriel Network. He has served on the board since January 2014.


Gabriel Network: Why do you support Gabriel Network?

Michael Landi: I have always been somebody who talked the talk. In the right-to-life movement, we talk the talk about the importance of protecting the unborn and other innocent human beings. But Gabriel Network is more than talking the talk: it’s walking the walk. We do something to help the unborn and vulnerable. We help at the other end of the right-to-life movement; the first end tries to get people to understand that everyone has a right to life, then Gabriel Network goes from there and saves lives. We do what we can as a conduit to saving lives, and the rest is divine providence.


GN: How did you first learn about Gabriel Network?

ML: About 13 years ago, there was a meeting at my parish, St. John the Baptist. Gabriel Network asked people to help. I filled out a little sheet with my contact information. At the time, Gabriel Network needed “things,” like diapers. And they needed services, like driving. My youngest daughter was 2 or 3 years old at the time, so I understood the need. Since then, I have been involved as a donor and volunteer. Once I helped clean a Maternity Home in Silver Spring: they needed volunteers, so I helped. 


GN: What would you say to someone who is on the fence about supporting Gabriel Network?

ML: I would say that you have to look at how you are spending your time. Take stock. Are you wasting time? Are you giving of your time? I believe you have to give of your time, treasure, and talent. When I retired, my salary was cut in half. But my daughter had a wedding coming up. And I was putting a son through college, and had put my children through private school (public schools deliver education, but private schools also teach discipline and faith). Yet I was still able to pay my bills. Yes, charitable contributions had to decrease because I didn’t have as much income. But how much money do you really need to live? Retirement was an eye-opener. When people step back and look at how much they have, they see places where they can contribute.


GN: How did you join the leadership team?

ML: Tom Grenchik invited me. I’ve been friends with him for 31 years. For many years, we’ve been in a monthly “couples group” that was led by Fr. Tom Morrow and run by Tom Grenchik and Diane, his wife. Together with a few other couples, we read books and spiritual readings, we socialize—pizza, beer, etc. One day, Tom told me that Gabriel Network had an opening on its board of directors and he asked me whether I’d be interested to serve on it.


GN: Are your kids involved with Gabriel Network?

ML: My oldest children participate in the GN5K. My daughter ran in the 5K just two weeks before her wedding! I told her, “Don’t get hurt!”

know your board president: anne gribbin

Anne Gribbin is the new President of the Board of Directors at Gabriel Network. She has served on the board since July 2014, and served most recently as Board Secretary. Mrs. Gribbin earned a B.A. from Thomas Aquinas College in southern California. In the early 1980’s, she worked at the U.S. House of Representatives Select Committee on Children, Youth, and Families, where she arranged hearings and wrote minority reports for pro-family, pro-life members of Congress. Mrs. Gribbin also raised and home-schooled her four children for 25 years. She is married to Bill Gribbin and resides in Washington, DC.


Gabriel Network: How did you join Gabriel Network?

Anne Gribbin: Another Board member, Dan Veith, invited me. I met Dan through his wife, Peggy, when we did sidewalk counseling at the Hillcrest abortion clinic. And I met Tom Grenchik [a fellow board director] via my sister’s sidewalk counseling. At first I had a general understanding of what Gabriel Network does, but I couldn’t tell the difference between Gabriel Network and crisis pregnancy centers.


GN: How is Gabriel Network different from pregnancy crisis centers?

AG: The difference is triage. Sidewalk counseling is for mothers to turn away from the abortion clinic. Pregnancy crisis centers are for us to learn what a mother’s needs are, exactly. Gabriel Network, then, exists to meet these needs with long-term relationships. The primary gift we give these mothers is friendship—a walk, a relationship. I did a little bit of such service when I was sidewalk counseling. I would encourage, babysit, help these moms make some basic decisions. Every woman in a crisis pregnancy has material needs. But Gabriel Network’s primary gift to these mothers is social and spiritual support. Unlike what pro-abortion spokespeople say, many women do not “make a choice” for themselves: the choice is made for them by boyfriends, family, and friends. They tell a woman in crisis that she has no choice: she must get the abortion! Gabriel Network, on the other hand, says “Yes, you do have a choice: you can choose life for your child, and bring him into the world. God loves you and your baby.” We are the family and friends that the mother in crisis doesn’t have.


GN: What would you like everyone to know about Gabriel Network?

AG: Gabriel Network’s work makes a difference. I strongly support any political, legislative, or government action to decrease the number of abortions, or, better yet, eliminate abortion altogether. But that’s not happening anytime soon. Meanwhile, Gabriel Network is saving babies one-by-one, and, just as importantly, we are saving mothers one-by-one as well. I don’t know how else to do it, other than by befriending these mothers directly: on Earth, Christ has no hands but ours. And Gabriel Network is essentially a volunteer organization. So we need volunteers. But when people contribute financially, their impact is multiplied many times over by the fact that we are empowering volunteers. Our financial support pays for the upkeep of maternity homes, material goods for women and babies, educational services, and staff salaries. But the impact of this team and this infrastructure is multiplied by volunteers. When you support Gabriel Network, you get much more than you pay for.


GN: What would you say to people who are too busy to volunteer?

AG: When I was home schooling, I was focused on that exclusively. I was not active in my parish; there were not many other things I did. But the little bit of time I spent helping women who came my way was actually easy to do. It was easy to fit that into my home-schooling schedule. My children played together with the children of the mother I served. Someone who is busy with their family can integrate Gabriel Network seamlessly into their lives without much trouble. It is flexible. I would have been an Angel Friend if my church had a chapter. In one case, a woman I served through sidewalk counseling when I myself was pregnant gave birth to her child within a month of me giving birth to mine. We both had sons. And we both, independently, named our sons Michael! There was a real bond between us.

get to know your board: cheryl holly, mts

November 2016


Cheryl Holley is the Director of the Josephite Pastoral Center in Washington, DC. Prior to that, she was the Executive Director of Finance at the New Samaritan Baptist Church. Ms. Holley earned a master’s degree in Theological Studies from the Washington Theological Union and a certificate of completion from Trinity College’s Education for Parish Service. Ms. Holley was born in Washington, DC, and currently resides in White Plains, MD. She has served on Gabriel Network’s board of directors since March 2016.


Gabriel Network: Why did you join Gabriel Network?

Cheryl Holley: I have always been passionate about working with pregnant families at risk of abortion, especially teenage moms. I myself became pregnant when I was a teenager. I know the difficulties facing women in crisis pregnancies. I want to be a beacon of light to them so that they know God loves them, and that God and His people will help them and their babies. When I visited Gabriel Network’s maternity homes, I found it heartwarming and amazing to see firsthand what is happening thanks to Gabriel Network.


GN: What is your experience with women in crisis pregnancies?

CH: I have worked with both single mothers and women in crisis pregnancies. With all of them, it is a listening experience. But sooner or later you see the “A-HA!” moment when the Holy Spirit enters the room and these women realize they are forgiven and they can move on in their lives.


GN: How does “forgiveness” relate to unplanned pregnancy?

CH: Shame. These girls often feel ashamed about their unplanned pregnancies. I myself was ashamed when it happened to me simply because I was not yet married. Because of the shame I felt, we stopped attending church. It caused me to be withdrawn. Granted, these days, many girls do not feel ashamed about being unmarried. A girl may become unexpectedly pregnant yet decide, “OK, I’m pregnant, so what? I’m having a baby now.” But women in crisis pregnancies do not want their babies, they are terrified of becoming mothers, or their children were conceived in rape, incest, by abusive boyfriends, etc.


GN: What can we do about it?

CH: The best possible thing you can do for these children of God—these babies and their mothers—is to join Gabriel Network. With Gabriel Network, you can support someone who is raising a family and who is bringing a life into this world. No matter how each child was conceived, he is a child of God. There is no greater calling than to protect that life. Volunteering as an Angel Friend, in particular, can be life-changing. You learn by mentoring these women: as the saying goes, “If you want to learn something, teach something.” By serving these women, I learned patience. I also learned that I do not know everything. Today, I really and truly believe that the long-term solution lies in education. We must educate people about the physical reality of sex, fetal development, and life in the womb, but, more importantly, we must teach both males and females about who we are as persons. That is pro-life. Even in early childhood, children should learn that they have dignity, and that they are worth more than peer pressure and bullying would lead them to believe. And pro-life issues continue after birth: how we treat other people, even prisoners, is a pro-life issue.

get to know your board: Teresa Yao

October 2016


Teresa Yao joined Gabriel Network’s Board of Directors in December 2015. She works as the Program Coordinator in the Archdiocese of Washington’s Department of Life Issues. Previously, she served as a full-time missionary with A Simple House of Saints Francis and Alphonsus, befriending, assisting, and learning from residents in some of the poorest neighborhoods of Washington, D.C. Teresa is originally from Silver Spring, Maryland.


Gabriel Network: How does Gabriel Network fit into the Pro-Life movement?

Teresa Yao: Gabriel Network plays an important and unique role, and serves a real need by connecting church volunteers to families in need in our community. Serving these families spiritually and emotionally is the difference between Christian ministry and social services. A social services agency provides for important needs like food and shelter. But it cannot provide the same type of friendship, love, and spiritual support. It cannot be the face, arms, and feet of Christ. Gabriel Network allows us to be Christ for others because we are a direct and personal ministry. We empower volunteers and parishes to serve their communities directly—it’s not just full-time staff who do it. And we serve a large geographic area: the entire state of Maryland and Washington, DC!


GN: How did you get involved in the Pro-Life movement?

TY: Growing up, my family was very involved in the Pro-Life movement. In college, I was president of my school’s Students For Life chapter. After college, I spent two years as a missionary in one of the poorest parts of southeast Washington, DC. This missionary work deepened my respect for the dignity of all lives. I realized that “Pro-Life” is about so much more than just saying we shouldn’t kill people; it’s about affirming that all life is good. I lived side-by-side with families in public housing projects who experienced poverty, drugs, and violence. I came to appreciate that, in spite of our differences, these people were just as valued by God as I am, and just as valued by God as everyone else is: elderly, disabled, and unborn children.


GN: How did you first learn about Gabriel Network?

TY: Growing up in Montgomery County, I learned in elementary school about the great work that Gabriel Network and local pregnancy care centers were doing for women and babies. I think our school participated in Baby Bottle fundraising campaigns. In my current position, the Archdiocese of Washington has a long relationship with Gabriel Network; Gabriel Network does important work caring for mothers in the Archdiocese and facilitating church volunteers.


GN: What do you do at the Archdiocese of Washington?

TY: I am the Program Coordinator in the Department of Life Issues. I’m here to help parishes’ Pro-Life Coordinators with whatever they need. Our office also supports the local pregnancy help centers, and we organize the Youth Rally and Mass for Life at the Verizon Center and the D.C. Armory on the morning of the annual March for Life. I am involved in many different aspects of the Pro-Life movement, from advocacy and education to pastoral care and prayer ministry, and from protecting not just the unborn but also the disabled, elderly, and vulnerable.


GN: Who inspires you most?

TY: My parents. They instilled in my siblings and me the importance of protecting life and caring for those in need. They modeled how prayer, faith, and Jesus Christ are important in their lives, and they prioritized faith in our family.

Get to know your board: jessie Tappel

September 2016


Jessie Tappel serves as the Director of Communications for Divine Mercy University in Arlington, VA and as a Licensed Counselor at Alpha Omega Clinic in Bethesda, MD. Jessie holds a Bachelor’s degree in Theology and Spanish from Franciscan University of Steubenville, and a Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology from the Institute for the Psychological Sciences in Arlington, VA. Prior to Alpha Omega, Jessie worked for Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Arlington, serving as a bilingual counselor to a diverse population. A native of Kalamazoo, MI, she enjoys a wide range of outdoor activities, including hiking.


Gabriel Network: How did you first join Gabriel Network?

Jessie Tappel: I was introduced to it through word-of-mouth. Gabriel Network’s mission really spoke to me: it is about meeting the needs of the most vulnerable. I want to help this ministry in whatever way I can, especially by applying my talents and experience in the field of mental health.


GN: How are you able to apply your mental-health expertise at Gabriel Network?

JT: I serve on the Housing Committee [which oversees the Maternity Homes program]. I hope to advise Gabriel Network on the importance of taking care of the whole person, and on trauma counseling.


GN: What role does trauma play in this ministry?

JT: Trauma is a common challenge in pro-life ministry. I’ve worked with other pro-life ministries such as Project Rachel, and I’ve been a sidewalk counselor. Trauma is not just caused by warfare or abuse. Relationships cause trauma. Losing your home, or suffering another unexpected event, can cause trauma. We must be aware of trauma and approach this ministry by asking, “where is she?” of the women and families we serve. I believe Gabriel Network does ask this question and meets each woman where she is.


GN: Why did you choose to lead Gabriel Network instead of the other pro-life ministries you support?

JT: I think Gabriel Network is a beautiful simplicity of a mission because it’s relationship-based. Truly being with a woman speaks to the needs of the human heart more than helping-on-the-surface does.


GN: What is your approach to charitable giving?

JT: It is important to give in both forms: time and money. As westerners, we are blessed with financial wealth. So it is our obligation as Christian brothers and sisters to give financially to those in need. But time and service are an incredibly important sacrifice, too: everyone ought to do it. Yet this is not just a gift to another person. It can transform you as well. I am passionate about ministry that emphasizes sacrifice.


GN: What do you do best?

JT: I take lots of pride in making sure I can give 100% to my mission. Surely other people can do that, too, but I’m proud that I myself always do my best. I am also dedicated towards serving a larger call than myself, and I am committed to using my talents to help others.


GN: What is your biggest accomplishment?

JT: Finishing graduate school was a very large accomplishment. I was leaning towards mental health counseling, and I had trained for so long to finally achieve this goal.


GN: What were your hardest challenges?

JT: Sometimes I’ve had to ask, “Do I give up the life I’m living for something else that God calls me towards?” It takes a lot of humility to follow the next step that God calls us towards, and it is challenging. But I am always open to whatever God needs of me. I know that He is looking out for me no matter what.


GN: Do you ever question your faith that God is looking out for you no matter what?

JT: Yes, I’m definitely human. The nature of suffering is itself a challenge to our faith. When you’re suffering you question God. By now I know that I am not made of iron—but God has formed me in ways that just with my strength alone would be impossible.

Get to Know your Board: Tom Grenchik

August 2016

Thomas Grenchik is Executive Director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities at the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops. He was the founding director of the Pro-Life Office for the Archdiocese of Washington, where he served for sixteen years. Tom was trained as an architect and builder, and graduated from the University of Maryland School of Architecture. He also completed a certification program in Health Care Ethics with the National Catholic Bioethics Center. He is one of Gabriel Network’s founding members, and 21 years later he still serves as president of its board of directors. Tom and his wife Diane have five children and three grandchildren. 


Gabriel Network: What is the one thing you wish people knew about Gabriel Network? 

Thomas Grenchik: I want people to know that Gabriel Network is about relationships. It is the relationship between a person in need and the person who can help. It is not just about giving people material support, but about creating real, long-lasting relationships with them. 


GN: Why do you support Gabriel Network? 

TG: Reason Number One is that it works. And Gabriel Network provides much more than mere “practical” support. A lot of charities do a very good job at practical support like material goods. But Gabriel Network can provide a relationship that is life-changing. We serve these mothers for years, and we offer a place—perhaps a unique place—where they have Christian friends to rely on. Also, Gabriel Network allows everyone to encounter Christ in a very profound way; we do at least as much for churches and volunteers as for the mothers we serve. Gabriel Network allows you to give of yourself in a deeper way than is possible by just writing a check. I have gotten more from Gabriel Network encountering Christ over the years than I’ve given to Gabriel Network in time and money. 


GN: Why do you think it works? 

TG: You can give clothes, diapers—but at the end of the day what someone needs most is a friend to walk with her. Many of the women we serve have not had that. For these women, we offer not just a one-time gift, but a friendship that can go on for years. 


GN: Which Gabriel Network encounter has stuck most with you over the years? 

TG: Many years ago, a young woman called Gabriel Network from a phone booth in southeast Washington, DC. She was homeless and pregnant with a boy but unsure of what to do and scared of being a mother. Jim Sharbaugh was the executive director at the time. He connected that young woman with a family in southern Maryland who volunteered as a Gabriel Network “shepherding home.” They took her in. But their encounter with her was so life-changing that they invited her to live with them for years like an adopted daughter. Her son was the light of life for that family. Many years later, at a Gabriel Network gala, that boy introduced his mom to everyone as his personal hero, then she told her story to our friends, volunteers, and donors. None of this life and love would have happened without Gabriel Network. 


GN: How did you get started with Gabriel Network? 

TG: Maryland’s legislature was considering a very liberal abortion law. Pro-life people in Maryland campaigned against it. Unfortunately, this pro-abortion law was ratified. So the pro-life movement in Maryland was frustrated. But the fruit of their effort was a network of relationships that had formed among pro-life Marylanders, including those from different religious faiths and backgrounds. Clergy, in particular, wanted to stay involved in one-on-one relationship-based community service. We hoped to be more successful through charity than through politics. We learned about the Gabriel Project in Texas, discussed it with local pastors and bishops, and decided that we should adapt that model to Maryland. 


GN: What excites you most about Gabriel Network’s future? 

TG: Over the years, we’ve learned that our staff and volunteers can’t do everything. Our mission can only be accomplished when we partner with churches and assemble an army of volunteers. Our greatest strength lies in the church-based community; I am most excited about developing that.

Get to Know your board: Madeline watkins

July 2016


Madeline Watkins joined our board of directors in June 2016. She holds an M.T.S. in Marriage and Family Studies from the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Studies on Marriage and the Family in Washington, D.C. Madeline has worked in national marriage and family ministry for the past 5 years with the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, and has volunteered and served in leadership positions in grassroots pro-life work in Texas and Pennsylvania. Her academic and professional interests include theological anthropology, personalism, natural family planning and chastity education, and Hispanic ministry. In 2016, she served as a volunteer staffer with the Holy See’s Permanent Observer Mission to the United Nations for the 60th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.


Gabriel Network: What was your first impression of Gabriel Network?

Madeline Watkins: When I was a child in Texas, my mother was an Angel Friend for Gabriel Project. Since then I’ve thought it is a beautiful part of the pro-life movement. Often people say we just care about the child, but Gabriel Network shows that we truly believe every life is precious: life is precious in the womb and life is precious in the mother.

 

GN: What would you say to somebody who is thinking about joining Gabriel Network?

MW: I have met the mothers and children and I have seen the fruit in their lives. These women and children experience God’s love and mercy through Gabriel Network. You know in your heart when you see them that this is the Lord’s work. Pope Francis, in particular, is big on encounters: you see exactly that in this ministry. Gabriel Network is the incarnate expression of God’s love.


GN: What is your personal philosophy of how to best solve the problem of abortion and other life issues?

MW: We must learn, live, and share the culture of life. I’m filled with a lot of hope about the younger generation: society is starting to see the value and beauty of human life. We have to run with that momentum; we are different parts of one body, and each of us has a role to play. We each have different gifts and can use our gifts to build the culture of life. The human heart is made for truth.


GN: How did you come to believe so strongly in the pro-life movement?

MW: My belief in the inviolability of every human life stems from catholic social teaching. It is largely thanks to my catholic education. As a little girl in Texas, I was raised in public school. But then I attended an all-girls catholic school in Louisiana. There, I saw the pure joy of the church. I experienced the gospel firsthand through the sisters and my classmates. The sisters led me on a life-changing mission trip to Mexico 10 years ago, where I saw international poverty for the first time in my life. And I volunteered to do sidewalk counseling ministry at a Planned Parenthood facility. I loved the sidewalk counseling ministry’s approach: it was absolutely based in mercy.


GN: Which historical person do you respect the most?

MW: I most admire Pope John Paul II, Plato, and Aristotle. John Paul II’s life, legacy, and work spread the culture of life and challenged the prevailing culture of death. The classical philosophers were men who sought truth and contributed so much to Western civilization. Today, we need to recover the search for truth instead of trying to make it up ourselves on our own.


GN: What are your hobbies?

MW: I love Latin dancing: salsa and merengue! I get it from my grandfather. He and I have danced since I was a little girl. He and my grandmother have been married for 65 years. But, even to this day, he still gets on the dance floor with me whenever we’re at a family gathering!


GN: If you could meet your childhood self, what would you tell her?

MW: Children in middle school and high school just want to fit in. I would tell my childhood self that she should not be afraid to be herself, and especially that she should not be afraid to be who God made her to be.

get to know your board: Dr. Cassie Statuto Bevan

June 2016


Dr. Cassie Statuto Bevan joined our board of directors in January 2016. She is a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, specializing in the study of child abuse and neglect. Dr. Bevan previously served Congress as a staff director on the Ways and Means Committee. There, she helped draft the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act of 1994 (amended 1996), the Adoption and Safe Families Act of 1997, the Foster Care Independence Act of 1999, and other legislation across 20 years of public service.


Gabriel Network: What are you most proud of?

Cassie Statuto Bevan, EdD: I was involved in creating the Adoption and Safe Families Act, which expedites adoption for children out of foster care. I am also most proud of the Multi-Ethnic Placement Act, which says adoption placement agencies cannot discriminate against children or adoptive parents on the basis of their race.


GN: With which famous person would you most want to sit down for dinner?

Cassie: Mother Theresa. She blessed my children! Mother Theresa visited Shrine of the Most Blessed Sacrament to open a convent there. She walked past my children, placed her hands on their heads, and blessed them.


GN: What is the state of child abuse and neglect in our society?

Cassie: It’s getting worse, especially for the most vulnerable children: those under 5 years of age. Many are born with opioids and methadone in their systems. When they leave the hospital, they go home to houses and parents ill-equipped to take care of them.


GN: What can we do about it?

Cassie: I think we should support young women by educating them about motherhood. Also, there is not enough encouragement of adoption. Not everyone is ready to be a parent. We must stop saying that adoption is “giving up your baby.” You are not a bad parent if you choose adoption for your child. If you make an adoption plan, you are a very good mother. It means you are sacrificing for your child and you are making a life plan for your child. The biggest problem is that we treat adoption like it is a loss for both the mother and her child, when in fact it is a gain for both the mother and her child.


GN: How can you tell whether someone is ready for parenthood?

Cassie: There has to be an honest discussion about what it takes to raise a child, and you have to discuss each mother’s motivations with her. Many mothers assume that having a baby fulfills their need to be loved, or that it solves other problems. But that is not realistic; that is not what happens. Instead, the mothers are fulfilling the babies’ needs.


GN: If you could be or do anything else, what would you choose?

Cassie: I would like to serve as a judge in family court. A good judge focuses on the child.


GN: Who had the greatest influence on you during your childhood?

Cassie: My mother had the greatest influence. She volunteered at St. Vincent’s hospital in New York, reading stories to the children there. She always wore a very broad skirt so that when she sat down to read stories with them, all the children could sit on it next to her.


GN: As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?

Cassie: A mother.