JOLIET – Will County State’s Attorney James Glasgow announces that Lisa Morel Las has been selected to take the helm as the new Executive Director of the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center.
Las served most recently as the Chief Executive Officer for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Will and Grundy Counties. She will bring to the Children’s Advocacy Center her enthusiasm and expertise in managing and growing community-based, not-for-profit organizations.
During her 11-year tenure at Big Brothers Big Sisters, Las dramatically raised the organization’s community profile, secured more than $1 million in federal grant funding and spearheaded a successful capital campaign to purchase new office headquarters in Joliet. Under her direction, the organization also opened satellite offices to serve the needs of children in Grundy, Kankakee and Iroquois counties.
“Lisa’s tremendous successes at Big Brothers Big Sisters brought this important community organization to the highest possible level of service on behalf of local children who need mentorship and support,” said State’s Attorney Glasgow. “We’re pleased she will put her passion and skills to work for the Children’s Advocacy Center as we plan for the expansion of services to sexually abused children and their families.”
Glasgow established the Children’s Advocacy Center 20 years ago to vastly improve investigations into cases involving the sexual abuse of children. When children make an outcry of sexual abuse, they are brought to the center, where trained and compassionate forensic interviewers obtain an accurate statement in a neutral, non-suggestive and child-friendly environment.
Interviews recorded at the Children’s Advocacy Center have been used in the successful prosecution of thousands of child predators over the last two decades. In addition, the Center’s experienced staff provides children and families with counseling and other social services that enable the healing process to begin.
In her new role, Las will work closely with the Center’s newest addition, Jackson, a therapy dog that helps drastically reduce the understandable anxiety for children. With a new law that allows therapy dogs in the courtroom, Jackson could find himself on the witness stand with vulnerable children in the near future.
The State’s Attorney established the center in 1995 as a not-for-profit organization so that it will not impact Will County taxpayers. As a result, the Center relies on private and public grants, donations and community fundraisers like the popular Men Who Cook event in March to provide its important services.
Glasgow said the new director will be tasked with substantially expanding community outreach and significantly increasing both public and private-sector funding for the Children’s Advocacy Center. Among a long list of goals is to secure funding to acquire a more child-friendly location that is not situated inside a government building. In addition, the State’s Attorney hopes to secure funding to hire in-house, specially trained investigators to assist in the handling of the Center’s cases.
"I’m excited for this amazing opportunity to lead the organization that State's Attorney Glasgow brought to Will County 20 years ago,” Las said. “The Will County Children’s Advocacy Center provides vital services to the most vulnerable children in our community. It provides a powerful voice for victims of abuse, and it plays a key role in breaking the cycle of abuse through education and prevention programs. It's a privilege to be able to lead an organization that advocates for children and helps to strengthen families.”
Las is no stranger to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. She served as the State’s Attorney’s Director of Public Administration between 1995 and 1999 and was instrumental in securing federal grant funding that led to the establishment of the Will County Drug Court program.