Voice of the Week: George Cunningham

George Cunningham

The Reliable Researcher

George Cunningham Voice of the Week

 

About George

How long he has been a CASA: 6 months

Number of years in the community: 15

The very brief (Twitter version) biography of George: is that he is a partner, dad, diversity scholar, yogi, and an Episcopalian.

The Extended Bio

George has been married to his wife for twenty years, and they have two daughters. Currently, George works at Texas A&M as a Professor of Sports Management, and he conducts research in the area of diversity and inclusion in the sports industry. Impressively, he has over 5000 citations on Google Scholar, has published the award-winning book Diversity in Sport Organizations, and has published nearly two-hundred peer-reviewed articles. Outside of work, George practices Ashtanga yoga six days a week, and he is of an Episcopalian faith.

 

  

According to George,

Skills Needed to Be a Voice for CASA:
  • Empathy
  • Patience
  • Desire to Understand
  • A Desire to Learn from Others
Why he chose to volunteer: 

Being a CASA is a wonderful opportunity to make a positive impact in the life of a vulnerable child in need.

What surprised him about being a CASA:

Until a couple of years ago, he did not know much about CASA. Nowadays, however, George sees and meets the network of CASAs all over town. It is exciting to see how fast the CASA community is growing in the area.

 

The Most Rewarding Part about Being a CASA:

“There are some frustrating parts with being a CASA, but there are some very rewarding parts, too. In my first case, the family was in a tough spot, but the mother went through the steps to change. You could see a difference in her and in the kids. The youth’s grades improved over time, and the child ended up doing well in school. The judge dropped the case because such good progress was being made, and the family moved cities to start a new life. It shows that the process can work. That was very gratifying.”

Advice for anyone considering becoming a CASA:

“Before I went through training—and even during it—I had so many reasons why being a CASA was a bad idea. The court system is imperfect. I have no time. What difference can one person make? These are all just excuses, though. At some point, I decided, ‘I am going to do this and give it a real shot.’ I am so glad I did. So, my advice to others is to jump in and volunteer. You will be glad you did.”

What would he change about the legal process if he could?

Research evidence clearly demonstrates systemic biases against racial minorities and low socioeconomic individuals. In many cases, those two characteristics intersect. As a result, society treats certain populations unfairly. They are more likely to be shot, stopped by the police, and they are over-represented in prison. Since they receive poor representation in court, and he “doesn’t have a magic wand to fix everything”, he does his part to help change the system as a CASA.

Want To Be Our Future Voice Of The Week?

Email Intern-Development@Vfcbrazos.Org, And You Could Be Featured!