Meet our Staff

Melanie Davis

Melanie Davis is the Executive Director of Appalachian CASA - Court Appointed Special Advocates.

Melanie has an extensive career in public service as a law enforcement professional and as a private business employee/owner where she developed a passion for the working with victims of crime and those less fortunate in her community.  Melanie retired in 2011 from the Polk County Sheriff’s Office in Florida with 21 years of service. She spent the majority of her career investigating and supervising child sexual abuse and neglect cases. After retiring, she and her husband, David, created a successful bed and breakfast in Maine before moving to Ellijay with their daughter, Brooke in 2014.

In March of 2016, while still searching for an avenue to utilize her experience and knowledge of child abuse and neglect investigations, she learned about Appalachian CASA. She knew immediately that she was meant to join the organization.   She served as the Advocacy and Training Manager until she became the Executive Director in January of 2018.

Melanie holds a Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice and an MBA from Saint Leo University.  She is also a Certified Public Manager.

Contact Melanie at (706) 276-2272 or

Gina Bennett

Gina Bennett serves as the Advocacy and Training Manager and the Gilmer County Volunteer Supervisor.

Gina joined CASA as the Advocacy and Training Manager in January of 2018, and she was named the Gilmer County Volunteer Supervisor in May, 2018.

She was born and raised in Gilmer County and became a CASA in 2017 taking on two cases immediately following graduation from CASA training.  These cases quickly deepened her passion for serving others, especially the children in her small community.

Gina is married to Brandon and they have two daughters, Hannah and Jacie. Gina has been a small business owner for 13 years in our community, and Brandon has worked at ETC for over 20 years. Her family’s interests include outdoor sports, gardening, softball and attending church at Fruit Of The Vine Ministries in Ellijay.

If you would like to advocate for a child in the foster care system as a CASA volunteer, contact Gina at (706) 276-2272 or

Kerri Henderson

Kerri Henderson serves as the Pickens County Volunteer Supervisor.

Kerri joined CASA as the Pickens County Volunteer Supervisor in 2015 after serving as a CASA volunteer for two years. 

She first began visiting Ellijay in 1982, and after spending many summers and vacations in the area, she moved here full time in 1999.

Prior to CASA, Kerri had a 15-year career in healthcare as a Registered Polysomnographic Technologist. During this time, she served as the Northwest Georgia Regional Coordinator for a quickly growing sleep company. She earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice with a concentration in Psychology from Valdosta State University.

Kerri is married to Jon and they have four daughters. Both Kerri and Jon are in the worship band at Covenant Community Church in Ellijay. Kerri serves on the Board of Directors of the Gilmer County Optimist Club and the Three Rivers Athletic Club Soccer Board.

Contact Kerri at (706) 515-2702 or 

Kristy Lindstrom

Kristy Lindstrom serves as the Community Engagement Specialist.

Kristy joined Appalachian CASA in March of 2018 and is responsible for community outreach and fundraising. 

Kristy grew up in Fannin County and became a CASA in 2014.

Prior to CASA, Kristy worked in state government for 10 years. For seven of those years, she served as Director of Communication for the Georgia House of Representatives. She was also appointed to serve as the General Assembly’s conference planner during her last four years with the state. In addition, Kristy served as the Director of Victim Advocacy and Public Information Officer for the Prosecuting Attorneys Council of Georgia. Prior to state government, Kristy worked in television for 15 years. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from Berry College and a Master of Science degree in Earth Science with a concentration in Meteorology from Mississippi State University.

Kristy enjoys spending time with her boyfriend, Dr. Benjamin Harris, a physician at Union General Hospital, his two teenage children and their family dog. She also enjoys traveling, pageantry, and Broadway musicals and theater.

If you would like for Kristy to speak to your organization about the CASA program, we welcome you to contact her at (706) 276-2272 or

Lisa Salman

Lisa Salman serves as the Fannin County Volunteer Supervisor.

Lisa joined CASA in February 2015 after serving as a CASA volunteer for over 8 years.

Her 17-year career path as both a teacher and school administrator have given her a huge heart and passion for children.  She is proud to be called an “Army Mom” as her daughter is serving as a Captain in the US Army in the capacity of a medical doctor in our Nation’s Capitol.  Her son does not live too far away and keeps her active enjoying the outdoors whether it be hiking, mountain biking or kayaking through the National Forest in North Carolina.  The sunshine in her life are her two precious grandchildren.

Lisa resides with her husband of 40 years in Ellijay and they both enjoy camping, gardening and outdoor activities.  Both Lisa and her husband are involved in several civic volunteer organizations in our county.

Contact Lisa at (706) 515-2703 or