Our Staff


Valissia Lawson-Calhoun

Program Director, Child Advocacy



I’m originally from Dothan, AL. I spent 10 years serving in the Air Force and traveling all over the world. Originally I started out as an Aircraft Mechanic for 4 years. Soon after, I became a Training Manager. During my time in the military, I earned two Associate Degrees (Aerospace Maintenance and Education and Training). I also earned a Bachelor’s in Psychology. I have a beautiful wife (Sierra), three daughters ( Aaliyah 10, Laylah 8, and Maddison 8), and a handsome Blue French Bulldog (Kanan).

I personally spent 18 years in the foster care system. So when I left the military in 2021, it was no question about what I wanted to do next. I joined the CASA team in Great Falls, Montana as a Volunteer Director. Aside from my passion for working with children, I am a culinary student. I enjoy cooking, DJing, and working out. I am also a diehard University of Alabama football fan! Roll Tide! I am excited to be a part of the team at Colonial CASA!

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Bill Cripe

Public Relations Coordinator


Bill and his wife Mary moved from Northern Virginia to Williamsburg in 2011. He joined Colonial CASA in 2013 as a volunteer advocate.  Bill serves on the CASA Fair committee, has been the driving force behind securing school supplies for CASA children, and in November 2021 joined our staff as Public Relations Coordinator. He has a Bachelor’s Degree in Social Psychology and has done extensive graduate work in the field of Organizational Leadership. For 7 years he was an Executive Partner at the College of William & Mary.

Bill’s role is to promote community outreach and education efforts, establish partnerships, and expand Colonial CASA’s footprint.


 Bill loves spending his time with his wife of 51 years, 2 children, and 5 grandchildren. He enjoys traveling, reading, and hanging out with friends.

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Melissa Degaraff

Program Director, Youth Mentoring Program


Melissa joined the staff in November 2021 to develop and implement the youth mentoring program at colonial CASA. Before joining CASA, Melissa served over twenty years in higher education with focus in admissions, academic advising, educational and career planning, training, and assessment. Melissa looks forward to recruiting and training volunteer mentors as well as supporting youth to make progress toward their academic, career, and life goals.


Melissa holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a Master of Arts in Education. Melissa’s special interests include equitable access to education and training and the positive impact of a meaningful career on life satisfaction.

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Victoria L. Canady, Ph.D

Executive Director


Victoria Canady, Executive Director,  began her journey with CASA as a volunteer in 2006.  In 2007 she joined the program as a part-time staff member but soon became full-time with CASA’s expansion into York County Courts.  Over the 14 years of dedicated service, Victoria has served in every CASA capacity, including Program Director, Volunteer Services Coordinator, and trainer.


Victoria holds a Master's degree in Professional Counseling and a Ph.D. in Mental Health Policy and Practice. In addition to her commitment to mental and emotional health, Victoria is a passionate advocate for the educational rights of children with an emphasis on children with special needs.

Victoria met her husband of 32 years in the Marine Corps (Semper Fi).  Together, they have two sons, Kenaan, and Kyle who live in Williamsburg and Norfolk.