THE PERSON BEHIND THE BADGE: MIKE CANNON
Growing up in West Texas, CASA Volunteer, Mike Cannon, probably never imagined his career in pipeline engineering, operations and management would span 38 years and take him to Oklahoma, California and Louisiana and far-away places like Saudi Arabia, Kazakhstan, Russia and China where he not only worked, but lived.
After graduating from Texas A&M University with a degree in engineering, Mike worked for Phillips Pipe Line, Gulf Interstate Engineering and Chevron in a variety of positions, including membership in Chevron’s World Wide Emergency Response Team. It was during that time that Mike went through media training. Those valuable skills he learned in industry have come to be equally valuable while working his CASA cases. Sylvia Olson, CASA Coach/Supervisor explains, “Mike is someone I can always count on. He exudes an air of confidence and professionalism in all circumstances. He has an ability to communicate clearly and directly with others from diverse backgrounds. He is able to maintain a sense of humor when faced with difficult situations.“
Mike married the love of his life, Janis, in 1976. She was a certified K-12 teacher from Texas State University. They have a son in Portland and a daughter in San Antonio and he has been blessed with two grandsons. They were married for 41 years. Sadly, Janis died in 2017.
Janis was a CASA Volunteer in Midland for three years. In 2000, she was honored as “Volunteer of the Year.” At that time, Mike admits that he did not know that much about the work she did as she strictly honored CASA’s confidentiality requirement. When they relocated to the LaGrange area, Janis wanted to become a CASA Volunteer in Fayette County and wanted Mike to take the CASA Volunteer training with her. She believed volunteering would be something they could do together for a cause that benefitted children, which was her passion. Since 2014, they were assigned nine cases. Together they served a total of twenty children – eleven children at one point! Mike now reflects how CASA was a God send for his time with Janis and the children they served.
Mike and Janis successfully advocated for all of their CASA children to find proper placement. In some of their cases, it meant removing the children from abusive parent(s) and paramours. In others, the children were returned to their parent(s) after court ordered services were completed. Both Mike and Janis became very close to their CASA children. Mike credits Janis for her ability to reach out to them and gain their trust. This was demonstrated when one of her CASA children requested and was allowed to speak about his relationship with Janis at her memorial service.
In spite of the circumstances, Mike did not give up on his CASA work. He has continued on as a CASA Volunteer in Fayette County, and as Sylvia Olson states, “He was one of the first volunteers in Fayette County to step up and volunteer to take multiple cases in two counties. He was eager to lend a helping hand when there was a shortage of volunteers in Lee County.” Kristi Glasper, Executive Director further states, “The compassion and drive that Mike shows in his advocacy for finding permanency for the children that he has been appointed to, has solidified his choice in becoming a CASA Volunteer. He goes above and beyond to ensure that the permanency recommendations he makes will be one that provides safety and security for his CASA kids.”
When Mike is not advocating, you can find him outdoors – hunting, golfing, or building handicapped ramps for the Texas Ramp organization. Mike is also involved in the Lions Club in Fayette County. In fact, he was able to use his resources within the Lions Club to help his CASA child attend summer camp this summer.
Mike admits becoming a CASA Volunteer has increased his awareness of the abuse and neglect of children in his community. Being able to use his voice in court to decide the best course of action for the children he serves and seeing a positive impact on the families, keeps this Court Appointed Special Advocate encouraged. Mike knows firsthand that Fayette County is blessed to have a Judge who recognizes and supports the CASA organization and its mission. Just as we know how blessed we are to have a CASA Volunteer like Mike. Our Men of CASA – Fighting for Kids. That’s what they do!