Finding Her Way Home
Published in Inside - Volume XII, No.1
It was probably a given that Marisa Catalina Casey would take more than a passing interest in the subject of adoption. After all, Casey herself was adopted at age three from an orphanage in Bogot-, Colombia. Her adoptive mother, Filis, is the founder and Executive Director of Alliance for Children, an adoption agency that places more than 200 children each year. It was during a visit to her old orphanage, however, that Casey-'"then in junior high school in suburban Massachusetts-'"experienced what can only be described as an awakening.
"I remember feeling such a strong connection to the land and to my past," she says. "I was one of the few children to ever return."
In high school, Casey spent a summer at an orphanage in Cuenca, Ecuador. "It was amazing," she says. "I worked so closely with the kids, bathing them, feeding them, dressing them. They taught me so much. Years later, when I returned, all the children I'd worked with had been adopted-'"which was incredibly positive."
Also while in high school, Casey began taking courses in black-and-white photography, sparking another enduring passion.
At Brown University, she earned honors in Latin American Studies with a slide show, lecture and pictorial exhibition on a semester she'd spent in Chile. Since then, Casey's work with children and her creative efforts have gone hand in hand. In 2000, she helped her mother launch the AFC Foundation, which serves as the charitable arm of the Alliance for Children. After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, she journeyed across the country with her camera, exploring themes of American patriotism for her latest exhibition. Two years ago, she co-authored Born in Our Hearts: Stories of Adoption, which sold more than 12,000 copies.
Casey enrolled in TC's Program in Arts Administration in 2005. She sees this work as the perfect training ground for her eventual career-'"starting a community based non-profit organization dedicated to helping children pursue their artistic interests. "There's such an incredible need right now," she says. "Public schools across the country are cutting creative arts programs, which have meant so much to so many children. It's a sad situation, and the non-profits have to pick up the slack."