BRATTLEBORO - Although she may play the role of an evil witch, troll or some other dastardly villain in her children's games in their backyard, in the courtroom Kerry McDonald-Cady is all hero.
As a Deputy State's Attorney, she has worked to protect children in and around Windham County for the past two years handling the juvenile caseload. Last month she was recognized by the Justice for Children Task Force for her work in child protection and juvenile justice cases.
"There's no one to stand up and give them a voice," she said. "Our job is to protect the most vulnerable group of our society and we're starting to see a tangible difference. It feels like the stakes are bigger because the kids can be so young and the abuse can be so cruel. You want them to have a good life, you want to get them in a protected home where they feel safe, you want them in a good community."
Each year McDonald-Cady is handed more than 140 new cases while also working on all the previous cases she's been assigned to ensure those kids are still being properly cared for.
"There's a lot of abuse cases in this county, and some days it's overwhelming," she said. "But there's been some good cases where the parents have been able to regain custody and get the help they needed to provide for their children. It's a sense of accomplishment when you can see the family reunited."
McDonald-Cady's passion for working one juvenile cases began after she graduated from Vermont
She said the job combined all the things she loves: practicing law, being in the courtroom and working to protect children.
After a few years working in real estate law at Fisher and Fisher to become, as she said, "a well-balanced attorney," McDonald-Cady took a couple years off from being a lawyer to be with her son and newborn daughter.
The decision to go back to work weighed heavily on her, she said, but then there was a part-time opening in the Windham County to handle the juvenile docket, and it appeared everything had lined up.
"I feel like I won the lottery," she said. "If I was going to take time away from being with my kids I wanted to be doing something important and I can't think of a better cause."
State's Attorney Tracy Shriver said she felt the same way when she hired McDonald-Cady and because of her commitment to improving the welfare of children, nominated her for the award.
"Kerry goes above and beyond on each case to which she is assigned - meeting with children at locations comfortable to the youth, tracking down additional information from health care providers and working with them to schedule court appearances that work into their busy schedules, pushing law enforcement to find additional facts or evidence to make the circumstances of each case clearer," Shriver wrote in her nomination letter. "Kerry is so committed to her job that I have to discourage from working additional hours. I don't know any attorney who is more dedicated to child welfare."
Spending most of her time in family court, McDonald-Cady sometimes has to prosecute the parents in criminal court when there are allegations of serious neglect or cruelty to children, which can be some of the most difficult subject material to deal with, she said.
Josh Stilts can be reached at email@example.com, or 802-254-2311 ext. 273.