Marla Higginbotham


Marla Higginbotham is an outstanding leader, lawyer, and active advocate in New Jersey’s nonprofit sector. She has over 25 years of professional experience encompassing corporate engagement, educational excellence, high value donor recruitment, and advocacy for youth in the legal system. Expertise and passion have led Marla to increasing levels of success and executive leadership positions in the nonprofit community.

Marla’s first official engagement in the New Jersey nonprofit sector began with Jersey Cares. She later became the Executive Director of Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of Union County. Her work with CASA yielded remarkable and record setting outcomes and enabled them to provide greater levels of support to vulnerable children within the county. To further that work, Marla was recruited to serve as Executive Director for CASA’s oldest and most visible program in New Jersey, CASA of Essex County. Under her leadership, CASA has heightened corporate engagement and support while increasing the number of children within the county’s foster care system who benefit from CASA’s advocacy on their behalf.

In addition to her professional leadership, Marla’s contributions to the nonprofit community are diverse. She is a mediator/arbitrator for New Jersey’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Unit for Consumer Affairs and served as a trustee on the Board of Directors for The Montclair Kimberley Academy. Marla plays an active role on the selection committee of SparkNJ as well.

Marla is a graduate of Northwestern University and holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Urban Studies and Political Science. She earned a Juris Doctorate degree from the University of Cincinnati, College of Law. Hailing from Shaker Heights, Ohio, Marla and her family have made their home in Essex County for more than 25 years. She has embraced her identity as a proud resident and leader in our state.