Briefly tell us about your role at the CAC.
As Executive Director, my role is primarily one of stewardship. I work closely with the Board of Directors and Staff to ensure our strategic plan and policies best serve our clients, while supporting our staff and partners in their work. I am charged with ensuring that we have the funding and resources in place to carry out our mission and manage the day-to-day operations of the Center. Finally, I am out in the community, raising awareness about child sexual abuse and the critical work the CAC does in not only mitigating the impact of abuse for children but working diligently to prevent it from happening in the first place.
What do you want the community to know about child sexual abuse?
I want the community to understand three essential truths about child sexual abuse. The first is that it impacts children across all demographics. Here in Kent County, as well as nationwide, occurrences happen across demographics, regardless of socio-economics, race, culture, gender or religion. The second is that while a child may be the victim, the effects of their abuse reach well beyond them individually. Here in Kent County, 99% of offenders are someone the child knows, and of those, 50% are relatives. You can imagine the impact that has on a family unit – not only psychologically but very often it can mean a radical change in family structure, economics, employment, living situations, etc. And finally I want people to understand that eliminating child sexual abuse will take a community effort. So often it’s discussed and considered on a micro-level, that is by household or institution but is as much, a social problem and all sectors of our community contribute to perpetuating an offenders’ behaviors when the abuse is dismissed, ignored or purposely covered up. And, it will take the whole community to eradicate it. Regardless of the sector: business, media, education, religious, non-profit and government alike – we all have a part to play in ending it.
What is it about your work that keeps you here and motivated?
It is impossible to spend any amount of time at the CAC and not be constantly and deeply impacted by the experiences of the children and families we serve. That is profoundly motivating for me. I would say too that as much, daily I am motivated and humbled by the commitment of our staff, partners and volunteers. I have worked for non-profits for a large portion of my career and while they all are incredibly meaningful and impactful, I have not witnessed a deeper level of conviction and steadfast duty than I have among the team here. To be entrusted with joining them and be charged with ensuring they are able to care for our clients to the best of their abilities, is a true privilege and motivator.
What do you hope for the CAC in the future?
I love my job but I also hope that somewhere in the not-so-distant future, I won’t have it because we won’t need to exist. For us to get there, we need to create strong support and intervention systems so that people who have problematic sexual tendencies can find strategies and tools that keep them from offending on children. We need all parents to have meaningful conversations with their kids about their bodies and speaking up. And we need systems and policies in place anywhere serving children that put their safety and protection first.