To say 2020 has been a year of turbulence would be a significant understatement. As we pivoted and transformed to try to minimize the effects of a global pandemic, we witnessed again and again the deep harm and pain systemic racism has inflicted on the Black community.
This year has been a turbulent one for WCSAP as well. In the face of board and staff turnover, we made the difficult decision to temporarily suspend operations. We understand that our rocky path had a serious and negative impact on our members. Through our stumbles and falls, we recognize that we have eroded trust in our organization. It will take time to rebuild that trust, and we will do everything in our power to make that happen.
These difficult events launched us into a process of reexamining who we are as an agency. As we rebuild and strengthen our organization, the Board and staff make these three commitments to you:
- We will continue to provide strong services and support to you.
- We commit to becoming an anti-racist organization.
- We will ensure strong leadership at the board and executive level.
Commitment 1: Provide Strong Services and Support
Although the Covid-19 crisis has made our work more difficult, we are committed to delivering strong technical assistance, training and accreditation support to our members. We are nimble, and have implemented new technologies and systems to deliver on our work plan. For the first time ever, we held a virtual Advocate Core, with over 40 participants. With a combination of video chats, self-directed learning and other innovative approaches we delivered a highly successful program. We will continue to look for innovative ways to provide you support and services that meet your needs.
Commitment 2: Becoming an Anti-racist Organization
WCSAP stands in solidarity with people of color, and other movements and organizations who do so as well, including Black Lives Matter. We denounce racism and are committed to anti-racist work within our organization and the communities we serve which includes the conversation on reimaging a justice system that ensures Black trans people, women, and men are not killed.
Becoming an anti-racist organization will require a deep examination of our operations, personnel practices and interactions. We have hired an expert in diversity, equity, and inclusion to guide and support us through this process. As we progress, we hope that what we learn and change within our organization will benefit our members and ultimately inform how we deliver technical assistance and training, advance public policy, and advocate with systems for intersectional reform.
Commitment 3: Ensuring strong leadership at the board and executive level.
As you may have observed, we have had a change in leadership at the board level. Regrettably, a number of directors have stepped away. We deeply appreciate the time and energy they gave to WCSAP over these last few difficult months. And while we will surely miss them, we are excited to move forward with new leadership, as we welcomed the following three new members to the board.
- Mary Angie Pacheco serves as the Executive Director of the Domestic Violence Services of Benton and Franklin Counties. Her work history includes serving as executive director at several nonprofit agencies focused on affordable housing, health care and homelessness. She serves or has served on a multitude of boards, including the Hopes Door Domestic Violence Shelter. Mary Angie has agreed to serve as our Interim Chair.
- Isabella Kent is serving as an AmeriCorps VISTA in Bellingham at Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Services. She develops health education programs, including prevention education in K-12 schools. Isabella has a BA in Psychology from the University of Denver and is enrolled in a Gender Based Violence graduate program for the fall.
- Carlyn Sampson serves as the Executive Director of Rebuilding Hope – the Sexual Assault Center for Pierce County. Sampson previously served as the agency’s deputy director and has been with the agency for more than seven years. She led the agency’s launch of the Sex Trafficking and Exploitation Program, as well as the advocacy and education teams.
Even with a strong board, we know that we cannot be successful without a strong, focused and experienced executive director who can ensure we fulfill our commitments to you. There are many qualified people who can serve in this role, and we look forward to identifying the right person to steer the agency toward its full potential.
Once hired, the first order of business will be to have our new executive director meet with each of our members to listen and learn how we can best serve you and rebuild trust. The new director also will fill vacant positions and lead a process to define how we can structure our agency to best fit your needs.
We fully believe this agency has a strong role to play in our state. We are so appreciative of the patience and grace you’ve afforded us, and sincerely hope you will stay with us as we forge a new path.
WCSAP Board of Directors