Donna Garske 40-year anniversary: A Milestone Worth Celebrating!

Throughout her 40+ years as a pioneer in the movement to end violence against women, Donna has cultivated peace through hands-on work and constructive dialog around challenging social issues. And this year, August marks her 40th year with Center for Domestic Peace.

When Donna started her career in Oregon as an activist in the criminal justice reform movement, she would be the first to tell you she didn’t have a grand scheme for what she wanted to accomplish in the long run. What she did have was intellectual curiosity, passion to change society, and the grit and determination to challenge systems and norms – traits nurtured from her roots as the granddaughter of farmers and her experience as a second generation immigrant. Seeing the impact domestic violence (DV) had on so many of the women within the criminal justice system led Donna to Marin Abused Women’s Services (MAWS, now C4DP), where she became the Executive Director shortly thereafter.

Donna Garske

Donna Garske

Donna’s vision for a world of justice and non-violence has been a guiding force and inspiration in C4DP’s advancement. Her role as a thought leader and innovator led to the development of an internationally-replicated education program for batterers and one of the nation’s first transitional housing programs for DV survivors. In concert with C4DP’s talented staff, Donna’s leadership has nurtured the continued advancement of C4DP’s direct services, programs, and facilities that have helped over 200,000 individuals locally. Her advocacy efforts have influenced multiple pieces of legislation, including the federal Violence Against Women Act; she also co-wrote a California law that establishes requirements for batterers’ programs.

Donna has organized and championed collaborative efforts with others in the field to transform individuals’ lives from violence to freedom. She assisted with the development of Europe’s first batterers’ program; she also worked with the Network of East-West Women to address violence against women in Eastern/Central Europe and the former Soviet Union.  In 2010, she convened 19 executive directors of shelter-based DV programs from the nine Bay Area counties to determine how to have a larger regional impact, which led to the formation of the Bay Area DV Shelter Collaboration.

As founder of the Transforming Communities branch of C4DP, Donna led some of the earliest DV prevention efforts in the nation.  Under Transforming Communities: Training and Technical Assistance Center, she trained over 5,000 individuals and provided in-depth technical assistance to 265 organizations nationwide.  The Gimble Foundation selected Donna as a national violence prevention scholar; in 1997, Donna was inducted into the Marin Women’s Hall of Fame for her contributions to social change in Marin and beyond.

Through all of this, Donna’s contributions have embodied the highest values of humanity. Donna’s unique spirit, laughter, compassion and heart have fueled the community of C4DP, Marin, and beyond to believe that change is possible, and that just maybe one day, organizations like C4DP will no longer be needed.


Congratulations and Thank You Donna!