It only took 11 words to change the direction of my life. It happened when I first learned about Marin Abused Women’s Services (MAWS), the name Center for Domestic Peace was founded under in 1977. A small group of women in Marin had organized to say no to violence, and from that place of clarity the organization was birthed. MAWS was only a few years old, but I was impressed that its mission statement to provide life-saving services to battered women had already expanded to include a commitment to “catalyze and contribute to the community effort to end the violence.” As an emerging young leader, those words inspired me to join a community effort to dismantle the belief systems and practices that perpetuated and ignored violence against women. I was inspired to get ahead of the wave of women’s victimization from violence by generating practical and far-reaching solutions to end this historical social problem.
My 44-year tenure with C4DP has given me a long-term perspective on our work. Looking back at key decisions we’ve made, I’ve reflected on the strategies C4DP has built on over time. Has our evolving feminist analysis on gender violence held up over time, producing tangible results for survivors and their children and for those who abuse? Did building C4DP from a public health prevention approach – which addresses problems before they begin, early when they first start, and after the fact – generate declining rates of domestic violence? Did our strategic focus to build community ownership to address the causes and solutions for domestic violence bring more people to the table? Have our culturally and linguistically specific strategies increased access for people from marginalized communities? Did our decision to integrate social movement building into the fabric of our work expand the base of those who care about this issue?
It takes one look at the 45 Year Milestones to see that the answer is “YES” across the board. While holding down Marin’s 24/7 direct service response to domestic violence, we have also advanced strategically toward the goal of those 11 words – “catalyzing and contributing to the community effort to end the violence,” which has contributed to a 55% decline in domestic violence calls to law enforcement and a 31% decrease in requests for emergency shelter.
Since announcing I am stepping down as Executive Director Feb 1, 2024, I’ve experienced a powerful sense of completion about my work at C4DP. Given the opportunity I was given by the board and staff who hired me 44 years ago, I can’t wait to see what the next executive director will bring that will build on our strengths going forward. Our future presents endless possibilities for us to progress toward even greater impacts. Required is thoughtful, steady, insightful, dedicated, and strategic leadership. Thankfully, C4DP is endowed with this caliber of leadership at all levels throughout the organization.
Thanks to our generous donors, giving volunteers, committed and talented staff, engaged community partners, and effective board, C4DP stands at the pinnacle of success resulting from our thoughtfulness and collective efforts.
In closing, I celebrate all of you for making C4DP what it is. May we all continue to let joy in as we carry C4DP’s work forward. In the words of Valerie Kaur, founder of the Revolutionary Love Project, “In the struggle to protect our loved ones, choosing to let joy in is a revolutionary act. It gives us energy… If we do this right, they [our ancestors] will inherit not our fear, but bravery born of joy.”
This is the legacy we are building for ourselves and the next generation. Who we are now will reflect to C4DP’s future leaders in years to come. May they know us as courageous souls who worked tirelessly and joyfully to create a world imbued with domestic peace.
Blessings to all,