• About Us

    This project was initiated to explore gaps in and need for capacity building and leadership development of statewide domestic violence coalitions to support the advancement of diverse leaders from traditionally marginalized populations. NRCDV and its collaborative partners are committed to identifying and implementing strategies that support and learn from leadership in marginalized communities and women of color.


    This project is co-led by Arlene Vassell, NRCDV’s VP of Programs, Prevention & Social Change and Dr. Nkiru Nnawulezi, University of Maryland, Baltimore County. All project activities have been collaboratively designed, implemented, and evaluated by the advisory group.

  • Project Leads

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    Nkiru Nnawulezi

    Dr. Nkiru Nnawulezi is an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County and Affiliate Faculty at Yale School of Public Health. Her research examines the ecological factors that enhance equity within and across the domestic violence housing continuum with an aim to improve the social and material conditions for survivors who occupy multiply marginalized social identities.


    Dr. Nnawulezi also seeks to develop sustainable survivor-centered, community-based systems of support that can serve as alternatives to traditional social service systems. As an expert in community-based, participatory research and trained facilitator, Dr. Nnawulezi designs participatory research processes with community partners to find innovative solutions to complex social problems. She is an award-winning researcher and mentor and has disseminated her scholarship to academic, policy, and community audiences.

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    Arlene Vassell

    Arlene Vassell (pronouns: she/her/hers) serves as the Vice President of Programs Prevention & Social Change at the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV). She joined NRCDV as staff in 2015. Prior to joining staff, she served for several years as Vice-Chair of NRCDV’s Board of Directors. Arlene provides leadership to NRCDV’s Programs & Prevention Team. She oversees several key initiatives, including the Domestic Violence Awareness Project , PreventIPV and the Transforming the GBV Movement: Increasing BIPOC Representation and Actualizing Accountability Project (formerly the Women of Color Coalition Leadership Project). She has over 25 years of multi-faceted experience within the movement to end domestic and other forms of gender-based violence. Her “formal” advocacy work began in Virginia at the YWCA Women’s Advocacy Program. She later worked at the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and the Florida Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Arlene has served on numerous community-based, state and national level committees and workgroups, and has received many awards and recognitions for her advocacy work.


    Arlene is a proud immigrant, born in Jamaica, a mother, a mentor, an Auntie, an entrepreneur, a published author, a storyteller, a thought-leader, a joy-seeker and a hope dealer.