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.
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.
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.
Advisory Group Members
Antonia Drew Vann’s work and accomplishments are considerable and spans over 3 decades as an expert in culturally specific programs and services for African American survivors of gender-based violence and with incarcerated survivors of domestic violence, intimate partner violence and sex trafficking.
Drew Vann is the founder of one of the first culturally specific African American programs in the U.S. that is evidence-based and her program design is widely used across the country.
Anzala B. Alozie is a social impact strategist, change maker and executive leader. She is a recognized leader on women and girls’ empowerment, anti-violence against women, leadership development, and diversity, equity and inclusion. Anzala’s expertise includes organizational development and management, strategic planning, DEI culture; systemic change, strategic partnerships, program development and transformational leadership. She is a national speaker and trainer. Anzala B. Alozie is the executive director of the national Women of Color Network, Inc., an organization dedicated to
ending violence against all women by amplifying the voices, experiences and opportunities for women of color. Anzala's experience has included serving as executive director with the Capital District YMCA, Vice President of Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York and has worked with prominent social change organizations such as the New York State Coalition Against Domestic Violence where she led the NYS Domestic
Violence Hotline, the Empire Justice Center serving immigrant survivors of violence with VAWA and trafficking petitions. Anzala presents leadership development, empowerment trainings/workshops across the nation. Anzala is also a consultant with the McLean Consulting Group & adjunct faculty for the New York State School Boards Association. Anzala serves as a board member of Upper Hudson Planned Parenthood, the New York State Education Department's Working Group on Girls of Color, the Women's Business Council, and the KeyBank Advisory Council. Anzala is a founding member of Muslim Advocates Against Violence. Anzala B. Alozie is a proud member of Chief, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and Jack & Jill of America. Anzala is graduate of Albany Law School of Union University and Purchase College.
Brittany Eltringham (she/her) joined the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) after several years of working at the local level. She draws upon her experience as a feminist, Native Hawaiian woman and maintains a deep commitment to aloha ‘āina, transformation, and liberation.
Brittany brings her experience with community engagement, facilitation, racial and reproductive justice, and shelter advocacy to her work at the intersection of gendered violence, housing, and homelessness with NRCDV’s Policy and Research Team and the Domestic Violence and Housing Technical Assistance Consortium (DVHTAC). She has a BA in Psychology and Women’s Studies from the University of Hawai’i and is currently based in Baltimore, Maryland.
Farzana leads the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, as its Chief Executive Officer, strategically guiding its resources, policy advocacy, training and technical assistance provided in the United States and its territories while centering racial equity in advancing safety and supports for survivors of domestic violence. She is a founding member of the U.S.-based Muslim Advocacy Network against Domestic Violence, focusing on building collaborative partnerships and developing resources.
She has had a long and deep commitment to the prevention of violence and is active in her local community in Harrisburg, PA, co-leading the Strategies for Community Action Committee of the Community Responder’s Network to expand community dialogue to protect and safeguard the safety, respect, and dignity of all. She is also a planning committee member for the Community Diversity Forum, a conglomerate of regional representatives of higher education, health systems, social justice & disability rights organizations committed to promoting diversity in the community through consistent and informative educational forums. She serves on the board of the Pennsylvania Immigrant & Refugee Women’s Network and nationally on the board of the Resonance Network.
Ivonne has been with NRCDV since 2013. She provides a wide range of technical assistance and training services to many domestic violence programs throughout the US, Dominican Republic, Mexico and Puerto Rico. Her primary areas of expertise are the provision of training ,crisis intervention, building culturally and linguistically appropriate services, community organizing and facilitating culturally relevant support group sessions for women of color.
At NRCDV, she is responsible for providing bold and expert leadership to NRCDV’s Training Institute and technical assistance efforts. Ivonne is responsible for developing training activities and educational resources that are based in innovative theories and practices and that are guided by the experiences and realities of survivors of domestic violence, with particular emphasis on marginalized communities. Ivonne has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico.
Fatima M. Smith identifies as a Black woman who is a relentless advocate for anti-violence in our communities and a firm believer that, “a person who can describe a problem, can also describe a solution they just need time, space and resources.” She is committed to sharing her passion for anti-violence work, racial justice, and engaging folks in brave conversations in order to take bold action for change.
Her identity as a Black woman also informs how she parents and why she is committed to having brave conversations about parenting while healing. As a survivor of sexual assault and intimate partner violence, she wants her child and others to know that, “it doesn’t matter when you tell, it just matters that it happened and it should have never happened.”
Dr. Ghia Kelly is a transformational leader, change consultant, and racial justice advocate. She is an experienced trainer, technical assistance provider, and public speaker with expertise in several areas such as gender-based violence, emotional and mental health, racial justice, maternal and child health, and systems change. Dr. Kelly spent a decade of her career counseling and advocating for survivors of domestic and sexual violence and their children at the state and local levels. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Management, a Master’s degree in Clinical Social Work, and a Doctorate in Transformational Leadership. Dr. Kelly is passionate about advancing racial justice and equity, empowering marginalized and oppressed communities, and promoting social and systems change.
Heidi Notario, M.A. (she, her, hers) is a Queer immigrant Latina, community organizer, disability and racial justice activist. She works at the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) as the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships & Systems Change. Heidi has advocated for the rights of gender-based violence survivors, to include Latinxs, persons with disabilities and Deaf individuals, for more than a decade. She works closely at the intersections of disabilities and violence against people of color, LGBTQ+ individuals, and immigrant communities. She also devotes her time working at the intersections of housing insecurity and gender-based violence, with particular attention to racial inequities and lack of sovereignty in that space. Her interests include a wide variety of issues related to the treatment afforded to survivors of gender-based violence, those with disabilities, indigenous people, and Deaf individuals by the legal system, service providers, and society at large. Heidi keeps on the forefront of her anti-oppression work the elimination of barriers that impact survivors with intersecting identities, such as LGBTQ+ people of color and Native people. Heidi views “accessibility” from a human rights framework and is committed to bringing this perspective into her work and personal life. She believes in transformative justice, community and healing. Heidi is originally from Cuba and resides in the U.S. since 1995. She holds a Masters’ Degree in Sociology from Lehigh University and is Noah’s mom.
Jacqueline Miller is the founder of Healthy Actions Intervening Responsibly (H.A.I.R.), Jacqueline trailblazed raising the awareness of adultification of children with an emphasis on Black children, throughout the violence against women movement, nationally and internationally. Within the past five years, Jacqueline educational sessions to a variety of sizes of different audiences primarily made up of adults annually, on understanding the impact adultification has on children with an emphasis on Black girls. This initiative has also expanded community support and safety nets, on behalf of survivors and their children.
Jacqueline leads the racial equity work for a national organization who’s work includes dismantling anti-Blackness within systems and institutions that interface with survivors of domestic violence. She is the author of “What Agencies Should Know When Working with Formerly Incarcerated Survivors” published on a national platform years ago. However, it currently continues to get views as a form of technical assistance. There is no single issue related to domestic violence for Black survivors. Jacqueline has contributed to several national publications related to addressing health equities faced by survivors of sexual violence and intimate partner violence in addressing health inequities, national agendas related to intergenerational work and critical conversations related to intersectionality which shapes how Black women navigates oppressive systems.
With joy, Jacqueline custom makes earrings. With joy, Jacqueline has had various roles as lead and background in stage plays, films and the televisions shows such as Chicago Med and Empire which she loved the early morning filming, wardrobes and stage designs. Over the past decade, Jacqueline has committed time to studying and researching melanin. It has informed her that if she had of had earlier exposure to it’s power, she has found that she would have been a fashion designing-lover of nature-songwriting-performing artist-anthropologist farming scientist. Guided by the ways of her ancestors, she recognizes that she’s all of that in an unapologetic spiritual being having a human experience. It's more than a bio, it’s a lifestyle.
Latoria White, an Associate Director at the Virginia Sexual Domestic Violence Action Alliance (VSDVAA,) has been in the movement to end sexual and domestic violence in various capacities for many years. Latoria serves as a liaison to the Crisis Response Team on the Statewide hotline at the Alliance. Prior to working at the Alliance, Latoria served as Program Director & Counselor in Residence at the University of VA’s Maxine Plater Women’s Center with the Gender Violence and Social Change Program.
Latoria is a Mother, Auntie, Doula, and Goddess-Mama to many! She loves serving, educating, advocating and sharing & hold space(s) for Womyn and Children of color. Latoria continues to thrive in the social justice movement(s) by Resisting, Reclaiming and Reconnecting with deep & strong traditions of birth-work, holistic maternal & newborn healthcare, and reproductive & birth justice.
Lavon joined NRCDV as the Director of Community Engagement in 2021. Working in close collaboration with the Vice-President of Strategic Partnerships and Systems Change, Vice President of Programs, Prevention and Social Change, the Director of Policy and the Director of Housing and Economic Justice, she is a bridge to people with lived experience in communities most impacted by housing insecurity to guide and inform the work of NRCDV’s housing capacity center and across all initiatives. Lavon has been a social justice advocate for over 25 years, where she founded and was the Executive Director of MACOSH Healing Network in 2013 – 2021. It is the first culturally specific, holistic African American non-profit, domestic violence organization providing resources through the Arts in the State of Georgia. She is also a gifted international keynote speaker, author of several books, entrepreneur, and a dedicated political activist on vital social and psychological issues including; homelessness, domestic violence, sexual assault, mental illness, trauma recovery, suicide prevention and gun control.
Lucy Rios is the executive director for the RI Coalition Against Domestic Violence (RICADV). Lucy has dedicated the last two decades to supporting survivors of domestic violence and their families in Rhode Island through several capacities at the RICADV, including as interim executive director, deputy director and leading the prevention and communications departments. Her commitment to catalyzing change and building a world without violence through community building and prevention work has been instrumental in Rhode Island. The creation of the RICADV’s Ten Men initiative, now entering its 9th year gathering and supporting men as aspiring allies in violence prevention, is just a glimpse of the innovative and meaningful work Lucy has led since joining the RICADV in 2003. Lucy’s leadership and commitment to social justice is also visible in the community work she’s involved in. Lucy is a founding board member of the Segue Institute for Learning Charter School, serves on the Racial and Environmental Justice Committee of the City of Providence, and is a founding member of SISTA FIRE, an organization that seeks to build the collective power of women of color in RI for social, economic and political transformation.
Marci (pronouns: she/her/hers) joined NRCDV in November 2020 as the Co-Director of the LGBTQ Institute before transitioning into her current role. Previously, she has served as a protection order advocate in DV court cases, facilitated an all-gender DV support group, and coordinated a national training and technical assistance program at an LGBTQ community based DV organization. She completed her MSW at the University of Washington with a concentration in mental health practice and research focus on trans-inclusive primary education.
Marci brings a wealth of experience working in grassroots LGBTQ organizations and movements and is committed to capacity building work that centers the liberation of QTPOC survivors. Alongside her national DV work, Marci is also passionate about exploring grief, loss, alternative death care, and access to death planning for queer and trans communities. Marci is based in Seattle, WA, where she enjoys providing for her two cats and watching all things horror.
Marium Durrani is the Vice president of Policy at the National Domestic Violence Hotline. She has a background working with victims of domestic violence, with a focus on immigrants, faith-based communities, and limited English speakers.
Her experience includes work as the Policy Director for the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence, Senior Policy Attorney at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and as an associate at the Virginia Poverty Law Center. She has litigated family law and protective order cases in both Washington, D.C. and Northern Virginia. She has also worked for the U.S. House Judiciary Committee and is a certified mediator. She is a graduate of the University of Richmond School of Law and barred to practice in Virginia.
Micaela is the second daughter of four siblings from a Mexican and Texas-borderland family. She’s a partner to a kind and loving soul and a Mother to a brave, confident, and tenacious toddler!
Micaela is a social justice space holder working across issues of race, class, gender, and sexuality. Her world view comes from her parents’ respective immigrant (paternal) and U.S. migrant farmworkers’ (maternal) experience, in addition to her upbringing in a rural, farm town in Idaho – a unique blend of the Mexican, Mexican-American, and U.S. American culture that encompasses the borderlands of immigration, migration, language, culture, code switching, and everything in between!
She is on an ever-evolving decolonizing journey toward liberation, working to heal generational trauma for her ancestors, herself, and her descendants.
Monique Minkens is the Executive Director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin—Wisconsin Coalition Against Domestic Violence. She is a social justice practitioner and change agent who believes service to others should include helpful help that exposes those in crisis to options and choices that allow them to liberate themselves and live their best lives.
She has experience facilitating the daily operations of domestic violence shelters, program creation and evaluation, as well as working with teams to deliver liberatory services to survivors and programs through prevention, program support, as well as systems policy and change.
Her ultimate goal is to facilitate the dismantling of white supremacy in the anti-violence movement and create a movement that serves all individuals who seek support and liberation.
Prior to working in the anti-violence movement, she worked in higher education in Student Affairs on various institutions of higher education in Wisconsin. She also supported students in crisis, including those experiencing intimate partner violence. Monique has a Bachelor of Art from Mount Mary University and a Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling from the University of Wisconsin-Whitewater.
Patty (she/her/hers) has been a social justice advocate for over 20 years. Drawing upon her lived experiences as an Afro-Latina immigrant, her work is informed by an anti-oppression and intersectional lens. With the National Resource Center on Domestic Violence (NRCDV) since 2003, Patty responds to requests from a broad-based constituency for information, technical assistance and training on a full range of topics related to gender-based violence.
She engages in the identification and development of resources to support NRCDV’s capacity-building efforts and has been the lead staff in the development of several NRCDV publications. Her background includes anti-violence work in Brazil at the intersections of anti-Blackness, poverty, and police brutality. Patty has a Master’s in Community Psychology and Social Change from Pennsylvania State University. Her favorite titles, however, are Tia and Godmother.
Rachel Gibson is currently the Director of the Center for Victim Service Professionals at the National Center for Victims of Crime, where she works to further the mission to identify the needs and gaps of professionals in the field, through technical assistance, resources, training and support. She provides training and technical assistance for victim advocates, law enforcement, mental health providers, judges and any allied professional working on behalf of victims and survivors.
Formerly a Senior Technology Safety Specialist on the Safety Net Team at the National Network to End Domestic Violence, Rachel worked to increase the safety and privacy of survivors and victims of crime experiencing technology-facilitated abuse.
Rachel also worked on the National Resource Center on Reaching Victims through the Vera Institute of Justice, and at the former Florida Coalition against Domestic Violence as the Technology Safety Program Specialist.
She provides consultancy under RG Williams Consulting as an expert in domestic and teen dating violence, technology-facilitated abuse, and cultural humility as it relates to victim services and working with minoritized communities around technology and community coordinated efforts. She holds a Master’s Degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Central Florida and a Bachelors of Arts from the University of Lynchburg (Lynchburg College.
Growing up in a home witnessing violence and overcoming her own intimate partner violence, Sanu Dieng found the tools and courage she needed to take back her life. She is now dedicated to educating the community about intimate partner violence. Her areas of expertise include community organizing, developing community collaborations, strategic planning and fundraising.
Sanu is frequently quoted as an expert on the topic of intimate partner violence. She has been honored for her work by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance receiving the Hope Award. She was also recognized by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center receiving the Visionary Voice Award for her groundbreaking prevention programs and initiatives.
She is a proud graduate of Hampton University. She is affiliated and involved in several organizations to include; The National Resource Center on Domestic Violence Board President, Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance Training Institute and Public Policy Committee, Hampton Family Violence Prevention Council, Women of Color Caucus of Virginia, Women of Color Network, United Way Virginia Peninsula Women United and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Inc.
Shenna Morris (Black/African American; pronouns: she/her/hers) joined NRCDV as the Director of Policy in 2021. In this role she provides policy vision and expertise across NRCDV areas of focus and social justice issues impacting survivors of domestic violence. Shenna has been a social justice advocate for over 15 years with most of her work being in the gender-based violence movement. She has used both her lived experience as a child witness survivor of domestic violence and professional experience, to lead efforts that engage and mobilize communities, stakeholders, and lawmakers in addressing the intersecting issues of domestic violence, homelessness, racism, and oppression. During her time as the Director of Policy and Community Engagement at the Georgia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (GCADAV), Shenna led capacity building technical assistance efforts to culturally specific community based organizations, efforts to strengthen collaborations between community-based and mainstream dv programs, worked with system partners to strengthen service provision and housing advocacy for survivors and people experiencing homelessness in HUD housing programs, provided training and support to systems on addressing systemic racism and building equitable response systems, and advocated for responsive public policies that met dv survivors needs. Shenna continued many of these efforts during her time with Collaborative Solutions Inc. where she provided technical assistance to communities’ implementing HUD and homeless system programs.
Her leadership has been credited with increasing the capacity and approaches of organizations in their effort to serve and advocate beside Black, Indigenous, and People of Color survivors and communities. Shenna holds a M.A. in Criminal Justice Administration from Clark Atlanta University and a B.A. in Political Science from the University of West Georgia.
Sumayya Fire, seeks justice and promotes healing from violence. Her footprints are in 38 states, two U.S. Territories, and three African countries. She provides guided support and technical assistance to national and statewide coalitions, local community, and faith-based organizations. Her goal is to dismantle racism and oppression, enhance leadership competence and equity, to ensure all survivors are heard and adequately served.
Timike Boyd Jones is the Prevention Programs Coordinator at the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Before coming to ICADV in 2018, Timike held various positions within state government and the not-for-profit sectors to increase safety and wellness for Hoosiers, prioritizing the communities experiencing the greatest degree of marginalization. At ICADV, Timike’s responsibilities include examining systemic inequities as a root cause of violence. Timike serves as a member of the leadership team and steering committee for Health by Design’s Health Equity Action Team, Co-chair of Equity Inclusion and Cultural Competency Committee for the Commission on Improving the Status of Children in Indiana and is the former co-chair of the Indiana Disproportionality Committee. Timike earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Criminal Justice and Criminology and a Master of Science in Human Services. Timike enjoys cooking, spending time with her family, and taking walks in her spare time.
Tonjie is a Detroit native, creative, preventionist, and founder of eleven24, a program dedicated to reimagining gender based violence prevention through a lens of liberation and community. In her many years of youth-serving and gender-based violence work, she has held roles as a prevention program director, national community initiatives coordinator, and senior program officer. Tonjie’s commitment to violence prevention started as a sophomore in high school while participating in a traveling play focused on dating violence. Since, she has educated communities at the local, state, and national level. She is a new member of the National Intimate Partner Violence (IPV) Prevention Council, LEAP Leader, and partner for Brown-Forman’s responsibility campaign, PAUSE. She holds a BS in Behavioral Science and a MA in Education, Leadership, and Change. When she is not working to prevent violence, Tonjie enjoys reading, cycling, yoga, and spending time with loved ones. Driven by the belief that everyone has a role in violence prevention, her motto is “It’s up to us to define what our role will be!”