Areas of Expertise
Gender-Based and Interpersonal Violence & Trauma
As NJCASA’s Prevention Specialist, Natalie Akel will be the in-house expert on sexual violence prevention and work as a liaison between preventionists in the 21 county programs and their communities to best aid in building resilience against violence through a community-based approach., in hopes of fostering an environment of safety and joy for everyone, especially those most vulnerable to violence.
Natalie graduated from the University of Vermont with a Bachelor of the Arts in English and a minor in Global studies. In Vermont, Natalie began her career at Steps to End Domestic Violence, the county-designated DV program, holding roles in the Children’s program, Shelter/hotline program, and Emergency housing. At this time, she also gained experience as a Residential Counselor, supporting mothers diagnosed with co-occurring disorders in Vermont’s only center where mothers could live and parent their children while receiving treatment. Upon moving back to NJ, Natalie worked as a Paralegal in the Special Victims Unit at the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, focusing on child abuse and domestic violence cases, as well as serving as a nanny and Doula, with the intention of supporting marginalized pregnant and parenting communities.
After years of direct service, Natalie transitioned to Prevention work with Hudson Speaks Against Sexual Violence to focus on how communities can build resilience before violence occurs. Through community engagement and outreach, Natalie sought to provide education and resources throughout Hudson County to ensure communities were aware of what to do not only if sexual violence occurs, but how to prevent it from occurring in the first place. Education on topics such as Consent, Healthy Relationships, and Bodily Autonomy assisted in this approach.
With a love for the arts and poetry, Natalie sees art therapy and movement as an incredible way to assist in the healing process after trauma. She believes every community should be safe and have opportunities to thrive and experience joy. With a passion for justice, equity, and peace, Natalie strives to build strong communities to support the wonderful individuals who comprise New Jersey and beyond.