Happy SAAM everyone! As the Special Initiatives Manager for New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA), I am constantly collaborating, learning and being inspired through the various projects I am involved in. In 2015, I had the privilege of working with NJCASA’s twenty-two program members on a yearlong process to create best practice standards. These standards lay the vision for a high standard of care for all survivors in New Jersey. In addition, I have had the honor of engaging new stakeholders through the Community Conversations Project—a listening initiative focused on documenting the emerging needs from New Jersey’s diverse communities in their own words.

Some of my other projects involve collaborating with local and state stakeholders to expand services for survivors with disabilities through the Unheard Voices Project and, for survivors who are D/deaf and hard of hearing through the Deaf Advocacy Project. In September, NJCASA will collaborate with New Jersey Coalition to End Domestic Violence (NJCEDV) for the first statewide dual conference- A Safer Garden State. At the end of this month, we will stand in solidarity to support Black Women’s Blueprint’s Black Women’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission on Sexual Assault in New York City.

The breadth of these projects constantly makes me pause, and reflect on how our work ties with other social justice movements. As interconnected movements we weave a rich tapestry of our collective ideas that, when bound together makes this world a better place. I do this work because to me it’s foundational to everything we aspire for as  individuals and as a community. I firmly believe that a safe community is a healthy community, and these two are inextricably linked. Even back when I started my academic career studying microbes (yes germs!), I was curious to understand the complex factors that impact the health of a population, and the role of oppression and injustice in perpetuating poor health. This curiosity led me to take a career path that found its way into this movement. I am inspired daily by the local, national, and global work to end sexual violence.

Prevention inspires me with hope. It shows us the possibility of a better world. I believe we all can, and should play a role in ending sexual violence. I hope you join me and the inspiring individuals working in this movement to support survivors everywhere.

Together, we can be change agents.