by Brian Doyle, Chief Executive Officer
As there is a mounting conversation around the country related to sexual harassment and the proliferation of gender bias, many organizations, businesses and agencies have good reason to look inward and take stock of how they respond to these issues. As others are examining such matters, this has been a discussion we have seized upon at our Family Services / Hudson Valley Mental Health Leadership Team Meetings over the past several weeks. We will continue to look at how we can further strengthen our efforts in preventing sexual harassment and eliminating gender bias.
In December of last year, County Executive Marc Molinaro and I co-authored an opinion piece in the Poughkeepsie Journal, citing the numerous publicized instances of sexual assault taking place in various places from Hollywood, to Washington, inside hotel rooms, boardrooms or newsrooms. In the article we urged the readers to take seriously allegations of assault, abuse and harassment by those in power. We applauded those courageous enough to emerge from the shadows and share their experiences despite all too often having previously been marginalized or made to feel ashamed. We went on to say that if we are ever to rid community of abuse and assault, we must first believe those brave enough to step forward and share their stories of trauma, telling those who come forward, “Yes, we believe you.”
So as we turn our attention to the gender-related work we have to do within our own agency, we will be scrutinizing a variety of aspects of the issue, some more nuanced than others.
- We will be reviewing our current policies on the matter of sexual harassment. Are they clear enough and sufficiently known throughout the agency? Are there other organizations or agencies from whom we can learn as we seek to have the strongest policies possible, making ours a safe work environment?
- What are our policies and practices, in instances when one of our employees might encounter sexual harassment during the course of their working with colleagues outside of the agency? Are we doing enough to prevent these issues? Are we strident enough in addressing such instances when they occur?
- Beyond the matters of blatant sexual assault or harassment, what is the experience of our employees in the matter of more subtle but harmful gender bias, ways in which they may feel marginalized due to gender? Do all employees feel they have “a voice at the table”? Are their opinions and perspectives valued? Do certain “role assignments” pigeon hole people and obscure talents to be utilized?
One would hope that gender bias is not experienced here, in an agency that holds justice, respect and diversity as key values, but we are kidding ourselves to think that unconscious bias never plays a part in the way in which we interact with one another. The key to eliminating gender bias is to identify its roots, its manifestations, to discuss them and then to make affirmative efforts to eliminate them.
To that end, we will undertake agency-wide efforts to carry this important work forward – hearing from our employees, believing them (!) and joining together to ensure that voices are heard and full participation is embraced.
We would appreciate hearing how any of our partners and supporters are addressing this in their workplaces. I believe there are ways in which we can learn from one another.
Recognized by Dutchess Community College with the
Bridge to the Future Award
On Saturday, March 24th, Dutchess Community College hosted their Annual Foundation Gala where Family Services was honored with the Bridge to the Future Award. This award is given to individuals or organizations that distinguish themselves in working with others to enhance education, economic vitality, community wellness or civic responsibility in the Mid-Hudson Valley.
Danny Hairston, Coordinator of
Family Services SNUG Program
Spoke at the Poughkeepsie
Violence Against Youth Forum
on Saturday, March 24th
Danny was quoted as stating “it’s a gun issue but also a “mental health” issue and an “economic advantage” issue. When an act of gun violence occurs in the city, he said SNUG – guns, spelled backwards – dispatches a group of people who try to understand the complex reasons for which it might have happened, and if an act retaliation seems likely. To better understand gun violence, people need to think of it as a public health issue that is “transmitted” from “one person to another.”
to read the full article in the Poughkeepsie Journal.
Family Services Teen Resource Activity Center (TRAC)
Collaborates with Local Music Program
Family Services Teen Resource Activity Center presented Music Night,
with JB’s House of Music, featuring performances by the Trash Pandas
and Laila Mach. With over 60 people in the audience, the evening was a successful kick off to our JB’s House of Music program.
For more information contact Jessica Wallach at 845-452-1110 ext. 3033.
Children’s Center at Family Court Assistant, Heather DiGiamo, worked on an expressive art project for her final Art Therapy class at Dutchess Community College creating a Mother’s Day project with the children in the Center.
By the Numbers
The Family Services Center for Victim Safety and Support provided services to 643 adult or child victims of sexual violence.
The Family Services Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) reviewed 80 acute sexual assault cases that presented across three hospitals in Dutchess County. Of those 80 cases, 48 (60%) were reported to law enforcement, which, fortunately, is well above the national average (34%). 49 cases (61%) included an evidence collection kit (or rape kit). 63 of the 80 victims (about 79%) were assaulted by someone they knew, be that a friend, family member, intimate partner/former intimate partner, or other acquaintance.
Randi Chalfin, Head Teacher, Family Services Children’s Center at Dutchess County Family Court was recognized by her peers for her outstanding commitment and dedication!
From left: Marsha Henderson, Family Services Payroll Manager/Wellness & Morale Committee member, Randi Chalfin, Head Teacher Family Services Children’s Center at Dutchess County Family Court, Brian Doyle, Family Services CEO.
Her nominator states “Randi constantly engages in professional development to deepen her understanding and intervention skills to support children and families experiencing traumatic events. She strives to create a nurturing environment and provides therapeutic art based activities that allow children to express themselves.”
WELCOME TO OUR TEAM!
New staff of Family Services and Hudson Valley Mental Health
took part in the March New Hire Orientation Program
HVMH – Victoria Britton, Clinician, BMHC; Michelle Cottle, Clinician, BMHC; Elizabeth Travis, Clinician, PMHC
FSI – Monica Idema, LAP Victim Advocate, CVSS; Ashley Sanchez, Bilingual Victim Advocate, CVSS; Naimah Muhammad, Family Educator, FEP Ulster and Lydia Diaz, PT Program Assistant, UPC.
Please visit our profile on May 16th and consider supporting the work of Family Services
Family Services’ 2017
Chief Executive Officer
Deputy Executive Director
Chief Financial Officer
Director of Center for Victim Safety and Support
Director of Human Resources and Risk Management
Director of Development
Director of Forensic Programs
Director of Family Support Services
President of Hudson Valley Mental Health
Director of Clinical Services for Hudson Valley Mental Health
Dr. Yugandhar Munnangi
Medical Director for Hudson Valley Mental Health
Director of Operations for Hudson Valley Mental Health
Our Partners at the Family Partnership Center
Community Voices Heard
Dutchess County Behavioral & Community Health
Dutchess Community College
Dutchess County Healthy Families
Flores Chiropractic Group NY
Hudson River Community Health Care
Hudson River Housing
Hudson Valley Mental Health
John Flowers Community Events
Mental Health America-Mel’s Place
Nobody Leaves Mid-Hudson
Prime Health Choice
R.E.A.L. Skills Network, Inc.
Rebuilding Our Children and Community
Sadie Peterson Delaney African Roots Library
845-452-6088 ext. 3343