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Comments, Commentary and News from the Executive Director

A Word…from the Executive Director

May 1, 2017

May Day brings forth images of renewal, growth and change. That is how today feels for me—an opportunity for renewal, growth and change for the Council, its leadership, staff and partners.

Today is my first day as the Executive Director of the Council and the first official day in our new office space (bright, clean and newly refurbished!). This is a great day to refocus and recommit ourselves to our vision “Alaska, freed from domestic and sexual violence” and the hard work ahead of us.

I am excited at the prospects before us; CDVSA is doing incredibly important work and their efforts are paying off. Statistics show we are making progress. The challenge now, is to keep moving forward, identify opportunities for progress, and eliminate the barriers that keep us from broad, sustainable change. How do we change the minds, attitudes and actions of a state the size of Alaska? How do we achieve population-level change that will continue until we have freed Alaska from domestic and sexual violence?

While our data shows progress, Alaska continues to have staggeringly high numbers of rape, sexual assault, domestic and family violence. We must change that…we must do better. In the words of the Governor and Lieutenant Governor, from their Op-Ed on April 23, “there is much more work to do. Until every Alaskan feels safe in his or her home, school and community, the job is incomplete. Building a safer Alaska requires all of us pulling together.” We all agree—we can and we must do better.

The need to do more does not diminish the hard work of the past; what it does say is the work of preventing and eliminating domestic and sexual violence is hard. Progress and continuous improvement requires everyone working together; collaborating, partnering and focused on a common goal.

As I think about the vision for CDVSA, the word that comes to mind is synergy! Synergy is defined as “the interaction or cooperation of two or more organizations, substances or other agents to produce a combined effect great than the sum of their separate effects.” We must harness the synergy from every possible source.

Changing the hearts, minds and behaviors of all Alaskans will require all-hands-on-deck, pulling together. It will, of course, demand a continued focus on prevention and early intervention along with protection, healing and safety for victims, and consequences and treatment for perpetrators. We need more partners, more outreach, more action – we need synergy!

The opportunities are unlimited. In the words of Deepak Chopra, “Instead of thinking outside the box, get rid of the box.” Let’s think big, think broad, and think beyond the norm that has defined us to this point. We will do everything that data shows is working and add new, creative and untried strategies that can move us forward—let’s be flexible, agile and bold!

Over the next few weeks and months I will reach out to departments, agencies, communities and individuals, engaging in dialogue and information gathering. I will seek recommitments from our current partners and invite more people, more organizations to join us in the work ahead. I look forward to lots of conversations and encourage you to contact me via email l.casto@alaska.gov or phone 907-465-5503. Let’s talk, strategize and act. Let’s find that synergy.

I want to thank the staff of CDVSA for their passion, commitment and hard work. I am excited to work on a team of consummate professionals. I also want to thank Jayne Andreen for her work as the interim Executive Director during this transition, keeping the Council focused and steady.

Finally, I want to thank Governor Walker, Commissioner Monegan, and the Council for their confidence in me and my ability to lead the CDVSA into the future. I am humbled and honored.

L. Diane Casto, MPA
Executive Director
Council on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault
Department of Public Safety