The new executive director of the Kenai-Soldotna Women's Resource and Crisis Center brings two decades of experience and a wealth of expertise on issues dealing with battered women and children. But for Evelina Giobbe, coming to Alaska was about change and finding a sense of community. And she said she's found both in the area.
"From day one, learning the role that this community plays in supporting the center really spoke to me," said Giobbe, who began her duties Sept. 1. "Social change comes out of community commitment, and the shelter comes out of shared values. I'm just so pleased to be invited to be a part of it."
Giobbe's career has involved work in academic and nonprofit organizational settings in New York and Minnesota.
A native of New York City, Giobbe attended Hunter College and later founded the Whisper Program in New York, a grassroots community education program focusing on intervention and prevention policies to help sexually abused women and children who are victims of commercial sexual exploitation.
The success of Whisper sent Giobbe to school campuses across the country where she lectured on the program. One of those campuses was the University of Minnesota.
"I was given an offer by the Minnesota Coalition of Battered Women to put together a study on women and girls who were exploited in prostitution and then to make recommendations to the shelters in the state," Giobbe said. "The study was well received and I was invited to teach at St. Cloud State, where I trained battered women's advocates."
She went on to teach at the University of Minnesota and later became executive director of the Resource Institute in Minneapolis, another program dealing with battered women and children.
But she said the past year was one for reflection, and she began to look nationwide for something different.
"Sometimes academics don't know when to leave (teaching positions)," she said. "I felt it was time to do something else."
She said a visit to the area earlier in the summer gave her a sense of community not found in the city.
"You can feel so isolated in a big city," she said. "When I came here I saw an enthusiastic board and strong community support. You want to work in a place like this because you know you can make a difference."
She also had nothing but praise for the staff and volunteers.
"The real work comes from the staff and volunteers," Giobbe said. "They are the people who make the vision happen. I was impressed. ... The commitment is stellar."
WRCC board of directors president June Harris said Giobbe fit the group's requirements for the position, adding Giobbe's experience in grant writing, staff supervision and budget knowledge will make her a productive director.
Harris said the board reviewed more than 30 applications for the post, which was held on an interim basis by Heather Arnett. "Heather was with us for a year and did a great job," Harris said.
She added Giobbe is a good fit for the position.
"I like her calmness and her personality," Harris said of Giobbe. "She was really excited about coming to Alaska. I think she will be a great asset to the agency and the community."
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