Tackling the all-important issue of domestic violence prevention is a complex task, and Jessica Walsh has been leading the effort at Women’s Resource Center (WRC) for the past 13 years.
As director of prevention, Jessica is tasked with making sure that her team stays focused on the main vision – eliminating domestic violence – and that all projects effectively reach their target audience and maintain a forward momentum.
Finding the best way to hold that vision is a bit like “building the ship while sailing it,” explains Jessica. “There is no map, because we are the ones creating it for others. So the vision is really important, as it ensures our whole team is moving in the same general direction.”
Jessica says her role keeps her busy and that each day is different. “I might facilitate a meeting in the community, manage the budget, supervise staff, paint a wall, or write a grant.” She studied sociology and communications at the University of Rhode Island, where she became involved with the Center for Nonviolence and Peace Studies. There, she worked with Dr. Bernard Lafayette, a leader in the Civil Rights movement. “Learning about Kingian Nonviolence was a turning point for me; it shaped how I approach my work at the WRC, both philosophically and methodologically,” she says.
Jessica notes that doing innovative prevention work can be both highly satisfying and extremely frustrating. “It is satisfying to know that we are contributing in a very direct, concrete way to the national dialogue on domestic violence prevention. Our projects feel like complex puzzles that we have to try to untangle. That is basically our job.”
On a personal note, Jessica grew up in Exeter, R.I., where she lives with her husband, Ben, and her two children.
To unwind, Jessica says that lately she has been “binge-watching The West Wing. When I’m less sleep deprived I love to read, cook, and go for hikes.”