Questioning Consent on Bachelor in Paradise


As long as reality shows have dominated our screens, the “cliffhanger” has been a trademark twist to keep viewers excited for each new episode. The cliffhanger in the Season 4 premiere of Bachelor in Paradise, however, crossed the line and turned a serious subject into a tawdry plot line.

In case you’re not a regular viewer of the hit ABC reality show, this article in the Washington Post should catch you up to speed. A commenter on the article asserts, “Oh ABC you dropped the ball on this one”, and they are absolutely right. As a major broadcast network, ABC has a responsibility to address the issue of consent in a careful, honest, and effective way.

Granted, they certainly didn’t hide from the controversy. Instead, they capitalized on it. Host, Chris Harrison, opens the premiere with this sensationalized line, “There was trouble in paradise as accusations and allegations ran wild.” And, as the article linked above points out, “throughout the episode, there were multiple teasers about drama. ‘Stay tuned for the moment … the cameras stopped rolling,’ a voice-over said mischievously.”

The self-characterization of Corinne Olympios, one of the two cast members involved in this story, changed dramatically--going from this...

“I am a victim and have spent the last week trying to make sense of what happened. … Although I have little memory of that night, something bad obviously took place. … As a woman, this is my worst nightmare and it has now become my reality.” -Corinne Olympios this...

“I was a victim of, you know, just being blown into the media and having people make these crazy assumptions and judgments about what happened that day. I was really a victim of the media,” Olympios replied. “It was just all of a sudden people became an expert on the situation and on what happened and it’s like, well, I’m still trying to figure out exactly what happened. And it was just horrible to deal with.” -Corinne Olympios

We’ll never know what exactly happened on day 1 of filming for season 4 of the hit Bachelor spin-off, but it is irrelevant at this point. It has been made clear that sexual activity occurred and that alcohol was involved. Factually, we know that when someone is intoxicated beyond capacity, consent is--by definition--absent. The “no big deal; everyone was drunk” trope is a dangerous one. Instead of teaching young men how to get consent from a potential partner, we’re teaching them how to live in a world where consent doesn’t even matter.

ABC had--and missed--an important opportunity to talk honestly about rape culture and its role in shaping the response and judgement of Olympios, an opportunity to encourage discussion on what consent should look like regardless of whether or not a seuxal assault actually occured. We applaud the bystander on the set identified as one of the show’s producers, for speaking up when they saw something concerning taking place. And just a half-clap for ABC for not sweeping the entire situation under the rug.

Referring to the interviews with Olympios and Jackson, separately, included in the season’s early episodes, a show exec said "It’s been a real ordeal for both of them, and they’ll talk about all of that. After that second week, I can’t imagine there will be any more questions." What the exec fails to realize, and what we work hard to remind people, is that consent is an ongoing conversation and there should always be more questions. We were certainly left with many that had us wondering how much damage ABC’s/Harrison’s response to this situation has done to perpetuate misconceptions about healthy consent.

Combining Empathy and Ambition: A Summer Internship at NVRDC

Kiera Torpie was one of our summer interns at NVRDC. She is a rising sophomore from Tulane University who hopes one day to work at an international nonprofit that focuses on female empowerment. This summer she updated NVRDC's privacy manual, so clients can protect their privacy online.

As part of the grant that allowed her to intern with us this summer, Kiera wrote several blog posts for the Newcomb College Institute. If you want to read all three of Kiera's blog posts about her experience at NVRDC, you can find them at the Newcomb College Institute's blog.

Here on NVRDC's blog, we're featuring one of her entries as a guest blog. Keep reading for Kiera's reflection on her internship during her final weeks at our office.

Kiera (right) with NVRDC Co-Executive Director, Bridgette Stumpf, at this year's Cornhole for a Cause event.

Kiera (right) with NVRDC Co-Executive Director, Bridgette Stumpf, at this year's Cornhole for a Cause event.

"Hey y’all!

Next week marks my last week here at the NVRDC and I can’t believe how much I’ve learned. I think I’ve actually touched each of my learning objectives. The first one, and perhaps most relevant to my project here, has been research. In order to create a virtual privacy guide I’ve spent hours doing research, figuring out what resources survivors can use if they’re being harassed online. My research has shown me that virtual crimes are an unpaved territory in a lot of ways. So, on top of my research for what victims can use to protect themselves, I’ve also researched laws that the NVRDC staff use to protect their clients in the court as well as the limitations law enforcement face when dealing with cyber-stalking and revenge porn. This is what my presentation was largely based on at last Friday’s staff meeting.

"In addition to this legal research, I’ve also become more acquainted with the law through my shadowing experiences. This past week I got to watch a cross Civil Protection Order, which is when both clients file CPOs against one another. The week before that I watched another CPO trial and got to be part of what we described as a “woman shield,” as the lawyer, case manager, other interns and I all surrounded the client in the hallway, the same hallway the perpetrator was standing in, while we waited to see the judge. It was an extremely enlightening experience because I got to see the impact a well-utilized justice system can have on the emotional health of a victim. The client got her CPO and immediately her anxiety alleviated. It was so empowering.

"Through all of these experiences, the staff here has been really helpful explaining legal terms and procedures with me. While I’ve grown to appreciate the law in more ways than I thought possible through this internship, I’m still not sure law school is for me. Regardless, I’ve become a true advocate for victim’s rights and the strong impact the law can have on the emotional health of a survivor. I recently finished my social media guide (3 formats: flow chart, packet, presentation) as well as an infographic that depicts a survivor’s reporting process timeline following sexual assault. I’m really proud of these projects because through my shadowing I’ve gotten to put faces to the issue. I can see, tangibly, the lives they will impact. Going back to my learning objectives, I’ve certainly had to practice self-starting. I love this environment because I feel like I’ve been given the perfect amount of responsibility: I don’t feel undervalued, but I also don’t feel overwhelmed. That is, when it comes to the format and organization of my guide, I’ve been given a tremendous amount of freedom. I’ve also been working on my fifth learning objective, self care, by trying new dinner recipes and going to yoga!

"I’ve become a true advocate for victim’s rights and the strong impact the law can have on the emotional health of a survivor."

"This internship has helped me develop as a female leader by allowing me enough responsibility to feel valuable. I’m also surrounded by phenomenal female leaders everyday. This office, with the exception of 2 incredible men, is all incredible women. That means constant female empowerment and positivity. A few days ago I was greeted by a “You Are Beautiful” sticker on my desk. If there’s one thing I’m definitely taking from this internship, it’s that I love working with other women. I’m especially inspired by the organization’s co-founder and co-executive, Bridgette Stumpf (pictured above at our cornhole fundraiser last saturday). Her ambitious magnetism is precisely the spirit of female leadership I seek to emulate someday.

"There are many skills I see myself taking from this internship. Mostly, I’d say I’m taking the ability to be active in my compassion. As an extremely empathetic person, I’ve always been drawn to places and activities that allow me to utilize that compassion. This usually means listening to my Uber driver’s deepest secret or driving to my friends house at 3 A.M because her boyfriend broke up with her or donating all of my time to volunteer work. I never really saw myself finding that in a career, though. NVRDC has shown me that there are infinite ways to combine empathy and ambition and create something for the greater good. I’m extremely grateful for this."

"NVRDC has shown me that there are infinite ways to combine empathy and ambition and create something for the greater good."



Swift Justice


NVRDC applauds Taylor Swift for having the courage to stand up to her attacker. She spoke her truth and used available resources to bring light to something that unfortunately continues to affect people every day. However, we keep in mind the variety of experiences survivors encounter when they enter various legal systems in search of justice. Some survivors are further victimized by systems that prioritize the rights of the accused instead of striking a balance with the rights of survivors. Some survivors never get the chance to seek justice, because their experiences are not believed by friends, family, or professionals. Some survivors lack the privilege or means to report their assault and suffer in silence, with few opportunities for redress. Historical oppression, a force undeniably present in Washington, DC, often keeps victims from trusting that they can safely and successfully engage formal legal systems or processes or even access crucial medical services following a crime.

The court system believed Ms. Swift and her version of justice was served. Justice comes in many forms and we strive to offer solace and support for all survivors regardless of privilege or status. Most survivors in the District are without the the resources available to Ms. Swift to take civil litigation. With a poverty rate well above the national average, resources such as no-cost legal advocacy are imperative to a survivor's realization of justice. NVRDC is grateful for the funding opportunities that give us the capacity to provide free legal services for victims of crime in DC.

Even with options to obtain a Civil Protection Order or free crime victims’ rights representation, it should be recognized that limitations exist for all survivors when it comes to filing civil lawsuits against offenders. The ability to find competent and compassionate civil attorneys to take on this type of litigation is really challenging; add to that the unavailability of legal aid providers in some jurisdictions. Ms. Swift was able to countersue—an action so many survivors in similar circumstances are unable to pursue for a number of reasons.

A person’s socioeconomic status should not prevent them from seeking justice or cause them to face more victim-blaming. Those impacted by sexual violence deserve free legal support and pro bono options to defend or seek civil justice. We assure you: survivors often pay endlessly in terms of suffering, self-doubt, and shame. NVRDC will keep fighting for all crime survivors to have the support and resources they need to achieve justice.

Recap: Cornhole for a Cause 2017

We explained cornhole back in May in the aptly titled "What is Cornhole?" and hope you retained what you learned so you can immerse yourself in our recap of this year's tournament.

The day started like any other Saturday, but soon, 26 teams would arrive to compete for the title of NVRDC's Cornhole for a Cause Champion. The teams identified themselves with some pretty clever names. Some were legal puns, "Write Writs Right Wrongs" and some cornhole-themed, like "Corny in Bethesda". Then some (we're looking at you "Wubba Lubba Dub Dub") were chosen just to twist the tongues of our fearless leaders and emcees, NVRDC Co-Executive Directors, Nikki Charles and Bridgette Stumpf.

This was our 5th annual cornhole tournament and, like those before it, was a double elimination set up. Fifteen minute rounds go by fast when you're playing for such a worthy cause. One by one, the teams were eliminated and it came down to the final two teams: Bund Bon and Mike's Silver Locks. It was a fantastic match up and, in the end, it was the undefeated team Bund Bon who conquered Mike's Silver Locks to clinch the title: Champion. Both teams walked away with fantastic prize baskets from our generous supporters. 

It was a great event. See for yourself in the photos below!
Special thanks goes to our photographers for the event, Sergio Reyes and Linda Escribano, who can be reached at

Thank you again to the sponsors of our 5th annual Cornhole for a Cause!

Silver Sponsor:
Arnold & Porter Kaye Scholer LLP

Bronze Sponsors:
Williams & Connolly LLP
Latham & Watkins LLP
Resolution Economics LLC
Hogan Lovells LLP
Jackson & Associates

Honorable Mention Sponsors:
Steptoe & Johnson PLLC

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld LLP
Crowell & Moring LLP

Your Part-Time Controller

Combatting Ageism with NVRDC

June 15th, might have seemed like just another muggy summer day to many District residents and commuters, but for some of us who work on elder justice it was a very important day indeed. It was World Elder Abuse Awareness Day (WEAAD).

The International Network for the Prevention of Elder Abuse and the World Health Organization at the United Nations first launched WEAAD a little over a decade ago, in an effort to unite communities around the world in raising awareness about elder abuse. WEAAD is in support of the UN’s International Plan of Action acknowledging the significance of elder abuse as a public health and human rights issue.

For the past three years, Network for Victim of Recovery of DC, in conjunction with its partners on the District’s Coordinated Training & Response for Older Victims (DC TROV) team have celebrated the day in DC with proclamations, awareness events, and training sessions. This year, DC TROV joined forces with DC Office on Aging Elder Abuse Prevention Committee (EAPC) in hosting with events at senior wellness centers throughout the city. As DC’s Elder Justice AmeriCorp Legal Fellow, I spent the day visiting senior centers throughout the city and enjoying providing outreach to older residents.

If you are reading this, you may wonder how does all of this affect you in your day-to-day life? Some might respond, “It doesn’t.”  Minding one’s business is a motto some live their whole lives by, but when it comes to stopping elder abuse in our community, this motto can be deadly.  For a lot of older adults who are victimized by adult children, caregivers or people they trust, help never comes when we are minding our business

So what if she was mean to her daughter growing up and now her daughter strikes back?   

So what if I haven’t seen him at church in a few days?

It’s okay if an older adult’s caretaker ignores her requests because she asks so frequently. 

How many times does a person really need something to drink?  Maybe they are just suffering from dementia. (Note: Not every older adult suffers from dementia. I cannot say it enough, dementia is not guaranteed with aging!)

One in 10 older District residents have experienced some type of abuse, but that’s only part of the picture: experts believe that for every case of elder abuse or neglect reported, as many as 23.5 cases go unreported.

Victimization often leads to an earlier death, especially in cases where the senior continues to live with their abuser. Those we trust the most are often the abusers; 90% of perpetrators are adult children or spouses. Unfortunately, those who live in nursing homes are not immune either. I asked the DC Long Term Care State Ombudsman, Mark Miller about his experience seeing abuse across the district and it is as pervasive as one could think. 

"Abuse continues to be an all too real experience for many residents of nursing homes and other long-term care facilities.  In 2015, ombudsmen across the country responded to nearly 16,000 complaints of abuse, neglect and financial exploitation, an 11% increase from 2014.  While that number may seem staggering, many more thousands of incidents of abuse and neglect go unreported and unaddressed each year.”

Many of us have statistics fatigue – we are overwhelmed by data on gun violence, sexual abuse, and other horrible crimes. As DC’s Elder Justice AmeriCorp Legal Fellow, I advocate for older adults who are victims of financial exploitation, physical abuse, sexual abuse, and neglect.  It is my job to care, and it is my duty that those statistics don’t become just another number. 

However, if that is not your job that is okay too. We are overwhelmed with tons of tragic information now making it hard to conceptualize many statistics, but what is easy to conceptualize is seeing your client unable to access all their important documents.  It is easy to notice when an older adult feels timid going places by themselves or asking permission to go places. None of these descriptions alone scream abuse. Abuse can show differently in many people and can be physical, psychological, or even financial.

I propose to everyone, myself included, that our first inclination is to be aware of possible abuse, listen closely to your “spider senses” tingling, and remember that one in ten seniors are being abused and so few are getting the help they need. We should each become aware of some typical signs of elder abuse, stay alert, and look out for our neighbors.

For instance, look around for indicators if you see a senior in your life, neighborhood, church or social circles struggling. Asking yourself: what caused that mood change? Are the two older adult partners dependent on one another? Does the older adult child let their parent speak?  If you suspect neglect, then it is perfectly normal to ask if they have the supports they need. Do they feel they get enough food to eat? What could you use more of? Do you have enough visitors? Do you feel like people think about you?

If these questions feel invasive, it’s fine. Answer them in your head, and if you don’t have the answers, it is always okay as a human being to check-in with another in private.  There are plenty of tools (also here) to help you be a good support for the seniors around you.  

So what if you do find out that a senior you know is being abused? The most important thing you can do is to make sure the person feels supported, encouraged and knows that they are not at fault.  Encourage them by offering a place to go or perhaps watch their grandchildren if they need a break. Plan social outings to separate them from the abuser.

Older victims seeking help can contact the DC Victim Hotline at 1-844-4HELPDC. This is confidential and available 24/7 to those who might want to talk it over with a trained advocate. Concerned friends and neighbors can also turn to that hotline for advice.

While we are on this subject, it is crucial that we start with believing the older adult.  In American culture, unfortunately, older adults are depicted as senile, oblivious and depressed.  It is pervasive in the film industry and reflected in our TV shows and that impacts the way we interact with older adults in our lives.  It also impacts their knowledge of self.  So, start your interaction with older adults by assuming that they are telling the truth and let them know that you believe their truth.

"Combating ageism is key to improving how we respond to the problem of elder abuse in the District. The way our society is structured today fails to keep people connected to the community at all stages of life. Seniors are "othered" and placed in a category and physical location away from the rest of society. This breeds isolation, which in turns creates conditions ripe for perpetrators to abuse, neglect, and exploit free from fear of detection and intervention by Adult Protective Services, victim advocates, and ultimately law enforcement and prosecution.”  -NVRDC’s Elder Justice Coordinator and leader for the DC Training and Response team for Older Victims (DC TROV) Merry O’Brien.

Remember that it is your business when your community is at harm. Merry eloquently points out the root of this issue, challenging what we believe about aging:

To combat elder abuse we need to be committed to ensure DC is "Age-Friendly." This means that no matter our age, we are all treated as full members of the community with equal opportunities to participate in community life. We can all help break down isolation by challenging our ageist beliefs, questioning our own fears about aging, and reaching out to senior neighbors to offer friendship. This is the first and most important way we can all join the fight against elder abuse in DC."

What is Cornhole?

Did you know that last week was National Backyard Games Week?

That's right! May 21 through 27. So I thought this might be the perfect time to explain cornhole for those who aren't familiar. It turns out there's an American Cornhole Association, so I'm using their resources for this light-on-words, heavy-on-links post.

First, What is Cornhole?

Cornhole or Corn Toss is similar to horseshoes except you use wooden boxes called cornhole platforms and corn bags instead of horseshoes and metal stakes. Contestants take turns pitching their corn bags at the cornhole platform until a contestant reaches the score of 21 points. A corn bag in the hole scores 3 points, while one on the platform scores 1 point.

How to Play Cornhole / Official Rules

There's a lot of information in the link above, but I posted the scoring section below, since the score is a pretty important part of any game!

Section A. Simple Scoring

In simple scoring the points are totaled at the end of each ½ inning and the smaller score is subtracted from the larger score and the difference in points is awarded to the team scoring the most points that ½ inning. In this scoring method only one team can score per ½ inning.

Section B. Cancellation Scoring

In cancellation scoring, Cornhole bags in-the-hole and bags in-the-count pitched by opponents during an inning (in singles play) or half of an inning (in doubles play) cancel each other out. Only non-canceled bags are counted in the score for the inning.

1. Cornhole Bags In-The-Hole: Hole-ins (HI’s) cancel each other. A bag in-the-hole of one contestant shall cancel a bag in-the-hole of his competitor and those bags shall not score any points. Any non cancelled bag in-the-hole scores 3 points.

2. Cornhole Bags In-The-Count: Bags in-the-count cancel each other. A bag in-the-count of one contestant shall cancel a bags in-the-count of the opponent and those bags shall not score any points. Any non cancelled bags in-the-count score 1 point each.

Section C. Score Calculation:

Cancellation scoring may be easily calculated as follows:

1. The points of both contestants are calculated for hole-ins and in-the-count Cornhole bags.

2. The points of the lowest scoring contestant for hole-in bags are subtracted from the points of the highest scoring contestant for hole-in bags. The result is the hole-in score for the highest scoring contestant. The hole-in score for the lowest scoring contestant is zero.

3. The points of the lowest scoring contestant for in-the-count bags are subtracted from the points of the highest scoring contestant for in-the-count bags. The result is the in-the-count score for the highest scoring contestant. The in-the-count score for the lowest scoring contestant is zero.

4. The hole-in score for each contestant is added to the in-the-count score for each contestant to derive the recorded score for the inning.

5. In this manner hole-in and in-the–count Cornhole bags from each contestant or team of contestants are cancelled out and only non-canceled bags are counted in the score.

Section D. Individual Hole-In Percentage Scoring (HI%)

For purposes of calculating individual Cornhole Hole-In percentages (see Rule 9 below) that is reported to ACA by members for purposes of ACA ranking and awards, ALL Cornhole bags pitched in-the-hole are included in the total used to derive these percentages including those that would be eliminated under cancellation scoring rules. Only bags determined to be foul would be excluded from the individual statistical scoring.

Section E. Recording The Score

In tournament play, the score sheet shall be the official record of the game and will be used to submit the Official Tournament Scoring Summaries to the ACA (see Rule 9 below). Contestants are encouraged to pay close attention to the score at all times. It is highly recommended that visible scoreboard (that all contestants can review and verify for accuracy) be used to keep score during tournament play. If a question or discrepancy occurs regarding the correct score, the contestant(s) may approach the scorer between innings to rectify the situation. If the discrepancy cannot be corrected to the satisfaction of both contestants, a tournament judge shall be called to make the final decision.

Now that you know at least a little bit about cornhole, a classic backyard game, it's a good time to invite you to our 5th Annual Cornhole Tournament: Cornhole for a Cause 2017. All of the information is in the flyer above or on the website you'll get to if you click on the flyer. 

All levels are welcome! It's a great time supporting a great cause. We hope to see you there!

Challenging our Sense of Awareness during Sexual Assault Awareness Month

I'm going to get this conversation going with a highly controversial statement: SEXUAL ASSAULT IS BAD. There. I await the multitude of indignant counterpoints that will surely follow this assertion.



We're all in agreement that sexual assault is bad? Hmm. Okay.

So why did we even have a sexual assault awareness month? Why dedicate a month to raising awareness of something that even the most sheltered among us has known about from a young age, have been warned of, feared? Something that by adulthood we have all seen splashed luridly across media reports, stumbled upon in books and movies and TV shows as plot devices of terror or tragedy? Something we have all felt the tremors of third-hand, or second-hand, or first-hand?

Can we possibly be lacking in awareness of something that looms so large?

Well.. maybe. The problem we have with sexual assault is not that too few people condemn it. The problem is that no one seems to think they are accountable for ending it. The more loudly we shout against it, the further it floats from our ability to practically address it. The more it becomes untouchable, unchangeable.



Sexual assault is everyone’s problem, everyone’s responsibility. Assailants are not fairytale monsters that come from the shadows. They are members of our communities, if not members of our families. It’s true that we need more accountability to be placed on the perpetrators of sexual assault, not less. We don’t need to be among those making excuses. But maybe we get closer to accountability by better understanding the complicity of social forces, of culture, of reinforcement of norms and behaviors that can lead a person to do what we would rather just label unthinkable. Otherwise, we risk turning the problem into one of battling absolute evil, something abstract and eternal.

And if we must resist the convenience of making assailants absolute evil, we must also resist the convenience of simplifying the diversity of survivors' experiences and identities into a single narrative of utter tragedy and destruction. Though it may seem like focusing on the most horrific consequences is the only way to push back against the widespread culture of victim-blaming and minimizing, narrowing the stories we tell so that they only look one way makes it harder for those who fall outside that description to be understood and believed.

Sexual assault is already a daunting enough thing to fight. To fight against it while also taking on a fight against all the systems and structures that reinforce and perpetuate sexual violence seems impossibly difficult. But to fight against sexual assault without taking on its roots is just... impossible.

We can only do this work by making the most of what exists in our flawed world and faulty systems. But we can only do this work well by keeping a bigger picture in view. When it comes to sexual assault, we must push the limits of our awareness and our framework.

Because I am not alone in this work, I reached out to other staff members to see what they feel is missing from the conversation on sexual assault. Where is our awareness really lacking?

Rochelle, also an NVRDC case manager, points out how we must broaden our understanding of sexual assault to reflect the experiences of survivors:

“It's easy for us to say that when a person rapes someone, especially a stranger, that that is sexual assault and bad. But, what about when one person is intoxicated and the other interprets their actions as consent? What about when two people have had sex before but, this time, one person didn't want to? What about when someone grabs another person without their consent? Those don't fit into our common interpretation of rape, but certainly are varying forms of sexual assault. In order to put effective policies into place, we have to break away from our narrow misconception of what sexual assault is, lest we want to continue passing policies that only apply to the survivors that fit within our narrow definition. This starts from listening to and believing survivors themselves. Because, in the end, we have to remember that these policies are meant for them and any future survivors.”

An NVRDC staff attorney had a frank discussion with me about one big taboo in sexual assault advocacy: the possibility that some assailants didn’t intend to hurt someone but lacked enough understanding of consent and communication to do the right thing. It’s a delicate or even scary conversation to have because of how readily that kind of discourse gets appropriated for purposes of victim-blaming or rape apologism. Yet, if we accept the premise that intent matters more than impact, we give predators much more room to operate---and miss an important way to reduce harm:

“I feel like I’m not representing our field well when I’m saying this, but I think there are situations where communication is genuinely murky, and if we could normalize clear communication we might actually make strides towards reducing sexual assault. But in our culture sex is this mysterious or even shameful thing that is supposed to just happen without anyone ever saying anything, and it makes it seem so weird and out of place to actually verbalize what you do and don’t want. I don’t like the idea that that’s impossible and I don’t like the idea that where we’re at currently is okay. I think we have to take some kind of ownership over the way that what we’ve accepted as ‘normal’ in how we communicate about sex adds to the problem.”

And another fellow case manager, Jess, offers a powerful cautionary to those of us in the field:

“Awareness can often end up being just a buzzword. Ending a phenomenon as complex as sexual assault, and working with survivors of such day in and day out, requires a lot of self-awareness, internal reflection, and a willingness to acknowledge when we are wrong; to be called out on our own implicit biases and internalized oppressive behaviors and outlooks. We have to be willing to admit that we do not always know all of the answers, and that sometimes we contribute to the very problem that we are trying to solve with our micro-actions and aggressions. We have to be willing to examine how we contribute to those systems and actively work towards undoing them, and the actions that build them up. And that is uncomfortable. It doesn't feel good to examine the ways in which you are oppressive or unintentionally retraumatizing. But it's crucial to do this self reflection. It's crucial to building a movement that is accountable to itself and to what it stands against.

We, as advocates and activists, are equally capable of perpetuating violence or violent actions. Language can be violent, excluding people is violent, letting certain populations be an afterthought is violence. We have to be willing to unpack these happenings within our own movement if we ever really want to end sexual assault. Even when it's uncomfortable for us to be self-aware. Especially then.”

Mindfulness, Self-Soothing, & Glitter

Shrinky Dinks! Find step-by-step instructions on the OOLY blog.

Shrinky Dinks! Find step-by-step instructions on the OOLY blog.


Happy National Craft Month! I didn’t know until recently that March was designated as such, but according to the Association for Creative Industries it has been since 1994, and I for one am delighted. Why? Well, because I am coming around to the conclusion that as fun and lighthearted and not-obviously-essential-to-survival as crafting may be, it’s actually a pretty useful practice for well-being and, for some of us, is a near-perfect form of emotional self care.


In this field, saturated with the stress and disruption of trauma, “self care” gets thrown around almost constantly. We urge our clients to practice it and admonish our colleagues to make time for it -- but we’re not always that specific in what we mean by it. Just about anything that can cut stress, help someone to decompress, or be considered restorative might get thrown under the heading of self care.


So, let’s drill down a little bit into what self care means. The term actually includes both physical and emotional care, and the physical side is important: food, water, sleep, hygiene, exercise and tending to our physical environments are all critical to feeling okay. On the emotional side of things, practices that we can do on our own are called self-soothing. A whole lot falls under the umbrella of self-soothing. Unfortunately, not all self-soothing activities work equally, and some practices can ultimately do us harm. We service providers are pretty familiar with our own tendencies to lean on numbing, escapist types of self-soothing like drinking, overeating or zoning out to addictive media as quick-fix strategies to deal with stress. “Self care!” we cry as we’re finishing off that bottle of wine, defending our indulgence on the basis of our emotionally demanding field.


It’s not that it’s an unreasonable defense -- the point here isn’t to pass judgment. It is rather to point out that we have other options, some with a cost-benefit ratio that may work a little better in the long term. So what makes an activity not just self-soothing in the moment but also, on a deeper level, nurturing to our well-being? What helps us exit a state of emotional overload without inducing numbness? Mindfulness can help, cultivating a state of alert but non-reactive awareness. Sensory engagement can help, grounding us in the present moment in a pleasurable way. Occupying both creative and logical parts of the brain can help, redirecting our focus away from anxious fixation.


Which brings us back to one thing that lends itself to all of the above: crafting. It’s certainly not the only practice that covers multiple bases of self-soothing at once, but it’s a great one to add to your self-care toolkit. Current research even suggests that the health benefits go beyond aiding those of us dealing with trauma exposure.


If you’re ready to spend the rest of the month up to your elbows in craft projects but don’t know where to start, here’s a quick roundup of a few low-budget, entry-level projects that might launch a new, full-blown hobby.


“Calm Down Jar” for adults

Last year, NVRDC staff had a group self-care event to make ourselves these hypnotic objects. Not only is it a calming experience to make them, but you’re left with a visually relaxing item to use for a moment of calm in the future. Check out the short video tutorial here.


Bubble Painting

Nice weather might be waylaid for the moment, but it’s coming… and when it arrives, here’s a great craft to try outdoors while simultaneously reaping the benefits of a few minutes in the sun.


T-shirt Rag Rugs

If you need to repurpose some t-shirts you never wear into something you might actually use, this tutorial shows you how to make a coaster or trivet while cutting down on clothing clutter.


Plastic Flowers

Also in the “repurposing” category, here’s a how-to on making vivid, glass-like flowers out of plastic cups. Pick up some markers in color combos that speak to your soul and have at it.


Shrinky-dink Charms (pictured in this blog)

Here’s more info on making fun things by shrinking plastic with some step-by-step pointers. Don’t stop there, though; try image-searching “shrinky dink patterns” and see what all the internet has to offer. It’s like coloring pages that you can zap down into wearable charms. Check out another tutorial here going into great detail on this technique with a very classy, very wearable end product. Experiment with lower-budget materials if you don’t want to invest up front in the ink she uses here.


The internet is a bountiful resource for crafting inspiration and learning, so I hope this roundup is only the beginning. Make the most of your craft-month March and enjoy both the process and the product!


Shrinky Dinks! Find step-by-step instructions on the OOLY blog.

Shrinky Dinks! Find step-by-step instructions on the OOLY blog.

On the Intersections of Black History Month and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month..

As both Black History Month and Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month come to a close, we want to pause at two intersections that shape both the Gender-Based Violence and Crime Victims' Rights Movements.

There are many inspiring people in the movements we support. One is Ron LeGrand, an activist engaging men in conversations about healthy relationships and masculinity. We won't reinvent the wheel when our partners over at Break the Cycle put together a great write-up featuring some pertinent interview questions for LeGrand as part of their Trailblazer series.

Our favorite from the Q&A?

BTC: "What specific message do you want to send to young people about what you hope they will accomplish in the next phase of the movement?"

RL: "More than anything, I want young people to have a clearer understanding of what a healthy relationship looks like and that love should never hurt." 

Click on the photo below to read the full article and interview on Break the Cycle's website.

Click the picture above to read Break the Cycle's spotlight on Ron LeGrand as part of their Trailblazers series.

Click the picture above to read Break the Cycle's spotlight on Ron LeGrand as part of their Trailblazers series.

Next up: most have heard that the teen publication Teen Vogue has been showing the world their "A game" with their powerful pieces of late. An article published this week, titled "Why You Can't Ever Call an Enslaved Woman a Mistress", is no exception.

Responding to a recent Washington Post article and subsequent tweet calling Sally Hemings—a young woman enslaved by Thomas Jefferson—the third president's "mistress", the Teen Vogue article makes some poignant and important points. Here's an excerpt:

"Using the term "mistress"...denotes a relationship predicated on mutual choice, autonomy, and affirmative consent—things slaves do not have. As a slave, Hemings was not afforded the privilege of self-determination, meaning she didn't do what she wanted; she did what she was told. The word to describe that type of interaction is not 'affair'; it's rape."

We don't know if teens are reading TeenVogue these days, but we hope so. We hope, too, that the lessons learned—in its pages or on phone, tablet, and computer screens around the world—are starting conversations and shaping relationships of all kinds.

To read the full article from TeenVogue, click on the cover of their latest issue, pictured below.


Talking about Healthy Relationships during #TeenDVMonth

February--a month that bears an enduring association with all the sugar and spice of romantic love at its sweetest--has also been designated Teen Dating Violence Awareness Month. Dating violence among youth certainly deserves focus and concern: according to statistics at, one out of every three young people experiences dating violence in one form or another. That may be a bitter pill to find mixed in with our Valentine’s chocolates, but getting honest about the harmful, destructive behaviors that can show up in some relationships need not undermine our celebration of healthy ones. Our friends and colleagues at youth-oriented organizations like Break the Cycle, One Love and Love Is Respect are spearheading events all this month that fight the shame and entrapment of abuse by uplifting the power, wisdom and capacity for transformative love that young people already possess.

Inevitably, if relationships are full of the dual potential for good or for harm, so are the tools we use to connect with one another, the means by which we develop and maintain relationships. When it comes to social media, the double-edged sword of abuse and empowerment is in full effect, not just exemplified but magnified. Those of us working in victims rights see staggering examples of social media being weaponized into a tool of abuse. This could look like launching a campaign of cyberbullying, turning an online community against a target, or publicizing private or stolen images of a sexual nature. An abuser may break into someone’s account to further their efforts to shame, isolate and terrorize them. And, with media and technology unavoidable and ever-present in our lives, abusers can exploit countless opportunities to monitor, harass, stalk and control. Young people, belonging to a generation that is both more connected to technology than any other and better at taking advantage of its capabilities, are particularly vulnerable.

Along with the vulnerabilities inherent in a technology-saturated world, though, this degree of connectedness is also a powerful tool in fighting abuse. Recent months and years have seen Twitter hashtags on topics of abuse and assault prompt largely spontaneous outpourings of storytelling, education, information-sharing and support-building--see #WhyIStayed, #WhyILeft, #MaybeHeDoesntHitYou and #NotOkay for some examples of how much heavy lifting can be done in a few words. These stories and conversations have the power to give clarity, nuance and the weight of lived experience to our understanding of abuse dynamics; taken collectively they illustrate the pervasiveness and complexity of relationship violence. And they are taking place on platforms that young people are especially equipped to use, both as participants and as recipients.

Other blogs, websites and messaging platforms are finding creative ways to join the conversation (and bring more people into the conversation). And this constant connectedness works against abuse in some important ways--not only does it make it easier than ever to access information and self-educate, but it is creates opportunities for quick access to communities and support, undermining the isolation so central to abusive control. If social media has opened up more avenues for abusers to get in, it is also opening up more paths for survivors to get out.

Take some time this month to check out the newest generation of efforts against dating violence. If it’s tough to think about the high proportion of teens affected by abusive relationships, it’s pretty inspiring to see what they are doing about it.

January is National Stalking Awareness Month

While National Stalking Awareness Month is coming to a close, I want to share some information that will hopefully stay with you throughout the year. The infographic below is is from Campus Clarity, which helps schools comply with the SaVE Act and Title IX through interactive, engaging online training. 

While anything with a cat on it will get my attention, I find this infographic to be relevant, factual, and easy to understand. My favorite tip is to "Keep a Record". You'll see below that it's a good idea to "document each incident to demonstrate that it fits into a pattern of behavior for safety planning, police reports, and to obtain a protective order."

I'd like to add another benefit of keeping a record: validation. One tactic used by stalkers is to undermine your sense of reality. You may find yourself asking and thinking things like:

"Does that count as stalking or harassment?"
"Maybe they didn't mean it like that..."
"Is this really happening?"
"Am I imagining it?"

A record can serve as a grounding object. It can remind you that what is happening to you is real and there are details that show it. Sure, it can be a tool for the police or an attorney, but it is also a tool for you. It's harder to underestimate the impact of stalking when you have a list in front of you spelling out a pattern of unwanted and intimidating behavior.



Bowling for Charity Silent Auction to Benefit NVRDC

Please see the below auction items that will be available at Bowling for Charity on December 20th at Mustang Alley’s in Baltimore. If you have not already bought your ticket please buy your ticket/make a donation here. All proceeds raised will support NVRDC's comprehensive, wraparound legal services and case management for victims of all types of crime in the District of Columbia. NVRDC empowers victims of all crimes to achieve survivor defined justice through a collaborative continuum of advocacy, case management, and legal services. All of NVRDC's services are provided at no cost to their clients. As a nonprofit committed to achieving survivor defined justice , they rely on the generous contributions of supporters. For more information please visit

You may bid even if you are not able to attend the event by sending a max and final offer to Kateleigh Hewins Clark ( who will be keeping track of the bids. If your max bid is higher than the bids at the event within the last final 10 minute mark of the auction, we will place your bid on the item of your choice. At the event we will place your bid, if it is the highest than those on the sheet at the last final 10 minute mark of the auction. People attending the event will then have one final opportunity to outbid you to win the item.

Please note all proceeds are a donation to NVRDC. Exelon employees please be sure to enter your donation (all payments including ticket, donation, auction items purchased) given to NVRDC into the Exelon match program so your contribution makes an even bigger impact for this wonderful organization.


Orioles Magic Basket

Are you the ultimate Orioles Fan? Do you love to tailgate and grill out? This basket has your name written all over it! The Orioles Magic basket includes an autographed Cal Ripken Jr. baseball, a limited edition, numbered, Baltimore Orioles Oriole Park at Camden Yards Panoramic Photomint, an Orioles Grilling set and an Orioles BBQ set. The starting bid for the Orioles Magic basket is $100, with an actual basket value of over $250.

Cal Baseball.jpg


Ravens Collectible Basket

Calling all Ravens Collectors! This basket includes great items to round out your Ravens Fan Cave! With a Ravens signed Ronnie Stanley football in display case, a limited edition, Baltimore Ravens Signature Gridiron Panoramic Photo, a Ravens Jersey Glass and a Ravens Coffee Thermos, this basket is valued at over $150. Bids on the Ravens Collectible Basket will start at $75.


Ravens Super Fan Basket

Show off your inner Ravens Super Fan this winter with a basket which includes a Ravens signed CJ Mosely football in display case, a Ravens fleece lines winter hat, a Ravens scarf, a Ravens Jersey glass, and a Ravens Coffee Thermos. The Ravens Super Fan Basket is valued at $200 and will have a starting bid of $100.


Wine & Chocolate Basket

If you are a wine and chocolate lover, this basket is perfect for a romantic or relaxing night! This basket has something for everyone with 2 red and 2 white wines, chocolate from a local Baltimore chocolatier, 2 winter wine glasses, winter wine charms, a Wine Saver Pump with 4 Vacuum Bottle Stoppers and a wine party tub. With a value of over $150, bids for the Wine and Chocolate Basket will start at $75.


Tailgate Pro

Are you a professional tailgater, or maybe looking to elevate your summer picnic game? This basket will include two tailgating games, one classic in Washer Toss, and one rising favorite with Kan Jam! Both games provide hours of enjoyment at your next tailgate, family picnic, or backyard BBQ. This basket will also include 2 extra insulated koozies, and some drinks to keep cold. Valued at over $150, bids for the Tailgate Pro basket will start at $75.


Adult Game Night

The Adult Game Night Basket includes five games which are perfect for a night with friends full of laughs, inside jokes, and memories to be made. The games in this basket are Joking Hazard, Quick and Dirty, Drunk Stoned or Stupid, Exploding Kittens (NSFW Edition) and Greater Evil. Bids for the Adult Game Night Basket will start at $45, and has a value of over $100.


Family Fun Night Basket

Finding things to do with the family always become more challenging when the weather turns cold, but the Family Fun Basket will provide some great options! This basket will include 4 tickets to Breakfast with the Animals at the Maryland Zoo, and a family pass (2 Adult and 4 Children tickets) to the Baltimore Museum of Industry. The Family Fun Basket is valued at over $300, and have a starting bid of $125.


Tickets to Baltimore Museum of Industry

Enjoy a family ticket to the Baltimore Museum of Industry. This ticket admits 2 adults and up to four children. The Baltimore Museum of Industry celebrates Maryland’s industrial legacy and shows how innovation fuels ongoing progress. Their exhibitions, educational programs, and collections engage visitors in the stories of the people who built Baltimore and those who shape the region’s future. The retail value for these tickets is $52. Bids will start at $15.


Cooler Basket

Whether it is a backyard BBQ, weekend camping, or tailgating for the big game, having the right equipment in critical! In this basket is a 45 qt. cooler which comes equipped with non-slip feet, molded tie down slots, no fail hinges, and a rapid drain system. This cooler will also keep your ice cold for up to 45 days, and is even bear resistant! Along with this amazing cooler we have a 20 oz. stainless steel tumbler which will keep your drinks cold for 60 hours, or hot for 12 hours! There will also be some drinks which will be perfect to keep cold inside of your cooler to test it out! The total value of the Cooler Basket is $225, and bids will start at $100.


Exelon (and its affiliate company) Employees only can bid on the items below.

You may bid even if you are not able to attend the event by sending a max and final offer to Kateleigh Hewins Clark ( who will be keeping track of the bids. At the event we will place your bid, if it is the highest than those on the sheet at the last final 10 minute mark of the auction. People attending the event will then have one final opportunity to outbid you to win the item.


Capitals Suite Tickets

Enjoy tickets for you and guest to see the Washington Capitals take on the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday January 13, 2017 at 7 p.m. (suite opens are 5:15 p.m.). Tickets are in Exelon’s suite and include food and drink. Large Constellation customers and several members of senior leadership, including possibly Mark Huston, will be in attendance. This basket also includes a caps hat and scarf.

Retail value: $450 Starting Bid: $150


Lunch with Leaders

Enjoy the unique opportunity to have a 1 on 1 lunch with a leader in our organization! This lunch allows for a once in a lifetime networking opportunity with senior level management. You can learn more about different aspects of the company or discuss your own career ambitions. Please consider bidding on this amazing opportunity.


Joseph Nigro

CEO, Constellation; Executive Vice President, Exelon.  A 27-year veteran of the energy industry, Joseph leads Constellation, Exelon’s competitive retail and wholesale businesses. He is responsible for the marketing of electricity, natural gas and other energy-related products and services to Constellation customers, as well as ensuring the optimization of Exelon’s generation portfolio by obtaining maximum value for power produced while managing risk for the company and its shareholders. Constellation has a business presence in 48 states, Washington, D.C., and parts of Canada.  Joseph serves on the board of directors of the National Aquarium, one of the world’s top environmental education organizations and an important anchor of regional tourism in Baltimore’s Inner Harbor, and the board of trustees of Baltimore’s Living Classrooms Foundation, which provides hands-on, interdisciplinary education and job training programs that empower and motivate youth.  Joseph received his bachelor’s degree in economics from the University of Connecticut.

Starting Bid: $30


Tamla Olivier

President & CEO, BGE HOME and Constellation Home, Senior Vice President, Constellation.  As president & CEO, BGE HOME and Constellation Home, Tamla is responsible for developing and executing the strategic plan to differentiate Constellation’s deregulated gas & electricity products with home energy service offerings to deepen relationships and drive earnings for the organization.  Tamla is co-chair of the women’s council for My Sister’s Place Women’s Center, a non-profit organization providing women and children with meals, case management services for housing, emergency financial assistance, education, and job training in Baltimore. Additionally, she is on the board of the Partners in Excellence Scholarship program which provides young people with partial, need-based scholarships for Baltimore City Catholic Schools. Tamla is also actively involved with Cristo Rey Jesuit High School, St. Ignatius Loyola Academy and Cardinal Shehan School.  Tamla is a graduate of Cornell University's School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

 Starting Bid: $30


Mark Huston

President, Constellation Retail.  A 30-plus year veteran of the energy utility industry, Mark oversees Constellation’s industry leading retail energy business and is responsible for marketing, sales, operations, fulfillment and product development of energy solutions in support of commercial, industrial and residential customers. Primary offerings include power, natural gas, energy efficiency, combined heat & power projects, compressed natural gas infrastructure and distributed generation (solar, emergency back-up, fuel cells, batteries).  Huston currently serves as Chairman of the Board for the Maryland Science Center and serves on the board of Catholic Charities.  Mark received a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering under the co-operative education program from the University of Maryland, College Park, and a master’s degree in applied management from the University of Maryland, University College.

Starting Bid: $30


David Ellsworth


Senior Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer, Constellation

Starting Bid: $30


Andrew Singer

 Andrew Singer is the Vice President & General Manager of the Mid-Atlantic Region.  He is a retail sales leader who also enjoys mentoring and career and interview coaching.

Starting Bid: $20


David Hochberg

Vice President, North American Natural Gas Trading.  Our team handles the wholesale supply for Constellation’s retail natural gas business, Exelon Generation’s owned & tolled generation, acquires and manages Transportation & Storage, creates structured solutions for producers & end-users, & deploys risk capital.

Starting Bid: $20


Funmi Williamson

Vice President, Commercial Risk Management.  Funmi partners with the Constellation business to ensure all commercial activities are aligned with Exelon’s risk appetite while providing the opportunity for growth.  Funmi is currently a board member of the YMCA of Greater Baltimore, an organization dedicated to eliminating racism, empowering women and promoting peace, justice, freedom and dignity for all.  

Starting Bid: $20


Michael Pechin

The Vice President of Wholesale Operations is a member of the Executive Leadership Team reporting into the Chief Operating Officer for Constellation.    As the VP Wholesale Ops, Mike is responsible for providing direction and support of the wholesale business requirements and operations for Constellation Energy.   Mike is involved in daily decisions around operations to develop, recommend and execute policy, strategy and staffing requirements necessary to create a cost efficient, high performance team.  Wholesale Operations is a strategic partner with the Tradefloor, Financial Planning & Analysis, Accounting & Risk as it is the primary intermediary with all Independent System Operators (ISO’s), Power, Fuels & Renewable Energy Credit trading counterparties, FERC electronic surveillance, electronic subscriptions and the production of the Daily Profit Statement (a PnL of the wholesale trading regions).  Mike is a long-term veteran of the industry with nearly 30 years experience working with Exelon, Constellation and PECO Energy.  Mike holds a BS in Commerce and Engineering and an MBA; both from Drexel University.

Starting Bid: $20


Harald Ullrich

Harald Ullrich is VP of Commercial Analytics at Constellation. His team provides a wide range of analytical support and services to the commercial organization, its embedded functions, and to corporate, including: the review, pricing, and risk assessment of new structured transactions; analytical support for commercial decision-makers and senior management with respect to valuation, hedging, and other quantitative issues; and maintaining and continuously enhancing the commercial risk systems to meet the changing needs of commercial users and embedded functions.

Starting Bid: $20


David Diaz

Vice President, Finance, Constellation.  As vice president of finance for Constellation, David oversees the company’s wholesale and retail business segments, financial forecasting, project analysis, performance indicators and financial reporting.  David is on the board of directors of TurnAround, Inc., a nonprofit organization focused on building a community free of violence by advocating for and educating adults and children affected by intimate partner and sexual violence in Baltimore City and Baltimore County.  David received a bachelor’s degree in accounting from Towson University and completed the Program for Leadership Development at the Harvard Business School.

Starting Bid: $20


James Calabrese

Chief Information Officer, Constellation.  A 22-year veteran of the energy industry, James leads the IT team enabling Constellation's wholesale and retail businesses. In this role Calabrese oversees all IT operations, services, and projects for Constellation and focuses IT investments to maximize value. In 2014, James will fill a board position with the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore focused on developing Baltimore's information technology industry.  James received a bachelor's degree in mathematics from Purdue University.

Starting Bid: $20


Michael Smith

Vice President, Exelon Generation Innovation and Strategy Development.  A 20-year veteran of the energy industry, Michael is responsible for the development of key strategic initiatives for Exelon Generation and the company’s overall innovation strategy, strategic transaction management and venture investing.  Michael is on the board of trustees of Ladew Topiary Gardens, a nonprofit organization whose mission is “to maintain and promote the gardens, house and facilities in keeping with the creative spirit of Harvey S. Ladew for the public benefit and for educational, scientific and cultural pursuits.  Michael received a juris doctor from the Duke University School of Law and a bachelor's degree from the University of Miami.

Starting Bid: $20


Craig Wilson

Vice President, Retail Strategy and Sales Support, Constellation.  Craig is responsible for Constellation’s indirect sales activities across energy solutions and capabilities, mainly power, gas, load response and managing and growing the company’s third party channel partner network of aggregators, brokers and consultants.  Craig received a bachelor’s degree from the University of New Hampshire and an MBA from Suffolk University Sawyer School of Management.

Starting Bid: $20


John Quinn

John Quinn, BGE’s Director of Governmental and External Affairs, has responsibility for ensuring close and mutually beneficially relationships with governmental and community officials across the State. These partnerships are essential to efficiently serve our customers. He leads three groups that implement this outreach, Community Affairs, Local Affairs and State Affairs.

Mr. Quinn would like to offer the opportunity for a relaxed lunch discussion with an interested person or two to talk about how Maryland government operates and how we interface and maintain great relationship with our stakeholders.  Lunch could take place in Annapolis or Baltimore at a time and place to be mutually agreed upon. If you send your home address to him ahead of the lunch, he’ll bring along information about your elected officials and give you tips on getting the most from your elected officials.

 Starting Bid: $20


Paul Ackerman

Current lead compliance counsel for reliability and cyber security matters for Exelon companies (Atlantic City Electric, Baltimore Gas & Electric, Commonwealth Edison, Delmarva Power, Exelon Generation PECO Energy, and Pepco).  Responsible for conducting internal compliance investigations, enforcement defense, regulatory advocacy and counseling, and transactional support.  Other recent work at Exelon has includes providing legal regulatory support to Exelon Generation’s wholesale and retail commercial operations and transactions in U.S and Canadian markets.  Also led Exelon’s non-nuclear generation market compliance activities nationwide. 

Prior to joining Exelon, practiced law at DLA Piper in DC and Maryland with a focus on federal and state energy and environmental regulatory compliance counseling, enforcement defense, and legislative and regulatory advocacy. 

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:   Born in Washington DC and raised in Maryland.  Upon graduation from college was commissioned an officer in the United States Air Force.  Served as a criminal investigator with the Air Force Office of Special Investigations prior to graduating from law school.  

Starting Bid: $20


Sean Boyle


Managing Director, Portfolio Operations

Starting Bid: $20


Frank Henshaw

Managing Director for the Midwest, MidAtlantic, and New York Portfolios

25 years in the industry with experiences in:

  • environmental compliance,
  • production as an onshift supervisor of a combined cycle power plant,
  • startup of environmental and fuel trading desks for Conectiv and Exelon
  • power trading in the MidAtlantic and Midwest portfolio’s

Starting Bid: $20


David Villa

Vice President, Continuous Improvement

Starting Bid: $20



Senior Vice President, Origination, Constellation.  A 22-year veteran of the energy industry focusing primarily on wholesale transactions, Joseph leads the structured power and mid-marketing groups. As senior vice president, he is responsible for coordinating Constellation’s wholesale customer business which includes power load serving, generator hedge contracts, and portfolio restructurings.  Joseph currently serves as a board member of the Notre Dame Preparatory School.  Joseph received a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering from the University of Maryland, College Park and a master's degree in business administration from Loyola University Maryland.

Starting Bid: $30


NVRDC Staff on Inspiration, Self-Care, Motivations, and Why Victims' Rights are Important

We’ve seen a lot of changes over the last year, and some of the most exciting have been welcoming new additions to the NVRDC team! From hearing what inspires them in their work to their thoughts on advocacy for crime victims, get to know some of these awesome people below:


Sara Melgarejo, Assistant Case Manager

What inspires you in your work?

The idea that we walk beside people through this difficult moment after they experience a crime and that at some point they are going to be able to recover and walk by themselves.

Naida Henao, Staff Attorney

What do you wish people knew about NVRDC?

I wish people appreciated the importance of having holistic and comprehensive services for victims. NVRDC acknowledges and appreciates the reality that a victim’s wounds are not one dimensional. Instead of putting the onus on the victim to seek legal and advocacy services separately, NVRDC’s staff works collaboratively to address all of the victim’s needs. I hope that in the future this collaborative and interdisciplinary approach is implemented throughout the judicial system.

Cierra Clark, Case Manager

What led you to want to get involved in victim advocacy and crime victims’ rights?

Growing up, my mother worked in in victim advocacy, and seeing her dedication and persistence instilled a passion in me to work in social justice. During my studies, I began to gain a better understanding of working in the field. I worked previously with homeless populations and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, and now here I am at NVRDC. I love providing support and empowerment to clients we see. Advocating for crime victims and providing them with knowledge about their rights has opened the door for me to serve as a greater advocate in the community while creating change for the better.

Charlotte Keenan, Staff Attorney

What inspires you in your work?

The wonderful people within the advocacy community that I meet and work with every day.

Jess Sturges, Case Manager

What is your favorite thing to do when you’re not at work?

I love to ride my bike around the city. Flying down the hills past all of the funky architecture and row houses is the best! I hail from Georgia originally, so I love just looking at the city pass me by. I also really enjoy hanging out with my awesome housemates and playing with our three adorable kitties!


If you would like to make a donation to NVRDC this season and support the work that Sara, Naida, Cierra, Charlotte, Jess, and all of our staff members do on behalf of crime victims all year long head over to our donation page. If there you are giving in honor of a particular person, be sure to include their name in your “Customer ID” on the second page of the donation process and send them some love! 

No Wrong Door: Collaboration, Access, Justice. The Victim Legal Network of DC

Maria* came to the United States 12 years ago with her husband and daughter. Over the years, the abuse she suffered at the hands of her husband gradually became worse, but it wasn’t until he also started abusing their daughter that Maria knew she had to leave. Like many victims of crime, Maria faced a wide range of legal needs. She had to obtain legal assistance in applying for a Civil Protection Order against her abuser, custody proceedings, immigration assistance, and crime victims’ rights representation for her husband’s criminal prosecution. However, when Maria tried to get help she faced a daunting patchwork of organizations and agencies, each one of which could only assist her with part of what she needed.

Coordinated by NVRDC, the Victim Legal Network of the District of Columbia (VLNDC) seeks to help victims like Maria by bringing together the diverse and experienced legal service organizations in DC to create a network where there will be no wrong door for Maria to obtain all the legal help she needs. Currently, VLNDC has 11 member organizations:

Amara Legal Center

Asian Pacific American Legal Resource Center


Break the Cycle

Central American Resource Center (CARECEN)

DC Volunteer Lawyers Project (DCVLP)

DV Clinic at American University

DV Legal Appeals Program (DVLEAP)

Legal Aid of the District of Columbia

Legal Counsel for the Elderly

Network for Victim Recovery of DC

VLNDC envision a future in which Maria or any other crime victim can come to VLNDC and be connected to a free seamless network of referrals for all of their legal needs. In doing so, we hope to provide a supportive environment in which all victims of all crime types are empowered to move forward on their road to recovery. 

VLNDC would like to thank our volunteer designer Monira Sophan de Cuadra for creating a project logo that illustrates our efforts to open these doors and increase access to legal services for victims of crime in DC.


For more information about the VLNDC project please contact the project coordinator, Jabeen Adawi at

The project is made possible by a grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, Office for Victims of Crime. The National Crime Victims Law Institute (NCVLI) provides technical assistance and support.

This post was produced by NVRDC under grant no. 2014-XV-BX-K010, awarded by the Office for Victims of Crime, Office for Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this product are those of the contributors and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the U.S. Department of Justice.


*Client’s name has been changed for privacy and confidentiality.

NVRDC's 5th Annual Event, Justice: Survivor Defined, Silent Auction Sneak Peek

NVRDC’s 5th Annual Event, Justice: Survivor Defined, is right around the corner! This year’s event is shaping up to be our best yet, and we are looking forward to seeing our partners, supporters, and friends at Hogan Lovells on November 10th.

 As part of this event you will have the opportunity to bid on items as part of this year’s silent auction. Each year the silent auction features vacation getaways, gift certificates to some of the region’s best restaurants, tickets to sports events, and more.

The highlight of our auction is special art created by survivors of crime at NVRDC’s annual Share Your Story event. This year we hosted Share Your Story on Tuesday, October 11th at Pepco Edison Place Gallery, where NVRDC staff, former clients, and community members came together to share their stories through artistic expression. We have a wonderful selection of art like the painting pictured above, and there will be many more on display and available for purchase.  

We’re offering a special sneak peek at some of the other items we’ll have available at this year’s silent auction.

If you are interested in submitting a pre-event bid for any of these items, please contact Kateleigh with the name of the item and the amount you would like to bid. The highest pre-event bid for each item will be the starting bid at the Annual Event. Please note that you are required to be at the event in order to win the item. 


5-Night Getaway at the Creek Side Inn Bed & Breakfast
Nestled in the heart of gold mining country of Challis, Idaho, Creek Side Inn Bed and Breakfast offers all of the charm and history of Victorian living with the comforts of modernity. Your 5-night stay features free breakfast, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, star gazing, a steak dinner, and more!

2-Night Weekend Staycation at Loews Madison Hotel
Spend a weekend away right here in DC and enjoy the luxury of vacation from the convenience of home. Located in downtown DC near some of the city’s best restaurants and museums, you can take advantage of a two-night weekend stay in a Deluxe Room at Loews Madison Hotel with breakfast for two at Rural Society.

Free Reservations and Cover for 10 Guests at Bobby McKey’s Dueling Piano Bar
Come experience what everyone's singing about at a show you'll never forget! Enjoy all-request live music, plenty of laughs, and an unparalleled level of talent at the DC area's one and only Bobby McKey's Dueling Piano Bar. You and nine friends will get a chance to head out for a Friday night at one of National Harbor’s best attractions.

Treat Yourself Gift Pack
Treat yourself with a 2 class pack from Yoga District and bring everything you need in your brand new Kate Spade tote that also comes with this gift pack.

Whisky & Whiskers Gift Pack
Meet your new best friend at Crumbs & Whiskers, DC’s first cat café, and head over to find a new favorite whiskey at Barrel, one of the city’s best bars for a quality cocktail.  


Don't forget to bid on these fabulous items by emailing Kateleigh today!

If you haven't gotten your tickets yet, head over to Eventbrite to order them now.

Some of the other items available at the silent auction will include: 

5 Things for Students to Know for National Campus Safety Awareness Month

Did you know that September is National Campus Safety Awareness Month? Thousands of college and graduate students across the District headed back to school this fall, and while for many this means navigating their class schedule, juggling work and extra curricular commitments, and making new friends, unfortunately some students may also find themselves recovering from sexual assault or harassment.

According to survey data, approximately 1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men are sexually assaulted sometime during college. That’s why it is so important for students to be aware that there are a number of different laws that provide protections for students who experience sexual violence and harassment on campus, such as Title IX and the Clery Act, and where they can go to get help and support in their recovery.

Here are 5 things you should know if you are a student in DC and have been or become the victim of sexual violence or harassment:

  1. MedStar Washington Hospital Center is the only hospital in the District where victims of sexual assault can receive a SANE exam. While there may be hospitals closer to your campus, all victims of sexual assault must go to MedStar unless they are medically unable to do so. After you arrive, a forensic nurse examiner from DCFNE and a professional advocate from NVRDC will meet you at the hospital. Our advocates can stay with you for the entire duration of the exam and during the interview with Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) if you choose to report. We can also provide free transportation to and/or from the hospital for anyone seeking a medical forensic exam. You can call the DC SANE Hotline at 800-641-4028 if you would like to speak with an advocate or nurse if you have any questions or if you would like to receive a SANE exam.
  2. It’s up to each individual school to create their own sexual misconduct and harassment policies, so the formal process for reporting and campus adjudications may look different from school to school. Title IX requires schools to have an established procedure for handling complaints of sexual violence, harassment, or discrimination that is fair for both parties. Your school should have information about their disciplinary policies and the procedures for filing a complaint readily available to all students, as well as information about confidential and non-confidential resources on campus to which you can go if you want their assistance.
  3. Schools also have an obligation to ensure survivors are provided with reasonable accommodation so that they can continue their education after their victimization. Accommodations can include a broad range of things, so don’t be afraid to ask for something that you need. This can mean working with professors to get extensions for assignments if you are having a hard time keeping up with your coursework and taking care of your mental health at the same time. Another example is to get permission for excused absences that don’t count against your grade if you have to attend court appointments related to the assault. Other accommodations can include changing class and work schedules to make sure that you don’t have to see your assailant or receiving on-campus mental health treatment if you want to talk with a licensed clinician.
  4. Investigations by schools and those conducted by law enforcement are not the same, and reporting to one does not mean that you have automatically reported to the other. They are two separate systems with different processes and potential implications. It’s your choice as a survivor whether you want to report to either or both of them, so it may be helpful for you to talk with someone to learn more about what that entails.
  5. If you need help, NVRDC is here. Navigating systems can be difficult, and our professional staff members can guide you through your options and available resources both on and off campus. From preparing for the on-campus disciplinary process or filing for a Civil Protection Order (CPO) in DC Superior Court to understanding how to apply for Crime Victims’ Compensation if you have any emergency expenses that come up related to the crime, our case managers and attorneys can help you every step of the way. You can reach our office Monday – Friday from 9 am – 5 pm by calling 202-742-1727 to schedule an intake and connect with one of our advocates. If you have been sexually assaulted within the last 96 hours and would like to receive a medical forensic exam, please call 800-641-4028 24/7 or go to MedStar Washington Hospital Center’s Emergency Department at 110 Irving Street NW, Washington, DC. 

Pride in the Shadow of Violence: An NVRDC Case Manager's Reflections

This blog post was written by Audrey, one of NVRDC's Case Managers.

Two weeks and more have passed since the Pulse shooting ended the lives of 49 individuals out for Latin night at the Orlando LGBTQ nightclub, and there are those of us still feeling the heaviness of this vast loss of life and chilling act of aggression. Speculation on the shooter’s motive varies, but for those within the lesbian/gay/bisexual/transgender/queer community it requires no leap to recognize it as an act of bias against us -- it is all too familiar, fits all too well in a long history of violence targeting sexual minorities for terror, marginalization and extinction.

When I heard the news, I was en route to do outreach on behalf of NVRDC at DC’s Pride Festival. I thought immediately of the role violence has played in our history and the violent realities so many of us live with every day of the present, how this has shaped and marked our community, how we have never been free of it. And I thought of how meaningful it was to be going to Pride to represent an organization dedicated to survival and recovery from violence---how relevant NVRDC’s work is to my identity and my community. LGBTQ people are accustomed to the feeling of violence hovering just over our shoulders. June, this month dedicated to celebrating our existence, is itself connected to violence, a commemoration of our losses and our survival through generations of abuse and abandonment: Our month of Pride marks the anniversary of riots. Riots against violence perpetrated upon our identities, our visibility, our ability to stand together in public. We know violence well.

On this matter, I choose the word violence instead of crime, because throughout our community history we have often been the ones criminalized. The harm perpetrated upon our community as a whole and sections within the community in particular has not always been recognized as criminal, while we ourselves have been seen as criminal only for existing authentically. This is true both historically, when authorities had the power and the inclination to assault and arrest LGBTQ people who dared to congregate, and it is true to this day, with legislation seen in North Carolina and beyond that criminalizes transgender and gender-non-conforming individuals’ use of public facilities.

In addition to state violence against our community, individual acts of bias-related violence have simultaneously affected LGBTQ people’s lives and freedoms. Pulse was only the latest in acts of mass violence against spaces dedicated to the LGBTQ community. Per FBI statistics and Southern Poverty Law Center estimations, people falling under the LGBTQ umbrella are more likely than any other marginalized group to experience a crime motivated by identity-related bias. These attacks are not spread evenly across the entire LGBTQ population, but rather disproportionately affect certain identities under the umbrella as well as the intersections of LGBTQ identities with other marginalized identities. Transgender women of color, for example, face appalling rates of victimization for assault, sexual assault, and murder.

As if all this were not enough, more than enough, more than much too much, many of us are also targeted by our own, by our partners, by our chosen family. For us, rates of domestic violence, intimate partner violence, and dating violence also outpace the rates seen in exclusively heterosexual relationships. Cut off from family, in relationships already legitimized by or invisible to authorities, lacking positive representations of healthy relationships that look like ours, our resources for escaping abusers are thinner.

So this is what I mean when I say that we as a community exist in the shadow of violence.

Any one of us in the LGBTQ community here today is, by heritage, a survivor. And many of us are or will be or will again be survivors of direct victimization. We mourn this reality. We fight this reality. We must believe in our power to someday change this reality. And we must also, on an individual level, work to heal this reality.

NVRDC directly engages that work towards healing by providing holistic services to survivors. As a community-based resource, NVRDC is positioned to serve the needs of LGBTQ survivors in several ways.

  • We will never pressure someone to report. The choice to engage the criminal legal system is an individual choice, and individuals have valid, compelling reasons not to do so. This does not mean they are ineligible for nor much less that they are undeserving of many services that may aid in their recovery.

  • We maintain a network of providers of and for the community. When survivors come to us from unique populations with specific concerns and needs, we will work to connect them to community providers dedicated to working within their population.

  • We take cultural competency seriously. Retraumatization by providers and authorities is a preventable tragedy. Misunderstandings about a survivor’s life, relationships, and identity must not create barriers to receiving services. We work continuously to augment cultural competency through ongoing staff education, research, and engagement with the communities we serve.

  • Survivors are not alone. When survivors choose to engage authorities, we stand with them when making reports to police, meeting with prosecutors, or appearing in court. Having a community-based advocate or attorney by the survivor’s side throughout the process can improve understanding between them and authorities, allow opportunities for cultural translation, and create an emotional buffer.

  • We believe survivors. Especially when survivors’ stories do not fit neatly within mainstream cultural stereotypes of relationships, crime, or victimhood, they may face skepticism or feel they have a burden of proof before being received for care. That is not our role. We are here to listen to your story with compassion and understanding and to assess how to help.

I have not stopped reflecting daily on our loss in Orlando. I reflect daily on the horrors and crises my LGBTQ siblings experience. I reflect on my community’s open wounds and daunting barriers. And I go to work.

The Right To Be Heard: What the Stanford Survivor’s Letter Means for All Crime Victims

Since it was published on Palto Alto Online and BuzzFeed, Emily Doe’s letter to her assailant, Brock Turner, has been shared and read by hundreds of thousands of people worldwide. Her searing account of the upheaveal of her life since being sexually assaulted has sparked outrage at Turner’s mere 6-month prison sentence and ignited a national conversation about how our criminal legal system handles sexual violence and what we can do to support survivors.

While the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act guarantees any victim of a crime the right to be heard—commonly referred to as a victim impact statement—few “go viral”. Victim impact statements offer crime survivors the chance to describe, in their own words, how their lives have been changed as a result of the crime. Victims who testify during the trial about their experience are limited to responding to specific questions from the prosecution and defense attorneys, which can delve pointedly into the victim’s personal life in ways that are offensive or even triggering. Some victims are never called as witnesses at all. But when victims do have the opportunity to tell their stories the way that impact statements allow, they often report that this process improves their satisfaction with their engagement in the justice system and positively contributes to their overall recovery.

That being said, victim impact statements have their limits. Since these statements are read after a conviction, the vast majority of crime survivors never have the opportunity to tell their stories in court. Many crimes—such as crimes that are unreported, not prosecuted, or prosecuted but the defendant is found not guilty—lack an opportunity like a victim impact statement for the survivor to tell their story. And even when they do—as we have seen in Turner’s case and countless others—final sentencing is still at the discretion of a judge, who can choose whether or not to honor the victim’s wishes.

Victims of all types of crime, from sexual assault to homicide to nonviolent crimes like identity theft and fraud, are legally entitled to be heard through victim impact statements in addition to their many other rights under federal and local laws. But respecting a victim’s dignity and experiences should go beyond what is legally required by law. Crime victims deserve to be heard and acknowledged within a safe and supportive environment, which is what NVRDC seeks to do every day in our work with crime victims in the District. Every day we see the power and resiliency of our clients as we help them in achieving survivor defined justice. And we are committed to continuing this work until everyone in our society treats all crime survivors with the outpouring of support and encouragement that Emily Doe has received.

If you or someone you know has been the victim of any type of crime and would like to learn more about our comprehensive legal and case management services, please contact NVRDC at 202-742-1727. If you or someone you know has experienced a sexual assault and would like to seek a medical forensic exam, please call the DC SANE Hotline at 800-641-4028.

The Impact of my NVRDC Internship

This guest blog post was written by Courtney Knox, who interned with NVRDC from January through May of 2016.

When I first started with the Network for Victim Recovery, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The opportunity to intern with them came suddenly and it all happened rather fast. I was finishing up my last semester of college, working a part time job, and studying for the LSAT. I was so busy trying to keep everything together that finding an internship had started to take a step down on my list of priorities. So when I spoke with the colleague of a close friend and she introduced me to NVRDC and the possibility of an internship with them, I jumped at the chance. After doing some research on the organization I knew it could be a great fit and a great learning opportunity. NVRDC was never in my plans but sometimes that’s how the best experiences happen – unexpected and unplanned for.

During the time I spent with NVRDC I got to help with the Run for Rights Sur5K race they hosted for National Crime Victims Rights Week. I had such a blast getting to work on this project. To see the passion and dedication the staff has to serve crime victims was truly inspiring. Amongst the million other things they had going on, they truly gave everything into making this event a success. NVRDC really made it a priority to come together with the community, other local organizations, and most importantly survivors themselves to really make this event a collaborated effort and ensure that survivors’ voices were heard and represented. I will always take with me the importance of, and the need for, collaboration and the ability to engage with others in the field in order to most effectively serve and advocate for survivors and crime victims’ rights. To help victims and survivors achieve justice is the ultimate goal as well as a huge task; there is no way that one person, or one organization, can do that job alone.

Along with helping the staff work on the 5K race, I also got to shadow a few of the attorneys in court as well as while they handled client intakes. Sitting with a client while she describes the details of her assault, or watching in court as a case gets delayed and the victim continues to get denied justice is not easy. It’s heartbreaking and frustrating and all I wanted to be able to do was fix it. Obviously, I couldn’t snap my fingers and make it all better; but what I could do was observe. Observe the way the attorneys talked to survivors, or handled a glitch in the case (with a lot more grace than I could’ve had), or simply had to sit and listen to horrendous details of someone’s assault. Every interaction I witnessed between them and a client was so genuine and filled with such compassion that I was truly moved and honored to be able to watch it happen.

As someone with a passion to continue in this line of work, I know that my future will be filled with many different interactions with survivors of all types of crime.  I also know that the interactions I got to observe and learn from will influence me greatly in my future endeavors. I hope that I can encompass the same grace, compassion, and dedication that I saw in each and every person here at this organization. 

So thank you, NVRDC for giving me the opportunity to learn, grow and serve alongside you all during these last four months. It was truly an honor.