A statement from our new Executive Director, Lauren DaSilva
January 1, 2021
Pictured: MCRCC's new Executive Director Lauren DaSilva (left) with Clare Mounteer (right)
MCRCC’s fearless Executive Director of 34 years, Clare Mounteer, leads by the example of her abundant compassion, dependability, understanding, flexibility, skill, and steadfast commitment to survivors of sexual violence; and it is with a heavy heart and much joy for her that MCRCC Staff wish her an absolutely amazing retirement in the new year. For the last seven years, Clare has been my boss, mentor, and thought partner in all things from choosing where to have our annual holiday lunch (canceled in 2020 due to COVID) to drafting grant applications requesting hundreds of thousands of dollars. I have cherished every piece of guidance Clare has shared with me and it saddens me to know that our daily planning chats will wane as she transitions to retirement...however exciting and deserving!
I share Clare’s commitment to survivors, significant others, MCRCC’s staff and volunteers, and our community, because the mission and work of MCRCC is, and has always been, deeply personal to me. Before working at MCRCC, I was a volunteer sexual assault counselor at the rape crisis center in my hometown of Madera, CA. As a volunteer, I answered the helpline and accompanied survivors to Sexual Assault Forensic Exams which gave me a window into the complex systems and situations that survivors of sexual violence must move through. When I was in graduate school at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies (MIIS), I strived to learn all I could about how to lead an organization focused on ending sexual violence and all forms of oppression. An unpaid internship opportunity at MCRCC was advertised on the MIIS jobs website and I have been at MCRCC ever since - though now in a different role.
As Deputy Director of MCRCC, I have provided nearly a thousand crisis intervention, accompaniment, peer counseling, and advocacy services to hundreds of survivors and significant others in Monterey County; trained new staff and volunteers on how to provide these services; written countless grant applications and reports for all MCRCC programs; guided staff on how to advocate for MCRCC clients in civil and family court and in the criminal justice system; facilitated presentations on MCRCC’s services, survivor centered programs, Trauma Stewardship, and many others to students and community partners; and collaborated with MCRCC’s Board of Directors, the Monterey County Domestic Violence Coordinating Council, the Commercially Sexually Exploited Children Multidisciplinary Team, and the Coalition to End Human Trafficking in Santa Cruz and Monterey Counties on awareness-raising community events. Work at MCRCC is dynamic and no day is like the last which makes every day interesting!
As Executive Director, I will continue to make progress towards MCRCC’s vision of a future in which “all individuals in Monterey County will treat each other with respect and feel empowered to make safe, healthy choices towards ending sexual violence.” The realization of this future necessitates a renewed commitment to racial and social justice, transparency and accountability to our community, and learning about better ways to do our work. I believe that how we do our work is just as, if not more, important than the work we do. I come to work (now, Google meet or Zoom meeting!) every day with the intention to be fully present for MCRCC clients, do my best thought work for MCRCC staff and volunteers, increase my technical skills so we can do our work efficiently, and, above all, to be kind. As you might imagine, fulfilling these intentions at a rape crisis center that operates 24 hours a day all year long is, at times, challenging, but I am grateful to start again the next day.
I consider myself exceedingly lucky to be among colleagues who share in my intentions and commitment to MCRCC’s mission. I want to express deep gratitude to MCRCC staff, volunteers, Board of Directors, our community of supporters, and, of course, Clare for their support in this transition, for true collaboration, and for believing in just how important MCRCC’s mission is. Survivors of sexual violence, human trafficking, and child abuse deserve the absolute best from the organizations determined to support them and together MCRCC will continue to learn and grow to ensure we are delivering our best every day.