There are many people in our community working to create positive change to end sexual violence. We want to meet as many of them as possible. If you would like to submit a recommendation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
I like to believe that if you show someone something new, they will share what they learned and that will create a shift in our community. –Portia Gordon, LPC, RPT
1. What is your position at STAR?
PG: I am a counselor at STAR, which means that I spend the majority of my time seeing survivors for individual and group counseling sessions. Over the past 6 months, I have had the unique experience to be a part of STAR’s first expansion into NOLA and to help build the counseling program here. In place of my normal counselor duties, I have spent my time connecting with other providers in the city in order to familiarize them with STAR and the services we can provide to their clients. Recently, I have begun to see survivors again for individual sessions, and I am enjoying every minute of it!
2. How did you come to work at STAR and/or in the field of sexual assault prevention/response?
PG: My journey was long, so I will spare you all the details. In a nutshell, I became involved in the field when I started doing research in graduate school and saw that there was such a lack of resources for dealing with trauma. Not only was there a lack of resources, but the knowledge and education about those resources wasn’t reaching the community members who needed it the most.
I heard about STAR while I was still living in New Orleans, working and finishing up graduate school, and I was thrilled to find an organization that was full of new and innovative ideas on how to respond to sexual trauma. I remember it was Lundi Gras day when our CEO & President Racheal Hebert called me to tell me that I was hired. I was surprised that they were hard at work while all my attention was on the parades and festivities. At that moment, I knew the dedication that STAR has to survivors and the level of commitment that is expected from its employees.
3. What do you find most rewarding about your work at STAR?
PG: The most rewarding part of my job is seeing the transformation in the survivors that I work with. There’s a physical change that happens when someone begins to take steps toward healing, and there are no words to describe how grateful I am to be able to see these changes firsthand.
4. What motivates you to keep going when things get difficult or discouraging?
PG: When I need motivation to keep going, I look to my support system, which includes my closest friends and my immediate family. I am lucky that they understand me and know that sometimes I just need to be uplifted with an encouraging word, story, or even just a joke to help break the tension.
5. What are some simple, day-to-day ways you promote positive change in our community, outside of your work duties?
PG: Outside of work, I promote positive change by always being open and available to help those around me. During the week, I tutor; I try to expose those students to new and exciting topics or ways of thinking that they might otherwise not be exposed too. I like to believe that if you show someone something new, they will share what they learned and that will create a shift in our community.
6. What advice would you give to someone who is hesitant about becoming an active member of the movement to end sexual trauma?
PG: The best advice I would give to someone is to spend some time understanding what their motivation is. The work will be hard, tiring and frustrating, but can also be one of the most rewarding experiences that you can ever have. On the hard days, it’s good to remind yourself of what’s motivating you, and draw strength from those experiences to continue another day.