In a ceremony held at the Survivor Empowerment Center's (formerly the Women's Center) Tribute Garden, Board Chair Gloria Tison announced the retirement of Executive Director Cathy McClanahan, who is leaving at the end of this month after 50 years of service to the center.
McClanahan was presented with a brick in her honor to be installed in the garden, a certificate of appreciation, and other gifts from the board. She states:
"It has been over 30 years since I started my Journey with The Women's Center, Inc. I started as the administrative assistant in the basement of our shelter on 408 West Freeman. At that time, I never imagined I would be celebrating over 30 years at the center and 14 years as the executive director. I have met and worked with some of the most amazing women and men during my tenure.
"I have experienced the outpouring of support from our community. Without their help, we would not have been here for 50 years. During my tenure we have helped tens of thousands of women and children who have come through our doors scared, hurt and seeking safety.
"We have had many successes within our last 50 years including a new building, the addition of two satellite offices, an increased budget, an increased staff and many more. I feel good about leaving the center in a good place and I am happy to have Jennifer Gulley as the new executive director."
McClanahan in turn introduced Gulley, who has most recently served as the rape crisis services medical and legal advocate at the Marion office of the center.
"I would like to thank our devoted board and Cathy McClanahan, who dedicate a great deal of time and expertise to our organization for placing such confidence in my ability," Gulley said.
"Our mission to end domestic and sexual violence while providing necessary services for survivors of such crime has been vital in maintaining the safety and betterment of Southern Illinois for nearly 50 years. I look forward to creating a powerful positive impact within our region and furthering community relationships."
The Center plans to celebrate its 50th anniversary of service to the community in November with an open house and other events.