Dove Center announces new board members, choosing men as ‘part of the solution’

New members of the Dove Center board of directors stand with board of directors president Ruth Weniger, pictured, left to right, Jon Bacon, Bill Bluhm, Ruth Weniger, Ross Johnston and Aaron Edgley, St. George, Utah, June 24, 2019 | Photo courtesy of the Dove Center, St. George News

ST. GEORGE— The Dove Center has announced the addition of four new members, all men, to its board of directors to combat the idea that domestic violence and sexual assault are “women’s issues.” 

Board members are responsible for working closely with Dove Center staff and chairing different committees. Each member brings unique areas of expertise to the center, which works to aid and advocate for survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, as well as educate the public. 

The new board members, Jon Bacon, Bill Bluhm, Aaron Edgley and Ross Johnston, were inaugurated at a board meeting on June 24. 

The new members are replacing outgoing board members Sharon Hoiekvam and Amori Shaw, and joining existing board members Ruth Weniger, Natalie Ashby, Mary Lloyd Barth, Miriah Elliott, Tammie Richeson, Thomas Bayles, Shonie Christensen, Jerry Salkowe and Vicki Reese Wilson.

Johnston will take on the role of treasurer, and Bacon will serve as the marketing and communications committee chair 

The addition of the four men brings an equal number of men and women to the board. 

I believe men serve a unique purpose in helping this cause,” Edgley said in a press release. “I’m happy to be here.”

Men have served on the Dove Center’s board of directors since 1994, and have brought diversity to the leadership of the organization. This diversity helps counter the myth that domestic violence and sexual assault are women-only issues, Communications Manager Leanna Bergeron told St. George News. 

Domestic violence and sexual assault crosses all genders, sexual orientations and demographics. And we all need to work together – women and men – to stand up against abuse and find solutions,” she said.

While it is more common for women to experience sexual assault and domestic violence, many men in the U.S. are affected as well. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence by an intimate partner, and that number is 1 in 4 for men. According to the Dove Center, 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 6 men, have experienced some form of sexual abuse or assault in their lifetime.

Because the Dove center serves anyone who has experienced this type of violence, they value having a variety of voices on their board in order to better help those in need, and plan to continue seeking diverse board members in the future. 

“When men participate in the conversation and in the process of finding solutions, they strengthen the work and help more accurately represent that this is a universal issue, and public perception expands to accept that universality,”  Ruth Weniger, president of Dove’s board of directors, said. 

Not only can they better represent the universality of the issue, but men and women communicate differently. And the center hopes that by involving men in leadership roles, that they can help to communicate in different ways and connect to a broader audience. 

Men and women also experience domestic and sexual violence differently from each other. The male members of the board of directors all have a connection with sexual or domestic violence, whether directly or through friends and family, which allows them to help share different perspectives on the issues. 

One of the primary ways men can affect change by serving on the board is by educating the public on the fact that anyone can be affected by domestic violence and sexual assault, not just women.

“Education can affect cultural change, but that level of change requires the minds of many who can speak to the topic at varying levels, and not just by gender,”  Executive Director Lindsey Boyer said. “This level of change requires a diverse collection of demographics, professional and personal experience, and a willingness to be the solution together. Dove will continually seek to diversify board and staff for this purpose.”

The Dove Center offers an anonymous 24-hour crisis and support helpline to answer questions, provide resources and any other help. To reach the helpline, call 435-628-0458. 

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews | @MikaylaShoup

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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