YWCA Clark County program director Debra Adams to speak at Belarus domestic violence conference

The director of YWCA Clark County's SafeChoice domestic violence program will speak at a conference in the eastern Europe country of Belarus later this month.

Debra Adams, who has led the SafeChoice program since 2005, will speak at a March 25 session about her experience in combating domestic violence. The U.S. Embassy will pay for her airfare, hotel and interpreter costs.

Adams has been working with the YWCA Clark County for 16 years, starting as a volunteer. She also earned a bachelor's degree and a master's degree with a focus on studying domestic violence, and she is a domestic violence survivor. All the different experiences give her a wide perspective on the issue, Adams said.

She'll be giving a presentation on the workings of the YWCA domestic violence shelter, as well as outreach efforts and cooperation with police and social service agencies.

"I want them to know that we've been doing this work for about 40 years, and that we have some strategies and some interventions," she said. "But it's an even bigger picture than that. We have to involve community engagement and change social and cultural norms."

The conference also fits into Adams' long-term goals. She said she would like to work more with up-and-coming domestic violence programs around the world, and she's pursuing a Ph.D. in leadership and organizational change.

"I think other countries that haven't done a lot of work are ready to benefit from our successes and maybe not make some of the mistakes that we've make in the United States," she said.

She also hopes to learn about YWCA of Belarus' experience fighting human trafficking and about the culture in Belarus, which could help the YWCA Clark County reach out to Eastern European and Russian communities here.

Adams will be blogging during her trip. She leaves on Monday and returns March 28.


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