40 Stories - Katha Blackwell
Vice President of Shelter Service and Supportive Housing
Published author, Katha Blackwell joined Partnership Against Domestic Violence in October of 2015 as the Vice President of Shelter Services and Supportive Housing. When she arrived in Georgia from Illinois and began researching domestic violence organizations, Katha was drawn to the PADV name. Katha believes the only way we can end domestic violence is by creating a partnership between the community and other agencies to create a solid front against domestic violence. Katha is thrilled to be a leader in this partnership.
Combatting domestic violence is close to Katha’s heart because she grew up in a home where domestic violence was present during her entire childhood. Seeing the violence from a young age convinced Katha that she must get involved. Initially, her focus was on becoming an attorney to prosecute abusers and put them in jail, but as she grew in the field, she realized her passion was to build shelters and save women’s lives.
Katha knows first-hand the trauma and pain of growing up in a home where violence is present. She could never invite friends over to play, felt the sadness and shame of going to school with bruises and learned to protect herself by putting up walls and trusting no one. Yet Katha was determined not to repeat this cycle. Early on she realized that her home wasn’t a model of healthy relationships. It was her friends’ families and TV programs, like the “Cosby Show” and the “Brady Bunch” that helped mold her views on healthy relationships. She is grateful for a loving Sunday school teacher that stood by her and helped guide her through these tough times. Katha’s strength, courage and intelligence led her to persevere, unwilling to accept that her family’s experience would be her future.
Katha often sees her young self in the children that PADV serves. This drives her. Every day she walks into work knowing that she has a unique and priceless opportunity to not just change one life, but the lives of this and future generations. She wants everyone that calls our crisis line, visits our shelter, seeks legal help or lives in our transitional housing to know and feel that we are their extended family and this is a safe place for them to call home. Katha knows that our committed and hardworking staff does everything possible to make this a reality.
Because of all she has seen in her personal and professional life we asked Katha, “What advice would you give to someone currently living in a domestic violence situation?” “Always put yourself as the priority,” says Katha. “Without that, you can’t honestly measure how safe you are and how sustainable your life is. Put yourself first; your safety and your health. And no matter what, PADV will always be here for you.”