By CHRIS EVERSOLE
District Attorney Mike Fields has hired a woman with 17 years of experience as the project coordinator for the planned Canadian County Family Justice Center.
The project coordinator is Kristie Chandler, who is the certification program manager in the Victim Services Unit of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.
“Kristie’s passion and experience make her the right person at the right time to lead the project and make the family justice center a reality in the months to come,” Fields said in a news release.
Chandler’s experience includes working with survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, collaborating with other agencies and law enforcement and pursuing ways to improve response to these problems.
Chandler is currently the certification program manager in the victim services unit of the Oklahoma Attorney General’s Office.
Her previous positions include serving as the chief programs officer for the YWCA Oklahoma City.
“We know that domestic violence only rises to the level a community is willing to tolerate,” Chandler said during the interview process.
“A coordinated community response to family violence, trauma and abuse establishes a continuum of care for victims and accountability for offenders in a community.
“The vision to establish a family justice center is innovative and timely, and firmly sends the message that domestic violence will not be tolerated in Canadian County.”
Chandler’s salary will be $60,000. She will start Sept. 16.
The county commissioners budgeted $100,000 to support the position.
A broad group from Canadian County has been working over the past year to create a family justice center – a one-stop center where victims of domestic violence will be able to receive help from multiple providers.
The center would provide a shelter for victims, including children, as well as providing other services, noted County Commissioner David Anderson.
“I take a lot of pride in the things we well, but I also realize that we need to do better on some things, like helping victims of domestic violence,” he said.
Chandler will help the planning group act on a strategic planning report that is based on a vision that stakeholders created during a May planning retreat.
The Alliance for Hope International, an organization that has helped create many family justice centers, conducted the retreat and wrote the report.
The benefits the report cites include reducing the number of abuse incidents and the amount of human trafficking, as well as making the community more aware of the
trauma that victims experience and of the center’s services.
The planning group has formed four work groups to implement the report.
“The broad base of support is really impressive,” Fields said.
“This is our common problem, and we all have a stake in finding solutions to it.”