Message from the Executive Director

Donna Garske, Executive Director, Center for Domestic Peace

What a Difference a Name Makes

During the historic recession in 2009, when the economy was in turmoil, Marin Abused Women’s Services (MAWS) had been on a path for several years around a possible name change. Many friends said, “Don’t do it.  Now is not the time.  Life is too uncertain.”

Despite these uncertain times, we stayed true to the strategic plans and direction of the expanding organization and moved forward. On October 1, 2010, our corporate name changed from Marin Abused Women’s Services to Center for Domestic Peace (C4DP).  And as a result, we’ve made great strides in altering our community’s understanding of who we are.

Since its founding in 1977, MAWS had grown to be a “big tent” organization addressing domestic violence from a full continuum of intervention services to far-reaching prevention strategies for women, children, and men. The organization’s name, however, was a challenge.  MAWS conveyed neither the “big tent” approach of the organization nor our considerable geographic reach through our expansive national training work.

The name change to Center for Domestic Peace has produced numerous positive gains.  Just recently, we added a tagline “Working Together to End Domestic Violence” to further clarify our broad vision of domestic peace.  Comments are frequently made about how great it is to have a name that is so inspirational and inclusive.   At the same time, it is common to hear members of the community still refer to us as MAWS.  Sometimes this is out of habit, and other times it is because MAWS described a problem, abuse of women, that many still believe needs to be named.

Managing the tension points between the names has been a creative process.  We honor, respect, and hold sacred the long history of work performed by MAWS. 

And the new name has facilitated opportunities within our community.  If I could put my finger on the most significant change, I would point to the extent to which more people now see us as “center” to solving the problem of domestic violence.  We have long been the go-to resource in Marin for direct services and intervention.  That aspect of our organizational work has been well understood.

Centering the organization toward the goal of domestic peace has deepened the dialogue with individuals, collaborators, donors, and community members.   It has enriched our work with young people, teens, young adults, and most recently children.  It has also created the space for more people to say, “Wow, I want that for myself.”

What is it that so many of us want?  Whether directly impacted by domestic violence or not, many of us desire to have safety, respect, understanding, support, and equality, not only in intimate relationships, but in all relationships – with children, friends, family members. 

Speaking to this desire presents an opportunity for us at C4DP to not only have a “big-tent” approach to what we do, but actually fill the tent increasingly with people who understand the intersections between domestic violence and the “power over” paradigm of coercion, intimidation, and violence that is impacting our world on multiple levels. 

To that end, as we move forward, we are forever committed to engaging with more and more people who feel passionate about our cause, and who can help us do more good with passion! 

-- Donna Garske, Executive Director