Donya Buchanan, director of domestic violence and visitation services at Safer Futures, Portage County's domestic violence shelter, is using her knowledge and advocacy to lead a state agency.
Buchanan has been named to lead the board of directors for the Ohio Domestic Violence Network, a statewide coalition of 75 domestic violence programs across the state.
Mary O'Doherty, executive director of the statewide network, said Buchanan assumed the role this fall, and will serve until September 2023. She credits Buchanan's advocacy for helping secure a $7.5 million increase in funding for domestic violence in the current state budget.
"Donya is a fearless advocate for survivors of domestic violence," O'Doherty said. "She will lead our advocacy with Ohio's elected officials in Washington DC as well as provide guidance on the operational and policy issues our shelters face on a daily basis,"
Buchanan, whose job at Safer Futures involves overseeing programs the women's shelter runs, said she is excited about the new role, which she said will help advocate to combat domestic violence statewide.
Safer Futures, the battered women's shelter operated by Family and Community Services of Portage County, operates a 14-bed shelter for women and children. Buchanan is responsible for the shelter as well as Safe Path, an 11-unit transitional housing program; Place of Peace, the safe exchange and visitation program, and the Legal Advocate program. She has worked at Safer Futures for 10 years, and has been involved in the ODVN since 2015.
Buchanan said the ODVN provides a "strong, statewide voice" for domestic violence programs like Safer Futures.
"I'm looking forward to working with the staff and board to make Ohio a better place for survivors of domestic violence," she said.
Buchanan said she's not sure if domestic violence is becoming an increasing problem because some report increases in their part of the state, while other do not. However, there has been an 150% increase locally, and the increase was being seen even before COVID-19.
"Domestic violence is on the rise in our area," she said.
She said the shelter usually houses about 5 families. In the past, she said, two women without children could share a bedroom, but that's not something that is being done since COVID-19.
The agency tries to provide "wrap around services," providing counseling to both parents and their children.
"We really try to show them that they can have a life free from violence," she said.
Reporter Diane Smith can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article originally appeared on Record-Courier: Safer futures staffer to head Ohio Domestic Violence Network board