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Chrissy Heikkila to leave Care Center in November; board has begun search for new leader

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Just weeks after the Sexual Trauma and Abuse Care Center celebrated 50 years serving Lawrence, its executive director has announced she is leaving for a new position.

Chrissy Heikkila, who has served at the Care Center for 13 years, will leave her role effective Nov. 18 and join Heartland Community Health Center as its grants director.

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“I am grateful to have been able to support this work at such a critical period of time in understanding and addressing sexual violence,” Heikkila said in a news release Monday. “It has been an honor of a lifetime to walk with survivors, and their experiences have humbled me, kept me going, and given me more hope and recovery in this work than I could have imagined.

“Sexual violence is devastating but healing is possible, and The Care Center proves that every day,” she continued. “I am honored to have shared this journey with so many passionate staff, board members, volunteers, and clients along the way. I am so excited for the agency’s next chapter.”

The Care Center is anticipating serving 1,000 clients this year, and plans to move its Lawrence office to 330 Maine St. by the beginning of the new year. 

Aletra Johnson, president of the Care Center’s board of directors, said that Heikkila’s dedication to this challenging work “leaves a legacy in our community that will not be forgotten.”

“We are very thankful for her thoughtfulness, integrity, professionalism, her admirable grit, and determination over the years,” Johnson said in the release. “Chrissy’s blueprint for successful direction will offer the next Executive Director of The Care Center a good platform to take the center to the next level of service for Douglas, Franklin, and Jefferson counties.”

Heikkila started at the Care Center as an outreach coordinator. She held several roles before accepting the executive director position in 2013. The center’s board of directors has begun conducting a search for a new leader.

“(D)uring this transition period it is a priority to find the best individual to lead, while still maintaining a stable and effective organization,” the release stated.

Chloe Anderson/Lawrence Times Chrissy Heikkila, at the mic, recognizes Aletra Johnson as the Care Center’s Outstanding Volunteer during the center’s 50th anniversary celebration on Sept. 15, 2022.

Resources for survivors

If you have experienced sexual violence or trauma, please seek the help that’s right for you. There are many options available, and you don’t have to file a police report if you don’t want to.

Get 24/7 help in Lawrence: The Sexual Trauma & Abuse Care Center
  • Call 785-843-8985 to reach an advocate, 24/7. (Consider saving that number in your phone in case you or someone you know ever needs it.)
  • After an assault: What are my options? Check this page for detailed information about
    • talking to an advocate,
    • going to the hospital,
    • making a police report,
    • and/or talking to a counselor or therapist.
  • On campus? Check this page for specific resources for the University of Kansas, Haskell Indian Nations University, Baker University, Ottawa University and more.
Resources on KU’s campus:
  • Contact the CARE (Campus Assistance, Resource, and Education) Coordinator: Make an appointment by email, care@ku.edu, or by calling 785-864-9255.
  • Direct message KU CARE Sisters on Instagram. You don’t need to be affiliated with Greek Life to reach out and/or receive assistance.
  • Find more KU campus resources at this link.
Domestic violence situations: The Willow Domestic Violence Center
  • Reach the Willow for help 24/7 at 785-843-3333.
  • Find more resources on the Willow’s website at this link.
  • National hotline: Call 1-800-799-SAFE (7233), text “START” to 88788, and/or visit thehotline.org to chat and learn more, 24/7.

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