Willow Domestic Violence Center director has left her role; Jessica Beeson serving as interim director

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Megan Harrison (formerly Stuke) has left her position as director of the Willow Domestic Violence Center, and Jessica Beeson has taken on the role on an interim basis.

“(Beeson) previously held the role of Director of Operations at the Willow so we do not anticipate any disruption in our vital services during this transition period,” Beth O’Neill, vice president of the Willow’s board of directors, said in an emailed statement Thursday.

“The Board of Directors will be meeting next week to determine how we plan to move forward filling the Executive Director position,” O’Neill’s statement continued. “After next week’s Board meeting, we will send you a press release regarding our plans.”

Megan Harrison

Harrison’s last day was Friday, April 14, she said. Neither she nor O’Neill elaborated on the reasons for her departure.

Harrison had worked at the Willow since October 2015, and she stepped into the role of interim director in 2017 after Joan Schultz stepped down from the director position. She was chosen to take on the permanent role in March 2018.

Harrison recently shared with Lawrence city commissioners plans for the Willow to work more closely with the Lawrence Police Department in order to achieve better outcomes for survivors of domestic violence. The Willow planned to apply to Praxis International to become a “Blueprint for Safety” community, she said in September.

Beeson has worked at the Willow since 2018.

In an interview for a January Kansas Reflector article, Beeson, then director of operations, said that domestic violence is “a public health concern, because over 60% of women that are homeless identify being homeless because of a domestic violence situation. So, we know that homelessness for women in particular is caused by domestic violence the majority of the time.”

The Willow recently celebrated its 45th anniversary serving Lawrence.

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Get help in Lawrence

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.
File for an order of protection

In Kansas, victim-survivors of stalking and abuse can file for court orders of protection from abuse or stalking online. Visit kspop.org and follow the instructions on the website. The service is available for any county in Kansas. You can also file for a protection order with traditional paper forms; check this link for more information.

Learn the warning signs

Read about warning signs of domestic violence and emotional abuse and learn how you can help at this link.

Mackenzie Clark (she/her), reporter/founder of The Lawrence Times, can be reached at mclark (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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