Vashon’s DOVE Project, the island’s domestic violence agency, is in the midst of transition, as Executive Director Betsey Archambault is stepping down this summer after more than five years leading the nonprofit.
Heidi Jackson, a former board member and assistant director at DOVE, is serving as the acting executive director and will assume the director role after a period of transition with Archambault, who announced her decision earlier this month. Archambault added she wants to set Jackson up for success with the strongest transition possible.
“I invested a lot of myself into DOVE, and I want to make sure Heidi has all the tools she needs to go forward to be a successful leader,” she said.
Looking back on her time with the agency, Archambault recalled her first day, when the former director, Tavi Black, met her in the Thriftway parking lot and handed her a computer bag and a phone. DOVE did not have an office, a mailing address, insurance or a bank account. For the first six months, Archambault did not get paid for the 15 hours a week she had been hired for.
From those humble beginnings, DOVE served 163 individuals with direct services last year, and more than 900 when including DOVE’s teen programs.
DOVE’s range of programs were developed in response to community requests; core programs include an online support group for women, assistance with protection orders and legal advocacy, and access to therapy. Additional programs include the Teen Council, with teens teaching sexual education and healthy relationships at the middle school and serving as peer educators at the high school, self-defense classes and the Vashon SAFE program, which DOVE spearheaded to help keep patrons safe in island restaurants and bars.
Archambault added that while she is proud of DOVE’s programs, she sees DOVE’s success in a different way: “The real success is the people you have supported and those you have impacted in a positive way.”
Currently, DOVE”s annual budget is $440,000, up dramatically from when she began, and now there are six staff people, three of whom are full time.
Jackson joined that staff last December after serving as the treasurer and president of the board. She said having served in both capacities — staff and board member — gives a unique perspective of the agency. While the support for her to become the executive director has been humbling, she said, “It feels like the right next step.”
Jackson has a mixture of private and nonprofit experience, including having served for 16 years as the director of operations for a financial advisory firm in Seattle. She has lived on the island for five years with her family, which includes her husband Ken Jackson and two children.
Archambault said she has no immediate plans for stepping in to another job, and said that after working more than full time, she is ready to spend the summer with her young daughters.
“I am really looking forward to that,” she added.
As she makes this transition, she believes DOVE is in good hands with Jackson.
“She will be a strong leader taking it forward,” she said.