Executive Director Sandra Henriquez and Associate Director Ellen Yin-Wycoff kick off the first day of the A.S.C.E.N.D. Acedemy in Pacifica, Calif.


People who work in anti-sexual violence agencies understand that each staff person is a part of a movement. Given that this is a movement to end sexual violence, this means that change is vital to successfully achieve its philosophies and missions.
Right now, I am sitting in Pacifica, Calif., in a room filled with 25 changemakers — future leaders in the movement to end sexual violence. The attendees come from sexual assault agencies across the state of California, and they are in Pacifica for the 5-day A.S.C.E.N.D. Academy (Advocates Strengthened and Cultivated into Empowered New Directors).  Trainees shared who they admire as a leader and answers included current executive directors, mothers and historical figures.
CALCASA’s Executive Director Sandra Henriquez and Associate Director Ellen Yin-Wycoff started the training by talking about their experience in this movement. Each of them have been in the movement since 1985, and one of the big questions that continues to come up is: “How do I go about planning for the next leader? How do I train the next leader to come and take over our positions?” The A.S.C.E.N.D. Academy is fostering the skills for such leaders.
Some of the learning objectives that will be covered during the next week are:

  1. Understand the importance of developing skilled, new, effective leaders in the field today.
  2. Develop a solid understanding of anti-oppression work and how it is utilized in managing programs and staff within the sexual assault field.
  3. Create and manage a new program.
  4. Develop and manage a basic program budget.
  5. Understand the importance of managing program grants and meeting grant objectives and reporting deadlines.
  6. Gain a clearer understanding of one’s leadership style and develop key strategies on how to successfully manage and supervise people.

Currently, trainees are in small groups, and they are discussing the barriers and challenges for leaders in underserved communities. As potential future leaders in this field, this mindfulness can build each trainee’s cultural awareness, equipping her/him with the cognizance to create opportunities for other leaders in underserved communities.