‘Real change can occur’ | TheUnion.com

‘Real change can occur’

It is an understatement to say Suzanne Miller, the new executive director of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition, is ready, willing and able to make a difference in the lives of crime victims.

“It’s only by embracing – and not turning away from – those difficult aspects of society that real change can occur,” she said, sitting at the desk she has occupied for the last month at the coalition offices on McCourtney Road in Grass Valley.

Miller is no stranger to those “difficult aspects” of society. As part of a master’s course, she extensively studied the effects of torture perpetrated by victims’ families and governments. As a counselor, she has also worked with rape victims, she said.

After getting her doctorate degree in psychoanalysis, she spent 10 years working with the Hospice of Marin working with the dying and their families.

She took a sabbatical doing social work in Hawaii and Mexico, then returned to the mainland United States.

“I felt I was needed here,” Miller said. “There is so much need in the world, sometimes we overlook our own communities. We need to make sure our own communities are safe and free of violence.”

Former coalition director Elise McIver stepped down from the post earlier this year to be a full-time mother, according to the coalition.

Miller – also a published poet working on a novel about a love story – filled the director’s slot after a long interview process and extensive background checking, she said.

Miller is looking forward to working closely with other non-profits and the public safety community, and she plans to meet soon with Nevada County Assistant District Attorney Anna Ferguson and Grass Valley Police Chief John Foster to discuss how they can work together to better serve victims of violence.

“I intend to talk to a lot of public safety groups,” she said. “I’d also love to meet with some of our judges.”

She’s also excited about the expanding opportunities for volunteers to participate in the public relations and education sectors of the coalition, she added.

To contact Staff writer Robyn Moormeister, e-mail rmoormeister@theunion.com or call 477-4236.

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