Rob Murphy joins Advocates as new executive director
Rob Murphy is no stranger to social work. A former assistant director with the Family and Intercultural Resource Center (FIRC), Murphy recently stepped up to serve as executive director for Advocates for Victims of Assault. He had worked alongside Amy Jackson, former executive director of Advocates, for several years before accepting the position.
“I was very familiar with a lot of what advocates does in the community,” Murphy said. “Having worked a lot with victims myself, I’ve always had a lot of respect for Amy and the organization.”
Following 12 years of service for Advocates, Jackson moved to Denver earlier this year to work at the Joshua Station, a transitional housing nonprofit. During her time as executive director, she helped open a transitional housing unit in Summit County and was awarded the Deana Griswould award for Outstanding Victim Advocates in 2013.
“It’s hard to put into words everything she’s done,” said Brooke Turner, Latina Outreach Coordinator with Advocates for Victims of Assault. “I know she has clients she has worked with in the past (whom) she still keeps in touch with. She has affected a lot of people in a really good way.”
Murphy added that Jackson’s assistance and the foundation created by her work made for a smooth transition in leadership. Both have a similar background in education — with their master’s degree in social work — and take a client-centered approach to each situation.
“I think Amy cares deeply about what happens to the people who come through this organization,” Murphy said. “I do, too. At the same time, we both are very aware of the importance of the big picture in terms of community relationships, partnerships, and making sure sufficient funding is in place.”
Originally from St. Louis, Murphy moved up to Summit County to work with the FIRC in 2007. He had previously spent time in Denver helping Hurricane Katrina victims who had been relocated to the city.
With the FIRC, Murphy had several opportunities to provide long-term support to victims of domestic violence, including food, housing and parenting services.
“I think Rob understands better than most the experiences of Summit County families. He’s incredibly thoughtful and respectful,” said FIRC Executive Director Tamara Drangstveit. “I think really at his core, he’s most passionate about making sure families and children have what they need to be successful … It’s those basic needs everybody has and making sure everybody has a chance to be successful in life.”
The work is not easy but can be rewarding. Murphy said for him, the key was to be empathetic, while also setting boundaries and practicing self-care to avoid secondary trauma.
“This is a small community, for better or for worse,” he said. “The people (whom) you work with, (whom) you will encounter frequently, (whom) you will get to know — it is nice to see people who have been through difficult circumstances and have not only survived but become stronger as a result.”
In the future, Murphy hopes to further strengthen the bond between Advocates, the FIRC, the Summit County Housing Authority and other local nonprofits by creating avenues to ensure the long-term success of victims in crisis.
“We’re looking at ways to take steps forward in a community-wide effort to make sure victims are adequately supported, not just in crisis but in the aftermath,” Murphy said.
He noted that economic empowerment was crucial to victims in moving forward and being able to support themselves and their families.
“We’re finding ways to equip victims with the tools to support themselves. It’s a big part of the healing process, I think, but it’s also a big part of preventing future violence,” he added.
While Advocates has always provided education against domestic violence and sexual assault, Murphy would like to further include men in these conversations. Not only are men the primary perpetrators of domestic violence, but male victims are also less likely to seek help than female victims. In fostering these dialogues, he hopes not only to reduce assault, but also to provide more assistance to victims that might have remained silent.
He also encouraged third parties to contact advocates if they think they’ve witnessed an instance of assault.
“It’s really critical that people take those steps if they’re not sure what to do,” he said. “They’re not afraid to say these types of violence are not acceptable and raise the bar in our community.”
Murphy noted that the organization is always looking for volunteer advocates, who can respond in emergency situations. He added that another easy way to contribute is through Advocates’ Safe Nights campaign, where donations help cover the cost of housing someone in a safe house.
“Volunteer advocates who respond when there’s an emergency related to domestic violence or sex assault are absolutely vital to the organization,” Murphy said. “With the level of commitment people have in this organization, to the cause and to this idea of providing support for victims of violence and providing education and outreach to prevent violence from happening in the first place, it’s a very passionate group of people.”
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