October 28, 2022 written by Erin Ostling Burkholder
Last week I had the opportunity to sit down with Crime Victim Services’ new Executive Director, Amy Wiechart-Bayliff.
Amy Wiechart-Bayliff holds a Master of Arts in Conflict Resolution from Antioch University Midwest (formerly Antioch University McGregor) and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science from Ball State University. Amy worked for the CASA program of Crime Victim Services from 2011-2019 and concluded her time as the Program Manager. While at Crime Victim Services, Amy further coordinated the Victim Offender Dialogue program. Additionally, Amy worked as a contract Mediator, handling custody/visitation cases with the Franklin County Common Pleas Court and then serving Allen County Juvenile and Probate Courts. Prior to returning to Crime Victim Services, Amy worked for Westwood Behavioral Center as the Van Wert County Drug Court Coordinator. Amy is married and loves being a Mom to her 3 beautiful children.
She came prepared with a list of questions to get to know me, my role in the agency, and where I hoped we might grow. Throughout her information gathering, I found her to be kind, engaging, and genuinely interested in my perspective. She asked thoughtful questions and remained both friendly and professional through what ended up being a very interrupted conversation.
And then she graciously answered my questions. Here’s a peak at how that exchange evolved.
What made you decide to take on this role?
It is an honor to take on this role. I have always been proud to say I work at Crime Victim Services. CVS has a tremendous reputation within the community and is a leader in the field of victim services thanks to our former Executive Director, David Voth. I am committed to ensuring the reputation of CVS remains strong, through passionate advocacy, unique programs, and exceptional quality of service.
What has surprised you the most?
I’ve not been particularly surprised by anything since I’ve returned. However, I’ve been reminded how inspiring and knowledgeable our staff are at CVS. Talking with them individually, observing their teamwork and witnessing the compassion and fierce advocacy they give to those they serve is hard to describe. It affirms for me the decision I made to return, and it encourages me to support them in fulfilling our mission.
How would you describe your vision for the agency?
Internally, I want our staff to feel fulfilled by the work they do, even on the hard days. It is important to me that they know their work makes a difference in the lives of others.
In considering our work externally, I’m always hesitant to impose my own prescriptions without understanding first the needs and hopes of those we serve in the community. Thus, I look for my vision to evolve as I learn of areas where our mission may align with identified community needs.
Initially, I am aware that we have populations who deal with additional challenges which can pose barriers to service; we need to understand how to reach these underserved victims in a more appropriate and significant way. Also, I believe our agency may have a role to play in helping to address community-based violence.
Are there any challenges that you are looking forward to tackling in the next few months?
One thing I believe to be critical for the success of our agency long-term is to diversify our funding. As we have seen with cuts to the VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) funds over the last several years, we will need to develop resources from a wide variety of sources, in order to support our programming. I am preparing a funding plan that includes outreach to individual donors, business partnerships and seeking alternative grant sources.
What would you like people to know about you?
I believe my background in the field of conflict resolution provides a beneficial lens to my leadership and our agency’s work. I love training on the topic of managing conflict, particularly as it relates to our work with professional partnerships. Advocacy and collaboration can co-exist; both are necessary for the best outcomes for Clients and for best practice within systems. We are fortunate here to have such a high level of collaboration among partner agencies all working for the betterment of our community; that is not the case in all communities. I look forward to continuing our existing relationships and to forging new as we identify future goals for service.
Our staff look forward to working with Amy as we continue seeking to cultivate communities free from violence and oppression.