Partnership to honor crisis center director

dyawger@mercedsunstar.comSeptember 10, 2012 

— If it were up to Alison Tudor, there would be no more sexual assaults or domestic violence. She is doing her part to eliminate these problems in Mariposa and is about to be recognized statewide for her efforts.

The 29-year-old program director of Mountain Crisis Services in Mariposa will receive the Prevention Educator of the Year award this week from the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence at the group's annual conference in San Diego.

"It's really an honor to be recognized by your peers and colleagues," Tudor said. "There is a lot of amazing prevention work being done in the state. These are not just women's issues. We need to abolish oppression in systems that promote violence. We need to get rid of racism and sexism."

Mountain Crisis Services offers shelter, transitional housing, legal services and counseling to victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. The center offers a 24-hour crisis hot line and Tudor takes her turn fielding after-hours calls with the other eight people in her office and some volunteers.

Tudor often meets these victims in person, whether it's minutes after an assault or the abuse has been going on for 30 years. She said she doesn't make decisions for her clients; using an empowerment model, these people discover what's best for them.

"It's not their best day," Tudor said. "It's not only physical abuse. There is a lot of emotional and financial abuse. Oftentimes, people just need to talk." They may not have a home, any money or a job.

Tudor's counterpart in Merced, Valley Crisis Center program director Genevieve Bardini, called Tudor one of the most hardworking people she has ever met.

"She's always doing what she can to help out our organization," Bardini said. "She's a very patient, understanding person and it shows she cares about people and making a difference."

Several projects

Bardini said Tudor is very involved in many projects, including rape prevention efforts at UC Merced. Tudor has written a grant to start the same program at Merced College and Bardini thinks it will be funded, particularly with her statewide reputation for excellence.

When one of her clients "comes out on the other side" and the person's newfound happiness shows through, Tudor said that's her absolute reward or motivation to keep going.

Born and raised in Tallahassee, Fla., Tudor graduated from the University of Florida in Gainesville with a bachelor's degree in wildlife ecology. Her love of rock climbing and the proximity of Yosemite led Tudor to move to California and work with youth in environmental education for about five years, including four years with the Yosemite Institute.

When the job of prevention specialist came up 3½ years ago with the Mariposa County Unified School District and Mountain Crisis Services, Tudor applied and she became involved with what became "Project Respect." That school program emphasizes anti-bullying efforts.

"I was looking for something new and different," Tudor said. "I am currently getting my master's degree in public administration from the University of Colorado in Denver, but I probably will stay in this field. I love working where I work."

Tudor stresses prevention at the public school level. Skills in learning about use of language and what bullying and conflict are will keep domestic violence issues from ever beginning and stop violence before it ever starts, she believes.

"Domestic violence is a community issue," Tudor said, "not just a women's issue. Preliminary evaluations have shown the work we have done has made an impact."

Chevon Kothari, executive director of Mountain Crisis Services, said Tudor is a very positive person who brings lots of energy to the position.

Can see 'big picture'

"Alison is extremely dedicated," Kothari said. "She is a hard worker and has the ability to see the big picture. She has a compassionate attitude to people in general and that comes through in her approaches to everything in her work."

Tudor said she has been involved at the state level with the California Partnership to End Domestic Violence and has been working on legislation to prevent teen dating violence.

As part of her rock-climbing hobby, Tudor has scaled El Capitan twice. She enjoys hiking and "anything outdoors." Her on-the-job goals are to grow and improve programs offered by Mountain Crisis Services, as well as sustaining the services it already has.

Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or dyawger@mercedsunstar.com.

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