RADFORD — Pat Brown, executive director of the Women’s Resource Center of the New River Valley since 1986, will step down at the end of year.
“It is now time for me to leave this amazing journey which has been such a big part of my life for such a long time,” Brown wrote in a letter announcing her retirement. “The Women’s Resource Center is an excellent organization with outstanding leadership and staff. The work goes on.”
Established in 1977 “to create a community free of domestic and sexual violence,” WRC serves women, children and men in Radford and the counties of Floyd, Giles, Montgomery and Pulaski and is the largest organization of its kind between Wytheville and Lexington.
When Brown was named director, WRC had a budget of about $80,000 and seven employees who helped about 800 people a year through an emergency shelter and hotline. Under her leadership, it has grown into a $2.5 million operation with 37 employees helping about 3,500 annually.
WRC runs a 26-bed emergency shelter, a seven-unit transitional housing facility, a 24-hour emergency response program for sexual and domestic violence victims, a round-the-clock crisis hotline, a robust counseling program for adults and children recovering from abuse and a number of violence prevention programs. Last month the organization instituted one of the first web-based chat helplines for domestic violence and sexual assault in Virginia. All WRC services are offered free of charge.
“Certainly the Women’s Resource Center will miss her and her steady leadership,” board President Mary Atwell said. “Pat has a very hard-headed side where she watches the money and knows exactly where everything is with the budget. She’s amazing at that, which you have to be to manage an organization like this. But at the same time, she’s amazingly empathetic with people and so committed to the mission of the Women’s Resource Center.”
Brown makes $88,740 a year, according to 2018 tax filings.
Brown, 69, wrote in her statement that when she graduated from college in 1972, the U.S. Senate had passed the Equal Rights Amendment, and she was sure enough states would agree to “provide for the legal equality of the sexes and prohibit discrimination on the basis of sex” to add it to the Bill of Rights.
But they didn’t. Influenced by the growing battered women’s movement of the time, Brown joined the WRC board in 1981 and five years later was hired as its director.
“My belief that women are of equal value to men caused me to be an outspoken advocate for women’s rights,” Brown wrote. “As long as there is inequality, sexual and domestic violence will exist.”
For more than three decades, she has worked to build an organization and develop partnerships that would serve victims of that violence and help prevent it for future generations.
“I will be forever grateful to all of you for having joined me in this journey and for your support over the years,” Brown wrote. “We have changed the world! I wish for you a life of Equality and Justice.”
The board has launched a search for her replacement and is expected to begin reviewing candidates in late July. Atwell said the hope is to have someone in place before Brown leaves in December.
For more information, visit https://www.wrcnrv.org.