As we welcome in this new year, I have been thinking about our ancient traditions of finding and holding light in the darkest month. We collectively search for light while our earth is tilted away from the sun, celebrating the inevitable growing of daylight. But in a more personal sort of way, we also search for light when it feels as though our very beings are tilted away from light, hope, and happiness. It is in these moments that the staff and volunteers of the Women’s Resource Center step in. From my co-workers, I hear stories of supporting folks in their search for hope. I hear stories of our staff and volunteers searching the darkness that is the trauma of domestic and sexual violence lifting light up when a survivor is unable, or standing alongside as a survivor bravely picks up the light for themselves. I have been accused of being existential, and I tend to wax philosophical, but at the core of my being I am honored to be in a line of work that searches for and holds up light in our darkest corners.
I grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, the daughter of generations of strong Mennonite women who taught me the value of serving others, of working for peace, and of believing in our larger common good. At Emory & Henry College, I earned a B.A. in Public Policy & Community Service and a M.A. in Community & Organizational Leadership. Since moving in 2011 with my husband to his home here in the New River Valley, I have worked in various capacities at the Women’s Resource Center including Peaceline Educator, Community Engagement Coordinator, and Assistant Director. Over the years, I have been honored to be invited to participate in various volunteer and board appointments, always with an eye toward social justice and especially the rights and safety of women and children.
Since the beginning of the WRC in 1977, sexual and domestic violence victims have come to us in need of safety, respect, and advocacy. In 2020, the needs are the same but the mechanisms we utilize, the systems within which we work, and our human and organizational capital have and will continue to change. My vision of leadership is rooted in embracing this history, not shying from it or being restricted by it. This year, we will embark on a new Strategic Plan and will be asking ourselves: Who are we missing? How can we stretch to better serve the community while maintaining a high quality, healthy, and committed team? These are the foundational questions that guide our vision.
When I think of what the next decade might hold for the Women’s Resource Center, I can’t help but think of the word “pivot.” It is a concept borrowed from the new President of Emory & Henry College, Dr. John Wells, who boldly encouraged the students, faculty, staff, and alumnae to think strategically about how far we could go if we built on our history while reaching for new goals. Similarly, my vision is to continue this good work, expanding it by embracing a pivot. Join us in building from, honoring, and carrying the lessons of our past to a bold and fresh Women’s Resource Center.
We are on precisely the right track for exciting growth; my vision is to lead us onward with the grace and bravery you have come to expect from a leader, to do right by the victims and survivors who depend on us, and to honor the trust and generosity of our communities. Community support is our foundation. For over 40 years, our community has supported our work by sharing time, talents, and other resources. Your continued support and partnership will be critical as we move forward together. Let us embark together on the next chapter of the Women’s Resource Center’s journey, as we continue to search for the light. The darkness of violence will not win here. Not while we collectively find and hold light.
Together toward peace,
Laura Beth Weaver
Laura Beth Weaver
Board of Directors
Lisa Hammett, President
Retired Arts Administrator, Community Volunteer
Holy Litos, President-Elect
Instructional Aide in Special Education
Dana Spraker, Treasurer & Pulaski Rep.
Mabry & Cox Realtors, Associate Broker
Jessica Taylor, Secretary
Assistant Professor of History, Virginia Tech
Mary Atwell, Immediate Past President
Retired Professor, Radford University
Jill Stewart, Fundraising Chair
Retired Professor, Radford University
JoAnne Miner, Strategies Co-Chair
Retired Attorney at Law
Jeanne Mekolichick, Strategies Chair
Associate Provost for Academic Programs, Radford University
James Pritchett, Floyd Rep.
Executive Director, New River Valley Community Services
Leslie Sharp, Giles Rep.
Quality & IT Director, New River Valley Community Services
Susan Anderson, Montgomery Rep.
Virginia Tech Senior Instructor and Blacksburg Town Councilwoman
Tara Frank, Radford Rep.
Assistant Dean of Students, Virginia Tech
Jeff Dodson, At-Large Director
Chief of Police, Radford City Police Department
Bre Franklin, At-Large Director
Owner, funky momma LLC
Angela Joyner, At-Large Director
Special Advisor to the President for Partnerships and Chief Innovation Officer, Radford University
Wendy Lowry, At-Large Director
Vice President of Advancement & University Relations, Radford University
Mary Pettitt, At-Large Director
Commonwealth’s Attorney, Montgomery County
John Gray Williams, At-Large Director
Director of Recruitment, College of Natural Resources and Environment, Virginia Tech
Brent Williams, At-Large Director
District Environmental Health Supervisor, Virginia Department of Health