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Monroe College Hosts “DiVA Talk 2019" Town Hall on Domestic Violence

October 03, 2019

Monroe College, a national leader in educating urban and international students, last night hosted “DiVA Talk 2019,” a town hall meeting that brought together domestic violence experts, survivor support advocates, survivors, and the local community for a frank discussion on how to identify and help those who may be in an abusive or unhealthy relationship.

Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., joined Guylaine Harrison, Esq., dean of Monroe’s School of Criminal Justice, in welcoming guests to the event held on the Bronx campus. They were joined by an impressive panel of education, law enforcement, and health and human services professionals on the front lines of this national crisis.

The panelists were:

  • Melissa Cebollero: Senior Director, Office of Government & Community Relations, Montefiore Health System, The University Hospital for Albert Einstein College of Medicine
  • Maureen Curtis, LMSW, MPH: Vice-President, Criminal Justice Programs at the national victim advocacy organization Safe Horizon
  • Steven Ippolito, PhD: Professor with the School of Criminal Justice and King Graduate School at Monroe College
  • Anne Paulle, MS: Adjunct Professor with the School of Criminal Justice at Monroe College and a domestic violence support advocate and consultant
  • Josefa Romero: Supervising Social Worker for the Bronx Supervised Visitation Program
  • Liz Spurrell-Huss, MSW, MPH: Public Health Social Worker with the Office of Community and Population Health (OCPH) at Montefiore Health System

 The town hall meeting coincided with the start of Domestic Violence Awareness Month, which first began in October 1981 as a "Day of Unity” to rally domestic violence survivor advocates to partner together.

In addition to the panel discussion, an information table was available last night for those interested in learning more about local organizations and public resources for those in need. Representatives from a number of community providers were on hand to answer questions and provide assistance.

Yesterday’s “DiVA Talk 2019” was the latest in a series of workshops and community talks designed to break the silence on domestic violence issues and help those affected know where to turn for confidential, trusted counsel, assistance, and resources.

Launched more than 15 years ago, the DiVA initiative was first convened as a series of domestic violence awareness and intervention projects by Melissa Cebollero, the Health and Human Services Director in the Bronx Borough President’s Office under Adolfo Carrion; the program continues to be maintained by Ruben Diaz, Jr., the current Bronx Borough President. Anne Paulle, one of today’s panelists, was among the first survivor support advocates to join with her. Ms. Paulle was the Director of the Bronx Domestic Violence Programs at the Jewish Board of Family and Children’s Services at the time.

The DiVA name -- which reflects the initiative’s focus on Domestic Violence Awareness -- is given to a number of programs to help individuals in crisis and their families. DiVA programs range from immediate crisis intervention assistance to longer-term counseling and support. DiVA services have included inclusive spa/outreach, theatrical performances and telephone hotline services for the Bronx community.

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