Q&A with Alyson Culin, new executive director of Orange County Rape Crisis Center
UNC graduate Alyson Culin is the new executive director of the Orange County Rape Crisis Center. Staff writer Molly Horak talked with Culin about her work with the center.
The Daily Tar Heel: When did you know you wanted to do this sort of work?
Alyson Culin: When I was at UNC, I was a member of Project Dinah and was really impressed with the work they were doing. I came to the cause both through academic feminism from what I was learning in my coursework, but also through experiences that friends had had that made me very passionate about the cause.
DTH: What have you learned from your experience at the center?
AC: I’m very glad to have learned a great deal of compassion for those who have experienced such a violence and their loved ones. Some of my coworkers who have done excellent service work have taught me how to have that compassion for folks and how to support them in a way that is empowering. And that’s a huge part of what we do — allowing folks to heal in their own way.
DTH: Are there any particular moments that stand out to you during your time at the center?
AC: This past fall we were awarded the Purple Ribbon award for our safety and prevention education programs and that was really exciting. And that’s also where I got my start, so I feel very connected to that part. It’s great to get recognition for the work that we are doing in the community.
DTH: Why is the center important?
AC: There are very few stand-alone rape crisis centers in the country anymore, but as a stand-alone we are able to provide more in-depth services to survivors of sexual assault. I think it’s great that we are serving all of Orange County ... so we can be a great source of support for both the campus and the community. We have excellent relations with other providers and with folks on campus. When people come to us, we help them figure out where they want to go next, whether that’s a community resource or a campus resource.
DTH: What are your goals for the future?
AC: About a year ago, we launched our first-ever capital campaign. It’s a multiyear campaign to help expand some of our programs and services but to also purchase our own office space. We are continuing to do some fundraising in the next couple of years in the hope that we can purchase a larger space to continue to accommodate our growing services and to also have a forever home. April is coming up soon and that’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so we’ll have a lot of campus and community events and projects that we’re really looking forward to.