Willow Domestic Violence Center director to step down this month

Joan Schultz joined the Willow Domestic Violence Center in 2011 with a plan to expand services while keeping the organization financially stable.

After six years, Schultz said she accomplished her mission.

“The plan was not exactly time-based, it was more like a feeling,” Schultz said, “knowing when the center had reached a level of self-sustainability.”

Schultz, executive director, will step down from her position at the Willow Center on Oct. 13.

Joan Schultz, Willow Domestic Violence Center Executive Director.

Will Averill, director of community engagement, credited Schultz with establishing the structure and financial growth necessary to provide these services.

Under Schultz’s leadership as the executive director, Willow has increased staff from 15 to 26 people and expanded services to include domestic violence and human trafficking victims regardless of gender, and created community presentations and training sessions on breaking the cycle of domestic violence, Averill said.

“We want people to know about our services and one of the things she brought in was an organizational structure that would let people know what we do and why we’re doing it,” Averill said.

Megan Stuke, director of development, will serve as the interim executive director while the Willow board conducts a selection process for Schultz’s replacement. Averill said the process could take up to six months.

Schultz said she trusts that the organization has been left in good hands.

“I am proud of how the Willow is poised for its next journey,” Schultz said. “The agency is stable and constantly reassessing itself. This could not have happened without the foundation built for us by the people that have gone before us for 42 years.

“Without the staff, volunteers, and board members past and present we would not be where we are today and I thank and honor them all.”

Schultz has worked for the Kansas Children’s Service League, the Social and Rehabilitation Services before it became the Department for Children and Families and worked 20 years in the private sector while living in Texas. Schultz plans to take a short break but will become the director of business for Family Peace Initiative in Topeka, where she lives.

Willow will hold an open reception in honor of Schultz at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Maceli’s, 1031 New Hampshire St.