Changing the culture that leads to domestic violence.

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A Bittersweet Goodbye to Two Life-Changing Years at DVN

By: Kelsey Gurganus, director of research and evaluation, DVN


For over a decade, I have been committed to DVN and the impact the organization has within our Indianapolis community, especially among victims, survivors, and their families. When I tragically lost my dear friend, Heather Norris, to domestic violence in 2007, I felt and saw DVN’s impact as a community member firsthand. DVN was a huge support for Heather’s mom, Debbie, and will always hold a special place in my heart because of that. 


When I joined DVN’s staff nearly two years ago as director of research and evaluation, even though I was passionate about the organization’s mission, I felt like I was stepping out of my comfort zone in a major way. I spent the previous six years in a very different organization and workplace culture. I was also the first person on the DVN staff to have data expertise and a public health research background. I would be doing work I had never done before, but was greatly needed. I knew it would be a big challenge and I was not sure if I was ready. And, to be completely transparent, I simply was in a rough place mentally, emotionally, and physically. I had gone through some tough times in the previous years, including a major chronic back injury, my own personal #metoo story, and struggles with my personal identity and finding acceptance in my current environment. I clearly needed change, and joining DVN seemed like my best chance to find purpose and drive within myself again.


Fast forward to today and I can truly say that DVN has given me new life and the “reset” I so desperately needed. I have been very fortunate to see and experience the tremendous amount of compassion, empathy, resilience, and selflessness my DVN family has each and every single day. Not only do they serve our Central Indiana community openly with grace, perseverance, passion, and love, they also serve one another just the same. Being around special people like this is contagious. The DVN culture has allowed me to grow immensely. I have healed. I have gained clarity. I have learned and done things I never thought I would do. DVN helped me focus on self-care in a way I never had before. DVN helped me explore new skills and achieve new goals so I could grow and challenge myself when I needed it most. DVN helped me start running and competing in marathons again, because a healthy mind leads to a healthy body. But, most importantly, in a world that can be full of heavy norms and expectations, stigmas, microaggressions, ignorance, and oppression, DVN helped me find comfort and acceptance in my own personal identity which will forever be life-changing and life-saving for me. 


Now, as I embark on a new adventure with the NCAA (my dream job as a former collegiate athlete), leaving my DVN family and the work we continue to do is incredibly difficult and bittersweet. I am forever grateful to DVN on a deeply personal level. I know I am going to miss a lot, but I rest confidently that DVN as an organization is going to change our community for the better because of this amazing family. 

  • Kelly will continue to create a culture within DVN that fosters self-care, inclusivity, and a passion to make a difference. She will continue to lead the organization into innovative directions because she makes dreams happen. 
  • Lindsay will absolutely continue to develop the most amazing relationships to not only advance our programming efforts, but also make sure DVN is in a position to help anyone and everyone we possibly can. She will continue to use her brilliant creativity and naturally fun, light-hearted demeanor to be the change-maker she was born to be!
  • Cecily will take our new, improved Community Wide Plan and make it something it has never been before while using her uncanny ability to be engaging, professional, warm, and welcoming. Her drive to ensure respect and inclusion are at the forefront of what we do is really special.
  • Ashley will continue to grow DVN’s training expertise and offerings in such a creative and fun way. She brings a young, fresh look and style to everything she touches. I know she will also continue using data to show the impact DVN is truly making. This makes my heart very happy!
  • Colleen will continue to be the most warm and passionate human being I have ever met. She is incredibly gifted at working with young people, and has an impact on anyone she meets, making her perfect for implementing and improving much of our youth programming efforts.  
  • Joseph will take our new, inclusive curriculum and make absolute waves throughout the Indianapolis schools with his natural ability to engage all ages on difficult, challenging topics. His ability to tell relatable stories is comforting and amazing. (Quick youth program plug – Joseph and Colleen are really the dream team for our youth program so book them in your school now!) 
  • And, last but most certainly not least, Janelle will continue to be the detail-oriented, organizational guru we have always needed. In her short time with DVN, she has already made lots of magic happen behind the scenes. 


I cannot wait to see the incredible work continue from these non-profit unicorns. I will continue to be their biggest cheerleaders – and so should you! 


Thank you Kelly, Lindsay, Cecily, Ashley, Colleen, Joseph, Janelle, DVN board members, and all of our partners from the bottom of my heart for such a fantastic ride! Although this is incredibly bittersweet, I will see y’all later. 


By the way, one last plug as a DVN staff member, if you have not gotten your Night with the Network tickets, get them now! It truly is the best event of the year and you will get to meet all of these amazing unicorns and see them in action!