Jessica C. Brayden, Chief Executive Officer
Selected by the Board of Directors in early 2008, Jessica Brayden brings over 20 years of not-for-profit management experience to New England’s first domestic violence agency. Serving as the Executive Director, Ms. Brayden oversees all aspects of programs and management ensuring efficiency, fiscal and service accountability, and the organization’s innovative growth. Ms. Brayden’s career has focused on program development and stabilization and she has distinguished herself through creative change management and strategic programmatic growth. Ms. Brayden has been an advocate for healthy communities, not only by providing safety to all those experiencing domestic violence, but also addressing the many social dynamics that contribute to domestic violence. Ms. Brayden is active in the local community, serving on several boards including the Somerville Chamber of Commerce and Riverside Community Care. She has received numerous awards for her leadership, including the coveted Fox 25 Hometown Hero Award. Ms. Brayden is a sought-after domestic violence expert, often asked for her commentary on related issues from the local print and broadcast media such as WBUR, WCVB, WFXT, The Boston Globe, Somerville Journal and periodicals such as Working Mother Magazine. Ms. Brayden holds a B.S. in Criminal Justice from Salem State College and a Master of Business Administration from Endicott College.
Darcie DeLuca, Director of Finance and Administration
Ms. DeLuca is responsible for overseeing RESPOND’s finance, human resources and information technology functions. She brings over 15 years of financial experience in both for profit and nonprofit industries. Ms. DeLuca has expertise in financial control and reporting, audit, budget creation/monitoring and deposit and loan operations. Her experience includes risk management, budgeting and asset/liability management. Ms. DeLuca holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from Suffolk University and a Master of Business Administration from Endicott College.
Maria Crooker, Director of Programs & Operations
Maria is RESPOND’s Director of Programs & Operations. In this role, Maria provides support and assistance to all agency Program staff and to survivors seeking or utilizing RESPOND’s services. She brings over 10 years of experience working in the nonprofit industry, specializing in the field of domestic violence. Supporting survivors of all violence is a strong passion of Maria’s and what drives her to make a difference in the work that we do every day. Maria has experience in residential management, crisis intervention, and developing programs to meet the needs of survivors in a safe and empowering way. Maria’s has experience presenting in many different outlets about the effects of domestic violence on not only adults, but in children and teenagers. She was part of the development and launch of one of the first Domestic Violence High Risk Teams in Middlesex County and has worked alongside members of many law enforcement agencies for years to bridge the gaps between service provides and law enforcement. Constantly striving to provide trauma informed services while eliminating barriers for clients is important to her and something that Maria empowers those working around her to do. Maria holds a Bachelor of Science in Business from UMass Lowell and a Master of Science in Business and Nonprofit Management from Lasell College.
Kristina Best-Ramos, Residential Services Coordinator
Kristina Best-Ramos serves as RESPOND’s Residential Services Coordinator. Kristina is responsible for the day-to-day operations of RESPOND’s confidential domestic violence shelter and housing programs. Kristina has several years experience in the nonprofit sector with expertise providing residential services in the local community. Using her clinical background, Kristina believes in taking a trauma-informed focus, as well as a strength-based approach. She has experience in providing clinical work such as individual counseling, as well as co-facilitating group therapy. Creating a safe-space for all individuals entering RESPOND’s shelter is something that Kristina strives for on a daily basis. Kristina holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Boston and a Master in Social Work from Boston University.
Victoria Helberg, Law Enforcement Partnership Coordinator
Victoria Helberg has been providing services to survivors of domestic violence for the past 10 years. She is a passionate and dedicated support to our clients and our staff. During her tenure at RESPOND she has worked with survivors from all over the world and helped them find success. Ms. Helberg is certified to conduct and score high risk assessments. She has provided numerous trainings in the community on domestic violence, high risk assessment and safety planning. Ms. Helberg has years of experience working alongside law-enforcement and district courts. Prior to beginning her work at RESPOND, Ms. Helberg worked in child care administration. She has worked with at-risk families for the past 25+ years. During this time she has established working relationships with many community partners. These relationships are life-saving when working with the high risk survivors, allowing her to make quick and smooth connections to the needed services. Ms. Helberg has dedicated her career to addressing short-term and long-term safety needs of survivors of domestic violence.
Eliza Hopkins, Community Intervention & Education Coordinator
Eliza Hopkins coordinates the many community-based services that RESPOND offers, ranging from counseling sessions to school workshops to volunteer trainings. Having started at RESPOND as a Domestic Violence Counselor based at the emergency shelter, she has worked with survivors in all stages of their journey to healing. Drawing on a background in gender studies and youth education, Ms. Hopkins brings 5+ years of experience working with diverse communities, analyzing cultural views on sex and intimate relationships, and building curricula to connect with youth. As a coordinator and counselor, she values the empowerment model of service, centering survivors in their own stories and placing control back in their hands. She believes that strong connections, and being able to share your story freely and safely, are some of the most powerful antidotes to violence and abuse. Ms. Hopkins holds a BA in Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies from Yale University.
Jennifer Wolter, Community Corrections Response Coordinator
Ms. Wolter oversees the development of our work with Sheriffs’ Departments and the Department of Correction, including the inaugural Survivors of Abuse Feeling Empowered for Re-entry (S.A.F.E.R.) program at the Suffolk County House of Correction. She has over 15 years experience in education, both as a teacher and school administrator. While in these positions, she worked closely with young adults who had experienced trauma, and she worked with the youth to build leadership, health and wellness programming and support to the youth in building community. This passion led her to RESPOND Inc where she enjoys helping empower others to follow their passions and live happy, healthy lives. She now works to expand our reach and build stronger, trauma-informed, gender-specific support for both men and women in custody. Jennifer recognizes the complex relationship between victimization and criminalization. She works hard to provide maximum support for inmates and detainees who have experienced abuse and to set them up with skills and resources for success after their release from custody. She has a BS in Natural Resources from Cornell University and is a Certified Teacher in Massachusetts. She is excited to continue to share her compassion for others through counseling and program development at RESPOND.
Kate Deming, Development & Engagement Coordinator
Ms. Deming is responsible for coordination of development and communications, including fundraising, events, and media. She also manages engagement efforts through targeted messaging and volunteer coordination. She has 7+ years of experience in the nonprofit sector in the Greater Boston area and has a passion for serving her local community and working with organizations serving diverse populations and providing critical services. She loves being a part of the Somerville community, volunteering at Enroot Somerville with recent immigrant high school students and serving on the board of the Somerville Media Center. She holds a BA in International and Area Studies from Washington University in St Louis.