INDIANAPOLIS — A public safety board in Indianapolis is making strides to make the community safer, and it’s led by an all-female team.
“This is definitely new being in a room dominated by all women,” said Danyette Smith, director of Domestic Violence Prevention.
The Indy Public Safety Foundation is a non-profit dedicated to working with public safety agencies to make the city a safer place.
“Our goal is we’re trying to reduce gun violence and try to improve the safety for the community itself,” said Mary Alexander, director of Indy Peace Fellowship.
It’s made up of directors of the city’s most influential programs addressing gun violence, domestic violence and conflict resolution.
“Together, we’re focusing on all of those things,” said Vanessa Romero, director of The Waters Conflict Resolution Center with Indy Public Safety Foundation.
The team is made up of all women.
“There is a lack of representation of females in this space,” said Chrissy Wuster, chief operating officer of the Indy Public Safety Foundation. “The fact that we get to be in this space and be forefront, and we get to invite other women to the table, is important.”
While focused on making Indianapolis a safer place, they’re also leading the way for women to become voices for the community.
“I’ve worked from the ground up in city services, and I know all of them have experienced these challenges and hardships firsthand,” Romero said. “Having the perspective and being thoughtful and intentional about how we develop a program is so important.”
There are other women involved, too. Nichole Wilson is the current board chair of the Indianapolis Public Safety Foundation, and Melissa Proffitt is the founding board chair. Lauren Rodriquez is the deputy mayor of Public Health & Safety for the City of Indianapolis. The group of women is making an impact.
“As of year-to-date today, the homicides here in Indianapolis is down 15%,” Alexander said. “I’m proud of the fact that when we compare year-to-date stats, it’s obvious we’ve had some kind of impact.”
They’re determined to continue making strides for the future.
“Women might not be the ones who are the main perpetrators of gun violence, but we are behind the scenes trying to put families back together,” Alexander said. “That’s why it’s important women are in this field. We understand what it takes to pull everyone together.”
“Through the program I lead at the Indy Public Safety Foundation, Indy PAL, we impact our community daily through youth and law enforcement engagement, a crucial need in our city,” said Lea Gurnell, director of Indy Police Athletic & Activities League. “Additionally, I am truly blessed to be a part of this women-led team and to bring a positive perspective to the community by leading with compassion and empathy in the public safety space.”
“We can only do this together. We cannot do this alone,” Smith said.