Arts & Entertainment
Victims of Violence, Equality Michigan's Yvonne Siferd Ready To Help
by Crystal A. Proxmire
Originally printed 1/31/2013 (Issue 2105 - Between The Lines News)
Yvonne Siferd is no stranger to the Equality Michigan office in Detroit. She used to be an intern back when it was still called the Triangle Foundation, and when Melissa Pope ran the victim services department. But now that the energetic young attorney has finished law school and gotten some experience under her belt working with Amnesty International and Wayne State University, she's ready to hit the ground running as the new Director of Victim Services for Equality Michigan.
She started last week, filling the gap left when Nusrat Ventimiglia left the organization last fall to pursue other job opportunities. Sifred is passionate about the law and the success of the organization, stating "Equality Michigan, especially our department, is all about the victims, getting the right resources to them and helping them navigate the system."
While she is still getting situated, she said there are a handful of cases on her plate already. Her internship under Pope in 2009 has given her a head start in understanding how the program works. "I learned a lot about outreach and talked to people who called in. She taught me a lot about how to listen and how to effect change."
The victims services program offers support and resources for individuals who have experienced hate crimes, discrimination, intimate partner violence, or bullying. Siferd joins Victim Services Advocate Sara Spurgeon who often connects one-on-one with victims. Together they plan to continue serving the over 700 people who contact the organization each year.
"People should know we're here for them, and that we're going to work our butts off to make sure everybody is treated with dignity and respect," Sifred said.
"Yvonne is someone with a plethora of skills, experiences, and ideas which we are confident will make a positive impact on Equality Michigan's anti-violence efforts. The work of our director of victim services is a tireless and often thankless position within the organization that plays a major role in a pivotal part of our work. We are fortunate to have someone as talented and qualified leading our efforts to serve victims of anti-LGBT bigotry in Michigan," said Emily Dievendorf, Equality Michigan's director of policy.
Equality Michigan announced Siferd's hiring after conducting a nation-wide search. Siferd is a native of Ohio who moved to Michigan in 2003 to study civil rights and sexuality related law.
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