Sept. 12—Before she took over as executive director of the Springfield Domestic Violence Shelter, Laura Baxter saw common threads in the stories she heard during her years working in social services: trauma, neglect, violence and abuse.
Baxter said when she took the job at Project Woman in 2012 — she applied after a friend sent her the posting and told her she’d be a “perfect fit” — she was alarmed to learn that the number of domestic violence incidents in the Springfield area was familiar The violence and sexual harassment by partners rivaled those of Ohio’s major cities.
For the past decade Baxter has worked to help women in Clark County, and those who know her say she has helped bring attention to their needs and the issues surrounding domestic violence.
The Springfield News-Sun is highlighting a small portion of the outstanding women leaders in our community this week. The series of profiles started on Sunday.
Many factors contribute to the prevalence of domestic violence, Baxter said, but “champions” are working to bring intentional change to Clark County.
“You can see evidence of change everywhere,” he said. “New developments, new collaborations and brave discussions”.
The shelter, which has served more than 400 people so far this year, is reviving initiatives to continue conversations about domestic violence. This October, the shelter will launch a new campaign as part of Domestic Violence Awareness Month to boost its Partners Against Violence Everyday (PAVE) coalition. The campaign will urge people to take the PAVE pledge, a commitment to peaceful relations and values.
The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated cases of domestic violence nationwide, empowering abusers and creating fewer opportunities for abuse to be discovered due to isolation.
Baxter has many hopes for the city’s future, one of which is the creation of a family justice center that will focus on making sure survivors of violence have the support they need to deal with what happened to them. Project Woman is currently awaiting a decision from the city to help fund renovations to its offices that will position the community to respond to the family justice center model, Baxter said.
Baxter is originally from Toledo and moved back to Ohio after living in North Carolina to be closer to friends as a single mom. She originally started her own bookkeeping and small business taxes and also wrote K-12 curriculum and grants for small nonprofits, opportunities that gave her the ability to work from home and be flexible while raising her children.
She has also worked for community action organizations, family centers and more: she works for her father and is an entrepreneur with several small businesses. as a costume assistant for theater at the University of Toledo. and operations manager of an excavation company, to name a few.
About our series
The Springfield News-Sun highlights how women leaders are making an impact in the city this week. Sunday’s story featured three women, and the paper will feature another woman — Betty Grimes of Springfield and Dr. Jo Alice Blondin of Clark State College — each day through Thursday, Sept. 15.