SafeHouse Center
24/7 HelpLine: 734-995-5444
If you are in immediate danger, call 911.
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Si esta en grave peligro, llame a 911.
SafeHouse Center SPEAKS OUT
Giving a voice to our survivors and advocates.

Outcome of the Independent Investigation

Saturday, January 22nd, 2022

Statement from the SafeHouse Center Board of Directors

To Our Community:

We write, as promised, to update you on the outcome of the independent investigation of SafeHouse Center’s leadership.

Our most important benchmark in examining the operations of SafeHouse Center was, and will always be, how the organization serves its mission of safety, support, advocacy and resources for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence and their children.

Over the past several months, Kathryn Hartrick, a nationally-recognized employment and business law expert, interviewed 37 SafeHouse employees, former employees and survivors served by our organization, over more than 70 hours. On January 17th, our Board reviewed the details of the investigation, including extensive examination and analysis from Ms. Hartrick. When allegations first arose last summer, we began looking into them. Several allegations were unfounded, especially those of racial discrimination. But ultimately, there were issues raised, particularly from inside the organization, worth examining closely. We took them seriously and promptly sought clarity through this independent and thorough outside investigation process.

After discussing the outcomes of the investigation with Barbara Niess-May, she decided to resign as Executive Director and will leave the organization. This has been difficult for us, as several of our Directors have worked with Barbara for many years and all of us will always appreciate her nearly 20 years of service to our community, moving this mission forward in significant ways to help thousands of survivors.

While the concerns expressed by several witnesses touched on retaliation and racism, the investigation failed to substantiate the finding that SafeHouse has a “culture” of racism and retaliation. With that noted, however, simply put, the investigation raised too many questions about human resources, communication and safety. We believe the organization will be best served by a new Executive Director who will be able to make necessary leadership changes to sustain and grow our mission.

We are pleased that Kim Montgomery will continue as Interim Executive Director as we begin our search for a new Executive Director. We appreciate Kim’s dedication to SafeHouse Center during this challenging time.

To protect the privacy of our employees and the survivors we serve, we do not plan to release details of the investigation beyond releasing the attached letter the investigator sent to the Board, providing a high-level summary of the investigation findings.

We hope this process has demonstrated the critical demand for SafeHouse Center’s services and the need to expand and strengthen them. We welcome those we heard from across the community about these issues to become part of the solutions.

Serving survivors must be always be our top priority. We appreciate you sharing our commitment to that mission in the past and into the future.

Board of Directors
SafeHouse Center

    Open the Summary of Hartrick Investigation Findings


SafeHouse Center