Christine Ward – Executive Director
I began assisting victims of crime and advocating for victims’ rights over 25 years ago. My career in victim assistance/advocacy started in San Diego where I worked on the crisis hotline as a volunteer at the Center for Women Studies and Services (now Center for Community Solutions). Soon after, I began to provide accompaniment and support to sexual assault victims at evidentiary exams. The volunteer work was so rewarding, I realized that this was what I wanted to do as a profession.
My first job was for WEAVE in Sacramento, CA where I coordinated the volunteer program. I have since worked for centers across the county, developing and managing programs that assist victims of violent crime. I have had the opportunity to present at conferences and other training opportunities across the country on a variety of topics including victim support/assistance, victim advocacy, crime specific topics such as domestic violence, sexual assault, drug facilitated sexual assault, homicide, traumatic memory loss, as well as professional and personal development.
I have created outreach tools to improve awareness, and encourage activism, around issues pertaining to victims of crime, crime prevention and victims’ rights. I was the co-creator, with Jessica Heskin, of the internationally recognized Watch Your Drink – Watch Your Friends drug facilitated sexual assault educational program and have presented on this program across the US and Canada.
I have worked extensively with various law enforcement agencies, across the country, to improve communication with and assistance to victims of crime. I have been honored with awards and recognition for my work assisting victims of crime and in advancing victims’ rights.
I was honored with a special recognition award from the Trenton, New Jersey Police Department for service and dedication to victims of domestic violence and for providing training the Trenton Police Officers. I received the California Governor’s Crime Victim Advocacy Award for dedication to serving victims of violent crime, and I was presented with an award from the California District Attorneys Association for my commitment to assisting victims through the parole hearing process in California. In 2009 I was appointed by the Governor to the state Domestic Violence Program Advisory Council and was re-appointed to the Council in 2015.
As for my education, I started out with a focus on becoming a psychotherapist, however, I soon realized that my passion lies in advocating for victims and survivors. I hold a BA in psychology and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration with an emphasis on non-profit management. I began to work in this field because I am survivor of violent crime and understand the hurt and hardships that accompany surviving violence.
I have been mentored by some of the very best advocates in the field, and I am so grateful for their time and commitment to the field. I feel fortunate that my work is also my passion and am humbled daily by the amazing victims and survivors that I meet and work with; they continue to educate me on what is working and what needs to be improved in our criminal justice system.
Ericka Mendoza – Victim Advocate, Parole Hearing Victim Support Program
I was born and raised in Sacramento, California and I attended California State University, Sacramento as a first-generation college student. I obtained my degree in sociology with an emphasis in crime and deviance. I began my career with I-CAN as a volunteer and joined the agency as a staff member in 2018. Although I am new to the field of assisting victims of crime and advocating for victims’ rights, I believe my compassion and willingness to help others makes me a natural fit. I am a tireless advocate for victims and their families.I enjoy my work with I-CAN and see myself in a life-long role in helping those in need.
Julia Vander Schaaf – Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
Se Habla Español
I was privileged to work with a Marriage Family Therapist and the experience changed my life for the better.As a result, I was determined to give this support to others. I started my own journey attending and graduating from California State University Sacramento and became fully licensed in 2010. I work with children, families and individuals and have expertise in trauma, especially trauma resulting from domestic violence and sexual assault. I am PCIT (Parent Child Interaction Therapy) trainer of trainers and incorporate these skills in my work with families.I speak Spanish and am sensitive to the role culture has on individuals. I blend many modalities in order to best match the needs and goals of each client. I believe we all move toward healing and health and can do so by utilizing our particular strengths. I look forward to meeting and working together with you.
Pat Dewey – Trauma Support Services Coordinator
Se Habla Español
I’ve spent the past 30 years working with survivors of violence and trauma. Prior to working at I-CAN, the emphasis of my work was providing emotional support and advocacy to survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence.I began working at I-CAN in 2011 and my client focus expanded greatly because we serve all victims of violence. The most profound component of this work comes from listening to the clients I serve. Their strength and willingness to address the pain surrounding violence is amazing.It’s their stories and voices that determine what they need from me. I follow an empowerment model because each person’s story of trauma, along with the way the violence has affected them, can differ greatly with each person.It’s always my goal to make each client feel welcomed with an emphasis on safe boundaries. I am aware of the courage it takes to address traumatic events and I work at validating each client’s personal strength.I work with clients on coping skills to assist with the triggers affiliated with trauma. Together we practice breathing techniques, imagery and utilizing our five senses to help with grounding / becoming aware of our surroundings. The majority of survivors I work with are adults, however, I facilitated a Teen Survivor Group for 15 years and it provided me with a deep respect and needed reminder that adolescence can be an extremely challenging and painful time. Survivors, regardless of their age, ethnicity, gender or faith often face societal myths and stereotypes surrounding violence and crime. Survivors are entitled to respectful listening and an absence of judgment.Some of the professional acknowledgements I’ve received are: CAL CASA’s California Counselor of the Year, Sacramento State University’s “Warrior Award” and Award of Recognition from Sacramento Sheriff’s Department for my work at educating officers regarding The Effects of Trauma
Kaitlyn Wood – Community Engagement Manager
I was born in San Marcos, California and moved to Sacramento in 2015 to attend California State University, Sacramento as a first-generation college student. I studied and obtained my bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Deaf Studies. While at school I worked as a Resident Advisor for University Housing Services and my passion for advocating for others only grew. Prior to graduation I started volunteering for I-CAN and I fell in love with the agency and the work that we do. I joined the agency as a staff member after my graduation from California State University, Sacramento in 2019. I have not only enjoyed being able to support and advocate for victims of crime in a variety of situations, but also to help recruit and train our new volunteers as they learn more about the field of victim advocacy. It has been a pleasure working with I-CAN thus far and I am excited to have found a field that I am passionate about and where I am able to constantly continue learning and growing to become a better advocate for those around me.