About Us

Our Vision

New Directions envisions a community of empowered individuals engaging in safe, respectful and healthy relationships.

Our Mission

New Directions provides resources for the safety, healing and freedom of individuals who have experienced domestic violence or sexual assault and offers preventive education to create an informed and supportive community.

As a small non-profit, we rely on the
generosity of individuals and organizations.

Meet Our Staff

Our staff consists of ten dedicated individuals with a combined experience of over 80 years in the abuse intervention and prevention field. Our staff seeks to provide the best possible support and assistance to the women, men, and children of Knox County.


Executive Director

After nearly 15 years as an attorney for the Ohio Attorney General’s Office and the United States Department of Justice, Matt joined New Directions as the Executive Director in August 2014. With the Attorney General’s Crime Victim Services Section, he worked on issues including domestic violence, sexual assault, victim notification, child and elder abuse, and human trafficking. As Executive Director, his areas of focus include promoting bystander intervention, improving the shelter’s social media presence, and strengthening partnerships with Knox County leaders and organizations.


Advocate and Prevention Educator

Laurie has served as the Advocate and Prevention Educator at New Directions for over five years. As an advocate, she provides support to survivors and helps them determine their goals for safety and well-being by affirming and building on the strengths they have as individuals and parents. Educating  the public about the prevention of child sexual abuse, sexual harassment, intimate partner violence, and sexual assault, Laurie promotes healthy, equitable relationships in discussions and activities with students and community members. Her education efforts are designed to teach characteristics of healthy versus abusive relationships, assertiveness skills, effective bystander behavior, and critical thinking about media and dominant culture.


Court Advocate

As an employee of New Directions for over 20 years, Sheryl contributes valuable experience to the staff. In her role as Court Advocate, she meets with victims after domestic violence cases are reported, provides emotional support to victims at court, and informs them of the legal processes they will encounter. Sheryl also works firsthand with victims as an advocate, helping them set goals and connecting them with the appropriate resources. Through her work at New Directions, she supports individuals and families who have experienced abuse and strives to help them begin new, violence-free lives.


Sexual Assault Advocate

With the creation of an additional position at New Directions, Lauren was hired as the Sexual Assault Advocate in 2015.  With her background and qualifications in victim advocacy, Lauren provides emotional support, referrals, and medical as well as legal advocacy to victims and survivors of sexual assault and sex trafficking.  Other than being a victim advocate, Lauren is focusing on facilitating support groups and educating the community, specifically the local colleges and universities, on prevention and bystander intervention.  She is a member of the Knox County SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) and is the 2015 winner of The Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence Excellence in Advocacy Award.


Outreach Coordinator

In July 2016, Jordan joined New Directions as the Outreach Coordinator, a new position that works in conjunction with the Prevention Educator, Sexual Assault Advocate, and DELTA FOCUS Coordinator. In this role, she presents and evaluates the organization’s K-12 school programs along with the Prevention Educator, collaborates with the Sexual Assault Advocate to administer bystander intervention trainings at local colleges, presents See the Signs trainings with the DELTA FOCUS Coordinator, and assists with media campaigns and publicity efforts to better promote New Directions’ mission and services. Jordan is passionate about the need for sexual assault and domestic violence advocacy and is eager to contribute to New Direction’s work in the Knox County community.


DELTA FOCUS Coordinator

Lori joined the team at New Directions in March 2016 in the role of DELTA FOCUS Coordinator. Lori spent the last 16 years working in a leadership role at Knox County Head Start. As a lifelong member of Knox County, she is committed to serving our community. Lori believes that intentional work in the area of prevention is critical for our growth as individuals, and ultimately as a larger community. The main focus of the DELTA project is to create conditions in Knox County that will support healthy, safe and equitable relationships. Lori is committed to helping create necessary change that will be reflected in healthy interpersonal relationships with all ages and in all places, including school, work and home.


Advocate and Administrative Assistant

Betty has worked at New Directions for over 10 years. In her current role as Advocate and Administrative Assistant, she oversees daily office operations, while providing advocacy for victims. Betty also records and collates data for reports to the board and funders.

Jackie, MSW-LSW


Prior to joining New Directions as an Advocate, Jacqueline worked as the Family Intervention Specialist for Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio. As an Advocate, her primary roles are performing intake and assessments, providing ongoing advocacy and case management for shelter residents; as well as providing individual advocacy, including follow-up for hotline callers and non-resident survivors. Jacqueline will also be facilitating support groups for resident and non-resident survivors.


Youth Advocate

Prior to joining New Directions, Tatum worked in Education, in the field of Alcohol and Other Drugs (AOD) — including as an AOD Counselor, and in the field of mental and behavioral health for Behavioral Healthcare Partners of Central Ohio.  As the Youth Advocate, Tatum’s primary roles are providing ongoing advocacy and case management for youth who are residents in shelter, as well as providing individual advocacy and outreach in the community for youth who witness or experience domestic violence.


Advocate/Night and Weekend Staff Coordinator

Tami returns to the team at New Directions as an advocate with over 25 years’ experience in the fields of education, diversity, and family and community services. Tami works with the team of part-time staff who provide direct support and services to residents at the shelter on the night and weekend shifts. Additionally, she helps facilitate training and education opportunities for volunteers and staff.

Board of Directors

As community members and advocates of our mission and services, the Board of Directors provides key support to New Directions. By ensuring fiscal and legal responsibility for the organization, contributing to the shelter’s financial health, and supplying the Executive Director with resources to maintain the organization, members of our Board help sustain New Directions, allowing us to continue serving Knox County residents.

Barbara Kakiris


Due to her investment in women’s issues, Barbara Kakiris became a member of our Board of Directors in 2014. She enjoys volunteering for local activism organizations and prioritizes groups that address obstacles faced by women. In conjunction with her work on our Board, she serves as Manager of Marketing and Sales, Summer Programs, at Kenyon College. Barbara has received numerous prestigious awards, including Kenyon College’s Anne J. Robinson Award, the Greek America Foundation’s Forty Under 40 Award, Inside Business magazine’s ATHENA Award, and NASA’s Public Service Medal.

Cindy Cunningham

Vice President

Cynthia Cunningham is an attorney at Murray, Rauzi & Kidwell and Owl Creek Title Agency. Prior to working in private practice, Cynthia spent over ten years in public policy where she worked primarily on behavioral health and social service issues. That work inspired her to get involved with New Directions upon her return to the Knox County area. Cynthia received her B.A. from Kenyon College and her law degree from Capital University Law School.

Steve Oster


As the current superintendent for both the Knox and Coshocton County Boards of Developmental Disabilities, the Executive Director of Professionals, Advocates, Resources (PAR), a member of the Ohio Association of County Boards of DD, and a part-owner of a business in Mount Vernon, Steve Oster is dedicated to serving his community. After attending numerous New Directions events and participating in several fundraisers for our organization, Steve decided he wanted to involve himself even further by joining our Board in 2016. Having seen friends experience abusive relationships from parents and spouses, he understands how important it is to break the cycle of violence. Prior to the roles he presently fills, Steve was also President of the United Way of Knox County, President of the Citizen’s Advisory Council, President of the DP&S Board, and a member of the Behavioral Health Care Partners of Central Ohio.

Dotti Riggs

Board Member

As our longest-serving Board member, Dotti Riggs brings 25 years of experience to our Board of Directors. She has held all offices at least twice. Dotti’s desire to join our Board came one year after her divorce from an abusive husband when she was inspired to help other victims of abuse by promoting New Directions’ services. Ultimately, she hopes to help the public realize that peaceful, loving relationships should be a common goal. Along with her Board experience, Dotti has spent 19 years as a Human Resources professional and earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Business Administration from The Ohio State University.

Joan B. Stallard

Board Member

Joan Stallard began her connection with New Directions in 2005 as a member of the DELTA FOCUS Committee. In 2014, she joined our Board of Directors with the goal of helping New Directions and the DELTA FOCUS Committee maintain momentum to serve the community following the death of Mary Hendrickson. Joan also endeavored to improve the lives of women and girls as a Soroptimist, worked as an educator of first and second grade students for 5 years, and dedicated 29 years to ensuring the provision of programs and services for handicapped children and their families in Mount Vernon City Schools.

LeAnn Eshelman

Board Member

LeAnn Eshelman has served for over 10 years on our Board of Directors, filling the role of Vice President in the past. With a bachelor’s degree in Social Work and 19 years of experience as an Ohio Licensed Social Worker, her educational and career background is beneficial to the promotion of New Directions’ work. LeAnn strives to advocate for women and families in the Knox County community and encourage safe, healthy relationships. Additionally, she is working towards a Master’s of Education in the Intervention Specialist program at Mount Vernon Nazarene University.

Margaret Clor

Board Member

As a member of the Knox County chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW), Margaret Clor was interested in establishing a local shelter to serve the needs of women and children experiencing abuse, so she participated in the 1982 task force that later founded New Directions. After the establishment of our shelter, she joined our Board of Directors at its inception and has actively worked to promote the shelter and its mission ever since. Aside from her dedication to New Directions, Margaret also worked as a speech therapy teacher in Aurora, Illinois and Knox County, Ohio.

Marla Kohlman

Board Member

Marla H. Kohlman is Professor of Sociology at Kenyon College where she teaches courses on gender, family, social stratification, quantitative research methods, and social theory. Prior to teaching at Kenyon, Kohlman was an attorney practicing in Maryland and Washington, DC.  Her primary area of research has been intersectionality in the experience and reporting of sexual harassment and sexual assault.

Before joining New Directions as a Board member, Kohlman has previously served within the Knox County community as a Policy Council Member for Head Start, and as a Board member for the Red Cross and the Gazebo Preschool.  On a national level, Kohlman continues to volunteer as a Selection Panelist for the AAUW American Fellowships, an affiliation she has held since 2012.

Sheryl Mickley

Board Member

Joining the Board in 2015 is Sheryl Mickley. As the financial aid coordinator at the Knox County Career Center for 18 years, Sheryl has developed a passion for assisting students with socio-economic and other barriers transitioning into higher education. She has served as a previous board member for Head Start and Danville Local schools as well as coaching youth sports for over 20 years. Sheryl has a B.A. in accounting from Ohio Dominican College and a M.A. in education from Loyola University. Previous awards include the Ohio ACTE Pacesetter Award for leadership, Knights of Columbus Woman of the Year for Ohio, and the Pam Decker Outstanding Service Award.

Quinn Denzer-Emerson

Board Member

Quinn Denzer-Emerson is the School Psychologist for the Fredericktown Local School District in Knox County. In her daily work with children and families in our local community, many of whom have experienced domestic violence, Quinn saw that her training background could be of further service to residents in Knox County through involvement in New Directions. Quinn was born in Knox County and is a graduate of East Knox High School. She received her B.A. from The College of Wooster, her masters degree from Kent State University, and will graduate with her Ph.D. from Kent State University in the spring of 2018.

New Directions has proudly served the women, men, and children
of Knox County since 1983.

Our HistoryNewsletter & Annual Report Archive
Emergency Exit