When Sharon Katz first took on the role of executive director of Safehome, the domestic violence shelter had a building in disrepair, a budget of $325,000 and nine full-time staff members.
For the past two decades, Katz has been instrumental in turning the only domestic violence shelter in Johnson County into a bigger, better-equipped place for victims of abuse. The shelter now has a budget of $3.25 million and 50-plus staff members. In 2006, Katz spearheaded the shelter’s move to a 28,000-square-foot facility, which allowed the shelter to increase capacity and offer additional services.
Now, after 20 years with the shelter, Katz has decided to retire from her position beginning Feb. 1.
Growth is not the only thing that Katz accomplished in her time as executive director.
“We’ve been able to create awareness in the community, which didn’t exist 20 years ago,” she said. “A lot of individuals that now know about us are willing to become supporters, volunteers and donors, which is really important.”
In 2012, Katz was named Advocate of the Year by the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.
“I have learned so much from some very resilient and wonderful women who have been brave enough to come to Safehome and to carry on with their lives and parent their children in a safe situation,” Katz said. “They’re the ones that are heroes, and they’ve taught me so much.”
Janeé Hanzlick, associate director of Safehome for seven years, will be the new executive director following Katz’s retirement.