March 26, 2004 - Sacramento Bee: RPCV Nicolette Bautista's business approach helps an agency devoted to helping women

Peace Corps Online: Peace Corps News: Headlines: March 2004 Peace Corps Headlines: March 26, 2004 - Sacramento Bee: RPCV Nicolette Bautista's business approach helps an agency devoted to helping women

By Admin1 (admin) ( on Monday, March 29, 2004 - 6:49 pm: Edit Post

RPCV Nicolette Bautista's business approach helps an agency devoted to helping women

RPCV Nicolette Bautista's business approach helps an agency devoted to helping women

RPCV Nicolette Bautista's business approach helps an agency devoted to helping women

A stronger WEAVE

Nicolette Bautista's business approach helps an agency devoted to helping women

By Bob Sylva -- Bee Staff Writer

Published 5:28 a.m. PST Friday, March 26, 2004

Nicolette Bautista is giving what amounts to a sales pitch. She has charts, fact sheets, a stack of reports and grievous statistics at her fingertips. Her voice is efficient, her expression unflinching.

In a persuasive performance, she tempers seething indignation with cool conviction.

Which is no simple task.

Bautista isn't talking about new product lines or the latest in time-saving devices. She's talking about rape, about sexual assaults, the epidemic of domestic violence, the open season on battered women. The fact that, according to an FBI study, a sexual assault is reported in the United States every six minutes.

"Why does this continue to happen?" she asks. "What makes this OK? If one in three women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetimes, why is this situation allowed to continue? If it were one in three men assaulted, would we still be having this problem?"

Bautista is executive director of WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment). Among its many services, WEAVE gives public voice to private rage. But fury isn't sufficient, according to Bautista. She advocates strategies, alliances, revenue-making ventures.

"I believe in business practices," says Bautista. "I believe that if you are going to argue a point, be able to back it up with facts. Protesting, beating the drum, that's the old model. I'm not going to stand in front of WEAVE and burn my bra. That's not going to get you very far these days. Nonprofits have to change and adapt. That's why I was hired."

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. To publicize the issue, to change perceptions, WEAVE has planned a series of educational events in the Sacramento area.

The campaign starts Tuesday at California State University, Sacramento. In the Grand Ballroom, from 7 to 9 p.m, there will be a schedule of speakers, representatives from law enforcement, the District Attorney's Office and UC Davis Medical Center, plus an exhibition of "survivor" art. The event is free and open to the public.

"The goal (of the month) is to raise public consciousness of sexual assault," says Bautista. "To demystify this crime ... and to celebrate its survivors."

WEAVE, always facing the financial woes and staff burnout endemic to nonprofits, is itself a survivor. It celebrated its 25th anniversary last year. There is, however, no shortage of clients or crises. Last year, the Sacramento Sheriff's Department alone responded to 600 cases of sexual assault. In the same period, the Sacramento Police Department investigated and forwarded 77 cases of rape to the District Attorney's Office.

Today, with a budget of $4.5 million, a staff of 87 and about 200 volunteers, WEAVE provides a range of services to victims of rape and sexual assault, including:

* A 24-hour crisis line.

* A 24-hour on-call Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) to assist and counsel rape victims treated at UC Davis Medical Center.

* A secure, 35-bed women's shelter.

* Legal services and ongoing psychological counseling to victims of sexual assault.

* Partnering with law enforcement in the investigation of rape cases and helping develop an officer training protocol for sexual-assault victims.

* Curricula on teen dating and identifying abusive relationships for local schools.

One such workshop is the subject of a controversy in the Elk Grove Unified School District, where a group of parents contends the program's content offends family values. School district officials are scheduled to meet Monday with WEAVE to further discuss the issue.

On Tuesday, Folsom High School officials met with WEAVE representatives to explore ways in which WEAVE might help administrators, parents and pupils with programs and educational materials, after multiple sexual-assault charges were filed against a student on that campus.

Last year, WEAVE handled 25,000 calls on its 24-hour crisis line (1,900 of which reported a sexual assault). Its shelter, half of whose 35 beds are typically occupied by small children, operates at near-capacity. And its SART team responded to 440 victims of sexual assault at UC Davis Medical Center.

If the actual incident rate of sexual assault isn't increasing, awareness of the crime and education about the crime has resulted in more women calling WEAVE for help and information. Still, as various reports indicate, only one in five sexual assaults are reported to authorities. Altogether, WEAVE seems to be at the forefront of a distressing growth industry.

Two years ago, due to a leadership lapse, staff defection and lost sources of revenue, WEAVE found itself in peril. It needed its own crisis intervention. A nationwide search was launched for a new executive director to right the agency.

Bautista, who boasts the rare résumé of Peace Corps experience in West Africa with an MBA degree, and who ran two urban social-service agencies in her native Milwaukee, was hired. Since then, by her own admission, she has been embedded in WEAVE, trying to shore up its "structural foundation."

To date, Bautista has attempted to provide stability, an organizational framework, improved data collection and an auspicious balance sheet. In a milestone for any nonprofit, half of WEAVE's $4.5 million budget is the result of fund-raising and corporate gifts.

"She's very smart, highly energetic and has brought efficiency to the agency," says Phil Isenberg, a former state assemblyman and now WEAVE board member.

"We are fortunate to have her," says sheriff's Lt. Leslie Brown, who is both a board member and a 20-year-plus WEAVE volunteer. Of her own commitment to WEAVE, Brown notes grimly, "I have seen so much domestic violence in my own profession."

"She's dynamic," says John Poswall, an attorney who has served 14 years on the WEAVE board and who participated in Bautista's hiring. "She has a passion in her life for public service. But not just passion. She also has competence in training with her MBA. She has tremendous organizational skills."

Poswall views Bautista as the new prototype CEO of successful nonprofits, heretofore run on fumes of idealism and frayed shoestrings.

"It's not enough to be passionate about a cause," cautions Poswall. "You have to be able to manage hundreds of people. And you absolutely have to know how to raise revenue. You can't rely on government grants."

Given WEAVE's problems of the past, he adds, "There is a realization that nonprofits are coming to: You have to understand marketing. WEAVE is marketing a message. And marketing is marketing."

Bautista is sitting in her executive office, housed in a nondescript warehouse at 19th and K streets.

There's a long conference table, various pieces of Latin American art (a passion of hers), piles of reports, a rotating computer screensaver text block that boasts "I'm The Boss" and a small refrigerator, which, she shudders, is probably stocked with decaying fruit and fuzzy yogurt.

Bautista, 38, has shoulder-length brown hair, gray-blue eyes, bright red nail polish. Tall, at 5-foot-8, she is wearing a black blouse, a cranberry jacket. She has a tiny St. Christopher's medal around her neck.

In truth, Bautista doesn't need any talisman. She is a formidable woman - bright, articulate, charming. But her most salient feature is her humor. In a grave agency where one expects whispers, Bautista has this rich laugh. And the foremost target of her humor is her own manifold plights and deficiencies.

For example, take what she ruefully calls her "enforced celibacy" - the dilemma of a single woman heading a women's shelter. WEAVE is no date magnet.

"When I tell men I date what I do for a living," she begins, "they go 'Oh, oh, oh ... well, ah.' The tone changes. Everything changes." She laughs.

Asked just what their fear is, she says, "I guess that I'm going to take them to some street demonstration. They always ask a range of questions, like, 'Were you raped?' 'Were you ever sexually assaulted?' 'Have you ever had experiences like that?' "

Bautista, looking solemn, relieved, says, in response, "No, I'm not a victim of rape or sexual assault. I've never been in a violent relationship."

She went through an amicable divorce 2 1/2 years ago. Bautista is her ex-husband's last name. She speaks fluent Spanish, the result of working in Equatorial Guinea, a Spanish-speaking nation in West Africa.

This July marks her second anniversary at WEAVE. "Two years!" she cries, heaving a sigh. "It feels like 10 years! It's been a lot of work in a short period of time. But I think we have a strong leadership team now."

Bautista's goals: form partnerships with the business community; raise the profile of WEAVE; heighten public awareness of sexual assault; someday achieve what she calls "a critical mass," where society no longer tolerates abuse of women.

She has a variety of revenue schemes, from adding a third WEAVE Works thrift clothing store (last year's gross revenue from its two stores was $750,000) to marketing a software program (it computes sexual-assault data) to other rape crisis centers.

"The notion that government will support us is over," says Bautista, noting the agency suffered a $400,000 cut in state funds this year. "If we want to maintain our level of services, we have to develop business ventures."

Bautista acknowledges her entrepreneurial flair (in Milwaukee, she ran two businesses). But when asked to gauge the current temperature of her once-burning idealism, she turns thoughtful, subdued.

"I still believe in justice," she says. "But through my employment experiences, I've come to rely on business acumen and business analysis to fight on behalf of victims."

Of all the causes, and crimes, crying out in the world - hunger, poverty, oppression - why this issue?

"Because the victims are the least understood," says Bautista. "And because they are so misunderstood, they are given the least amount of justice."

Deborah, who spoke on the condition her last name not be used, is a rape victim, though she prefers to refer to herself as a survivor. Five years ago, she was partying at a bar in San Jose. Stepping outside, she was kidnapped and raped by two men. She reported the crime. She pressed charges. She went to trial, only to have her assailants acquitted. Her blood-alcohol level was introduced to impugn her testimony.

The judicial experience left Deborah feeling violated again. "I feel like justice was not served for me," she says. "The jury system failed me, just like it fails a lot of women. But the counselors at WEAVE kept me safe when I felt threatened. WEAVE helped turn me from a victim into a survivor. I got my justice from WEAVE."

Bautista, who longed to escape the chill of Milwaukee, to bask blissfully in what she humorously calls "the Tuscan sun," recently purchased a home in Elk Grove.

Or, as she puts it, "I bought a pool that came with a house!" In Milwaukee, she sold her five-bedroom, 2,900-square-foot home for $150,000. "That's just a down payment in Sacramento," she complains.

Asked if she feels safe in Sacramento, Bautista says, "I feel safer here than I did in Milwaukee. Maybe that's because of where I work."

She lives with her two Siberian huskies, both rescue dogs. She happily shows their photographs. That's Nikki. This is Lakota. Icy blue eyes. They provide her companionship. "I think I'm going to marry one of them," she jokes of her nights alone.

With WEAVE back on track, Bautista says she needs to get out in the community more. To attain balance in her life. She enjoys movies, live music, cooking. She's a certified scuba diver and loves to swim.

Of the course ahead, she reflects, "I believe the only chance of these violent crimes ending is when a critical mass of people become fully conscious of their insidious and indiscriminate nature. We have a long ways to go."

WEAVE facts

WEAVE (Women Escaping a Violent Environment) is a nonprofit agency founded in 1978. It offers a range of services to women who are victims of rape and sexual assault.

24-hour crisis line: (916) 920-2952

Volunteer line: (916) 319-4914

For more information: (916) 448-2321, or write to P.O. Box 161389, Sacramento, CA 95818.

Opening event

Tuesday, California State University, Sacramento, Grand Ballroom, 7-9 p.m. A reception honoring community leaders involved in ending sexual violence, plus various speeches from experts addressing the issue. There will also be accounts from "survivors" and an exhibit of survivor art. Music, refreshments.

Free, open to the public.

For more information: (916) 448-2321, or

Men's Conference

April 20, CSUS University Union, Hinde Auditorium. An all-day event with hosted workshops discussing topics such as "Masculinity and Violence," "Alcohol and Masculinity: Ways of Violence," ending with an expert panel discussion titled "Men Working Professionally To End Sexual Violence."

California Denim Day

April 21 (throughout the state). An annual event held since 1999, in response to an Italian judge who found an assault victim at fault because her jeans were too tight. A resolution will be introduced at the state Capitol by the Legislative Women's Caucus. Women are encouraged to wear denim in support and protest.

Take Back The Night

April 28, CSUS Residence Halls, 6 p.m. A solidarity march at campus dormitories.

30 Bars in 30 Nights

An event held throughout April, in which a costumed troupe will pay impromptu visits to local bars and perform a brief, informative skit called "Smarter at the Bar."

About the Writer

The Bee's Bob Sylva can be reached at (916) 321-1135 or

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Story Source: Sacramento Bee

This story has been posted in the following forums: : Headlines; Women's Issues; Violence against Women



By monica harnisch ( - on Friday, March 17, 2006 - 6:56 pm: Edit Post

Hello i was a victim of violent crime back in 1999. I was scalped and had 3inches of scalp gone, the doctors could'nt replace my scalp back they had to put expanders in my head [ballons] to rorm the scalp back togeather, but i still have bald spots on my head, i feel very insecure still after all, balding hair on a women isnt the same as balding men,is there anywhere i could get some kind of transplant free of charge for being a victim of crime? There isnt a day in my life that i dont feel this insecurity! The only thing i have to say is that i am greatful to be alive! the man that did this to me is in prison for life for what he has done, but i still have alot of fear in my life when it comes to trusting any man! If you could provide me with someone that could help me please let me know, my e-mail address is ione Thank you so much Monica

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