MEET THE TEAM
Carolyn Thomas-Russell, MSW
Director of Operations
Senior Companion & Foster Grandparent Programs
Aging & Adult Services Division
Department of Human Services
City of Oakland
Senior Communications Officer
Association of Bay Area Governments
Retired, Psychiatric Nurse
Human Resources Manager
Oakland Public Library
Center for Families, Children & the Courts
Operations & Programs Division
Judicial Council of California
Executive Hospital Account Manager
Carolyn Russell is the Executive Director of A Safe Place, the leading domestic violence assistance non-profit. As a community leader, an administrator and educator, she has served the public for over 30 years, specializing in non-profit management, fund development and strategic planning.
As Executive Director of A Safe Place since 1984, Ms. Russell has led the growth of the organization from its first beginnings as a phone help line to its present position as the leading agency for domestic violence support in Oakland. Her work has included designing their core Emergency Shelter Program, the innovative Teen Dating Violence Program and the integration of a wide range of community education and outreach initiatives, including Cal Works for victims receiving public assistance. Ms. Russell has led efforts in cultural responsiveness for communities of color with a specific focus on faith in the African American community.
Ms. Russell has created various partnerships on both the city and state level. She developed with Blue Shield of California a two-year project “Faith and Domestic Violence Initiative” to educate faith leaders. She has collaborated with local institutions including Oakland Police Department, leading to the establishment of Oakland’s first domestic violence unit. Other achievements include working with the Alameda County District Attorneys office, local hospitals and other institutions to better serve the victims of domestic violence and their children. The Medical Response project included working with medical personnel at local hospitals to provide training and create protocols for screening domestic violence victims.
Under her leadership, A Safe Place received a state grant to create Alameda County’s first domestic violence medical response team and initiated a collaboration of domestic violence shelters in Alameda County. A long term advocate for battered women and their children, she most recently developed and implemented programs and services for male victims of domestic violence. Ms. Russell has worked with the criminal justice system, advocating for victims of domestic violence and was feature in Crime After Crime, a documentary about a victim of domestic violence incarcerated for 26 years.
Her academic background includes a Masters in Social Work from San Francisco State University and she is currently working on a Masters in Forensic Psychology.
Ms. Russell has served on state and local boards including:
Board of Directors for the Statewide Coalition for Battered Women
Local FEMA Board of Directors
Technical Advisory Committee for State Office of Criminal Justice Planning
First Alameda County Family Violence Council – Co-Chair
Co-chair of Alameda County Coalition against Domestic Violence.
Alameda County Family Court – Steering Committee
Oakland Police Department (Women’s Advisory Committee)
Domestic Peace Project
Ms. Russell has received various awards for her outstanding work serving victims of domestic violence including:
US Senate Proclamation from Congresswoman Barbara Lee
Proclamation Alameda County Board of Supervisors Madam C.J. Walker
Alameda County Women’s Hall of Fame
City of Oakland - Women Greatness Award
Alameda County Medical Social Workers
Chief of Police Award for services to victims of domestic violence