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Sharing the Mic in Domestic Violence Program Leadership: Expanding on Dr. Perlmutter’s Call for Social Work Administration

Melissa E. Dichter, Bernie Newman, Marcella Nyachogo and Vashti Bledsoe
JHHSA, Vol. 43 No. 4, 346-358 (2021)

Domestic violence (DV) work in the United States emerged as a grassroots collectivist movement and grew into more formalized programming within nonprofit social service organizations. In this commentary, co-authored by DV program leaders along with DV scholars and social work educators, we apply and extend the work of Dr. Felice Perlmutter as we reflect on the role of professionalized social work in DV program leadership. Narratives of DV program leaders highlight models of anti-oppressive, feminist and empowerment-focused leadership emerging from diverse sources of experience and education. We promote an anti-oppressive stance of “sharing the mic” to include diversity of voices and ways of learning and leading. We assert that formal social work education and training provides valuable preparation, as do lived experiences, survivor voices, and community membership. A theory of effective leadership emerges that promotes mutual respect, empowerment and collective partnerships that benefit from the talents, skills and experience of all.

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