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Julian Center hires not-for-profit vet as leader

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The Julian Center Inc. has hired Catherine O’Connor as president and CEO, the domestic-violence shelter announced Thursday.

Described in an agency statement as a “passionate advocate for women and children,” O’Connor has served in government and not-for-profit leadership positions for more than 30 years, most recently as senior director of public policy at Planned Parenthood of Indiana. She also has led the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

O’Connor replaces interim Executive Director Jessica White, a consultant to not-for-profits who was working with Julian Center when predecessor Melissa Pershing resigned. Pershing took the top job after longtime leader Ann DeLaney retired in 2011.

Board president Pam Matthews praised O’Connor’s “extensive leadership in public policy, management, program development and donor relations,” saying in the statement that her experience will help Julian Center serve clients and the community at large.

Already the largest provider of domestic violence services in Indiana, the 38-year-old agency rolled out a new strategic plan last year that calls for providing more services to children and men; O’Connor will continue implementation.

Julian Center said it serves about 10,000 domestic-violence victims each year, and demand remains high. Its emergency shelter has been at or above capacity since July.

In October, the agency closed its 2-year-old Meridian Street counseling center, citing budget shortfalls.

Fundraising dropped off after DeLaney’s departure. In 2012, the last year for which financial records are available, donations totaled $722,145, a 62-percent decrease from the previous year. Expenses of $4.4 million exceeded revenue by about $345,000.

O’Connor will be formally introduced to supporters on March 8 at The Julian Center’s Starlight Ball fundraiser.

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