La Casa has a rich history of advocating and assisting domestic violence survivors in our community. I am proud to work for an organization that continues to strive towards a violence-free future.
I have worked for La Casa for almost 3 years. During my time here I have advanced professionally and continue to learn and be challenged. La Casa continues to support my development in the field and acknowledge my contribution to the team. I appreciate immensely the team-work mentality. I have felt supported and nurtured by all staff, including the management team.
La Casa de las Madres is a great place to work. In my time at La Casa I have been continuously supported by the Executive Director as well as the management team. In fact, the entire staff works collaboratively and effectively to ensure success of this program. I continue to see my own growth as well as the growth of other employees with all the training and development opportunities we are given. I know my continued work at La Casa is not only appreciated and acknowledged by managers and directors, but also the community served.
La Casa has a wonderful history in the community of helping domestic violence survivor women and children. The employees are passionate about the work they do.
There is an excessive amount of turnover for a reason, and it is easy to understand why there are lawsuits against this organization.
The value of any given employee's expertise and skills is of no relevance or interest to management. Over-bearing micromanagement does not make space for employees to serve the clients the mission sets out to assist. Experts in their field, the passionate employees of La Casa are not trusted to perform their job functions by the ED, who walks through the office each day muttering put downs and setting the office tone of tension and fear. The Associate Director reorganizes the development associates desk while they are trying to perform their job functions, and criticizes what and how most phone calls are handled, so that 4 people have held the position within year's time. The most recently 'promoted' Program Manager has insufficient experience to perform the work the position requires. She makes inappropriate comments about crashing employees weddings, complains most days of being tired and leaves early, though she doesn't appear to work most of the day, and rather than scheduling content related to the La Casa mission for staff meetings, has a food pantry coming for 6 hour and half sessions to make food since she like to eat.
Volunteers are considered warm bodies to patch the holes left with so much employee turnover, and there is utterly no appreciation for their dedication and time .
A solution to the ongoing crisis at the agency with the oldest domestic violence shelter in California would be to clean house, starting from the top. The governing board really needs to consider seriously the employment turnover and examine carefully what is happening inside the organization domestic violence survivors think of when they need help, and further, consider how these clients' needs are being met when the staff and volunteers are disregarded so frivolously. This 40 year old organization will quickly crumble if new leadership and organizational restructuring is not implemented soon.
Review from Guidestar
We were evicted from our home in July and I am in desperate need of help to find a place for my family and i
I came to La Casa de las Madres in 2006 without any experience in the field, but a passion to help empower women and children to live a life free from violence. I'm very dishearten by some of the comments below about upper management and Kathy Black. When I came to this agency without any experience Kathy give me the opportunity to learn and grow within the agency. It's extremely disheartening that individuals who claim to value and love the work La Casa does have launched a full on character assassination via cyber bullying to further their own agenda. I believe in change, it's good for growth in every aspect of life. I do not agree with the changes that are being vocalized here. I am one of the many non-management employees of La Casa who's views and opinions are not represented in the so called anonymous survey. I'm sadden by the agenda behind the survey. The survey results do not accurately reflect all of La Casa's current or former staff. As a current employee I was never asked to participate in an anonymous survey. I want to make this very clear I was not approached by Kathy or upper management to write this, so please do not take my comments with a grain of salt or try to devaluated my experience.
Unfortunately, I had to leave La Casa about a year ago now. Although, I really valued the work I was doing, I was disgusted by the work culture and the way management treats staff. In my 3 years with the organization, I have heard the executive director call her employees “sissy,” state that they are “replaceable,” and talk poorly about staff members behind their back, often times breaching staff confidentiality. I have witnessed really competent employees getting fired for speaking up to management. Working at the Drop-in Center was like walking on eggshells. The irony of working at a domestic violence agency when your ED has the biggest power trips and verbally abuses her employees.
I remember when my coworkers and I addressed our concerns during a staff meeting because we were understaffed which not only put a lot of stress on the advocates fulfilling multiple roles, but also affected the services that are being delivered because clients are waiting or be told to call back because there is not enough staff to be attending to the crisis line, seeing clients, and covering the reception at the same time. My concerns were never addressed and I was told that I couldn’t speak at the meetings anymore. Wow, so much for having an open door policy.
La Casa has so much potential and the staff do such important work that it’s a shame the way their employees are being treated. As a former employee, I was also active in trying to reach out to the board of directors to schedule a meeting, but unfortunately we got no active response, which causes me to question the relationship between the ED and the board. Something needs to change because La Casa has one of the highest turnover rates for a non-profit. It’s funny how understaffed and how slow they are to replace employees, but the ED is making over $140,000. Something’s wrong with this picture.
As a weekly volunteer at La Casa’s shelter for the past fifteen months, my experience with every person in the organization, including Kathy Black, has been outstanding and truly an honor. Each staff person I’ve come to know genuinely cares about our clients and makes every attempt to serve in the most caring, sensitive and personal way. Dedicating some of my free time each week to La Casa is my small way to serve women and children who have experienced domestic violence—these women and families deserve to be treated with respect, kindness, and dignity—the La Casa way is a culture of caring and support.
As the owner of a Mission district business for over 20 years, I know how challenging it can be when one or a few disaffected, divisive former employees are unwilling to move on in a positive way. At a place like La Casa, that kind of negativity will not interrupt or diminish the exalted work being done at this incredible organization…it energizes us and engenders a steely resolve to protect the positive good that comes daily from every caring interaction.
I am an individual that has been working in the not-for-profit field for over 16 consecutive years. Of those 16 years, I have worked for La Casa for 10 years. I first began my relationship with La Casa while I worked for workforce development agency. I was referring a victim to their agency and the first encounter that I had was with the front desk staff and Kathy Black, who was the Executive Director. Kathy was right there at the front-line ready to answer all of my questions as a referring case manager. She encouraged any and all inquiries, which made me feel very comfortable. I later began working for La Casa as an advocate in the emergency shelter, and within a year I moved into a coordinator position where I was given the opportunity to expand my skills and career. After a year as a coordinator, I left the agency due to personal reasons but continued to work within the agency as an on-call staff. Because of my past experience with La Casa, I have recently returned and now work full-time with this agency.
But I would like to express my experience not only with La Casa as an agency but also personally with Kathy Black. I don’t have a resume filled with credentials and higher education, I do however have an extensive work history. Kathy gave me an opportunity to be a part of this organization and through my continued hard work, I was given an opportunity to move up, learn, and expand. There has not been any point within my years of working at La Casa that have I ever experienced feeling that I could not talk with Kathy or any of my immediate supervisors. When I was experiencing personal issues, I knew that Kathy had an open door policy, and I was able to talk with my immediate supervisor at the time and Kathy. They were very understanding and willing to work with me to make adjustments. I have personally felt that I could approach Kathy with any questions or my thoughts and opinions and never felt there would be any type of retaliation as a result. I am only one staff person within this agency but I feel strongly that I’d like to express my experience and really appreciate the opportunity, on Great Non Profits, to do so. Thanks so much.
I have worked for La Casa for over five years, about half in direct service to clients and the other half in manager and director level positions. In that time I have gone through two pregnancies, raised a family, and commuted over an hour each way on a daily basis. When people ask me why I have continued to work full time amidst those challenges, my answer is always the same: I love my job and I love this organization.
When I talk to people who are considering coming to work here or who have just started, I often share my story, because I think it's a great example of the opportunity this organization provides. I originally applied for a part time job as an advocate at La Casa. I was actually looking for full-time work, but I had heard of La Casa's positive reputation and that was what was available. I was lucky in that they were able to provide me with a full-time position as an advocate splitting time between two programs. I immediately loved working here; I had a passion for the work I was doing and I also had a wonderful and supportive supervisor. She was always there when I needed her and always treated me respectfully whether providing positive feedback or constructive criticism. I always felt like I received the training and feedback I needed to grow both on a one-on-one basis and in a group setting in staff meetings and other trainings that we were provided.
About a year later, a case management position opened. The executive director, Kathy Black, let staff know that the position was open and encouraged me to apply. Although I was more than qualified for the position, without her encouragement it hadn't occurred to me to apply. I had a similarly positive experience with my supervisor in that role and continued to feel supported in my growth as a professional and within the organization. Another year later, a position in management opened up. Again, I wouldn't have applied for this position without the support and encouragement other management staff and particularly Kathy Black. I knew that I was qualified, but knowing that they believed in me made gave me the confidence I needed to take the initiative to pursue it.
Since that time, for almost the past three years, Kathy Black has been my direct supervisor. Like my other supervisors at this organization, Kathy has always been respectful towards me whether giving me positive feedback or counseling me in areas where I can improve. She has supported me in developing myself in a leadership role, often at times when I was uncertain of myself. Seeing her passion for this work continues to be an inspiration to me both personally and professionally.
I think the most important part of my story is that it's not at all unique. There are so many people in this organization who have been involved in a variety of ways, from volunteering to relief staff who move on to administrative and advocate roles, then on to case management and beyond. To me it speaks volumes about the organization that people are so invested in staying here and similarly speaks volumes about the leadership that they are willing to invest in their employees.
In the 3 years that I have worked with La Casa I have been able to see countless lives be changed in both immediate and long-lasting ways. Time and again when people find out that I work for La Casa, they share an experience of having learned valuable information from a presentation done by our Teen Program or Outreach and Education program; they share of having received support on the crisis line or having referred a friend to our Drop In Center; other service providers share of their positive experiences working with our advocates to get mutual clients into shelter or support in working towards a restraining order. Over the years here I have provided clinical counseling, run support groups, done presentations, answered the crisis line and now manage the Community Programs. I know from both first hand client feedback and second hand feedback from other advocates and members of the community that La Casa provides crucial services in a caring and respectful manner.
As a community member with ties to La Casa staff, have been appalled and astonished by La Casa’s wholesale lack of responsiveness to widely shared concerns about its Executive Director’s behavior. It seems the Board of Directors has done little to curb the ED’s persistent harassment of and retaliation against staff who voice concerns or suggestions for improvement.
Any organization aimed at empowering its members to overcome structural violence/abuse should seek to model this change in its leadership. Unfortunately, La Casa's ED and Board of Directors have not recognized or assumed this responsibility. And while the La Casa staff has done exceptional work in the community, it is in spite of, not because of, the leadership.
I encourage anyone reading the comments below in defense of the ED to take their contents with a grain of salt – HR and upper management, with their distinct motives and interests, cannot be relied upon to depict the working environment with transparency when abusive dynamics are at play.
This organization has tremendous potential, and I sincerely hope the leadership chooses to take the necessary action to realize it.