Madison Magazine

Domestic Abuse Intervention Services: Strength and support

No. 6 for 2015's Best Places to Work in the 51–100 employee category

When it comes to employee engagement, nonprofits face an uphill climb. They rank third to last—sixteenth out of the eighteen total industries Quantum measures nationally—in employee engagement. And providing services to domestic violence survivors is inarguably difficult work.

"It's maybe not intuitive to think this would be considered a great place to work, but I think one of the big reasons why it is is because we have so much support," says crisis response advocate Diara Williams-Sturtevant. Family advocate Sarah Grob agrees: "We have the capability to take care of ourselves in this organization."

The sixty-three-member DAIS team operationalizes support with a strong benefits package, notably generous paid time off plus cross-training so that coworkers can pick up the slack when an employee needs a day off. The long-awaited, desperately needed DAIS facility—fresh off its one-year anniversary celebration—may offer the most critical support of all. After decades of operating Dane County's only domestic violence shelter from a tiny, dilapidated house on Monroe Street (employees and shelter clients heaped together, security dependent on location secrecy), the new 35,000-square-foot DAIS facility provides a safe, supportive, spacious—and, frankly, stunning—workplace that allows its staff to do what it already does so well.

"It's a reverse hierarchy. I feel like I work for these people," says executive director Shannon Barry, gesturing to her staff, "and I know that they work for our clients." 

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