Meet Suzi Desmond, Director of Adult Services
February 25, 2015
1.Welcome to Epiphany Center. You are new to the agency, but I understand you have been working in a similar capacity for many years. How long have you been working in the social justice arena on behalf of women and what have you been doing?
For many years, I have had the honor and privilege to work with women coming out of jail and prison in unearthing the root causes of incarceration ~ trauma. This restorative justice ministry was a spiritually based transformative program designed to help women leaving incarceration to change their lives through therapy, education and recovery. The resident develops new coping strategies and behaviors, reconnects with estranged family and ultimately transitions into society as a productive member. In healing the individual, we also heal families and communities. Further, in healing the individual, we also curb the alarming rate of recidivism.
In addition to working with the women, an important part of my work was local and national outreach in an effort to break down stereotypes associated with the incarcerated. A quote that I would often share with audiences as recognition that others’ misfortune could be one’s own, if it weren’t for blessings bestowed by the Divine: “There but for the Grace of God, go I.”
2. When did your interest begin in working in this field, particularly with regard to helping the women at Epiphany Center?
As a young girl, I was always curious about how one chooses a certain path in life and the resulting consequences of one’s choices. My graduate and post-graduate studies and research have focused on psychology, psychotherapy and criminal justice. Often as a result of trauma and victimization, one’s divine path is disrupted. I believe that through psychotherapeutic intervention, the resulting insight and God’s Grace, one is able to change behavior and develop new coping skills, allowing one to embark upon their divinely inspired path that is life giving and loving.
3. What do you find most fulfilling about your work?
The daily collaboration with a committed multidisciplinary team of outstanding professionals is especially fulfilling. Such a strong alliance amongst dedicated individuals truly embodies and fosters compassionate care and results in a positive impact on all of the clients served. To have an opportunity, in any small way, to positively impact a woman who has come through trauma and victimization is a gift. It is awe inspiring and exciting to reflect upon the ripple effect of such healing ~ the healing of one woman extending into her family and far into the community. It has been a sincere blessing to join the Epiphany team and I am very grateful to have been extended such opportunity.
4. Why did you choose to work at Epiphany Center and what do you like most about working at the agency?
The Epiphany Center has an outstanding and unparalleled reputation in the community. Sister Estela Morales is a remarkable leader who embodies compassion and grace. In meeting Sister Estela, touring the center and meeting the staff, I felt inspired and divinely galvanized to join the team.
5. Do you have a favorite Epiphany Center memory or moment so far?
It has been a blessing to be in the company of women who are experiencing safety and security, often for the first time in their lives, and to witness their shift from a defended victim stance to an empowered woman of strength and courage.
6.Of the five major Vincentian Values of Respect, Compassionate Service, Simplicity, Advocacy for the Poor, and Creativity, which one is your favorite to practice and why?
While all are noble, I am particularly drawn to compassionate service. Accompanying a resident on her journey with kindness and gentleness, and with no judgment, is the essence of compassionate service and is intricately woven into the sweeping tapestry that embodies a truly remarkable program.
7. What or who inspires you?
Individuals who have the strength and courage to transcend trauma and live a life filled with hope and possibility for themselves and their loved ones.
8. What do you love most about working here in the city of San Francisco?
The diversity of cultures in this city is awe-inspiring. The unique talents and traditions come together where the sum total exceeds each individual contribution.
9. What is your favorite spot in SF? Lands’ End
Learn more about Epiphany’s outstanding trauma-informed Residential Recovery Program for women here.