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Staff Spotlight: Naomi Barry

Meet our Adult Community Educator, Naomi Barry! 

How long have you worked at the Advocacy Center?
4.5 years.


What positions have you held?
Shelter Manager, Adult Community Educator


How have you been able to support individuals and our broader community in your roles?
In my role as Shelter Manager, I was given an opportunity to meet people from all around our community and, really, so many communities, because our shelter houses families and individuals from around the country. I consistently was given the honor to hear their stories of loss, strength, and hope, and we would work together to rebuild safety and a new life. And I really mean that: a new life. These individuals, these families, all had to uproot their lives– leave everything behind: jobs, family, friends, clothing, belongings, security– for something seemingly so simple: safety.  What a choice to make, no? To leave everything behind, all comfort and support systems, because you fear for your safety, your life. The people I met in shelter were the most tenacious people I’ve had the honor to meet.

Now as an educator, I am engaging with the community in a different capacity. I’m not directly working with folks who have experienced violence. Instead, I’m engaging in conversations with professionals and community members about intimate partner and sexual violence: about how to keep ourselves and people around us safer. A lot of this is through building awareness by engaging people in these important conversations. It has been interesting and eye-opening. Also, hopeful, because people seem to want to engage in these conversations.


What would you like survivors in our community to know about our agency?
You are not alone. The Advocacy Center has information and resources for you. We have advocates who are here to listen.  We are here 24/7 and will meet you where you’re at. You’re not alone. That one is huge. You are not alone. Oftentimes, people want to utilize our services just to be heard and that’s okay. That’s a big part of what we do. We listen. We are here when it feels unsafe or not accessible to talk to anyone else. The nature of what we’re talking about, intimate partner and sexual violence, can be isolating and leave people feeling alone. We are here to listen and offer support.


What is the most rewarding part of your job?
Every time someone shares their experience with me, I feel honored. Also, working in an agency where I am surrounded by colleagues who live with conviction. That’s neat.  


What are some current projects/collaborations that you’re excited about?
The Barstander program, which pulls from my background in bartending. I remember being a bartender and questioning the things I was seeing and not knowing if I had the authority to do anything or even if the things I was seeing were problematic. This program engages the community, bartenders, bar owners in conversations about sexual violence, what is it, how can we prevent sexual violence in the nighttime scene. Bars have been incredibly engaged, working to make nighttime spaces safer. It’s been so interesting and so exciting to know that people are wanting to engage in these conversations and be active in prevention.


Read more about the Barstander program in our Program Highlight.


Four for Fun:

1) If you could have any superpower, which would you choose?
The power to be on time. Self-explanatory.

2) If you could meet five people, living or dead, who would you want to meet?
This changes all the time for me, depending on where I’m at. But right now:

  1. My mom, Midori Kobayashi, in her late 20s. BECAUSE WHO WOULDN’T!? Also because I think that would just be so interesting and get to know her in a different light, in a different time, in a different part of her journey in her human experience.
  2. RBG. Her integrity. Her grit. Her endless drive. Her knowledge of her values and her ability to live by them. HER DISSENT.
  3. David Chang because he is a sexy Asian cooking beast who is not only an inspiration with food (Momofuku Noodle Bar whuuuut) but he combines food with culture, sociopolitics, and history. He asks challenging questions and and processes them, often times stumbling through, with such authenticity and vigor. If you haven’t watched Ugly Delicious, specifically the fried chicken episode, go watch it now.  Also, his podcast, The Dave Chang Show, listen to the Mental Health or MSG episodes.
  4. Kurt Vonnegut. His books speak about the the human condition of self centeredness, confusion, and madness. But he circles back around to the importance of this other notion that is specific to humanity,  hope.
  5. Shirley Chisholm. She’s a trailblazer. She spent her life serving and working for the rights of poc, women, people living in poverty.  

3) If you could be a character from a book or movie, who would you be?
Trillian from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy or Zoe Washburne from Firefly.

4) What would you name your autobiography?
Can I Eat This?