FULTON - Karrie Damm, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Oswego County, (CAC) has announced that Tristen Johnson has been named outreach and prevention advocate and Safe Harbour coordinator at the CAC. “Tristen is an energized, intelligent and outgoing addition to the CAC staff,” said Damm. “We, and the community, are fortunate to welcome her.”
A native of Wisconsin, Johnson holds bachelor’s degrees in family and social sciences and youth studies from the University of Minnesota and a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy from Syracuse University.
Johnson, who while attending Syracuse University served an internship at the CAC, previously worked at the University of Minnesota’s Aurora Center, an on campus resource for victims and survivors of sexual assault, relationship violence and stalking, and served as the sexual health and wellness outreach coordinator at Syracuse University’s Office of Health Promotion.
Johnson first became aware of the CAC while working on her master’s degree at Syracuse University. “I was introduced to the CAC when I received a clinical placement internship through the marriage and family program at Syracuse University,” said Johnson. “I was immediately impressed with Karrie’s enthusiasm and the work that the CAC does. I’m happy to be a part of the CAC. It’s a great fit both personally and professionally.”
During her internship Johnson served as a therapist in both the CAC’s Fulton and Pulaski offices working with children, conducting play therapy and facilitating various groups. In her role as outreach and prevention advocate Johnson will be working in a more advocacy setting and interacting with the community.
“The outreach and advocacy piece is very rewarding,” said Johnson. “I enjoy the educational aspect and it allows me to help create macro-systematic change. I will be speaking with entire communities and facilitating training sessions with other agencies, organizations and individuals who offer services to youth. They are the ‘Boots on the Ground’ that interact with youth on an almost daily basis.”
In her duties as coordinator of the Safe Harbour Critical Team, Johnson will lead a team of community partners focusing on the problem of human trafficking and exploitation. Funded through New York State Office of Child and Family Services and contracted through Oswego County Department of Social Services, Safe Harbour operates under the auspices of the CAC and OCO Inc. Safe Harbour Critical Team members include CiTi BOCES, Catholic Charities of Oswego County, Huntington Family Centers, Oswego City-Youth Bureau, Fulton City School District, Farnham Family Services, SUNY Oswego, New York State Police, and the City of Oswego Police Department.
“In an effort to increase community involvement and add new member to the Safe Harbour Critical Team I will be reaching out to parents, survivors of human trafficking and exploitation, community organizations, schools, and the youth of our community,” said Johnson. “I am also looking to establish a public awareness campaign, create a community wide network of resources, and increase youth and peer involvement.”
Johnson sees her role of Safe Harbour coordinator much more than just job.
“For me the mission of Safe Harbour is a passion. Human trafficking and exploitation impacts everyone regardless of race, socio-economic status, or their identified gender. It is a human issue that is happening here to our neighbors, friends, and loved ones,” said Johnson.
“Turning a blind eye does not serve anybody, not being aware of the problem does not serve anybody, not connecting to your neighbors or your community is not serving anybody. The issue of human trafficking and exploitation is a conversation that people may be afraid to have but need to be having. We need to accept some responsibility and accountability and change some of the things that are happening here in Oswego County. This work is critical work, and I am honored to be a part of it.”
Located at 163 S. First St. in Fulton, the CAC is a non-profit organization that works hand-in-hand with local law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, medical providers, mental health providers, and victim advocacy professionals in Oswego County to protect and serve child victims of sexual and physical abuse. For information on how to support the efforts of the CAC visit www.oswegcac.org.