A Greeting from CORA’s New CEO

A Greeting from CORA’s New CEO

“Hello CORA friends, partners and supporters,

I am Karen Ferguson, the incoming CEO for CORA and I want to take this opportunity to say hello!

I am a licensed clinical psychologist with over 20 years in non-profit humanitarian and social service leadership. I do believe my expertise in cross-cultural clinical psychology and my extensive non-profit, executive-level experience building and maintaining community-based partnerships will be a great fit with the mission, values and work of CORA.

I have spent my career committed to programming and advocacy on behalf of the immigrant and refugee community particularly. My passion for programs aimed at supporting any individual whose home is no longer a safe place has been unwavering. CORA’s mission to eradicate domestic violence is deeply compelling to me and the high-quality, community-based programming is exactly the type of organization to which I am drawn.

The mission of CORA, the impact of COVID and this upcoming transition in leadership will require hard work – but I ready to join the team, and together we will roll up our sleeves and meet these challenges head-on. Not only am I confident in our ability to do just that, – I am excited by what we can accomplish together.

I look forward to meeting everyone as soon as possible!”

Introducing Our New CEO

Dear CORA friends, partners, and supporters,

Today the CORA Board of Directors is proud to introduce our new CEO, Dr. Karen Ferguson, to the full CORA family. Over the last five months, the Board of Directors completed a comprehensive search process and we are thrilled to announce that Karen will sit behind the leadership desk beginning in early May. We look forward to the organization’s evolution and growth under her leadership.

Karen is a licensed clinical psychologist and has over 20 years in the non-profit humanitarian and social service leadership fields. She brings a perfect blend of expertise in clinical psychology and non-profit, executive-level experience to CORA, and she has a long history of building and maintaining community-based partnerships.

She has spent her career helping and championing the rights of the immigrant and refugee community. Most recently, she served as Executive Director of the Northern California branch of International Rescue Committee (IRC). There she led offices throughout the Bay Area, overseeing a staff of over 120 (themselves from diverse refugee and immigrant backgrounds), and ensured quality, comprehensive services for newly arriving immigrants. Programming focused on housing, financial support, education, and employment, and were aimed at enabling families to achieve self-sufficiency and thrive in their new American communities.

Further, Karen’s past experience includes both the building of high-level processes and hands-on assistance with vulnerable communities. Prior to her work with IRC, Karen spent 10 years as the Alaska State Refugee Coordinator where she designed and implemented refugee resettlement, immigration, and anti-trafficking programs throughout the state of Alaska. Before that, she served as the Clinical and Department Manager for Outpatient Mental Health Services, where she developed and supervised clinical activities for outpatient mental health services for Alaska Native and American Indian clients.

Karen is a frequent presenter on social justice issues. Her expertise has been highlighted in many media outlets, including Public Radio International, Fortune Magazine, the Wall Street Journal, the Christian Science Monitor, Ms. Magazine, the SF Chronicle, and the American Psychological Association Monitor to name a few.

Karen holds a BS in Psychology from Brown University and an MA and Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland. Besides Alaska and other US locations, she has lived and worked in American Samoa; Halifax, Nova Scotia; Haifa, Israel; and Kampala, Uganda.

CORA’s mission is nothing short of ending domestic violence, and we are proud to offer safety, support, and healing to many individuals each year. Karen’s experience, knowledge, and passion for the cause are not only a perfect fit for CORA’s mission, but promise to bring unique methods and pioneering ideas to the table, driving CORA into an even more innovative space and offering ever stronger and more effective services to those in need.

We thank you for your ongoing support through the important process of identifying CORA’s new leader. This next chapter in CORA’s history will be a vibrant, powerful one. We look forward to partnering with you as we grow and strengthen the vital programs CORA brings to the community.


Kevin Imboden
Chair of CORA Board of Directors

An Update on the Executive Director Search

Greetings CORA Family,

As you know, CORA has been actively searching for our next executive director for the last four months. We’re proud to say, thanks to the commitment of our staff (including interim executive director Jill Morris) and the leadership of the CORA board, that the search has been fruitful and we are on schedule.

CORA is a passionate organization with an important human rights mission. Our executive director should reflect these traits. We also understand that they will be asked to steer the organization in further growth and enhancement of client services. With these in mind, CORA has executed its search and we’d like to share with you where we are in the process.

CORA has worked with an executive search firm since October of 2020 to find the ideal candidate. The search firm located and screened many candidates, finally bringing five to the board-led Executive Director Search Committee. In late January the committee interviewed those candidates and selected three to move on to the next round.

In the next few weeks, a group composed of the CORA board, managers and staff will perform a final set of interviews with the remaining three candidates. Next steps will depend on the outcome of those interviews, but we look forward to sharing outcomes with you whatever the result.

This is an exciting time for CORA. Despite a year of challenges, morale is high and possibilities are blossoming. The organization remains nimble, strong and more committed than ever to addressing domestic violence in our community.

Thank you for your support and patience through this process. We look forward to the day we introduce you to our new executive director!

Kevin Imboden
CORA Board Chair

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Looking Back, Looking Ahead

Hello CORA Family,

The first month of 2021 is almost over and it feels like only yesterday we said goodbye to 2020. Some of you may be thinking “good riddance to 2020,” and I completely understand that sentiment. It was a challenging year for us all, and it was especially challenging for those experiencing domestic violence.

The COVID-19 pandemic created ideal conditions for abusers to do their worst. The stay-at-home order, while necessary for the wellness of the community, left those experiencing domestic violence isolated in homes with their abuser. With the inability to carry out life’s usual actions – going to the grocery store, going to work, taking the kids to school, etc. – those suffering were denied even the small moments of respite. The opportunities to reach out to friends and families also faded.

But in the midst of this horrific moment, survivors showed amazing bravery and courage. They reached out to CORA while out walking the dog, while the abuser showered, and in the small time it took to walk from the house to mailbox each day. CORA was here offering safety, services and healing throughout the pandemic and saw demand for services increase roughly 35% compared to the year before.

It wasn’t easy, but not being there for clients was not an option. Domestic violence didn’t stop for COVID-19 and neither did we.

CORA remained strong, engaged and committed through last year and its crisis. Programs remained nimble, changing and evolving with the ever-shifting landscape, all the while making sure the hand of hope was outstretched to all those who needed it. The safe houses took in those looking for refuge. Mental health professionals spent hours on the phone, building connection and facilitating healing from afar. CORA’s Legal Department helped clients navigate the legal process amidst the pandemic-driven schedule changes of the courts. A caring crisis counselor answered the emergency hotline 24-hours a day, and programs, as always, remained free of charge.

But I’m talking about the pandemic like it’s over. As if the challenges magically ended at midnight on December 31. At CORA, we understand that the hard truth is that there is still much to be done and the road ahead is far from easy. Until COVID-19 no longer affects our society, the work of helping and lifting up those in the shadow of domestic violence – a constant and intense duty under the best of circumstances – will remain a difficult one. We see the challenges ahead and know need to innovate and keep those experiencing abuse connected with life-changing services remains more important than ever.

However, we remain strong and hopeful moving forward. You, our wonderful community, are the rock on which CORA is built and we are forever humbled and emboldened by your constant support. Thank you for stepping up, speaking up, and donating over the last year. CORA continues to transform lives because of your support.

We draw strength from the clients we serve, who, in the face of massive obstacles and fear, bravely step out and take control of their lives. Their courageousness and resilience is truly inspiring to behold and it drives us forward.

As the old saying goes, “the future lies ahead.” With CORA’s over forty years of experience, a knowledgeable and committed staff overflowing with passion for the cause, an innovative spirit that meets challenges head-on, and a caring, committed community supporting us, CORA is poised to do even more great things in 2021!

We look forward to partnering with you to continue to improve our community in the coming year.


Jill Morris
Interim Executive Director

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The Latest Regarding CORA and the COVID-19 Emergency

Dear CORA Family,

As the COVID-19 emergency continues to move through our community, its effects on our community and agency continue as well. CORA is proud to say that we rose to the challenges presented by COVID-19 and continue to provide all services and programs, though with some adaptations.

All CORA programs continue to thrive, including emergency shelter, virtual mental health services, and legal support. In addition, the 24-hour Hotline remains available to offer assistance, answer questions and extend a supportive hand. Our Community Education & Advocacy efforts proceed to raise awareness across communities through virtual channels. Like many essential services, we have also created an intricate safety procedure for interaction and ongoing disinfecting that allowed us to reopen our community offices on a limited basis.

These are all great and necessary achievements. However, our community continues to suffer and struggle and CORA is working hard to listen, respond, plan, and adapt.

It is not an exaggeration to say that the need has never been greater. We thank all of you as supporters, funders and committed community members. We could not have addressed the need without all of YOU. Despite our valiant advancement, the complexity and barriers for survivors in this moment remain. Our hotline continues to field calls from those struggling to find safety and security, our advocates are working overtime to provide food and necessary items to individuals in need, and all of our programs are navigating increased reports of violence and mental strain. We still need your financial partnership to keep these necessary services available.

You can learn about the current state of services and any updates by visiting this website or following our social media (Facebook and Instagram). We will continue to answer the business line at our community offices (650.652.0800) during our limited onsite hours and will check messages left there regularly.

As will be the case throughout the pandemic, we are committed to learning, adapting and innovating at each step. Thus, the possibility for delays and hiccups remains. Thank you for your patience and unwavering support throughout this ever-evolving situation.

This is a unique moment in history. An opportunity to stand hand-in-hand with your community. We are committed to reflection, adaption, and follow-through. We will come through this moment a better CORA, a community-centered CORA, and with the success that survivors and you deserve. Please look for future communication as we all move through this time. Thank you for standing with CORA and with survivors of violence and abuse. The CORA Family is strong and, during this difficult season, we are thankful that we can count on your support.

Please be safe, be present, and be well!

Colsaria Henderson
Executive Director

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