‘It’s our problem to fix’: Advocates of Routt County, child advocacy center welcomes new male executive director
When he moved to Steamboat Springs 15 years ago to work remotely for International Business Machines, Mark Fitzgerald never envisioned himself leading a domestic violence and sexual assault nonprofit.
After a series of career changes working in information technology remotely, then for Steamboat Ski & Resort Corp., then opening and co-running Butcherknife Brewing Co., Fitzgerald is thrilled to work as executive director of Better Tomorrow, the umbrella organization for Advocates of Routt County and Brighter World Child Advocacy Center.
Fitzgerald said he recognizes the uniqueness of being a man in a traditionally female environment, and he hopes to use his privilege to help educate others in the community about interpersonal violence.
“A lot of people see these as women’s issues, but they’re not; they’re human issues,” Fitzgerald said. “If part of my being in this role helps raise that awareness and serves as a model for people everywhere to get involved, then I’m excited about that role.”
Fitzgerald said 90% of domestic violence and sexual assault offenders are men, which is why he believes men should play a larger role in helping survivors and ending the issue.
“It’s an issue that really should be driven by men, because it’s our problem to fix,” Fitzgerald said. “We should be more involved; we need to be more involved, because more often than not, men are the perpetrators, and that’s not OK.”
Fitzgerald joined the Advocates of Routt County Board of Directors in 2018, where he served for five months before Lisel Petis, the former executive director, hired him as the organization’s director of operations. During that time, he helped oversee the creation of the Brighter World Child Advocacy Center, which serves children who are victims of abuse from Routt, Moffat and Grand counties, as well as the ultimate rolling out of Better Tomorrow, which is the name for the umbrella board that oversees both entities.
“The reason why I think he rose to the top of being hired is more because of his personality and demeanor. He knows how to create a great culture, and we have an amazing team,” Petis said. “It was very important to keep that talent here, and I think he’s best suited to know how to do that.”
In addition to his knowledge of the organization’s needs, Petis said Fitzgerald’s experience running a business is also a valuable asset for leading a nonprofit.
“We can’t provide services for our community if we don’t have money to run, that’s by far the biggest component to the job,” Petis said. “Between the know-hows of already running a business and being here for the last two years watching me do it, he knows the things to do.”
Fitzgerald said he hopes to continue to grow Better Tomorrows’ organizations while also keeping an open mind to any other possibilities that would fit the group’s mission statement.
“Part of what I want to do is set us up for that possibility, so that if we identify another program, whether it exists already or doesn’t, that would fit within our mission, and we feel like our other programs would benefit from having them alongside, then I want to be ready for that,” Fitzgerald said.
Fitzgerald will officially takeover the position Saturday as Petis leaves the organization to work remotely for R Street Institute.
To reach Alison Berg, call 970-871-4229 or email aberg@SteamboatPilot.com.
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