The leader of a nonprofit in Noblesville that advocates for local victims of crime and abuse is nearly two months into her new role and says education and listening to others are key focuses as she moves forward.
Tami Wanninger, who lives in Westfield, was hired as the executive director of Prevail, Inc., and started in her position May 22. Before joining Prevail, she worked at Noble, Inc., — a nonprofit based in Indianapolis that works with people who have disabilities — for more than 28 years, with the last five years primarily focused on corporate compliance and national accreditation for the organization.
Wanninger succeeds Caroline Dutkanych, who had served as Prevail’s interim executive director since Jan. 23, and said she enjoys being involved in the nonprofit sector. She said at Prevail, she gets to work for an organization that is mission-driven while getting to work in Hamilton County as well.
“I guess you could say I have a passion for serving and I just love the nonprofit community,” Wanninger said. “It seems like the perfect fit for me.”
Prevail, which has a mission of empowering victims of crime and abuse on their path to healing while engaging the community to support safe, healthy relationships, provides victim advocacy services to all individuals seeking support and resources, according to Wanninger. The organization, which offers meeting groups and has a 24/7 crisis line, also has advocates available on staff who can provide support to victims through any legal proceedings by going with them if needed.
Those advocates can also provide advocacy services to secondary victims, such as a family member, Wanninger said. Prevail can also provide orders of protections as necessary, and offers group sessions for children and adults, she added.
“A lot of times when you have a group session with other youths the same age and similar experiences, they can really learn from each other, to be almost a peer and a reference,” Wanninger said. “They can relate and say, ‘Hey, I’ve lived through that, too.’”
Although Prevail is based in Noblesville, it serves all of Hamilton County and provides support to victims outside the county as well, Wanninger said. The organization also works closely with the Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office and guides victims through the judicial process. Wanninger, who said one of her goals in her first 90 days on the job is listening and learning.
Wanninger said she has been focused on meeting people ranging from her own staff, board members, donors, coalition partners and others in her new role. Education is also an important area for Wanninger, who said she wants to understand crime and abuse better, describing it as a “very complex” funding stream in comparison to how organizations such as Noble, Inc., are funded.
Much of the funding Prevail receives comes through the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute. Wanninger said the organization has already faced some significant funding cuts, leaving it to figure out how to fill those gaps. Prevail served 3,195 victims during calendar year 2022 while it also worked with 5,000 students through prevention programming at school corporations throughout Hamilton County, Wanninger said.
Hamilton County announced plans earlier this month to build a women’s shelter for domestic violence victims and their children off Ind. 38 next year.
The county purchased 9 acres of land off Ind. 38 for $550,000 for the shelter, although details — such as cost and how large the facility will be — have yet to be determined. County officials plan to work with Prevail regarding the building, but Wanninger said her organization still needs to work through various details, including funding.
“What I would say is I think we’re all very appreciative of the commissioners and the (county) councilors for making an investment in our community, and we appreciate that opportunity for collaboration,” Wanninger said.
But for Wanninger, helping individuals who need services is a top priority as Prevail gets approximately three to five walk-ins per day, while it averages seven to 10 crisis calls per day.
“There’s definitely a need for the services we provide and linking people to the appropriate resources, and we don’t turn anyone away,” she said. “We’ve got to do more awareness and more education in the community of who we are, what we’re here for and how we can help individuals.”
Celebration of Hope
Prevail, Inc., will host its Celebration of Hope gala Aug. 19 as part of a fundraising effort for the organization. The signature event will be held at the Embassy Suites Noblesville, 13700 Conference Center Dr., Noblesville.
A VIP reception will begin at 5 p.m. with doors opening an hour later. It will include dinner, dancing, and a silent and live auction.
In 2022, the event raised $150,000. This year’s goal is $239,000.
Tickets are $175 each, while VIP tickets are $275. For more, visit prevailinc.org.