University News

Western Hires Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator

October 5, 2011

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MACOMB, IL - - Justine Johnson, a sexual assault victim advocate, has been named the Interpersonal Violence Prevention Coordinator (IVPC) at Western Illinois University, according to Janine Cavicchia, director of the WIU Women's Center and IVPI project director.

Johnson's hiring is part of the three-year, $300,000 grant awarded to WIU in 2010 from the U.S. Department of Justice's Office on Violence Against Women to help reduce domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault and stalking on college campuses.

Johnson works with the grant project director and advisory committee to design and coordinate educational outreach programs, police and judicial board training, and to ensure that the University has effective policies and practices to prevent and respond to violence against women on campus, Cavicchia explained.

Johnson earned her master's degree in gender and women's studies at Minnesota State University (2011) and her undergraduate degree in political science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse (2008). Johnson has worked with marginalized communities, rural areas, and college students. She also has served in AmeriCorps, working with at-risk youth, and in the PeaceCorps in Kyrgyzstan. Johnson also spent a month in Galway, Ireland, this past summer teaching an undergraduate course on violence against women.

"We are delighted to have Justine on board," Cavicchia said. "She is well-qualified for the position, with experience in interpersonal violence prevention and victim advocacy and a strong commitment to feminism and social justice. She has hit the ground running, and has been meeting and speaking with individuals and groups across campus to promote and enlist support for, and involvement in, the initiative."

Johnson is working with the grant advisory committee and campus and community partners to strengthen existing prevention efforts, and to develop and implement new ones, Cavicchia added. This will include education programming for all incoming students, as well as a peer-led, bystander intervention program for student leaders that incorporates theater. In addition to Johnson, two students have been hired to assist with program planning and implementation: Stephanie Payleitner, (St. Charles, IL), graduate student in the Specialist in School Psychology Program, and Kristen Hayes, (Lombard, IL), a biology major with an option in medical sciences.

According to Johnson, the IVPI has several goals, including providing comprehensive prevention education to students about issues that affect them, either through personal experience, knowing someone who is affected or for future reference.

"In turn, this will provide a safer environment for survivors to seek assistance," Johnson said.

Additional goals include providing a coordinated community response to interpersonal violence, posting an inclusive website with prevention information and resources for survivors, and creating effective policies for aiding interpersonal violence victims.
The IVP Committee, formerly known as the Relationship Violence Awareness and Prevention Committee, serves as the advisory committee for the grant. Western has been working against interpersonal violence for 35 years through the IVPC, which began as a Task Force on the Prevention of Sexual Assault.

IVPI staff and advisory board members are in the process of recruiting students to participate in the social justice theater group, as well as men who are interested in joining a men's anti-violence student organization. For more information, contact Johnson at (309) 298-2242 or The IVPI is housed in the Women's Center, Suite 209 in the Multicultural Center on Western's Macomb campus.

IVPI staff members and grant partners are available to present to groups, organizations, classes, and others who would like to learn more about these topics. To request a program, send an e-mail message to

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