Alumni Update - Shawn Partridge, Muscogee (Creek) Nation

Shawn Partridge is an alumna of the MSW program and current Board of Visitors member. She is the Director of the Family Violence Prevention Program for the Muscogee (Creek) Nation. Counting Shawn, the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Family Violence Prevention Program Staff is made up of four alumni and/or current students. They are pictured below. Shawn shares the story of the recent Monument Quilt event from her perspective and a little about her experience as an alumni.

Crystal Polk, MSW/Child Advocate (Class of 2014); Shawn Partridge, MSW/Director (Class of 2012); and current MSW students: Mitzi Pope, Sexual Assault Advocate; Tina Qualls, Victim Advocate

As a 2012 graduate of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work-Tulsa Campus, I was especially excited to be able to partner with the University of Oklahoma-Tulsa for a special event on April 4th to commemorate Sexual Assault Awareness Month. In early February, Rebecca Nagle (Cherokee), Founder and Co-Director of FORCE: Upsetting Rape Culture, contacted me to offer an exciting opportunity for collaboration. The Monument Quilt, a historic and moving display of hundreds of stories and experiences of survivors of rape and abuse and allies of survivors was going to be displayed in Oklahoma City and they were also looking to coordinate a display in Tulsa. As the Director of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation’s Family Violence Prevention Program (FVPP), I was honored and extremely excited about the opportunity to be involved with such an amazing project that honors survivors of rape and abuse and works to change the culture in the U.S that shames and blames victims.

With current research indicating that Native women experience domestic and sexual violence at higher rates when compared to any other ethnic or racial group, the work to end this kind of victimization among Native people is more important than ever. The FVPP provides a variety of advocacy and supportive services to victims/survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking, regardless of race. The Nation’s expansive jurisdiction, spanning nearly 5,000 square miles of rural and urban communities, leaves program staff working 24/7 to meet the overwhelming needs. Advocates face numerous challenges every day—at micro, mezzo and macro levels—in working to increase victim safety and offender accountability.

Education and awareness is critical to combating current societal views that perpetuate violence against women. Not only does The Monument Quilt provide an opportunity for learning and understanding about the impact of rape and abuse, it also provides and promotes a “public healing space for survivors”. With advocacy and social justice being at the heart of the social work profession, it made perfect sense to reach out to the school and OU to collaborate to host the historical exhibit. Luckily but not surprisingly, the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work, with the help of Gloria Miller, Dr. Miller-Cribbs, Dr. Havig, Dr. Byers and student Kate Quinton, quickly offered to host the Quilt on the beautiful grounds of the Schusterman Center. The Family Safety Center and Domestic Violence Intervention Services also partnered with us to host the event on Saturday, April 4th. It was absolutely beautiful to see the amazing Quilt spread out over the campus lawn while participants wandered about viewing, reading and experiencing all that the Quilt has to offer. I witnessed tears, smiles and laughter, special connections being forged between people, anger, hope and encouragement all being experienced by participants. Thankfully, with beautiful weather, powerful spoken word and song, and amazing guests and volunteers, the event was a great success!

Social work values and principles are ever present in the work of the FVPP and current success and growth of the program can certainly be attributed in part to the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work! The FVPP staff of twelve includes myself and one other MSW graduate, Crystal Polk (class of 2014), as well as two current MSW students, Mitzi Pope and Tina Qualls. Additionally, Cherrah Giles, Secretary of Community and Human Services at Muscogee (Creek) Nation and my direct leader, is also an MSW graduate from the OU-Norman campus. The education, knowledge and skills each of us have gained as students/graduates of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work have greatly impacted our ability to do the advocacy and anti-violence work we do at the Muscogee (Creek) Nation, across the state of Oklahoma and throughout the Nation.

I am especially thankful for the relationships I have with faculty of the Anne and Henry Zarrow School of Social Work and the tremendous support and encouragement they continue to provide to me! I am so proud of the growth and development of the school and look forward to its continued success! As my cohort sisters and I lovingly and proudly say…MSW 4 Life!

Shawn Partridge, MSW
Muscogee (Creek) Nation
Family Violence Prevention Program

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