Lori DiPersio, who served as Executive Director of the Women’s Resource Center of Newport and Bristol Counties for 14 years, will retire on Friday, July 5 board of directors president Nicole Benjamin, Esq. announced today.

Jessica Walsh, the Center’s longtime Director of Prevention Services, has been named the Acting Executive Director. DiPersio’s retirement is the result of a leadership transition that had been planned for several months. The Board of Directors will begin a search for permanent leadership this summer. 

“We are grateful for Lori’s dedication to the Women’s Resource Center’s mission over so many years. She has worked tirelessly to end domestic violence, support and protect survivors and her leadership has established the Women’s Resource Center as a leader in this effort,” said Benjamin in a press release. 

“It has been a privilege to lead the Women’s Resource Center for the last 14 years in its mission of ending domestic violence,” DiPersio said in the release.  “If we can change social norms in our society, then we can make a difference in ending violence in our communities.” 

During DiPersio’s tenure, the Women’s Resource Center’s (WRC) work expanded to include violence prevention services for men, teens, same sex partners, and children who witness abuse, serving over 16,000 people during her 14 years. The staff team grew from 10 employees to over 35, and the agency’s budget grew from $800,000 to over $2 million annually. Last year, WRC provided 4,280 free and confidential services to 1,176 survivors in Newport and Bristol Counties alone. The WRC has been the backbone agency convening stakeholders in the Newport Health Equity Zone initiative, ensuring that all residents in Newport can live in an environment free from health disparities.

“The staff is what makes the WRC what it is, and I have had the honor to lead and guide these dedicated individuals for many years,” said DiPersio.  

“I also want to thank all those individuals and organizations who have dedicated their lives to helping the WRC with its work,” DiPersio continued. “Whether as another agency in our network, a donor, grantor, volunteer, event attendee, or someone we honored as a Wild Woman or a Man Who Made A Difference, I am grateful for their support.”

Jessica Walsh, who will assume to the role of Acting Executive Director, has served the WRC for 15 years, currently as Director of Prevention.  Working in collaboration with the community, Walsh has supported the planning, implementation and evaluation of strategies designed to decrease domestic violence by addressing the social determinants of health.

“I look forward to continuing our critical work to support and protect survivors and their families,” Walsh said.

DiPersio’s leadership has prepared the Center and its staff well for the future, said Benjamin.

 “We will continue to engage the community and serve people in need, improve our programs and operations where needed and strengthen relationships with our community partners to increase our local and regional impact,” she added.

Walsh will assume her role as Acting Executive Director effective Monday, July 8th.