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About the Women's Justice Center

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Meet Our Director, Marie De Santis

Woman's Justice Center Director Marie De Santis receiving the Woman of the Year award.In a March 12 ceremony at the California legislature  Women of the Year Awards, Assemblyperson Virginia   Strom-Martin and Assembly Speaker Robert Hertzberg   honor Marie De Santis, director of Women's Justice  Center, as the first assembly district's Woman of the Year. The award recognizes Women's Justice Center's vigorous  advocacy for under served women in Sonoma County.

Marie De Santis is a Sonoma County advocate and activist who has worked for the last nine years to stop violence against women, particularly in the Latina and other under served communities of Sonoma County. De Santis is the founder and current director of Women's Justice Center/Centro de Justicia para Mujeres. The independent organization serves victims of rape, domestic violence, and child abuse free of charge. Through grassroots activism, the organization also vigorously advocates for improving the criminal justice system response to violence against women. De Santis also coordinates the Task Force on Women in Policing with the goal of increasing the number of women and minorities in local law enforcement agencies. In September, 2000, De Santis and Women's Justice Center launched the first fully bilingual (Spanish) web site on violence against women at justicewomen.com.

In 1969, Marie De Santis completed coursework for her Ph.D. in chemistry at the University of Chicago. But before finishing the degree she was drawn into the civil rights movement working full time as a journalist on a number of underground newspapers. In 1971, De Santis turned to the sea, and for the next nine years she logged over 50,000 hours as captain of a commercial fishing vessel, fishing Pacific waters for salmon, albacore, herring, and shark. After she sold her boat in 1980, De Santis spent the next decade working in landside fisheries projects; including salmon restoration, fisheries education, and politics. She authored two books on west coast fisheries; "Neptune's Apprentice" and "California Currents", both published in 1985. After completing the books, De Santis worked for three years in fisheries and women's rights projects in Colombia, Guatemala, and Mexico.

In 1991, says De Santis, " I realized that the great freedoms I enjoyed in my life came out of the struggles undertaken by the women of a generation before me." She decided to take the next five years and do her part to turn something back into the soil for the next generation. De Santis went to work for Women Against Rape as a victim advocate in Sonoma County. That was ten years ago. De Santis has continued on in the work to end violence against women, she says, "Because I believe the problem is completely solvable. And that the liberation of women's energy from violence will change the world."

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