Women’s History Month is an annual observance celebrated in March to recognize, honor, and celebrate the contributions of women to history, culture, and society. At Verity, we believe every day of the year is an opportunity to honor the achievements of women throughout history and to recognize their ongoing struggles for equality and justice. This month, we wanted to focus on four Sonoma County women who have served our community in their unique ways, throughout the years and still to this current day.
Lisa Diaz McQuaid:
We at Verity nominate Lisa Diaz-McQuaid to be recognized during women’s history month. Her courage and bravery to go to those dark places and bring others to freedom is inspiring and rare. One thing I love about Lisa is that she continues to ground herself in humility. Regardless of where she’s at in life, she never forgets where she came from, so this helps her have empathy and connection with the survivors she works with. Lisa is a true hero. Lisa is the co-founder of the Redemption House of the Bay Area, a human trafficking victims advocate, motivational speaker and mentors trafficking survivors in our community. Lisa co-facilitates the first survivor (peer) lead human trafficking support group in Sonoma County and is a team leader in the RHBA human trafficking street outreach that is conducted once a month. Lisa is a motivational speaker using her story to raise awareness in our community and surrounding communities in hopes that her story of surviving to thriving will help touch the lives of those trapped in the nightmare of human trafficking.
Christine Castillo, Executive Director:
The staff at Verity recognize Christine Castillo as a woman of extraordinary tenacity, courage, and heart. Christine Castillo has been Executive Director of Verity for fifteen years. She has worked in the field of nonprofits for more than 44 years. She is passionate about creating safe haven for all who have been harmed by sexual violence. Chris’ experiences as a survivor of sexual violence allow her to understand the intricacies of trauma, and the importance of providing trauma informed care to those who are victimized. Chris has dedicated her life to working with and advocating for those who are sold into sexual slavery, supporting them in reclaiming their voices to heal and share their stories so that our public will be informed as to the travesty of what has happened to the women, men, children and youth she serves.
Detective Mary Lou Armer:
Marylou started working at Santa Rosa Police Department as a Field Evidence Technician in 1999. She became a Police Officer in May 2008 and served in the DVSA unit as a Detective where she was dedicated to protecting victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Marylou felt called to serve survivors of sexual assault and was working on the front lines assisting survivors in her role at Santa Rosa Police Department. Marylou worked hand in hand with Verity advocates in order to ensure that survivors received the services and help they needed. Marylou was a wonderful person and outstanding Detective and she will be forever missed and never forgotten. On March 31, 2020, Detective Marylou Armer passed away due to complications from COVID-19. She was 44 years old. Her light shines upon us forever!
Katie has been with Verity since its inception in 1974. Her voice, her dedication to survivors, her commitment to all in our community has been long standing and has and continues to leave a tremendous impact on the work of Verity. Katie has shown us the depth of long term commitment to social justice and systemic change benefitting all survivors of sexual violence. Katie’s ongoing dedication to the team of Verity has always made us feel visible and pre covid when she would bring her very special pumpkin bread and fudge to the staff we felt her continued love and commitment to Team Verity and all we serve. We have been so very blessed to have Katie with us for all of these years!
These women serve as a powerful symbol of hope, inspiration and service. However, let’s not forget these other women that have, and continue to, change the world everyday: mothers, grandmothers, women caretakers, girl bosses, lady change makers, transwomen, women healing generational trauma, women who have the courage to get out of bed and fight another day, homemakers, magic makers, and all the women who exist in between. They embody the spirit of change, rebirth, and strength that we need to make this world a safe, compassionate, and supportive space for all.