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Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center is pleased to announce Sandy T. Williams has joined our team as the new Executive Director. Williams has 20 years of experience in the non-profit sector, with nine years helping survivors of domestic violence. She will successfully lead ZCenter in the advancement of our mission.

Mike Farrell, ZCenter’sBoard President: “We are very excited to welcome Sandy as the ZCenter’s new Executive Director. She brings a wealth of experience and energy, which are critical to her success in leading our organization.”

Most recently, Williams served as Executive Director of Between Friends where she successfully led the organization through the unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic while also strengthening and diversifying its board of directors, expanding programming, and developing a strong financial foundation for the organization. She previously provided leadership and management of the residential and community-based domestic violence services of YWCA Evanston North Shore.

Sandy T. Williams is an innovative leader with a passion for addressing issues of gender-based violence, women’s health, and systemic inequities. Her experience includes various senior leadership positions in programming, fund development, training, and education.

“ZCenter has a long-standing history of working collaboratively with survivors to address the pervasive issue of sexual violence. I am excited to join this dynamic team and build upon its strong foundation of service and advocacy, as well as advance the organization to new heights while deepening the impact of our work,” Williams states.

Williams is a certified domestic violence professional, holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Illinois in Urbana Champaign, a Master’s Degree in Couple and Family Therapy from Capella University, and a Master of Public Administration with a specialization in nonprofit management from Roosevelt University.


Happy Pride Month!

“Mom & Dad I have nothing to tell you”: An Analysis of Coming out (or not) During Pride Month

Now that June is here, and stores and streets alike have become much more colorful, those of us who are questioning their Sexuality or Gender Identity (or who are still in the closet) might be feeling more pressure to make a huge decision: coming out. A large portion of Queer representation in popular media tends to put quite a bit of focus on this, both in terms of the process of coming out, and the feelings and pressure that others may put on you to define your Sexuality, Gender, etc.

Certainly, during Pride Month, when the Queer community is much more visible, many more people will be thinking about their own Gender and Sexuality, and wondering if it may be time to make that crucial decision. Social media is filled with influencers and celebrities and friends alike coming out, sharing their Gender Identity and Sexuality with the world. Commercials are oversaturated with messages encouraging you to celebrate your identity by purchasing pride merchandise or sticking a pronoun pin on your backpack, and TV shows and books surrounding the LGBTQ+ experience almost always involve coming out in some form or another as part of the plot. The pressure to find your identity and broadcast to the world is a message that gets churned out everywhere, and during Pride Month, the message is especially glaring. While coming out can be an exciting opportunity to celebrate yourself and your community, I’d like to acknowledge that it is not always safe for everyone in the Queer community to come out.

In communities where LGTBQ+ issues are ignored or actively shunned, or in homes where Queer people might be reliant on people who may not be supportive of their identities, coming out might pose a threat to one’s safety. People who are not yet comfortable with their Sexuality, Gender, or other aspects of their identity may feel pressure to conform and fit themselves into a label in order to come out – but the truth is there is never any pressure to come out. Coming out can be an exciting decision, but it is also deeply personal. How you choose to identify and who you choose to share that identity with is your decision, and your decision alone. You may decide to come out to everyone in your life, or you may decide not to come out at all. You might even only come out to one person. But no matter what, you are always a part of the LGBTQ+ community, and you are always welcome in the community. Your identity is valid, regardless of whether or not you’ve announced it to anyone. You are not any less Queer, any less valid, or any less yourself.

In a time where we put pressure on ourselves to find certain niches and communities to land in, and where social media pressures your to fit as many aspects of yourself as possible into a neat label, not coming out might feel like you are doing yourself and the community a disservice, but that is not at all the case. It is a big decision, so take your time. Keep yourself safe, and most importantly, be gentle with yourself.

Have a wonderful rest of your Pride Month, no matter where you are in the process.

Download pdf

Written by Mikayla Chen (she/they), ZCenter Intern/ BA Psychology Candidate at Lake
Forest College

ZCenter aims to end sexual violence, mobilize and educate the public, and support survivors of sexual assault. Our blog addresses issues related to ending oppression and violence, since all oppression and violence are intersectional with sexual violence.

All ZCenter blog posts are written by state certified staff, interns, and volunteers. For questions on authorship or content, please email info@zcenter.org.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Please click below for a pdf version with all links needed for registration:

ZCenter SAAM Events 2022

*Standing Silent Witness at our Dempster Street location has been cancelled for 4/22/22, due to rain.

* Please note that the webinar for 4/20, Talking about Safety with Kids, has been cancelled.




Free Webinar: Writing Poems to Process Trauma

Come have a taste of what some of our clients are experiencing in the Expressive Arts Group! In this workshop, we’ll learn how creative writing can help our brains process trauma, and even write a poem of our own. No writing experience needed — just a pen, some paper, and an open mind.


Join us Wednesday, March 23rd

12:00pm – 1:00pm Central Time.

Register here for this free webinar.

For any questions about our free webinars or the Zacharias Education Network, please contact info@zcenter.org.


Meditation and Breathing Interactive Webinar

In these challenging times, we invite you to take time for yourself and your self care. Join two of our counselors as we work on meditation and breathing techniques.

Please note the date and time change:

Tuesday, February 22nd, 4:15pm – 5:15pm Central Time

Please join us for this free interactive webinar by registering here.

For questions about this webinar, please contact us at info@zcenter.org.

January Lunch & Learn Webinar

Healthy Boundaries, Healthy Relationships

Thursday, January 20th, 2022

12:00pm (noon), Central Time.

Registration is free. Please register here.

Join us for this free webinar on Thursday, January 20th, at noon Central Time. Meet two of our counselors to discuss bringing healthy relationship goals into the new year.


For questions or comments about our Lunch & Learn series, please contact kjones@zcenter.org.

November Lunch & Learn Webinars

Join us for our November Lunch & Learn Webinars. Each are free, but we do ask that you register in advance.


Military Sexual Trauma (MST) and How It Affects Our Veterans

Thursday, November 11

12:00pm Central Time

Register here.

Sexual Assault and the Law

Thursday, November 18

12:00pm Central Time

Register here.


October Lunch & Learn Webinars

Join us for four free Lunch & Learn webinars this month.

All are virtual and you need to register on Zoom. Please contact info@zcenter.org with any questions. We look forward to great discussion over lunch with you!

  • What is feminism? Thursday, 12pm, 10/7/21 Register here.
  • Patriarchy and Sexual Violence. 12pm, Thursday, 10/14/21 Register here.
  • Feminism in Trauma-Informed Care. 12pm, Thursday, 10/21/21 Register here.
  • A Feminist Approach to Sex Education. 12pm, Wednesday, 10/27/21 Register here.
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