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ZCenter Info


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.



Download pdf (English & Spanish)

Being an Ally

    • Trust your good intentions

You might not be a perfect advocate and you might feel that you don’t have much knowledge to support members of the LGBTQ+ community, however an imperfect advocate is much better than a silent bystander

  • Educate your self through professional development, inclusive development, inclusive workshops, or training and any other personal or professional growth opportunity.

Increase your awareness, especially in regards to gender-role stereotypes, gender-expression stereotypes, and possible internalized heteronormativism in your mind. Based on the awareness, you can reduce unintentional harm and create a safer and more inclusive classroom

  • Use more inclusive language

Use “they” pronouns instead of “he” or “she”

  • Confront any homophobic or negative marks

Many people use slurs without consideration for those they are offending. Teach others to not use terms that they do not fully understand because the incorrect use can result in harm.


When someone comes out to you and tells you they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender (LGBT) your initial response is important. They have likely spent time in advance thinking about whether or not to tell you, when and how to tell you and it’s likely that they chose to tell you because they see you or already know you as a supportive ally.

Here is what to remember if someone comes out to you:
1. Offer support but don’t assume they need any help.
2. Be a role model of acceptance.
3. Appreciate their courage.
4. Listen!Listen!Listen!
5. Assure and respect confidentiality
6. Remember that they have not changed.
7. Challenge traditional norms



  • 71% of LGBTQ youth reported feeling sad or hopeless for at least two weeks in the past year.
  • 39% of LGBTQ youth seriously considered attempting suicide in the past twelve months, with more than half of transgender and non-binary youth having seriously considered suicide.
  • 71% of LGBTQ youth in our study reported discrimination due to either their sexual orientation or gender identity.


Understanding terms:

  • LGBTQIA+: An acronym that stands for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, queer/questioning, asexual, and many other terms (such as non-binary and pansexual_ that people use to describe their experiences of their gender, sexuality and physiological sex characteristics.
  • Queer(queerness): An umbrella term that is both an orientation and a community for those on the LGBTQIA+ spectrum. This umbrella term can be used by anyone under the LGBTQ spectrum.

Understanding Sexuality:

  • Gay: This identity is used to describe people whose enduring physical, romantic, and/or emotional attractions are to people of the same sex.
  • Lesbian: Defines queer attraction to women. Most commonly used as exclusively women who love women or non-binary people who love women. There is no one perfect definition that encompasses all experiences of lesbianism.
  • Bisexual: People who are sexually attracted not exclusively to people of one particular gender; attracted to both women and men.
  • Pansexual: People who are sexually attracted to all people regardless of gender identity.
  • Asexual: People who are not sexually attracted to any person regardless of gender identity.

Understanding Gender Expression:

  • Gender Identity: The gender a person feels they are inside. Only the individual can say what their gender identity is.
  • Gender non-conforming: A person who identifies as both genders, either gender or somewhere along the gender continuum, also known as gender non-binary or agender.
  • Transgender: When a person’s gender identity is different than what doctors assigned to then when they were born (sex assigned at birth).
  • Two-spirit: A person who identifies as having both a masculine and a feminine spirit. It may be used by some indigenous people to describe their sexuality, gender, and/or spiritual identity.
  • Third gender: Concept in which individuals are categorized either by themselves or by society. As neither man or woman. It is also a social category present in societies that recognize three or more genders.

Intent V. Impact

  • Intent: Someone’s reasoning or motivation for doing something
  • Impact: How the action or conversation made someone else feel

Download pdf (English & Spanish)

Be In Action

We were ready. We were ready to have lunch with you. We were ready to connect with you, and laugh with you, and get into a bidding war with you.

We were ready to tell you we provided prevention education to over 13,000 students in Lake County last year. We were ready to tell you we provided direct client sessions to over 1,000 survivors; 40% of them children. We were ready to tell you that our volunteer base has surpassed 100 individuals contributing their personal time to our ever challenging mission.

We were ready to share our new education curriculum that creates new school leaders and includes parental training. We were ready to introduce you to our new professional staff, further expanding our capacity to serve clients directly. We were ready to tell you that we renovated our children’s art therapy studios.

We were ready to be inspired by the trauma and triumph from our keynote speaker, and our brave survivor telling his story of healing at ZCenter. We were ready to ask for your generosity to make our 18th Annual Luncheon the most successful yet.

And then COVID-19 happened and we are all wondering, what now?

Now we counsel clients remotely. Now we call clients at their homes and connect through confidential video conferencing. Now the counseling team reads informational books together and connects virtually to review client cases.

Now we create presentations and stories to share with students through e-learning. Now we train teachers and parents about how to safely talk to youth during this difficult time.

Now we call survivors while they wait for care in an ER exam room because we cannot be there to hold their hands. Now our 24-hour support line assists clients struggling with difficulties as a result of COVID-19.

Many of you have asked us how you can help during this time…

You can sponsor a table at the luncheon we wanted to have. You and your friends can buy tickets to the event where you were looking forward to networking with colleagues. You can donate in any capacity that you are able.

You have been here for us in the past, and now we ask that you please stick with us during this critical time for what would have been our 18th Annual Luncheon. Show your support for survivors of sexual violence.

Last year, your sponsorships, tickets, and generous donations raised $148,000.

It is a difficult time, and we challenge you, we compel you, we ask you to support the prevention, the advocacy, the crisis counseling, the new trauma and the old. We cannot allow this invisible perpetrator to steal our resources and continue to abuse our families.

Thank you, dear friends, for taking action – our ask is urgent and real. Our doors may be shut, but we are forever open for survivors and those they love. We miss you; miss the hugs, the familiarity, the knowing, and the shared passion for our cause.

Torrie & Team
Torrie Flink
Executive Director

Please reply to our ask by filling out and returning the accompanying form or by making a direct donation today at ZCenter.org/donate


Solidarity Statement

Zacharias Sexual Abuse Center upholds our mission, ‘To provide a place where survivors of sexual assault and abuse can heal, and to mobilize the community toward action to end sexual violence,’ which encompasses an understanding that sexual violence is a personal, community and societal issue, impacted greatly by systems of oppression, particularly racial oppression.
Our culturally responsive service delivery model, personalized entry processes for accessing services, strategic outreach to underserved communities, and activism on a policy level, are driven by ZCenter’s mission and commitment to ending racism and promoting social justice. Our free Prevention, Advocacy, Crisis Intervention and Counseling services are provided in the spirit of equality, free from judgment or oppression. We believe that all the people we serve are entitled to respect, accessible services, privacy, empowerment, and advocacy.

As we witness the injustices of the death of George Floyd and so many Black lives, through individual and systemic racism, let us never forget the meaning of this moment and the history that brought us here. Our Rape Crisis Movement began through the activism of women of color, whose kin have endured centuries of pandemic racism.

ZCenter stands in solidarity with individuals and organizations who courageously work to dismantle racism and racist systems that cause destruction to African American communities.

ZCenter reaffirms our commitment to embrace a larger view of what a world free from violence in all its forms can look like.

We commit to bearing witness to the feelings and needs of our coworkers, clients, loved ones and neighbors.

We commit to ongoing learning, dialogue, and social justice activism to impact individual and systemic oppression.

We commit to providing culturally inclusive and equitable services for our communities of color, our LGBTQ+ community, and other underserved groups.

We commit to upholding the worth and dignity of all who are impacted by racial and social injustices.

We commit to partnering with community-based organizations, criminal justice systems, schools, health care and faith systems, to collectively address issues of service inequities and community needs.

We see you. We hear you. We stand with you.

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