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‘Onward’: Colleen Coble retiring from MOCADSV after 33 years

  

After more than three decades, Colleen Coble is retiring as the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence CEO. 

Coble joined the coalition (MOCADSV) nearly 33 years ago, watching as it transitioned from a two-person team with 13 members to an organization with more than 120 member groups focused on domestic and sexual violence prevention, prosecutors, law enforcement, child counseling, and more. 

“For more than 30 years, MOCADSV has had the good fortune to be led by Colleen, one of the strongest and most effective advocates in the country,” said Coalition Board Chair Brendan Cossette. “The good she has done for victims and in the cause of ending domestic and sexual violence is immeasurable. She will most definitely be missed, but her retirement is very well deserved and the Board of Directors wishes her the best going forward.”  

Coble is set to retire in December, and a member of the board said it will form a search committee with a goal to have someone in place by the start of the new year. A message to members said: 

“‘Onward’ has long been Colleen’s rallying call, a message of solace and solidarity over the years. Thirty-three years ago, Colleen joined the Coalition with a passion for social change and a dedication in her heart to help survivors. With a half-time staff person at her side, and in a borrowed office space from the local domestic violence shelter, Colleen led a handful of member agencies in building an alliance to change laws and change lives for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. 

During her tenure, she has remained devoted to ensuring service providers have the support, financial resources, and training they need to thrive. She has a legislative legacy that includes passage of the many laws since 1989 that affect the safety and wellbeing of survivors of violence and their children.” 

With a rallying cry of “onward,” Coble’s legislative accomplishments during her tenure include adding lack of consent to felony rape charges, establishing the crime of domestic assault, obtaining first-time state funding for domestic and sexual violence services, adding sexual assault victims to eligibility for protection orders, and much more. She was also able to obtain federal disaster relief funding for domestic violence services in 1994 — the first in the nation. 

“When we found Colleen to head MOCADSV in 1988, we truly found a jewel,” Mary Ann Allen, a former board chair, Public Policy Committee chair, and executive director of MOCADSV member agency Haven House, said. “It has been an honor to serve with her and a thrill to watch what she has accomplished to improve the lives of abuse survivors and their children. Under her leadership, we have grown from a small group of well-intentioned advocates to a network of well-trained professionals throughout the state. I wish her all the best in retirement.” 

Coble began her career as a journalist, which took her from Missouri to Washington. It was there in the Pacific Northwest that she met a group of women who were starting an advocacy group. Coble volunteered at the fledgling program and was eventually hired. 

Coble then moved to Florida for a brief time and tried to get back into journalism. But one of the first people she met at her new job was a sexual assault survivor. 

“And I kind of realized that I wasn’t going to not know what I had learned as an advocate, and I thought maybe I could take my journalism skills and use them in a different way and continue down the road opening before me, which was being an advocate,” she recalled in a previous interview with The Missouri Times

So Coble came back to Missouri, settling down with work at a domestic violence and rape shelter and crisis center in Columbia. Then in 1988, the MOCADSV began looking for a new executive director — and found Coble. 

Coble served on the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women in addition to committees in Missouri that addressed gender issues in the court system. She is a founding member of the Missouri Battered Women’s Clemency Coalition as well as a founding member of the National Network to End Domestic Violence where she also served as public policy chair. 

She was awarded the National Network to End Domestic Violence’s Diane Reese Award in 2009 during a ceremony at the U.S. Library of Congress for her “outstanding commitment to social justice and advocacy for battered women.”