In the community

Project DOVE marks changing of the guard as new director takes over

ONTARIO – She’s been on the front line of the long effort to raise awareness about domestic violence but Terry Basford is ready to ease into retirement after a four-year stint as the Project DOVE executive director.

She said she will step into the ranks of the retired with “mixed feelings.” Basford, who previously worked at Treasure Valley Community College, stepped into the part-time executive director slot at Project DOVE four years ago. Her official last day will be June 30.

Project DOVE is the only local organization established to help victims of domestic violence, sexual assault and human trafficking.

“I’ve spent 35 years working. So, there is a little bit of, ‘what will I do with my time.’ But I will still be great volunteer for Project DOVE,” said Basford.

Basford, has been a consistent, vocal advocate for those fleeing domestic violence but she will spearhead her last event Saturday, May 13. That’s the third annual Project DOVE car show next to the Plaza Inn at 812 S.W. 4th Ave. in Ontario.

Basford said she will miss the people she worked with at Project DOVE.

“This team has been amazing making a difference,” said Basford.

Basford also said the Project DOVE Board also played a key role.

Basford said domestic violence and human trafficking remain serious and lingering problems locally. Yet, she said, she is hopeful.

“I think every time we get the word out and one person comes to understand domestic violence we are successful,” said Basford.

Jessica Figueroa of Ontario is succeeding Basford.

“At the moment it can feel overwhelming but with the support of Terry and the board, I realized this is where I feel I should be in my life,” said Figueroa.

Figueroa’s first official day as director was March 27, even though Basford will not be officially out of her post until June 30. The overlap is designed to allow Basford to help Figueroa become familiar with the director’s position. She will oversee two full-time workers and two part-time employees.

Figueroa is also not a stranger to Project DOVE. She first began work as a victim advocate in 2016. She eventually stepped away from the position to focus on her family but returned to Project DOVE in 2021.

Figueroa’s experience will be a big asset for Project DOVE, said Basford.

“She understands the heart and soul (of Project DOVE) and you can’t change that and she came to us with that,” said Basford.

Figueroa will work full time.

“Project DOVE is really stepping into a new era. Jessica is someone who can move us into the next era,’ said Basford.

Figueroa said Basford’s work created a “foundation to build on.”
Figueroa said one of her goals is to strengthen Project DOVE’s ties to community partners, such as the state Department of Health Services and service clubs.

Figueroa said work at Project DOVE is rewarding.

“The real magic is when you see victims transition into a survivor and watching them learn how to advocate for themselves,” said Figueroa.

Figueroa, who is married with four children, said she is working on several outreach initiatives and will soon be applying for grants, which are crucial for Project DOVE to operate. She also teaches a six-week class called “Domestic Violence 101.”

Figueroa said critical challenges remain for Project DOVE, including the effort to continue to raise awareness about domestic violence.

“I want to remind the community we are here and solid and our foundation is solid,” said Figueroa.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

Previous coverage:

Project DOVE vigil remembers victims of domestic violence

Project DOVE sees uptick in calls for domestic violence services

SOLUTIONS: Experiences elsewhere seek to quell abuse, providing lessons for Malheur County

HOW TO SUBSCRIBE – The Malheur Enterprise delivers quality local journalism – fair and accurate. You can read it any hour, any day with a digital subscription. Read it on your phone, your Tablet, your home computer. Click subscribe – $7.50 a month.