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Victims Assistance Center names interim director

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WATERTOWN — Daniel J. Villa will serve as interim director at the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County, but not for too long.

Board President Carole A. McCoy said although Mr. Villa began work Thursday, he may need to fill in for only two months.

“We’re just finalizing the search for our executive director,” she said. “We’re in final negotiations.”

The agency has searched for a director in recent months after Executive Director Elaina F. Marra announced her retirement. Her last day with the agency was Thursday.

Mrs. McCoy, who also is president of Jefferson Community College, said about nine applicants inquired about the job. The targeted time frame for the permanent director to begin work is the beginning of July, she said.

Meanwhile, Mr. Villa will lead the agency through the start of summer.

“I just think so highly of Dan,” Mrs. McCoy said. “He’s got keen business sense. He did the Red Cross for a period of time outside of his long career at Kinney Drugs.”

Mr. Villa also serves as a Jefferson Community College trustee.

Meanwhile, Ms. Marra said she hopes the next director joins the agency with “open eyes.” Packing up her office was bittersweet, she said, but she wanted the new director to be able to have a fresh start.

“What I’ve been doing is making sure everything under my purview is taken care of so there can be a smooth transition,” Ms. Marra said.

The agency and its partners may also ensure that, Ms. Marra said.

“We’re very fortunate in our community that we all work together,” she said. “That’s what I hope is not lost. One thing that’s needed is awareness and education about violence and how it affects victims in general and across the nation. We’ve seen so much violence — domestic, sexual or shootings, which are becoming frequent news. We need to start doing what needs to happen to prevent this.”

After having spent 18 years with the Arcade Street-based nonprofit organization, Ms. Marra said she will miss daily interaction with staff the most.

However, she also is looking forward to retirement. There is plenty happening on the home front. In a couple weeks one of her twin sons will get married, and in the fall the other son will welcome a child.

Aside from some travel, Ms. Marra said she intends to remain local.

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