By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — A new executive director has been named at Healing Abuse Working for Change, the Salem-based domestic violence nonprofit known as HAWC.
Anthony DiPietro, a 33-year-old Providence, R.I., native, will be the agency’s first male leader.
DiPietro has worked with nonprofits since graduating from Brown University in 2004, most recently as chief operating officer at West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation in Providence.
Candace Waldron, HAWC’s executive director for more than 12 years, stepped down this spring. Paula Herrington has been interim director and will remain on the job for several weeks, to help with the transition, once DiPietro starts work Oct. 21, said Stephen Feron, president of HAWC’s board of directors.
HAWC hired a third-party agency to handle the search for a new director, which gathered input from HAWC employees and area residents in town hall-style meetings, Feron said.
DiPietro from was chosen from 50 applicants, he said. His salary will be $91,000 annually.
“(DiPietro has) the ability to listen and ask the right questions to get at the heart of the matter, the ability to pull a lot of things together,” said Feron, a Hamilton resident. “He has a passion for ending the cycle of violence and getting down to the root causes of that.”
“His demeanor, the way he carries himself, his poise, his intellect, his empathy ... that will be really key for HAWC,” he said.
HAWC serves 23 communities on the North Shore and offers an emergency shelter, 24-hour hotline, advocacy, support groups and other programs to prevent domestic abuse and help its victims. The agency has offices in Salem, Lynn, Gloucester and a domestic violence unit in Beverly.
Both the search committee and HAWC staff endorsed DiPietro, he said.
Prior to his work at the West Elmwood Housing Development Corporation, DiPietro was chief operating officer at the Institute for the Study and Practice of Nonviolence in Providence. He oversaw the institute’s work on urban youth and gang violence.
DiPietro said the HAWC job attracted his interest because he missed working in a social services setting — “a mission that is closer to my heart.”
“I’m really excited to get to know the community in a really deep way,” DiPietro said.
HAWC recognizes that violence “is not a one-dimensional problem,” he said — it affects all classes, all cultures and more than just its victims.
“(I was) really looking for an agency that has a touch in the community and an impact in people’s lives,” he said.
HAWC has been through a year of transition, DiPeitro said. He plans to focus on stability first, then long-term planning, from fundraising to forming stronger partnerships in the community.
DiPietro has already met with HAWC staff and plans to move from Providence to the North Shore soon.
DiPietro steps into the organization roughly 18 months after the state investigated allegations of abuse at HAWC’s shelter in Salem.
The investigation by the Massachusetts Department of Children and Families cleared HAWC of accusations by lawyers for four residents who claimed they were subjected to humiliating or retaliatory treatment. It also made recommendations for training, policy development and other measures.
The shelter was closed for more than two months but reopened in February or March and is “operating as normal,” Feron said yesterday.
“The shelter is completely full,” he said. “The way the world is these days, business is booming for HAWC ... There are a lot of different avenues that our world touches, and we’re ready to keep moving forward with Anthony (DiPietro) as our new leader.”
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.