Linda was the visionary behind Safe Communities, founding the organization in 2019 out of the Safe Church and related programs she developed and directed at a Samaritan Counseling Center. She serves as the Executive Director and is a member of the SC Board of Directors. The Safe Church program grew out of her work as a consultant to congregations experiencing the contentious dynamics that occur when a child is molested by a lay or ordained leader. Under her leadership, Safe Church expanded to a national training platform. From 2016-2019 she worked with a national cohort of grantees and fellows of the Just Beginnings Collaborative on social movement building to end child sexual abuse. Her work focuses on shifting culture in institutional settings so that adults prioritize protecting children from sexual abuse within and beyond the institution, and on trauma-informed healing practices for adults who experienced childhood sexual and other abuse.
Linda’s first book “The Deepest Wound: How a Journey to El Salvador Led to Healing from Mother-Daughter Incest” (Writer’s Showcase) was published in 2001. As a church volunteer and activist, she accompanied refugees and survivors of torture during the civil war in El Salvador in the 1980s, working with church and human rights organizations. The book includes her personal narrative of childhood sexual abuse, intertwined with the violence experienced by the Salvadoran people. The Deepest Wound was awarded first place in the “Life Stories” category by Writer’s Digest in March 2003. The Journal of Pastoral Care and Counseling recommends its use in seminary and graduate school classrooms, and by therapists and pastoral care providers. She also contributed to Render Unto God: Economic Vulnerability, Family Violence and Pastoral Theology (Chalice Press, 2002; Poling, James; Ruiz, Brenda; Crockett, Linda), a cross cultural economic analysis of sexual abuse and domestic violence.
A review of The Deepest Wound on the website Confronting Collusion with Abuse in the Faith Community may be viewed at http://www.takecourage.org/deepwnd.htm
Alyssa graduated from Kutztown University with a bachelor’s degree in Sociology. She has a background in the mental health field, primarily supporting children with mental illness as a therapeutic staff support specialist. Alyssa spent a few years out of the mental health field but was longing for a position that could make a difference. Since starting with Safe Communities, she has hit the ground running to support the office environment with their ongoing mission. In her free time, she enjoys spending time on her farm in Mohnton, PA with her family.
Safe communities board
Paula Knudsen Burke
Paula Burke is a member of the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren, where she attends with her husband and two children. She has worked with the E-Town congregation to provide guidance and establish procedures for child protection issues pursuant to Safe Church programs. Paula is a Lancaster-based attorney who has worked in both private practice and nonprofit law. She also has worked as a journalist and editor. Paula is a graduate of the Dickinson School of Law of the Pennsylvania State University. She also received her undergraduate degrees from the Pennsylvania State University, in both journalism and Spanish.
Pam has been serving as a pastor at the Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren since 2004. She previously served for 8 years at a Lititz, PA congregation. Elizabethtown Church of the Brethren is located adjacent to the Elizabethtown College campus, and is known for its strong social justice orientation, as well as its dedication to protecting children from sexual and other abuse. Both her prior and current congregation participated in our Safe Church programs and call on us for consultation when needed. Pam plans to retire May 21, 2023 and looks forward to having more time to pursue other opportunities.
A graduate of Findlay College (Ohio) with a B.A. in education, Pam served in the field of education prior to becoming a pastor. She received her Master of the Arts in Religion from Lancaster Theological Seminary. Pam has served on several boards, including Juanita College, the Atlantic Northeast District of the Church of the Brethren, and Samaritan Counseling Center, where the Safe Church/Safe Places program originated. She is currently beginning a term on the Board of Trustees of Elizabethtown College.
Secretary, and Interim Treasurer
The Rev. Karen Bachman is the part-time pastor for the Coleman Memorial Chapel, Lititz, Pa. She holds a Master of Divinity degree from Princeton Theological Seminary and a BS in Business Administration from Albright College. In addition to her work as a pastor, Karen is a Certified Risk Manager and manages the corporate insurance program for The Vanguard Group, Malvern, Pa. She lives in Lancaster with her husband, Bill. Her favorite past-times include playing golf, reading, crocheting, and walking her dog.
Reverend Dawn Harmon, is a licensed and ordained minister. That calling led her in April 2005 to found and establish the ministry of “A New Beginning Bible Fellowship”, a ministry largely based on helping the homeless, previously incarcerated and others disenfranchised and often neglected in society. Her dedication in helping those marginalized have a better quality of life inspired her to join in the efforts against human and sex trafficking with the organizations; North Star, Transport for Christ, Truckers for Christ, Exit#58, and Change Purse.
To further educate and involve the Lancaster County community in the fight against human and sex trafficking, she partnered with Not in My Backyard and Lancaster Theological Seminary for a presentation on human and sex-trafficking and how they can help end it. Reverend Harmon holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from Tuskegee University, Tuskegee, Alabama and Master of Divinity degree from Lancaster Theological Seminary, Lancaster, Pennsylvania.
Alicia Haigis is a Customer Support Specialist at the Webstaurant Store. She graduated from Saint Joseph’s College of Maine with her Bachelor of Science in Business Administration with a concentration in Management. She graduated from Southern New Hampshire University with her Master of Science in Psychology and a concentration in Forensic Psychology.
Alicia has been a supporter of Safe Communities since 2011. Beginning in 2018, she became co-lead for Safe Communities Resilience Cohort. Alicia’s passion lies in advocating for survivors on their brave path to a healthier mind and body, empowering them to use their voices and be heard, and helping them courageously reclaim their lives. As a survivor of domestic violence, Alicia feels the importance of changing the culture for victims of abuse, and advocating for social justice and equality as a way to build stronger and healthier communities.
Sherry works in administration at Milestone Construction, LLC, a family owned business, and is the proud “Nana” of six beautiful grandchildren. She brings a deep passion and commitment to stopping the sexual abuse of children. The founder of PROP, Inc. (Parents Reaching Out to Parents of Sexually Exploited Children), she has a special place in her heart for parents who receive the devastating news that their child was violated by someone they trusted. One of the first organizations of its kind, PROP provided a place for parents to find support.
“I learned first-hand the importance of finding support as a care giver of your family, being a shield for those impacted, being a voice for those who cannot speak, the importance of educating yourself, and working hard to break the strongholds that have the potential to destroy for generations”.
The Rising Together groups Safe Communities offers to protective parents are a continuation of the important work of PROP.