Community Professionals Training Profile: Ashleigh Hala, Babson College
If there’s one word to describe Ashleigh Hala, the inaugural director of Babson College’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention & Response Services, it’s busy. From advocating for student survivors in school proceedings to planning education campaigns on campus, Ashleigh has a full plate. Despite her busy schedule, she took a week in 2016 to attend BARCC’s Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Summer Training Institute to deepen her knowledge and connect with others doing similar work. Her goal: to better serve the students she works with.
“After I started working at Babson, it was important to me to go through the BARCC training to add to my professional repertoire and to continue connecting and networking with others in the field,” Ashleigh shares. “I knew it was a trademark step for the work that I do.”
A social worker at heart, Ashleigh has experience working in student affairs, higher education, and Title IX coordination. In her position at Babson, she fills a range of roles:
- Confidential resource and case manager for students on campus
- Advocate for student survivors in hospitals, courts, and through the Title IX process
- Crisis responder who organizes Babson’s 24-7 rape crisis hotline
- Educator who plans trainings and marketing campaigns to help prevent sexual violence.
While she is fully immersed in Babson, she also says: “I am a believer in the fact that colleges and universities need to create these mutually beneficial relationships with community partners. They are so often very insular.” The BARCC training presented Ashleigh with the opportunity to do just that.
First piloted in 2015, the 40-hour Sexual Violence Prevention & Response Summer Training Institute is facilitated by BARCC staff who are experts on the various aspects of and approaches to sexual assault response and prevention. As Ashleigh shares:
“The training was really comprehensive. There was a holistic approach, and it really mirrored BARCC’s services.”
Topics covered have included, among others: trauma and empowerment, counseling and coping skills, working with LGBTQ communities, sexual assault forensics, male survivors, and economic justice. Participants also hear from members of our Survivor Speakers Bureau. “The time that is devoted to powerful survivor narrative really shows the value that BARCC holds in the survivor perspective,” Ashleigh says.
Institute attendees have included a range of community professionals, including college chaplains, social work interns, corrections professionals, and anti-violence advocates. “I really enjoyed the opportunity to hear from different folks in the room,” Ashleigh reflected. “Lots of people at various organizational levels with so many different perspectives and lenses, but still looking at each session from the seat of a helping professional.”
Ashleigh plans to refer other colleagues from the Babson community, including incoming interns at her office, to the BARCC training to create a “core baseline” for her staff.
“Participating in the training has allowed me to bring community organizations into the work that we’re doing here at Babson more than the average office would, and it has really started creating this multi-way network around how we work, refer students, talk about trends and research, and make sure that everything we’re offering our community is really top-notch,” she says.
Ashleigh also has plans to incorporate parts of the BARCC training into the training for Babson’s wellness peer education group. She is excited for future collaboration with BARCC: “It’s so wonderful to have BARCC as such a robust, welcoming community resource.”