Advocate passionate about helping families
Gen (Genevra) Krahn-Reed
Community: Lives in Lake Como, Geneva Township; works in Elkhorn
Occupation: Executive director of the Association for the Prevention of Family Violence
Family: Husband, Joe Reed; 2 cats, Jibboo & Zappa
Favorite hobbies: Going to concerts, making jewelry, traveling, reading
Favorite books: "Perfume," by Paul Salkind; any books by Carl Hiaasen or Jasper Fforde
Favorite movie: "A Room with a View"; "Casablanca"
Role models: My mother, Alice Mirk; Gandhi; Princess Diana
Three words that best describe you: Funny, compassionate, multi-tasker
Defining moment in your life: Receiving my master's degree in counseling
What makes you happy: Spending time with my family and friends, especially at an outdoor concert!
ELKHORN Gen Krahn-Reed's first day on the job in June 2007 followed a staggering tragedy.
A Delavan man killed his infant twins, the mother of his children and two others before turning a handgun on himself.
"It made me realize my job would not be a cakewalk," Krahn-Reed said.
She became executive director of Walworth County's Association for the Prevention of Family Violence two days after the shootings.
The killing spree was a dramatic reminder of the need for the agency.
Krahn-Reed and her staff helped more than 2,500 victims of domestic abuse and/or sexual assault in 2008. The bulk of services went to victims of domestic violence.
Six full-time staff members at the small nonprofit provide free and confidential services, including counseling, housing and advocacy. Employees also talk in schools about healthy relationships, dating violence and bullying.
Those who know Krahn-Reed say she works in overdrive to push the association in creative new directions.
"She goes above and beyond her job," said Sarah Boss, executive director of Walworth County's Housing Authority and member of the Association for the Prevention of Family Violence Board of Directors. "Gen spends an enormous amount of time networking to get out the association's message. She reaches out to partner with others and doesn't take 'no' for an answer."
The housing authority works with the association to help victims with support services.
Jean Henderson said Krahn-Reed shows real passion and compassion for her work.
"She is not defeated by problems," said Henderson, who is also on the association's board of directors. "We have wonderful leadership with Gen. Her expectations are extremely high. But because of her commitment and communication skills, she gets the maximum from her staff."
Krahn-Reed inherited a desire to make a difference from social-worker parents. She saw her mother and stepfather helping people for as long as she can remember. In high school, Krahn-Reed started down the road to community service by volunteering at workshops for people who are developmentally disabled and who have mental illnesses.
She earned a graduate degree to be a guidance counselor. But eventually, she turned her attention to the Association for the Prevention of Family Violence, where she worked part time as the transitional-living coordinator before stepping into her current position.
As of Jan. 1, 2008, she is proud the association has a 24-hour crisis line.
The 38-year-old has deep empathy for victims of injustice. But don't misinterpret her show of emotion as weakness. She never hesitates to speak up when something needs to be said.
On the outside, she wears a professional business look. On the inside, she insists she is a big kid at heart.
When Krahn-Reed puts in a long day, she does not hesitate to do it all over again.
"I enjoy getting up and going to work," she said.
"I couldn't think of doing anything else."