Path to PAVE led through Italy

New Executive Director Nadia Lucchin

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BENNINGTON — Nadia Lucchin's path to heading the anti-domestic violence organization in town started some 4,000 miles away, on the other side of the Atlantic. It was 2004. Lucchin was teaching English in Rome when she became curious about the young, foreign-looking women she saw walking the streets in secluded parts of the city at night.

She learned that the women had gotten ensnared in human trafficking. When Lucchin returned to the United States and did her master's in Italian Studies, she decided to do her research project on the social issue.

This academic inquiry led her to realizing that human trafficking was also a problem in the U.S., including in her home state of Ohio. She began volunteering at local organizations that assisted trafficking victims.

In 2010, she took on a job as legal advocate for victims of domestic violence with the City Attorney's Office in Columbus, Ohio.

"There's a lot of overlap (in the problems) that victims of human trafficking and victims of domestic violence face," said Lucchin, who moved with her family to Bennington last summer when her husband got a teaching job at Bennington College.

After taking a break from advocacy work to have two girls — now 7 and 4 years old — Lucchin became executive director of Project Against Violent Encounters in Bennington on June 17.

Established in the 1980s to aid victims of domestic and sexual violence throughout Bennington County, PAVE offers a range of programs that include a 24-hour hotline and emergency shelter. It also provides legal assistance, supervised child visitation and community education.

The executive director position, Lucchin said, will utilize her varied professional background: teacher, victim advocate and first responder, police liaison, community outreach representative and volunteer coordinator.

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"All of those kinds of experiences that I had, I felt like prepared me well for being a leader in this arena," Lucchin, 41, said. "I really want to be rooted in my community, and I feel like this is a way that I can use my skills and knowledge to contribute."

She has replaced Linda Campbell, who remains a PAVE volunteer and told the Banner earlier this year that she was excited with the nonprofit's getting a new leader who can bring new ideas and energy.

PAVE's board president, Paula Sherman, said the board of directors is looking forward to Lucchin's leading the organization in its desire to expand its services to the community. The board, for one, wants to continue raising funds for capital improvements and to fill the financial gaps that grants don't cover.

Since Lucchin has been on the job for less than a month, she said her immediate goal is to understand the demands of her position, as well as to see where the organization stands and what gaps need to be filled. She lauded the commitment of PAVE's staff, and said she wants to know how she can better support their work.

She has ideas for new programming but preferred to discuss them once she has been more immersed in her job.

A first-generation American-born Italian on her mother's side, Lucchin's first language is Italian, which led to her majoring in Italian as an undergraduate. At that time, she had no idea her professional life would eventually bring her to helping victims of domestic and sexual violence.

But looking back at the path she's taken, Lucchin said it's not at all surprising she has reached this destination since she had been following her interests and abilities all along.

Tiffany Tan can be reached at ttan@benningtonbanner.com, @tiffgtan at Twitter and 802-447-7567 ext. 122.


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