Transitions mark pivotal moments that shape the trajectory of an organization. Today, we share with our esteemed Respect Together community a significant milestone in our journey – a moment of both reflection and anticipation.
After an extraordinary 20-year tenure marked by innovation, passion, and unwavering dedication, our distinguished CEO, Karen Baker, will embark on a well-deserved retirement. As we bid farewell to Karen, we celebrate the profound impact she has had on Respect Together, a legacy that we know will continue to shape our organization and the global movement to end sexual abuse, assault, and harassment.
Karen’s leadership has been the guiding force behind our organization’s growth, resilience in the face of challenges, and, most importantly, our positive impact on the communities we serve. Her tireless efforts to advance our mission have left an indelible mark. A legacy that includes establishing the rebranded organizational identity of Respect Together, renaming PCAR the Pennsylvania Coalition to Advance Respect and ensuring the organization’s stability and ability to adapt throughout the height of the COVID-19 global pandemic. Baker will also be remembered as a co-founder and managing partner of RALIANCE, a national partnership established through investment from the National Football League that has driven millions of dollars of grant funding to the field.
As we express our deepest gratitude to Karen for her exceptional leadership, we warmly welcome Yolanda Edrington as the incoming CEO. Yolanda is already well-recognized by many in our community for her six years of service as COO of the National Violence Resource Center (NSVRC), Respect Together’s national division. This journey is a familiar one as Karen Baker’s tenure as CEO was also preceded by her time as the director of NSVRC, which began when it was founded by PCAR in 2000 and carried on until her own transition to CEO.
Yolanda, in her own words, shares her excitement about her new role: “It is such an honor to be taking the helm at Respect Together and carry on the legacy of Karen Baker, whose mentorship and support have been unwavering throughout my time here.” This captures the spirit of collaboration that marked Karen’s approach to leadership that Yolanda will carry on within our organization and across our projects and partnerships.
Karen Baker’s retirement is not merely an end but a transition to a new chapter in the Respect Together story. As we embark on this journey of change, we reflect on the moments of triumph and learning that have shaped us under Karen’s leadership. At her retirement celebration Karen shared with staff her own reflection that “at the end of any single day, week, or month it may be difficult to see that change is happening, but when you stay the course of twenty years, you can see the measurable progress and that we are making a difference”. Karen’s legacy of optimism and resilience is woven into the fabric of our organization.
In celebrating Karen’s retirement, we acknowledge the importance of honoring the past while embracing the future. Yolanda Edrington, with her wealth of experience and dedication from over twenty years in the human services sector, steps into the role of CEO with a commitment to building upon the foundation laid by Karen. This seamless transition ensures that Respect Together continues to be a beacon of positive change working toward safe, equitable communities with a culture of respect for all people.
To Karen Baker, we extend our heartfelt gratitude for her years of exceptional leadership. May her retirement be filled with well-deserved joy and fulfillment, and may the impact of her legacy continue to resonate in the work we do.
To Yolanda Edrington, we extend a warm welcome and unwavering support as she assumes the responsibilities of CEO. We are confident that Yolanda’s leadership will further elevate Respect Together, fostering continued growth, innovation, and positive impact. Our entire Respect Together community plays a vital role in this journey. Your ongoing support has been the bedrock of our success, and we invite you to join us in celebrating the past and embracing the future. As we navigate this transition together, we are excited about the possibilities that lie ahead and the positive impact we can collectively achieve.