Feature Series: Leaders in Domestic Violence - Lori Jump, Director, StrongHearts Native Helpline
October 19, 2020
In recognition of Native American leadership in the field of domestic and sexual violence, StrongHearts Native Helpline is presenting a series of columns featuring individuals making a difference in Indian Country. We begin the series with our leader, Lori Jump (Sault Ste. Marie Chippewa), director of StrongHearts Native Helpline.
Core Native American Values
As the Director of StrongHearts Native Helpline, Lori Jump has more than 30 years of experience working in the field of domestic and sexual violence. Before that she was a young mother with a passion for justice and a natural ability to lead. She was inspired by and gives credit to being raised in a traditional Native American family.
"We had the best kind of upbringing. Our house was open to whoever needed help. It didn't matter who they were–if we had it, we gave it. We never turned anyone away," said Lori explaining that her parents raised ten children and tended to many others. "For me, family is more important than any job, money, house, anything."
She explained that the cornerstone to the success of any organization is to incorporate and understand core values; and, it is with the utmost respect for her culture that she strives to tailor the work environment to fit Native people on a deeper level.
"When someone has a family issue, as an employer, you must be able and ready to let staff members deal with things that happen in their lives," said Lori. "I believe core Native American values include a heightened sense of family and community."
Working for her Tribe
When it comes to victim services in Indian Country, Lori was and still is a trailblazer. She has a long history working for her Tribe, the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan. Although she says that she stumbled into the field of domestic violence, her career path was anything but a stumble.
In 1989, Lori applied for a tribal court clerk position but was encouraged instead to apply for a victim advocate job. She was soon hired and worked in this position before transitioning into a juvenile probation officer position. As a probation officer, she quickly learned that troubled teens are often found in homes experiencing domestic violence. Back then, it was her mission to not only ensure that the teens follow tribal law but also to guide them onto a better path in life.
As is the case with trailblazers, Lori's mentor may seem unconventional but it was under his guidance she carved a path in Indian Country. Her mentor was Bob Nygaard, the Sault Tribe's grant writer who in the early days played an important role in the overall success of the development of the Tribe's programs.
"Bob was the Tribe's only grant writer. He wrote the initial grants for our tribal programs, but it became part of our job to write and apply for grants to maintain funding for our positions," said Lori. "He was an absolute master of the written word and it was with his expertise that I learned how to write and maintain grant funding."
Growing Tribal Programs
Lori recognized the connection between the need for services, grant writing and having a meaningful impact on the lives of Native people. It became her passion to ensure programs were well-funded.
The first grant Lori wrote was to maintain the victim advocate position. The initial grant was obtained from the State of Michigan in the amount of $27,000. She increased the request for the second grant and secured $40,000 to continue the position. While advocating for victims of domestic violence, Lori continued to write more grants.
She wrote the grant and secured funding for the Tribe's Advocacy Resource Center (ARC), a direct service program that provides assistance and support to victims-survivors and their children impacted by domestic violence. She ensured the success of that program by becoming the Program Manager and hiring more advocates. In 1996, Lori obtained her first grant of $86,000 from the Office of Violence Against Women.
"We were over the moon," said Lori. "The grant didn't roll out until 1997, but over the years we kept growing the program." In early 2000, she secured grant funding for the ARC's "Aakdehewin Gaamig – Lodge of Bravery (LOB)," a 16-bed temporary emergency shelter for victims of domestic and dating violence and their children. Soon after, she increased advocacy and added support services that were second to none.
Lori and her team worked hard to build a comprehensive program that included emergency legal advocacy, criminal justice advocacy, crime victim compensation assistance, prevention and outreach education, and even funded a clinical social worker position in the Tribe's Behavioral Health Program that provides outpatient therapy to victims of sexual abuse and assault. She had become a leading expert in the field of domestic violence – a true leader in Indian Country.
"I didn't do it on my own. We were successful because we had really good people working for us. Our tribal board was supportive. The program was helping people and nobody had a problem with that," she explained. "Other tribal services and programs had requirements that were tied to income and where you live. Our program didn't have any. It didn't matter if you were on or off the reservation. If you were a victim of domestic violence and a tribal member, you were eligible."
The Missing Link: Uniting Three Fires Against Violence
Lori was so committed to justice that she identified the need for culturally-specific training not otherwise found in Michigan. For training, tribes were dependent upon non-Native programs with instructors who lacked a basic understanding of tribal governments, court systems and jurisdictional issues. So, in 2007, she secured funding to establish an organization that could provide culturally-specific training and resources.
Uniting Three Fires Against Violence (UTFAV) is a statewide tribal coalition with representation from all of Michigan's federally recognized tribes. UTFAV provides a variety of training opportunities to tribal advocacy programs, tribal leadership and tribal entities working in response to violence in Indian Country. Some of the training offered includes: domestic violence in Indian Country, sexual assault in Indian Country, sex trafficking in Indian Country, foundations of advocacy, historical trauma, and shelter advocacy – to name a few.
In 2013, UTFAV was struggling. Lori believed it was a valuable organization so much so that she made the difficult decision to leave the Tribe and take the lead at UTFAV. She stabilized the organization and ensured its continued success to the present day. She also became an appellate court judge for her Tribe and continues in that capacity today.
StrongHearts Native Helpline
Lori wasn't looking for change when it came knocking at her door. She was offered a director position outside of her hometown where she had worked and lived for the past 30 years. It would be a life-changing decision to leave UTFAV, but destiny and fate were waiting at StrongHearts Native Helpline. It was to be the nation's first domestic violence helpline designed by and for Native Americans and Alaska Natives. It was the brainchild conceived by the National Domestic Violence Hotline (The Hotline) and the National Indigenous Women's Resource Center (NIWRC).
Lori moved to Austin Texas - a place she had never been - to learn the ropes of a domestic violence hotline under the wings of The Hotline and NIWRC. After a little more than three months, StrongHearts Native Helpline was launched on March 6, 2017.
"It's an honor to serve Indian Country," said Lori. "We have heard and are answering the call for victim services and advocacy on a national level. Thanks to the foresight of our parent organizations, The Hotline and NIWRC, Native Americans and Alaska Natives impacted by domestic violence have a trusted resource. StrongHearts advocates have already helped thousands of Natives Americans navigate the darkness of domestic, dating and sexual violence. They are on the front line meeting the needs of our people."
Lori is the daughter of Cecil and Edna Pavlat -nee Gurnoe. She has three sons Lenny (Becky) and Aaron (Kip) Jump and Nicholas Marsh. She is a grandmother of four children Andreaka and Mya Jump, Brendan and Kimberly McCormick.