For Kristy McFetridge, an offer to serve as the executive director of HAVEN - a non-profit service provider for victims of domestic abuse - was reason enough to hop on a plane and move from Ireland to Bozeman.

McFetridge is a Bozeman native but had been working as the director of Kerry Counseling and Training Services in Ireland. She was recently hired to replace former HAVEN executive director Stacey Lyons.

"To come back and serve the community is a great opportunity," McFetridge said. "I'm excited to join an organization that's so important and to continue the great work they provide."

HAVEN serves all of Gallatin County, and in fiscal year 2009-2010, it served nearly 800 different clients. HAVEN's services include a 24-hour crisis line, an emergency shelter, legal advocacy, support groups, counseling and community education.

Elizabeth Porth, HAVEN's development coordinator, said employees there deal with crises every day and must be prepared for anything. She said McFetridge was chosen from dozens of applicants.

"We wanted someone dedicated to the community who cares about the people in it, and who's passionate about our cause," Porth said. "It's a mixing of two great forces."

Martha Sellers, a HAVEN board member who helped hire McFetridge, said she was the "clear first choice." The hiring process took three months.

McFetridge attended Montana State University, where she helped to start the VOICE Center, a peer-based sexual and domestic violence victim advocacy group. She also holds a master's degree in counseling psychology.

McFetridge said that as HAVEN's executive director, she hopes to better expand services to rural communities like Belgrade and Manhattan. In the future, she said that may mean adding another full-time position to the nonprofit's staff that would focus on community outreach. HAVEN currently has four full-time positions.

McFetridge said she also hopes to raise awareness about HAVEN.

"My primary goal is that everyone in Gallatin County knows we exist and that our services are available," she said. "That's essential."

Porth said HAVEN's services are becoming much more utilized, and increased calls are coming in on the crisis line. In the last fiscal year, more than 2,000 calls were made. However, she doesn't necessarily attribute that to increased levels of domestic violence. Porth said it could also be because more people are finding out about the organization and are willing to come to it for help.

McFetridge is replacing Lyons, who had been the executive director for more than five years. Lyons resigned for personal reasons and on good terms, Sellers said.

Carly Flandro can be reached at 582-2638 or



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