Women's Initiatives

Purpose and initiatives of the Commission for Women

Page updated on May 17, 2016 at 2:47 PM

The City of Alexandria is committed to addressing needs specific to women and to LGBTQ people. This commitment can be seen in the City programs and services targeted to these populations and in the active advisory bodies for women’s issues and LGBTQ issues, including the Commission for Women, the Human Rights Commission, the Commission on HIV/AIDS and the LGBTQ Advisory Board.

Commission efforts are largely centered on:

(1) Supporting existing City programs that focus on women: Domestic Violence Program (DVP), Sexual Assault Program (SAP)Alexandria Campaign on Adolescent Pregnancy (ACAP).

(2) Providing guidance and advice to the City on relevant legislation and public policy issues.

(3) Sponsoring awareness and outreach events, including the Annual Salute to Women Awards Banquet and Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day.

(4) The preservation and promotion of women’s history in Alexandria through the Women’s History Tour and related projects. The next tour will take place on June 4 at 1 p.m. and begin at the Gadsby's Tavern Museum (132 N. Royal Street). The rain date is set for June 5, same time and location.

In addition, the Commission stays active on affairs within the city. Commissioners learn about and provide insight on local issues by attending Council meetings, hearings and symposia, inviting speakers to Commission meetings, and attending educational and civic programs within the City and around the region. In FY 2014, the Commission celebrated the 40th Anniversary of the formation of the Commission on the Status on Women in 1974 at the 34th Annual Salute to Women Awards Ceremony.  

Specific Initiatives


  • Debra Evans, Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Division Chief, 703.746.4911
  • Lisette Torres, ACAP Coordinator, 703.746.3130
  • Debra Evans, LGBTQ Task Force and Project Coordinator, 703.746.4911
  • Commission for Women Chair - Monika Jones - Email
  • Human Rights Commission Contact - Jean Kelleher - 703.746.3140
  • Kim Burson, Substance Abuse Outpatient Team Leader, 703.746.3606

Women's Events & Awareness Months

MARCH- Women's History Month

APRIL- Sexual Assault Awareness & Women & Girls' Wellness Month 

MAY- Teen Pregnancy Prevention Awareness Month

OCTOBER- Breast Cancer Awareness Month & Domestic Violence Awareness Month



Clothesline Project

Every year, the Domestic Violence Program exhibits The Clothesline Project in the community during Sexual Assault Awareness Month (April) and Domestic Violence Awareness Month (October). The vividly decorated t-shirts are strung on a clothesline to bear witness to violence against women and their strength to survive.  

The Clothesline Project began in 1990 when members of the Cape Cod Women's Agenda hung a clothesline across the village green in Hyannis, Massachusetts with 31 shirts decorated by survivors of assault, rape and incest. Women viewing the clothesline came forward to create shirts of their own and the line kept growing. Since the first display, The Clothesline Project has grown through cooperation with schools, universities, State Houses, shopping malls, churches and women's events. An estimated 35,000-50,000 shirts have been made.

"Doing the laundry has always been considered women's work and in the days of close-knit neighborhoods, women often exchanged information over backyard fences while hanging their clothes out to dry," said Carol A. Chichetto of East Dennis, MA, quoted from www.now.org , the NOW organization website. "The concept is simple. Let each woman tell her own story in her own unique way and hang it out for all to see. It was and is a way of airing society's dirty laundry."

Creating opportunities for people to learn and speak openly about sexual and domestic violence is a main goal of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault programs.  Twice yearly, the programs host t-shirt making nights where survivors and their friends and family are invited to create a t-shirt that represents their experience.

Call the Domestic Violence Program at 703.746.4911 if you are interested in making a t-shirt and participating in this awareness event.



Children's Holiday Party

Every year the Department of Community and Human Services organizes a Holiday Party for children and mothers who have been recently served by our Domestic Violence Program. At the party, the families can reunite with past shelter friends and staff, eat, and take pictures with Santa Claus, among other events. Each mother and child also receives a bag of gifts to wrap and place under their own tree on Christmas Day. Over one hundred families look forward to this exciting event annually, and our community's generosity is what makes it such a success.

If you would like to participate in the party this year, we will provide a gift suggestion list for ideas. If you wish to donate children's toys or other gifts, please provide newly purchased, unwrapped items.  We provide each mother with wrapping paper to personalize each child's gift. 

We are also requesting gift certificates to local stores in denominations of $25.00.  This way, each woman will have the opportunity to purchase something special for herself or her children.

We are accept donations at the DCHS office, located at 2525 Mount Vernon Avenue, Alexandria. The office is open from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on holidays.  

If you have any questions about donating for this event, please call the Domestic Violence Program at 703.746.4911.  We would be happy to assist you in any way we can.  Thank you so very much for helping to make this a great day for the children and families we serve.


Sixteenth Annual Women's Holiday Art Show

Take a break from crowded malls and retail stores and join creative women artists for one day each December for a relaxing afternoon of art, fun, women and wine sponsored by the Commission for Women and the Friends of the Commission for Women.  Find just the right gifts for everyone on your list -- and something wonderful for yourself. Exhibitors display pottery, handmade clothing, scarves, purses, jewelry, crafts and much more!  Complimentary refreshments are served, and raffle drawings will be held throughout the event.  Please bring a new toy or gift card for the annual Battered Women’s Shelter Children’s Holiday Party.  Proceeds will benefit Alexandria Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault programs in Alexandria.

For more information, including an event contact, visit the annual event page.  

Bathroom Poster Distribution

The Alexandria Domestic Violence Program needs volunteers aged 18 and up to help distribute educational and public awareness materials. Volunteers are given a list of locations in the City of Alexandria and can go at their own pace. Please call 703.746.4911.

Salute to Women Awards

Shining a spotlight on the distinguished work of women in our community is at the heart of the Alexandria Commission for Women’s Salute to Women Awards Banquet.

Visit the Salute to Women event page for more information.

Salute to Women Winners 2015_web
2015 Winners

Past Award Winners

Silent Witness Project & Candlelight VigilSilent Witness Vigil Candles

"Witnesses are red because it is the color of our life's blood, the one way in which we are all united...no matter our race, creed, or culture. The shields are placed over the heart-our life's rhythm."
- South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence

The Silent Witness Project is a nation-wide initiative that began in Minnesota in 1990. The project was launched by a group of Minnesota women who felt an urgency to do something about the escalating domestic violence in their state. Twenty-six life-size red silhouettes were created, each bearing the name of a woman whose life was brutally cut short due to the violence in her life.  

Since the project began in 1990, Silent Witness exhibits have been springing up across the United States. By 1997, 46 states had joined with Minnesota in creating these silhouettes. In 2002, the Commonwealth of Virginia joined the silent witness project.

Silent Witness Vigil SillouhettesAlexandria has silhouettes of our own victims who died due to domestic violence. Family, friends, and community members will honor these lives by displaying these silhouettes at various locations throughout October. The silhouettes memorialize Alexandrians who died at the hands of domestic violence, since 1990. They will also represent the thousands of City residents who are still being hurt by those they love, and are still in danger.

In October of each year, in Market Square, in front of City Hall at 301 King Street, the Domestic Violence Program holds the  Silent Witness Candlelight Vigil, an annual event during which we remember and honor all those who have died, or are still suffering, due to acts of domestic violence.  See more information about the Silent Witness National Initiative.


Grocery Store Donation Day

The Alexandria Domestic Violence Program solicits volunteers aged 18 and up to help with Grocery Store Donation Day every year during September. Morning and/or afternoon shifts are available. The grocery stores are located in the City of Alexandria. Grocery store volunteers solicit items needed for the Domestic Violence Shelter, which houses women and children fleeing from abusive homes. For more information or to sign up for next year's volunteer day, please call the Domestic Violence Program at 703.746.4911.