2016 was our most impactful year yet.

In 2016, we made bars in DC safer — and traveled to cities across the country (and Canada!) to help start Safe Bars programs in those cities. We raised a lot of money — over $17,300, in fact — thanks to you, to start the ReThink Masculinity program. We helped build the End Street Harassment Coalition, more than 20 local organizations in DC. We worked with WMATA to help make public transit safer for everyone with an inclusive ad campaign. We became one of the founding members of the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition, a local working group tackling Islamophobia, and we joined a new coalition led by HIPS to support sex workers’ rights. We trained more than 300 community members to respond to harassment and use bystander intervention strategies to de-escalate aggressive situations.

None of this work to build a community free from street harassment would be possible without YOUR help — our DC community — with your time, your expertise, your dollars, and your commitment to helping us make our city safer for everyone.

Scroll down to see how we tackled all of this work in 2016.

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Making bars safer.

“We’ve always been very concerned with the safety of our customers, but the training we received helped us to spot a much more subtle interaction that we might have written off in the past as just two people meeting in a bar and hitting it off.” – Sam Nellis, who helped to bring the Safe Bars program to Birch & Barley and Churchkey

Have you ever been sexually harassed in a bar? Chances are that you have, especially if you present as a woman. In May, we launched the Safe Bars program, a training for bar staff to recognize and respond to unwanted sexual aggression.

Twenty local bars have stepped up to be Safe Bars, letting our community know that sexual harassment won’t be tolerated. In the coming year, we’re looking forward to evaluating the program with comprehensive data analysis and six-month check-ins at trained bars.

Making public transit safer.

“I deserve to take up space in public without being sexually assaulted on my way to work.” – My Streets, Too submission

We all have the right to feel safe while getting around our city. Harassers take advantage of trains and buses as environments where their targets can’t easily escape, making public transit an important space to address harassment. CASS has been advocating for safety on the Metro and buses since 2009. This year, we worked with Stop Street Harassment and WMATA on a new public awareness campaign and advocacy to curb harassment by WMATA employees and Metro Transit Police.

The campaign goals are to:

  • Support people who experience harassment with messages letting riders know they deserve to be treated with respect.
  • Promote a culture of bystander intervention, where everyone is responsible for speaking out against harassment and making public transit safer.
  • Elevate our city’s most marginalized identities by featuring the faces of people who are part of marginalized groups, such as trans women of color and Muslim women, who face harassment most severely and most frequently.

CASS also worked with Stop Street Harassment and WMATA to conduct one of the first-ever comprehensive transit safety surveys in the country to learn more about transit riders’ experiences with harassment on DC’s public transit and what we can do to help.

Making our city safe from hate.

“Trans women in DC face harassment from family, police, and strangers on the street simply for living in our unique truth. Our lifestyle is considered taboo. But we are no different from anyone else. We all breathe the same air, under the same blue sky.” – Nona Conner, 2016 CASS Fellow

The past year, our community experienced blatant Islamophobia and transphobia — and you stood with us on the frontlines. When a DC Public Library police officer harassed a Muslim woman about her hijab, you joined us to rally at Shaw Library. Together, we let our community know that, whether we’re wearing a #HoodieOrHijab, we deserve to feel safe

Now, as Muslim communities have come under attack by federal legislation, CASS has joined with partners to form the DC Justice for Muslims Coalition.

When Banneker Pool staff misgendered trans women of color, we worked with them to understand trans cultural competency and stop harassment.

We also recognize that the experiences of women of color and trans women of color are frequently excluded from advocacy against police brutality, which focuses primarily on the experiences and needs of black men, and advocacy against gender-based violence, which focuses primarily on the experiences and needs of white women. We worked with partners to create a fact sheet on how state violence and gender based violence are not only linked — but how the most marginalized identities in our community are at high risk.

Aside from these private trainings for staffers, our workshops team has been hard at work training 300+ community members — mostly women and LGBTQGNC folks — to assertively respond to street harassment. But we realized to make real change, we need to engage men in our work. Now we’re working with partners at ReThink and the DC Rape Crisis Center to build a program that will engage men in the movement to end gender-based violence: ReThink Masculinity.

Thank YOU for helping make our work possible.

All of this was possible because of active community members like you. We’re excited to continue to work with you to make DC’s public spaces safer for everyone.

Board Members

Mindi Westhoff, Board Chair
Samantha Pawlak, Vice Chair
Caitlin Van Orden, Treasurer
Tim Wright, Secretary
Chioke Barkari
Dave Chandrasekaran
Maggie Germano
Elizabeth Hague
Carolyn McCoy Zugaldia
Lauren Sogor
Kim Tolhurst
Leigh Crenshaw

Staff Members

Jessica Raven, Executive Director
Alex Winter, Workshops Fellow
Rachele Allen, Workshops Team Member
Krystal Atha, Workshops Team Member
Cecilia Dos Santos, Workshops Team Member
Kris Klassen, Workshops Team Member
Claire S. Gould, Communications Director
Michela Masson, Email Manager
Nic Martinez, Social Media Manager
Melissa Yeo, Social Media Manager
Abby Stallworth, Development Director
Jayni Rasmussen, Interim Policy Director/Safe Bars Policy Manager
Ashley Kula, Policy Team Member
Leah Muskin-Pierret, Policy Team Member
Sam Jewler, Healthy Masculinity Program Manager
Daniel Dixon, Health Masculinity Program Manager
Sarah Doyel, Advocacy Manager

Advisory Council

Krishna Ghodiwala
Holly Kearl
Ben Merrion
Paula Shapiro
Chai Shenoy
Star Silva
Julia Strange

Want to help sustain our work in 2017 and beyond?

Join us now.

*Icons by Made Somewhere, Angelique Hering, Gan Khoon Lay, Miguel Carraça, The Noun Project