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Safelight honors Blackford, announces new director

Safelight Chair Pat Ashe presents a painting of a dandelion to Tanya Blackford. Safelight Chair Pat Ashe presents a painting of a dandelion to Tanya Blackford.

Some people dabbed at tears when Safelight President Pat Ashe presented the agency’s leader, Tanya Blackford, with a painting of a dandelion, representing one of her many achievements as director of the domestic violence shelter for women and children over the past 15 years.

Last week at a reception at the Hendersonville Country Club, Safelight staff members, supporters and nonprofit leaders gathered to say farewell to Blackford, who leaves the agency to become area director for Crossnore School & Children’s Home.

Safelight development director Laresa Griffin ticked off a series of achievements Safelight has made under Blackford’s leadership, including the Dandelion Eatery, a restaurant that trains women from the shelter, the merger with the Healing Place, a partnership to form the Family Justice Center and renovating an apartment building for women and their children.
“Most people don’t have the opportunity to have a service while they’re still alive,” Blackford joked. “I showed up at 29 and I had absolutely no idea what I was doing. The work that we’ve been able to do and the lives that we’ve tried to touch and fix and work with have been amazing. It has brought back an entire amount of faith in work that if you just try great things can happen. They might not happen exactly as you thought, but they will, and good things will happen.
“I love Safelight and I love the work that we have gotten to do and I hope that that work continues and I know that it will,” she added. “It’s not about the individual, it’s about the group.”

On Wednesday, Safelight’s Board of Directors announced the selection of John Lauterbach as the new executive director of the organization.

Lauterbach joins the organization with a career that has been dedicated to developing and providing programs and services for abused and neglected children and their families. Most recently, he was the executive director of CARING for Children in Asheville. He has a master’s degree in business administration and a bachelor’s degree in psychology. He and his wife, Carrie, have two adult children and one granddaughter.
“Our organization is very fortunate to have such a seasoned administrator join our excellent Safelight team," Ashe said. "John will definitely assist us in continuing to achieve our mission, ‘creating hope, healing lives, changing community.’”
Lauterbach will join Safelight Feb. 12.