ORANGE PARK – Ana Martinez-Mullen greets members of the State Attorney’s Office, the Clay County Fire Chief and sheriff’s department staff as if each person is an old friend, a warm smile on …
ORANGE PARK – Ana Martinez-Mullen greets members of the State Attorney’s Office, the Clay County Fire Chief and sheriff’s department staff as if each person is an old friend, a warm smile on her face and a composed confidence in her posture.
After all, everyone in the room is there to meet her, Clay County’s new chief advocate for those who fall victim to domestic violence and sexual assault.
Martinez-Mullen is the new CEO of Quigley House and met with community leaders June 28 in what will be one of many meet and greet events locally.
Martinez-Mullen brings a wealth of experience and knowledge with her to the position having previously worked as the specialized services coordinator at Hubbard House, a similar center in Duval County, for almost 15 years while also earning her law degree.
That experience is certainly a plus, according to Assistant State Attorney Theresa Simak.
“The State Attorney’s Office is very excited to be able to work with Anna because we know what she brings to the table,” said Simak. “Her experience is going to be invaluable to those affected by domestic violence and sexual assault.”
While Clay County does not have the reputation for crime that many counties in Florida do, Simak said domestic violence in particular is still a serious issue.
“Domestic violence isn’t limited by gender, income, race, sexual orientation or anything like that,” said Simak. “It crosses all lines and barriers and can affect anyone.”
That’s why programs such as Quigley House are so important, Simak said. Quigley House and the State Attorney’s Office often work closely together. Whether it’s Quigley House helping victims report the crimes against them or the State Attorney’s Office recommending their victims go to the program for counseling, the two organizations help each other whenever possible.
Valerie Hernandez, an advocate at the State Attorney’s Office, said Quigley House has an in-house attorney at the Clay County Courthouse who provides services free of charge and is on call 24/7. That can be an invaluable resource for victims who may not have access to other options or the money to pay for a lawyer.
At the reception to introduce Martinez-Mullen, the original CEO of Quigley House and the woman who has been the interim-CEO for the past several months, Ellen Siler, was asked to introduce her.
Siler worked with Martinez-Mullen at Hubbard House and had been fervently hoping that she would apply and be selected for the position at Quigley House. Siler began to get emotional as she spoke about how happy she was that Martinez-Mullen would be taking over in Clay County.
Martinez-Mullen said she was grateful for her new role as CEO and for her valuable experience at Hubbard House. She talked about how eager she was to begin helping those in need and stressed how much strength it takes for victims to seek help.
“So often they view themselves as weak and helpless,” said Martinez-Mullen. “They’re not weak, they are surviving every single day and that takes an immense amount of strength.”
After the introductions, Siler spoke about how much Quigley House has changed since it was started in 1988 when she was the only employee.
Quigley House first began as a telephone hotline before evolving into a shelter for victims in 1991. The program spent the first seven years working out of a borrowed house and was originally only working with domestic violence victims. It has since become a program with its own headquarters and staff and now helps victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.
As far Martinez-Mullen, Siler only sees great things in the future for the program under the new CEO.
“She’s the perfect person for Quigley House,” said Siler. “She’s the perfect person for Clay County.”
The Quigley House hotline can be reached through two phone numbers. (904) 284-0061 or (800) 500-1119.