Haven Respite Jersey City
Haven Respite

Katie Brennan, senior advisor to New York City’s deputy mayor of housing and economic development and a rape survivor, and Mark Bunbury, associate director of diversity and inclusion at the law firm Proskauer Rose in Manhattan, will share their stories of resiliency on Zoom on Jan 23 to benefit Haven, a local respite center for troubled youth.

Brennan was raped by a high-level aide when working on Phil Murphy’s campaign for governor in 2017. She speaks publicly about her experience in order to reduce the stigma of rape and to help other victims of sexual assault deal with their shame.

“Shame derives power from being unspeakable, and sexual assault is particularly shame-ridden,” she said.

Sasha Rodriguez, Director of Social Work at Haven, and Janine Brown, the organization’s director of programming will be co-moderate the discussion. Referring to Brennan, Rodriguez said,

“Part of what we’re going to be talking about is how therapy was able to assist her during the process, the benefits of that, what she was able to gain, how she was able to grow,” Rodriguez said.

Brennan’s story became widely known in 2018 when she shared her experience with The Wall Street Journal to publicize what she characterizes as the failings of the justice system around sexual assault,.

Brennan testified before the N.J. Select Oversight Committee, filed a lawsuit against the state, and advocated for reforms, dozens of which have passed.

Funds from her legal settlement went to help The Waterfront Project provide low-income survivors of sexual assault in Hudson County guidance and legal assistance.

Mark Bunbury will speak of resiliency from a very different perspective. Growing up, he said he faced “many of the challenges of systemic racism and homophobia, both externally reinforced and internalized.” But he said, “Though I grew up without a lot of resources, I always believed in doing my best and aiming to excel.”

Prior to joining Proskauer Rose Bunbury  was one of the youngest directors in Jersey City government. “I want young people to know that even if you look like me and identify as I do, you can face lots of challenges and still succeed,” he added.

It is precisely this potential for transformation that Amy Albert, founder of Haven, wants the kids at the center to hear.

Albert is a former public defender and started Haven to provide youth the counseling and services she saw them struggling to get when she represented them in court. This lack of access “caused tension and isolation between the family members more than anything, she said.

In addition to counseling, Haven offers short-term residency to youth who might otherwise face incarceration or homelessness. Funds from the event will underwrite therapy and case management for youth after their stay at the center.

Tickets, which are on sale through 5 p.m. Jan. 23, are $100 each or $50 for students or “those who have been affected by Covid-19.”

A limited number of free tickets have been donated and can be obtained by emailing aalbert@havenrespite.org.

Andrea Crowley-Hughes is a writer and media maker motivated by chronicling and sustaining communities. Her reporting on education, sustainability and the restaurant industry has recently been featured...