Five Questions For … Sandra Ziebold
By Sara McAninch // Photography by Jana Jones
For Sandra Ziebold, chief executive officer of Beacon of Hope Crisis Center and Ziebold Imagery, finding balance and taking time for self-care are important. As a self-professed “glass is half full” person, she loves that her work at the center focuses on positivity and providing hope. When she needs to take a break from the stresses of daily life, she turns to her art.
“We all need to practice some sort of self-care,” she says. “Art is an escape. If I’m creating something, it’s a way to step away. It’s an escape from things that are hard and overwhelming, or just interrupt that cadence a little bit and to really take a moment to center.”
Ziebold was born in Portland, then lived in the South Bend area until her teens. In the early 1990s she left the state and moved around before coming back in 2004 to be close to family on the southside. As an artist and businesswoman, it’s hard to believe she has free hours, but she manages to find time to enjoy her favorite hobbies, which include reading nonfiction, listening to a variety of music genres, food and traveling.
1. Tell me about Beacon of Hope Crisis Center and your work there. What do you find rewarding about it?
Beacon of Hope Crisis Center is a dual domestic violence and sexual assault advocacy organization. It serves an average of 1,200 victims of crime annually; 20% of them are male. The center is a registered 501(c)3, all services are free, and there is no discrimination whatsoever regarding who is served. If someone needs assistance that the agency doesn’t provide, then a referral is made.
Often we work through serious, complex issues. Seventy percent of our clients have law enforcement involvement in their cases, and we partner with law enforcement and hospitals to intervene early to save lives and reduce overall homicide rates. Every day our agency is empowering others and changing lives.
My typical day varies greatly. I oversee about 50 to 55 individuals, including employees, interns, volunteers and contractors, as well as numerous federal, state and local grants. I’m in regular communication with the board of directors. Each day I must be flexible, which fits my personality, and I must think five years out. I’m always thinking about what we’re doing in the moment and how it impacts what’s ahead.
I have a lot of training in domestic violence, sexual assault and strangulation. I am an expert witness, and I am a certified approved trainer for the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. I do a lot of public speaking and training. Part of that entails giving partners of all types, individuals in the community and law enforcement some education about the victim’s perspective and educating them on the health emergency. While training isn’t an everyday thing, it’s a big part of what I do.
When I originally decided to join the board over nine years ago, I chose this organization because I had a creative art therapy concept for children of domestic violence and was also very moved by the foster pet program. We currently utilize art in the healing process at Beacon of Hope Crisis Center in conjunction with counseling when fitting and of interest to domestic violence and sexual assault trauma clients.
A few years ago, I spoke before the Indiana Senate, and I was instrumental in getting pets added to protective orders. I helped establish a pet abuse task force. Part of the training I provide is to help identify the link between domestic violence and pet abuse; I teach officers to look at the animals when they go into a household setting because that might be a clue about what’s going on.
One of the services offered by the agency is a pet foster program where victims can safely leave, and their pets are looked after. When they get into a safe place, then they get their pets back. Victims shouldn’t have to surrender their pets to save their own lives, so I want to prevent that. We also have vet partners because there are occasions where pets are harmed, and we do everything we can to save that pet’s life.
What’s most rewarding about my job is mitigating barriers and helping others become empowered and healed. We’re here to serve a purpose, and I want to affect positive change.
Recently the center won the GuideStar Platinum Seal of Transparency, which is its highest seal. To do this, we had to share in-depth financial information on our nonprofit profile. We also shared qualitative information about goals, strategies and capabilities, and quantified data about our progress on our goals toward our mission. We chose to display quantitative metrics to our donors and the community because it shows we’re making a positive change in people’s lives.
2. One of the key words in the center’s name is the word hope. How do you foster it?
Hope is part of the center’s core values; we’re constantly focused on that. We’re about empowerment. We need to inspire hope in those we serve by giving a message that they can heal and by providing resources to help them get ahead in life. The message I want to send is that Beacon of Hope can help and there is hope.
Hope is an optimistic state of mind. It’s the feeling things will turn out for the best. It’s consistently looking forward to that positive outcome to something planned in our life.
3. In addition to your work at Beacon of Hope, you’re also CEO at Ziebold Imagery. What do you do in that role?
I stopped taking clients when I took over as CEO in 2016. Prior to that, I provided creative market services that included creating and selling art for retail establishments and direct to hotels. For eight years I worked for a high-end furniture store managing the marketing, among other things. I created mixed media art and photography, and it sold in the store.
For four years I was on the board for Beacon of Hope while I was managing my art business and working for the furniture store.
4. It’s rare to find someone who works at a crisis center and in the art world. How do you balance the two?
I am an equally right brain, left brain person. I like strategy, analyzing and solving problems, as well as being creative and growing something. I get to do all of that in this role [as CEO of Beacon of Hope Crisis Center], so I love that I can do all those things.
I have a creative marketing and development background. They are such a huge part of what I do for Beacon of Hope, so I’m able to apply those talents and skills in my daily work. One way is through the center’s website, which I created and maintain in-house. As the creative graphic designer, I don’t have to farm out the work, which saves the organization a lot of money.
5. What do you love about living and working on the southside?
The people are warm and caring and collaborative. We have some great, wonderful partnerships, and we all care about our neighbors.
We chose to have Beacon of Hope Crisis Center on the southside because we were getting a lot of clients from Perry Township, and we were in a location that’s more accessible to those we are serving.
If you have experienced domestic violence and/or sexual assault and need assistance or advocacy, contact the Beacon of Hope Crisis Center main number at (317) 731-6131 or the crisis call line at (317) 731-6140. To find out more about the center, including its programs and services, intern and volunteer opportunities, and how you can donate, visit the website at beaconofhopeindy.org/index.html.