Staff Directory

  • Melissa Fisher, Executive Director

    Melissa joined the Collins Center in 2013 after moving to Harrisonburg with her husband. In March 2014, she transitioned to the role of Executive Director at the agency, and she works closely with the Board of Directors, staff, and multiple stakeholders to fine-tune existing programs while carrying out the goals and objectives of the agency’s strategic plan. Prior to joining the Collins Center, Melissa was Chief Operating Officer of Friends of the High Line, the non-profit organization responsible for the planning, funding, and operation of New York City’s High Line. She has extensive background in program management and non-profit capacity building, and she was named to Crain’s New York’s 40-Under-40 List in 2012 for her contributions to the High Line project. Her work in the field of violence against women dates back to her time as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Tanzania, East Africa, where she worked on community development and women’s health initiatives from 2001-2003, including an anti-female circumcision campaign. Melissa has two young boys, enjoys gardening and riding her motorcycle, and is fluent in Swahili.

    From Melissa: “Before joining the Collins Center team, I assumed the work of the agency was upsetting and depressing…the kind of subject matter that people discuss with their voices lowered and their eyebrows creased in concern. But despite the very real and concerning issues that the agency tackles, I’ve discovered at the Collins Center a staff of optimists who bring to work each day a sense of hope and a deep commitment to changing the culture of sexual abuse in our society. The resilience of our clients is both humbling and uplifting. The expertise and attentiveness of the professionals and partnering agencies with whom we work adds so much to our level of effectiveness. I’m honored to be a part of this team!”

    Contact: melissa@thecollinscenter.org

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  • Ana Arias, MA, Ed.S, LPC, Therapist & Associate Director

    Ana has worked with youth and adults on sexual abuse treatment and prevention for over 15 years. She began as a crisis counselor for the local school system and began specializing in the treatment of survivors of sexual abuse when she joined the Collins Center in 2005. She also became heavily involved in the Collins Center’s prevention efforts to end sexual violence in the community. As a tri-lingual, bi-cultural therapist, she is TF-CBT trained and provides long-term mental health counseling and short-term crisis services to both English and Spanish speaking clients. Ana is also a trained forensic interviewer, regularly conducting interviews with Spanish speaking children. As an authority on prevention and the clinical treatment of sexual abuse, she offers consultation and training to other mental health treatment providers and organizations. Ana also plays an integral role in the Collins Center’s prevention programming, and her leadership and dedication to launching Safe Church Harrisonburg brought an immediate impact to the local faith community and beyond. Outside of the Collins Center, Ana has many interests and hobbies, most of them revolving around the joy of raising three boys. She also loves to collect insects (a hobby that originated from growing up in Brasil) and to watch any show or movie that makes her laugh. Ana finds her peace in nature and living in the beautiful Shenandoah Valley allows her to do that often.

    From Ana: “I am blessed at the Collins Center to wear different hats. I work in prevention as well as provide therapy, crisis services, forensic interviews and advocacy. It has been at times challenging and heartbreaking work but always meaningful. I have stayed at the Collins Center doing this work because of the strength and resiliency of individuals who inspire me. I am honored to know those who have seen darkness and are willing to stand in the light. It has also been an honor to create relationships with community partners who also find strength to stand with the wounded and work towards change. Thank you all who continue to inspire me.”

    Contact: ana@thecollinscenter.org

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  • Jessica Balac, Outreach Coordinator

    Jess came to the Shenandoah Valley to attend James Madison University, finishing in 2013 with a Bachelor’s degree in English and Master’s in Teaching. She first came to know the Collins Center through her faith community, RISE, and formally came aboard in May 2015 as Development Assistant after helping to plan the Chocolate Walk, a RISE fundraiser to benefit the Collins Center. Her previous experience with management and customer service brings a well-rounded perspective and approach to collaboration as well as problem solving. Through local involvement, she came to align herself with goals of giving back and helping Harrisonburg develop into a stronger community, goals she carries into her daily work at the Collins Center. In October of 2016, Jess joined the Collins Center full time as Outreach Coordinator, dividing her time between direct client services and development work. In her free time, she likes to enjoy the natural amenities of the valley by leading an active lifestyle outdoors.

    From Jess: “I enjoy working at the Collins Center because of the incredible impact it makes within our community. My role here not only utilizes my strengths but pushes me to develop new skills, educates me about issues on sexual violence, and privies me to working with an incredible staff who are truly making a difference. I am honored and grateful to help support an agency that is so dedicated to its cause.”

    Contact: jess@thecollinscenter.org

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  • Ross Erb, MSW, Child Advocate

    Ross has worked with children and youth in Canada and the United States since 1992. He graduated with a Master of Social Work degree from Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario and began his career as a child protection worker. Ross has 9 years of extensive experience with Family and Children’s Services of Cambridge, Ontario, where he worked with abused children and their families as a clinical social work supervisor and as a member of the Sexual Abuse Treatment Program. When his family moved to Harrisonburg in 2002, Ross began serving as Associate Pastor for Children, Youth and Families at one of the largest Mennonite congregations in Harrisonburg. In 2013, Ross completed the Safe Church program train-the-trainer course and became a vital volunteer to the project. In May 2015, he joined the Collins Center part-time as a Safe Church Facilitator before transitioning to a full-time position in October 2015. In his current role as Child Advocate, Ross divides his time between CAC work and prevention programming, playing a key role advocating for children and families and delivering prevention initiatives such as Safe Church and Stewards of Children to the community at-large. When not at work, Ross loves to play and watch sports, garden, read, and spend time with people.

    From Ross: “I became involved with the Collins Center as a result of attending a Safe Church training. In the training I was struck by how dedicated, conscientious, and passionate the Collins Center staff are. It is an honor to labor with these wonderful colleagues in important work to prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault. The range of services offered here can make a huge difference for individuals, families, and the community.”

    Contact: ross@thecollinscenter.org

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  • Hanna Foster, MA, Ed.S, Therapist & Community Educator

    Hanna has been with the Collins Center since 2000 and plays an integral role as the agency’s longest-serving staff member. Her extensive work with the agency has included court advocacy, chairing the Sexual Assault Response Team, providing crisis intervention counseling, overseeing grant writing, and delivering community outreach presentations. In 2012, she graduated from James Madison University’s Clinical Mental Health Counseling Program and transitioned to her current role as a Collins Center therapist. Hanna is trained in Trauma-Focused Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and forensic interview techniques, and she has experience treating adults and children with a wide variety of traumatic experiences. Hanna’s Master’s thesis focused on the primary prevention of child sexual abuse, and her extensive understanding of the underlying principles of sexual violence has helped to enrich the quality and effectiveness of the agency’s prevention programming and client services. Hanna grew up in Virginia and still enjoys all the natural beauty the state has to offer. When she’s not at the Collins Center, you can find her in the woods, by a river, or on a mountain. She also enjoys adventure traveling with her family.

    From Hanna: “I have witnessed the profound power of being truly heard. This power, along with the resilience of survivors, is what makes my job so amazing. My main role at the Collins Center is that of a therapist, but I also enjoy engaging with the community in prevention and education efforts.”

    Contact: hanna@thecollinscenter.org

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  • Jackie Hieber, Administrative & Prevention Coordinator

    Jackie grew up in the Shenandoah Valley, graduated from the University of Kansas, and attended William & Mary Law School before joining the Collins Center in 2012. As the Prevention Coordinator, Jackie oversees the Collins Center’s prevention initiatives, including Safe Church, Care for Kids, Stewards of Children, and community-based education. She regularly provides direct victim services and advocacy through the hotline and court accompaniment, and she works closely with the Executive Director in carrying out the agency’s accounting and human resources activities. Outside of work, Jackie is a volunteer EMT with the rescue squad, an avid reader, and an animal enthusiast. She also loves to dance and travel, and though firmly planted in the Shenandoah Valley, she will proudly claim her New England roots.

    From Jackie: “Prevention is the hope that society can do better, that we can create sustainable change so that the generations that follow may know a little less pain, a little less suffering. It is the lofty idea that one day we will see the future on the horizon and know it to be a healthier, more beautiful place, a world that has finally managed to replace victimization with a cycle of healing and prevention. Prevention gives a voice to the survivors we bear witness to every day, and restores hope and strength where it had once been lost. I hope that they can be proud of the change that we create.”

    Contact: jackie@thecollinscenter.org

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  • Rhoda Miller, Crisis Response Coordinator

    Rhoda is a Virginia transplant, coming to the Shenandoah Valley from Ohio to attend Eastern Mennonite University, where she studied art education. After over five years of working with Children’s Services and Crossroads Counseling Center, Rhoda joined the Collins Center in the fall of 2009 and fills a variety of roles, including serving as the primary forensic interviewer for the Child Advocacy Center and as the graphic designer for the agency. Rhoda is an experienced advocate for victims and their non-offending family members, and has helped grow the agency’s crisis program to offer more comprehensive, accessible services to victims. In her current role as the Crisis Response Coordinator, Rhoda conducts the majority of on-site forensic interviews, provides and coordinates advocacy, accompaniment, and crisis services, and oversees print and digital media for the agency. Her skills as an artist have led her to create a successful art therapy group that she co-leads with therapists Sue Swift and Hanna Foster. Outside of the Collins Center, Rhoda’s passions include creating art, international travel, hiking, running, and anything else that takes her outside.

    From Rhoda: “I came to the Collins Center over six years ago, not expecting to fall into such a fulfilling career that would not only best utilize my skills, but also force me to learn and grow on a daily basis. I am proud and honored to work with individuals who come forward to speak about their experience with sexual violence. Their courage inspires me to speak openly about this issue in our society and be someone willing to have uncomfortable conversations in a world where many would rather remain in denial.”

    Contact: rhoda@thecollinscenter.org

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  • Sue Swift, MA, Ed.S, LPC, Therapist & Clinical Coordinator

    Sue is a licensed therapist with over 20 years of experience and an essential part of the Collins Center team. She joined the Collins Center in 2006 and currently serves as the Clinical Coordinator. She is a TF-CBT trained therapist and has completed training in both basic and extended forensic interviewing techniques. As the Clinical Coordinator, Sue sees a variety of clients, including both children and adults, and she has experience treating a variety of issues, including sexual abuse, women’s issues, parenting issues, PTSD, and depression, among others. When not providing therapy, Sue also actively contributes to the improvement and growth of the Child Advocacy Center and multidisciplinary services. Prior to joining the Collins Center, Sue provided counseling and assessment services at two Community Services Boards, in a school-based setting, and through Sentara RMH Medical Center’s Life Recovery Program.

    From Sue: “My main role at the Collins Center is that of counselor/therapist. I work with a variety of clients of all ages and at all stages of recovery from sexual violence. I do my best to bear witness to the pain survivors need to express. I find my work very rewarding, as it is always an honor to be part of a survivor’s journey towards healing. The services we offer at the Collins Center are unique and vital, and I am proud to be a part of the Collins Center team!”

    Contact: sue@thecollinscenter.org

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