Meet the Staff

 

Mariah Stidham Wineski, Executive Director

Mariah Stidham Wineski has 19 years of experience working throughout the United States and internationally on social change campaigns, violence prevention, and curriculum development. She is the current chair of the Louisiana Domestic Violence Prevention Commission and previously served on the board of directors for Boulder Sister Cities. She also serves on the Victim Services Advisory Board of the Louisiana Commission on Law Enforcement, the Membership Committee of the National Network to End Domestic Violence, and the advisory board of the Louisiana Violent Death Reporting System. She is trained as an instructor by the Stalking Resource Center, a program of the National Center for Victims of Crime. She has extensive experience with statewide organizations, having previously served as Director of Education at Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault. Ms. Wineski has coordinated legislative policy, public affairs, and media relations for regional and national women’s health organizations and has managed several regional gang violence prevention initiatives. She has provided international consultation on educational policy and curriculum development. She has a B.A. in Sociology and Women’s and Gender Studies and an M.S. in Sociology. 

 

Crystal Scrantz, Director of Program Development

Crystal Scrantz has worked in the domestic violence movement for over 15 years.  Her experience includes the provision of direct services to adults and children affected by domestic violence, program development, HUD housing programs, navigating civil and criminal court systems, database management, supervision, and training.  She was the founding chair of the Lafayette Domestic Violence Council and was also the founding Director of the Family Justice Center of Acadiana. Crystal has worked on many community based domestic violence projects including a High Risk Response Team, Fatality Review Panel and VOICES of Acadiana.  She has conducted trainings regionally, statewide, and nationally on issues affecting survivors of domestic violence.  Crystal is passionate about survivor safety and is committed to ensuring that high quality, trauma informed services are provided to survivors of domestic violence in Louisiana.

 

Taylor Robison, Director of Public Affairs & Ally Engagement

Taylor Robison has been in the domestic violence movement for over 10 years. Her career began in 2013 at Chez Hope Domestic Violence Crisis Center as a legal advocate. While working at Chez Hope Inc, Taylor was credited for the development and implementation of the Iberia Parish nonresidential office for survivors of domestic violence. Her dedication and extensive knowledge of legal advocacy were recognized with her receipt of the 2017 Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Louisiana Foundation Against Sexual Assault Advocate of the Year Award. Taylor has extensive and varied experience in domestic violence advocacy, sexual assault advocacy, systems-based advocacy, and disability rights. She is an experienced trainer of law enforcement, having trained officers throughout Louisiana and partnered with the Louisiana Attorney General’s Office to train officers on domestic violence laws and best practices.

 

Russell Bonewitz, Finance Manager 

Mr. Bonewitz joined the LCADV team in April 2010.  After departing in May of 2018, Russell rejoined the team at LCADV in May of 2023. He has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Finance and an Accounting Minor from Nicholls State University in Thibodaux, Louisiana. Mr. Bonewitz has over 30 years’ accounting experience in the private, state, & corporate sectors.  His experience ranges from Controller to Small Business Owner to Office Manager. His former employers include Union National Life Insurance Company (Asst. Controller), St. James Stevedoring (Controller), LSU Dining/Concessions (Controller), Southern Oaks Athletic Club (Owner), MVR Publishing (CFO) and Bonewitz Accounting Solutions (Owner). Mr. Bonewitz has played a key role in revamping and streamlining the accounting policies and procedures so that they fall in line with grant requirements, and has been an important part of monitoring grant spending, filing grant reports, creating budgets, reviewing grant applications, as well as organizing the accounting records for smooth annual audit preparations.

 

Donna Lavigne, Operations Administrative Assistant

Donna Lavigne provides administrative support to the LCADV staff. Donna retired from the Department of Transportation and Development with over 30 years of service. As Director, she worked with all transit programs funded by the Federal Transit Administration. Her experience includes administering, managing, and monitoring the Federal Transit Programs statewide and developing the annual operation budget. She served on numerous committees, associations, and commissions. Donna has a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Education/Administration from Southern University in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.

 

Chelsee Green, Staff Attorney

Chelsee received her Bachelor of Arts in English from Southern University and her Juris Doctorate from Southern University Law Center. Prior to joining the team at LCADV, Chelsee worked in several different capacities, earning her a wide range of experience. Chelsee began her legal journey as a Law Clerk for the Honorable Alvin Batiste, Jr. in the 18th Judicial District Court. At the completion of her clerkship, Chelsee worked as an associate attorney in private practice. She then became the Immigration Staff Attorney at Catholic Charities of the Diocese of Baton Rouge. There, Chelsee conducted Know Your Rights presentations at detention facilities across Louisiana, identified and provided services for pro bono detainees, prepared immigration law cases including VAWA, U-Visa, and family-based cases. After over 2 years of serving as Staff Attorney for Catholic Charities, Chelsee was appointed as Administrative Law Judge for the Louisiana Workforce Commission, where she conducted hearings related to unemployment insurance benefits which included taking testimony, considering evidence, ruling on motions, compiling records, and rendering decisions. 

 

Nicolette Joseph, Children’s Advocacy Coordinator

Nicolette is an experienced social service professional, with over 10 years of experience in working directly with clients that have experienced crisis related trauma. She was formerly a Forensic Interviewer at Hearts of Hope: A Children’s Advocacy Center in Lafayette, LA, where she conducted non-leading forensic interviews when there were criminal investigations relating to sexual abuse, physical abuse, severe neglect, and/or violent crime. Nicolette has additional experience in specialty court settings, working directly with clients enrolled in drug court programs. She has also provided school and home based counseling services to youth who suffer from emotional, mental, and behavioral issues. Nicolette has a Bachelor of Science in Child and Family Studies from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

 

Hatari Washington, Housing Advocacy Coordinator

Hatari Washington is an experienced housing professional with over 15 years in the housing industry. Throughout her career she has held various roles, from property manager to certified housing specialist. Her extensive frontline housing experience includes work as an Intake Specialist, being the first point of contact with the Housing Choice Voucher program and various other special housing programs for veterans, domestic violence survivors. Ms. Washington has received certifications as a property manager and housing specialist. She is knowledgeable of HUD regulations, and passionate and committed to helping individuals access housing and other related resources.

 

Joni Goulas, Rapid Rehousing Coordinator 

Joni Goulas oversees the Rapid Rehousing Program at LCADV. She began her work in non-profit organizations six years ago in Baton Rouge, LA.  Throughout her career, she has worked as a case manager, assisting youth and families enrolled in Rapid Rehousing Programming.  Joni is proud to have connected many participants to the community resources needed to achieve housing stability through this work.  In addition, she has experience managing a Coordinated Entry program, which is a housing prioritization process for HUD funded programs.  Joni is the current co-chair of the Domestic Violence Working Group of the LA Balance of State Continuum of Care.  She holds an Associate degree in Communications and enjoys hiking, taking exercise classes, and watching 90’s TV shows.  Joni’s goal is to ensure that domestic violence survivors in Louisiana have access to safe, stable housing of their own. 

 

 Shona Chavis, Health Partnerships Coordinator

Shona Chavis has worked over a decade in the field of Trauma Informed Care. As a Trauma Educator and Certified Mental Health First Aider she has developed a unique skill set directly relevant to domestic violence and its effects on a person’s brain and body. Shona is very passionate about training first responders on how to help mitigate the issues of trauma. She has worked with the Office of the Attorney General, the District Attorneys Association, DNA Crime Lab, various schools, health care providers, non-profits, religious organizations and both state and local law enforcement offices in the equipping and training of trauma informed care. Shona facilitates Breaking the Cycle classes and workshops, with a focus on overcoming adversity and removing the layers.

 

Deon Sumer, Fatality Records Abstractor

Deon Sumer was born and raised in Louisiana, working full-time while completing her Bachelor’s degree in Mass Communications with a minor in Political Science at Louisiana State University. She then served as the Executive Assistant to Governor Bobby Jindal and the Executive Director of America Next. She is currently enrolled at Southern University Law Center, and has contributed her skills to the 19th JDC Public Defender’s Office and the Law Office of Elizabeth Goree. Deon has served as a teaching assistant at the Southern University Law Center, and also serves as an Executive Board Member of the Children and Family Law Society. Through her involvement, she collaborates with fellow students and professionals to create awareness and implement positive change in the field of children and family law. Recently, Deon happily embraced a new chapter in her life by marrying her husband in April of 2023. With a now expanded family, she is grateful to be surrounded by love and support through her journey to become an attorney that advocates for the rights of families and children, particularly victims of domestic violence.

 

Mary Alice Wilson, Justice Systems Advocate 

Mary Alice Wilson comes to our office with approximately six years of experience in victim advocacy. She previously worked for the 22nd District Attorney’s Office as their Victim Assistance Coordinator, Hattiesburg Police Department as their Victim Advocate, and the Domestic Abuse Family Shelter in Hattiesburg, MS, as a Residential Worker. She has volunteered with the Shafer Center for Sexual Assault Crisis Intervention for many years, as well. Originally from Mobile, AL, she graduated in 2015 from the University of South Alabama with an undergraduate degree in Criminal Justice and subsequently went on to get her masters in Criminal Justice and Psychology from Troy University and University of Louisiana-Monroe, respectively. She is a Level II nationally credentialed victim advocate through the National Advocate Credentialing Program (NACP) and a graduate of the National Organization for Victim Advocacy (NOVA) Victim Assistance Academy.

 

Norah Khanfour, Program Development Coordinator 

Norah Khanfour began her journey in community service as a former manager of marketing and community engagement and housing case manager. Norah believes in the power of perseverance and kindness. In previous work, Norah implemented programs focused on mental health wellness and community building. She has coordinated community events and fundraising initiatives with local organizations to benefit underserved communities and overseen HUD-funded housing programs for young adults experiencing homelessness. Norah is committed to fostering positive change and creating meaningful contributions to her community. She holds a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and an associate’s degree in Interpersonal Communication.