After I met a man who had been incarcerated for the same length of time that I had been alive, I knew that this work was my calling.
Hailey Nolasco, director of Community-Based Violence Prevention at the Center, leads the RISE (Reimagining Intimacy through Social Engagement) Project, which addresses the intersection between gun violence and intimate partner violence. She also leads the Brownsville Consortium, which provides training and technical assistance to support anti-violence organizations in Brownsville to help them expand and strengthen their roles as part of New York City’s Crisis Management System.
Born and raised in Brooklyn, Hailey began a career transition after working in the private sector. “I wanted to do work that was aligned with my own truth and healing. Giving back to young people who are where I once was and finding ways to give them other opportunities while getting away from punitive or carceral responses.” She began doing reentry work as an intern at the Brooklyn D.A.’s office. “After I met a man who had been incarcerated for the same length of time that I had been alive, I knew that this work was my calling. If there are people who have spent a whole lifetime behind closed doors and separated from society there is so much more that we need to do. That is a huge injustice.” At the Center, she explains, “I can be creative to address public safety in a meaningful way.”
Hailey helped develop the idea for RISE while working in partnership with SOS Brooklyn as a lead planner under a Byrne Justice Planning Award as well as during her time working in the Office to Prevent Gun Violence at the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice.
Hailey has a personal connection to the work RISE does, making it dear to her heart. “As someone who has experienced intimate partner violence and advocates against gun violence, I know that the intersection between gun violence and intimate partner violence is real. If we want to be intentional about addressing gun violence, we need to address all forms of violence that can lead to it - especially intimate partner violence.” At RISE, “we’re looking at preventing and responding to intimate partner violence from a different perspective. We’re supporting people who are causing harm to begin their process of accountability and transformation in ways that current systems haven’t allowed or given enough space to.”
Hailey says she is “proud to lead RISE and support the organizations that make up the Brownsville Consortium because they are comprised of people invested in the community and are from the very communities that they serve everyday... I’m humbled and grateful to be part of something that helps to make a difference on a community level, that’s also lifting people up on an economic level and as experts and advocates in this work.”Being rooted in community and pushing back on harmful narratives drives Hailey’s work. “What motivates me is being in community and knowing that there is so much resiliency, there is so much within communities, despite historic disinvestment. People always talk about how certain neighborhoods are terrible, but when I’m in them, I see networks of people who care about community, people who are invested, and I want to amplify their message. People need meaningful access to opportunity so that their neighborhoods can be even more vibrant. Community has the answers to the issues. Whatever is going on, the person who lives on the block knows how to fix it.”
Hailey is also driven by integrity and responsibility in putting community first. “I believe in people and I don’t want to be another door that closes on anyone needing support because I know what it feels like to have doors closed on you over and over again. In having a seat at any table where decisions are being made that can help increase public safety, I feel it's my responsibility to lift voices and concerns from residents and tell real-life stories. If I can help make a decision that is going to help improve someone’s life on a small or large scale, or help give access to others to hold that space I want to be sure to do that.”
When she can find some free time she loves being the "cool aunt" hanging out with her favorite girls (nieces Luna, Nylea, and God daughter Zoe all 4 years old) and binging on a Ralph's Cherry and watermelon icee mix.
Listen to Hailey Nolasco on this podcast episode of In Practice with two of her RISE colleagues, Al-Tabar Hudgins and Karolin Betances, talk about how they engage people in conversations about the important but hard-to-talk-about topic of intimate partner violence.