Clery Center Announces New Executive Director

Clery Center Announces New Executive Director

Image of Jessica Mertz, new executive director of Clery Center. Jessica is Caucasian with short straight blond hair. Her shirt is black with white horizontal stripes.Clery Center is pleased to welcome Jessica A. Mertz as its next executive director.

Jessica joins Clery Center from University of Pennsylvania where she was the inaugural director of its Penn Violence Prevention department. While there she created programs focused on preventing and educating the entire campus community about sexual violence, dating and domestic violence, and stalking. “What will always stand out as my most meaningful experience at Penn is the time I spent learning from, and supporting, our students. Seeing how incidents of violence and harm can deeply impact a student’s life motivates me as an educator and an advocate,” said Jessica.

“The staff and board are thrilled that Jessica will be leading Clery Center in its future endeavors,” shared Roger Carolin, chairperson of the Clery Center board of directors. “As Clery Center continues to grow, Jessica’s comprehensive understanding of the needs of colleges and universities regarding campus safety will be invaluable, particularly at such an important moment of national dialogue around issues such as sexual assault and hazing.”

Prior to her current role, Jessica was the associate director of the University of Pennsylvania’s Women’s Center, where she spearheaded initiatives that addressed gender equity and interpersonal violence. She also currently serves on the board of Directors for Women Organized Against Rape and is a part of Philadelphia’s Sexual Assault Advisory Council. Prior to joining Penn, she worked as a domestic violence project coordinator at Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital, as a domestic violence counselor at Women in Transition, and as a Victim Advocate for the Victim Services Center of Montgomery County, PA. She earned a BA in English at Saint Joseph’s University, an MA in Women’s and Gender Studies from Rutgers, and received her Certificate in Nonprofit Administration from Penn’s Fels Institute of Government.

“It’s an honor to join an organization that has established itself as a thoughtful and innovative leader in higher education. I am excited to build on the collaborative work of Clery Center and to look to the future of creating safe campus communities,” said Jessica.

Jessica succeeds Abigail Boyer, who led Clery Center as interim executive director during its search for an ED and returns to her previous position as associate executive director, continuing her work managing its comprehensive array of services and programs. “Our team collaborates with campus professionals to help them understand and implement the Clery Act,” said Abigail. “We work closely with institutions to find solutions that work for them. Jessica’s leadership experience in higher education —where she worked closely with critical campus partners such as public safety, student affairs, residence life, student conduct, and counseling — models Clery Center’s philosophy regarding a multidisciplinary approach to the prevention of and response to campus crime.”

Jessica will begin her new position at Clery Center on May 13, 2019. 

About Clery Center

Clery Center is a national nonprofit organization founded in 1987 that empowers colleges and universities to create safer campuses. They connect campus safety professionals with 30 years of experience, unparalleled expertise, and in-depth training, resources, and strategies to understand and implement the Clery Act. Clery Center prides itself on guiding institutions to exemplify the spirit of the law with a proactive commitment to campus safety and educating campus communities to know how the law protects them.

Clery Center Announces Interim Executive Director

Clery Center Announces Interim Executive Director

Image of Abigail Boyer wearing a black suit jacket with a purple shirt. Abby is Caucasian with glasses and straight blond hair to her shoulders.Clery Center announces the resignation of Executive Director, Alison Kiss, and the appointment of Abigail Boyer as Interim Executive Director.

Ms. Kiss, who energetically led the organization since 2011, resigned on Monday. Board Chairman, Roger Carolin, said, “The Board of Directors and staff appreciate all that Alison accomplished during her tenure with Clery Center.”

Ms. Boyer has served as Associate Executive Director since 2015. She currently leads a comprehensive array of staff and programs for Clery Center, including Jeanne Clery Act Training, online curriculum development, and National Campus Safety Awareness Month. She also presents nationally on topics related to campus safety, the Clery Act, dynamics of sexual and domestic violence, and victims’ services.

“Clery Center enables successful connections between campus law enforcement, students and their families, and the higher education community,” says Carolin. “Our core value is supporting these stakeholders in accessing and understanding the requirements of the Clery Act. Abigail Boyer is one of the country’s most-respected leaders associated with the Clery Act.”

Clery Center is a national charitable organization that helps institutions of higher education understand and comply with the Clery Act via strategic consulting services, policy insight, and staff compliance training. Founded in 1987 after the murder of Jeanne Clery, Clery Center is uniquely dedicated to making campus safety a nationwide reality.


Statement from the Clery Center Regarding “Rolling Stone”

Statement from the Clery Center Regarding "Rolling Stone"

The Columbia Journalism School’s report on the “Rolling Stone” article “A Rape on Campus” is a powerful reminder of the damaging impact of ineffective reporting.

Although “Rolling Stone” uses support for Jackie to explain procedural missteps, responsible reporting practices are, in fact, fundamental to sensitively responding to the needs of survivors when covering campus sexual assault.

Responsible reporting practices when working with survivors include:

  • Setting expectations about the different stages of the process, including how interviews will be conducted and the outlet’s fact-checking methods;
  • Maintaining open communication to address survivors’ questions balanced with candid conversations about what survivors may experience when coming forward with their stories; and
  • Commitment to continued education for journalists on working with survivors of sexual assault. (The National Sexual Violence Resource Center partnered with Poynter News University to create a course, “Reporting on Sexual Violence,” which is available at no cost.)

“Rolling Stone” owed it to Jackie, and to all other survivors, to report thoroughly and sensitively. They owed it to their readership to publish a comprehensive story. And they owed it to themselves to get it right – the first time.

Columbia’s report noted that the story was viewed over 2.7 million times — more than any other story “Rolling Stone” published, not including those featuring a celebrity. With this enormous reach, “Rolling Stone” had the opportunity to increase dialogue about a critical problem at colleges and universities across the nation. In spite of incredible leaps over the past year, the failures of “A Rape on Campus” moved the conversation in a stifling and unhelpful direction.

The Clery Center envisions a world in which survivors can come forward without fear. Though “Rolling Stone” drastically missed the mark, we still believe in the power of survivors telling their stories and the ability of the media to share survivor experiences with thoughtfulness and care.


Clery Center Statement on the SAFE Campus Act

Clery Center Statement on the SAFE Campus Act

The Clery Center believes that the proposed SAFE Campus Act (“SAFE”) legislation will be harmful to campus survivors of sexual assault and ultimately result in less reporting of an already vastly underreported crime (Bureau of Justice Statistics, 2014).

Supporters of SAFE argue that the legislation establishes a more equitable process by mandating the reporting of sexual assault to law enforcement before a campus can act. If implemented, SAFE will hinder campus reports of sexual assault by mandating a system that removes power from survivors. This is especially disappointing during a time when as a nation we are making unprecedented progress towards increased awareness of sexual assault on campus.

We have two federal laws – Title IX and the Clery Act – that already require a fair and equitable process on campus. The SAFE legislation fails to acknowledge that the court and campus adjudication processes have different goals. Under SAFE, unless a student files a police report the campus cannot provide or offer accommodations (such as request for a change of living situation or academic classroom) to the complainant  or the respondent.

We oppose lawmakers limiting options for survivors and defining what justice “should” look like. For some survivors, pursuing the law enforcement process may feel like justice; for other survivors, justice is walking into a classroom and not having to sit next to their rapists. Both of these options (and more) are offered under the Clery Act and Title IX in a manner that recognizes that everyone has different reactions to trauma.

The Clery Center opposes other additional provisions of the SAFE Campus Act – including redefining who can or cannot be a campus security authority under the Clery Act and specific mandates on how long institutions can suspend student organizations – but none of these trump our primary concern that a piece of legislation in 2015 dictates a singular response to the complex issue of reporting campus sexual assault. Since the Clery Center’s inception in 1987, we’ve seen vast change culminating in a world where survivors can come forward on their own terms. Support survivors’ option to report to law enforcement – don’t require it.


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