Georgia Commission on Family Violence Announces New Executive Director

September 9, 2019

ATHENS - The Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) announced April Ross as their incoming Executive Director during the opening session of the agency’s 25th Annual Statewide Family Violence Conference at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia on September 9th.

Ross, who sat as a member of the Commission prior to her selection as Executive Director, has been an outspoken voice for survivors of intimate partner violence in the State of Georgia. Ms. Ross, herself a survivor of attempted homicide by a former partner, is an Assistant District Attorney for the Fulton County District Attorney's Office and will assume her new position with GCFV on October 1, 2019.

Ms. Ross began receiving notable recognition for her advocacy skills as a student at Atlanta's Emory University School of Law, where she was one of five students in her class to receive the esteemed Emory Law Kessler-Eidson trial advocacy award and scholarship. She also served as a volunteer victim advocate for the Partnership Against Domestic Violence in the Fulton County Safe Families Office, helping victims of domestic abuse obtain emergency protective orders.

She earned her Juris Doctorate in 2011, following her graduation summa cum laude with her MBA and Bachelor of Science in Business degrees in 2005 from Florida A & M University in Tallahassee, Florida. After becoming a prosecutor in 2012, Ms. Ross was the youngest attorney to serve on the Atlanta Public Schools' cheating scandal trial team and made significant contributions to the State’s case.

During 2014, Ms. Ross was shot by her husband after she filed for a divorce. The incident left her paralyzed from the chest down. After extensive rehabilitation, Ms. Ross returned to work at the Fulton County District Attorney's Office during 2015, where she joined the Domestic Violence Policy and Trial Unit. She also began to mentor individuals with recent spinal cord injuries at the Shepherd Center, particularly those whose injury was the result of gun violence.

Of her service to his office, Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said: “April Ross is by a wide-margin the greatest person I have ever known. She has overcome obstacles most people could not even imagine. Despite these tremendous challenges, she stands before us all beaming, shining, gleaming—ready to conquer the world. I have been the beneficiary of her presence these many years, and I am delighted she now has the opportunity to spread her brand of professional magic throughout the state. Great job, Governor Kemp.”

Since the shooting incident, Ms. Ross has shared her story across numerous platforms with the focus on improving supportive services for victims and accountability for perpetrators of abuse. She is currently involved with a multi-organizational task force working on legislation aimed at reducing the number of domestic violence-related fatalities involving firearms, and has presented testimony to Georgia legislators about the impact of firearms on domestic violence incidents in committee hearings during the 2019 legislative session.

GCFV Chair Stephanie Woodard said of Ms. Ross, “The Commission and the State of Georgia are very fortunate to have benefitted from April’s experiences, both professional and personal, for many years. We are particularly honored that she has chosen to take the helm of Georgia’s work to end family violence statewide as the Commission’s Executive Director.”

Ms. Ross comes to the Commission highly recommended and with the support of Governor Brian Kemp. Adds Woodard, “in many ways April moving into this role is noteworthy. She has a unique voice in that she adeptly speaks not only as a leader in the domestic violence movement, but as a survivor and woman of color as well.”

Ross regularly speaks to domestic violence survivors and organizations to advocate for change against the epidemic in our society of abuse and violence in intimate relationships. She was introduced to a sold out crowd of more than 650 local and national stakeholders gathered for GCFV’s silver anniversary conference held September 8-11, with regard to the announcement Ross remarked: “I’m honored and humbled not by the esteem of the position I’m assuming, but by the enormous opportunity to enhance and grow our efforts to eliminate the epidemic of family violence. Ultimately, much great work has been done and there’s much more to do. I look forward to leading the next phase of GCFV’s critical journey to save lives and improve safety for citizens of the State of Georgia.” The multidisciplinary audience included judges, domestic violence advocates, family violence intervention program providers, sexual assault advocates, victim advocates, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, faith leaders, counselors, 911 responders and community members met her statements with loud applause.

[pictured: Incoming GCFV Executive Director, April Ross (front), and 2019 Conference co-chairs Michele Bedingfield and Jacqueline Bunn]

About GCFV: The Georgia Commission on Family Violence, created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1992, is charged with developing a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence in Georgia. If you or someone that you know is being impacted by domestic violence, call 1-800-334-2836 to speak with a domestic violence advocate.

Contact Information: 
Press Contact: Stephanie Woodard, swoodard@hallcounty.org