Cottrell is new Hopeline director


Courtney Cottrell, shown in this April 2012 file photo when she worked at Kids First, has been hired as the new director at Albemarle Hopeline.


By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Wednesday, January 23, 2019

Albemarle Hopeline is there to help every abuse survivor in its service area, and the agency is making sure they know that, its new director said this week.

Courtney Cottrell took over as Hopeline director on Jan. 1, Cottrell and Hopeline board President Robert Kelly-Goss said Tuesday. Cottrell has worked for Hopeline since September, when she was hired as a grant writer, and then applied for the director's position, Kelly-Goss said.

Kelly-Goss said Cottrell brings “terrific experience” to the position, citing her work for other, similar nonprofits. Prior to working at Hopeline, Cottrell worked for Kids First, a counseling organization for abused children, he noted.

“She's really astute at this work,” Kelly-Goss said. “Her work at Kids First really aligns well with what we do.”

Cottrell said she worked for Kids First for almost nine years. As office manager, she helped coordinate services and often heard families' stories. It's impossible to not be moved, and motivated, after hearing what families at Kids First and Hopeline have gone through, she said.

“I think you can't ever hear these people's stories and not develop a passion for this work, if you didn't already have one,” she said. “Once you've seen what organizations like Hopeline can do, you can't just go back to working at a bank.”

In addition to her work at Kids First, Cottrell said she gained nonprofit experience with the Aids Society for Cape Cod. She holds a bachelor's degree in psychology from Trinity College, in Hartford, Conn. As a military spouse who's moved around a bit and held different jobs, she said she also has useful experience in marketing and accounting.

Dwight Decoskey was Hopeline’s last permanent director. The Hopeline board abruptly fired Decoskey in September after less than four months on the job, and designated the agency’s outreach coordinator, Heidi Prentiss, as interim director. Cottrell said Prentiss has resumed her prior position, and she thanked her for stepping up when needed.

Looking to the months ahead, Cottrell said she's focused on education and outreach. Everyone in Hopeline's six-county region who's facing abuse should know the agency is there for them, she said.

Cottrell also said she's working to better educate the community about human trafficking and better reach its victims. People often think of human trafficking as smuggling people around for abuse, but the term applies to anyone who's abused and forcibly exploited, she explained.

“You can be trafficked without ever leaving a room,” she said.

Victims are often trafficked by someone close to them, and the trafficker tries to control them through threats, drugs, and even forcing them to commit crimes, she explained.

Hopeline is also planning upcoming events to raise funds and awareness for the organization. On April 6, Hopeline will again sponsor its Walk a Mile in Her Shoes fundraiser, in which men will walk the track at Elizabeth City State University’s Roebuck Stadium in women's shoes. At last year’s event, several men walked around the track in high heels, albeit slowly, carefully, and sometimes painfully.

Prior to that event, Hopeline will host a silent auction for shoe art in the downtown Selig's building during the First Friday ArtWalk, Kelly-Goss said. High school art students will create works out of high heels, he said.

Hopeline provides counseling, including a 24-hour crisis line, and emergency shelter for abuse survivors in Pasquotank as well as Camden, Chowan, Currituck, Gates and Perquimans counties.. Hopeline's main number is 338-5338; its crisis line is 338-3011.