Coiya Tompkins wasn’t expecting a call from a recuiter — or looking for a new job — when the CEO and president position opened at the Community Violence Intervention Center, which aims to reduce and eliminate violence.
Minot-born Tompkins was no stranger to Grand Forks. But, even though she is a Fighting Hawks fan, she said she was not looking to move to a new city. After all, she was working in Fargo, the town in which she had attended college and called "home." When she decided to apply for the position, she said she got “more and more interested” in the CVIC’s programs as the hiring process progressed. She began her duties as the CEO and president of the CVIC on July 17.
The CVIC provides services to support adults, youth and children who have been affected by domestic and sexual violence, stalking and bullying.
“I had some experience with violence as a child,” Tompkins said. “We’re trying to get rid of violence in the community and it’s really hard not to get excited about it.”
Tompkins was formerly the development director of the Fargo-Moorhead Jeremiah Program, which aims to help single mothers and their children find stability and a way out of poverty. She said part of the reason the CVIC appealed to her is because, like the Jeremiah Program, the CVIC works with multiple generations to increase the family's and the community’s well-being.
Tompkins said that, after an all-day interview and visit with the CVIC: “I called my mom and just told her, ‘I’m gonna be heartbroken if I don’t get this job.’”
The hiring process wasn’t all sunshine, however. On May 11, she picked up a copy of the Forum and read a column by Mike McFeely on Justis Burland, a 6-year-old who died from injuries sustained from months of beatings.
“I hope we can find justice for Justis,” Tompkins said. “None of us want this to happen. I hope we can get to a place where we don’t have violence.”
Tompkins keeps the newspaper clipping with her even now because it “keeps me honest” about what she is working toward. Her voice faltered when discussing the story.
“This is a kid that died at the hands of violence, and it’s happening in Grand Forks, too,” Tompkins said. “(The clipping) is to remember why we’re here.”
As the new CEO, Tompkins said she hopes to provide support to the programs and the staff. Since starting in her new position, she has been making an effort to meet each of the CVIC’s employees in a one-on-one meeting.
“I’ve worked and managed and led a number of teams … and this team is one of the most ideal balances of competence and compassion. No leader I can think of could ask for anything more," said Tompkins adding that she hoped that the staff members “realize how significant they are in ending violence.”
“I see my role as taking care of the people who are taking care of our clients and making sure the staff takes part in self-care,” Tompkins said.
She aims to find new sources of funding, particularly from private entities, so the CVIC can start new programs and recruit qualified staff. Furthermore, she hopes to find new ways to communicate with the public about the impact of violence and the community’s work. She said she is excited to get out into the community that she said is “incredibly supportive” of the CVIC.
Kristi Hall-Jiran, who had been the CEO for 28 years, left the CVIC for Altru Health System to work as the chief philanthropy officer in January.
Tompkins sincerely thanked Hall-Jiran and Edie Dahlen, who had worked as the interim CEO, and said that she hopes “to build on this incredible foundation that’s been built.”