Filling this job will require more than a slick résumé.
Rio Rancho’s Haven House, Sandoval County’s only domestic-violence shelter, is seeking an executive director to replace retiring Executive Director Roberta Radosevich.
She’s been the executive director for the past five years, but her heart has been there much longer. She originally became a board member in 2006, she recalled, after organizing a fundraiser, an escorted motorcycle run.
By then, she knew a lot about the evils of domestic violence, thanks to what became a 21-year career in law enforcement. But that’s the way she envisioned it, she said, when she was growing up in Albuquerque’s Northeast Heights.
“I think I was 7 when I walked up to my mother and said I wanted to be a police officer. She said, ‘You can’t — you’re a girl,'” Radosevich recalled.
She managed to get a job as a waitress at the age of 14 and worked her way up to assistant manager, still focused on a career in law enforcement. While living in Belen in 1989, she applied for a job with Los Lunas Police Department, which sent her to the state police academy.
What did her mother say then?
“I didn’t tell her. I quit my (restaurant) job and joined the PD — I’m way above 18,” she said.
She’d also found time to be a volunteer firefighter with Los Chavez Fire Department a few years earlier, becoming a basic-emergency medical technician.
“I excelled at it; I enjoyed it,” she said
It was during her police training in Santa Fe that she met four Rio Rancho Department of Public Service (prior to Rio Rancho Police Department) trainees
“How fabulous was that? I loved EMS, being certified as a firefighter, getting police certification … and I applied with the Rio Rancho DPS,” Radosevich said.
In mid-1990, she was hired and didn’t leave until almost 10 years ago.
She spent time on patrol, in crisis negotiation and on the domestic abuse reduction team, which opened her eyes to domestic abuse in the City of Vision.
“Domestic violence was half my calls for service,” she said, quickly learning the inherent origins of domestic violence are the abuser’s needs for power and control.
After a promotion to the investigations division, she was further entrenched in the seamy side of domestic violence.
“Child abuse, child sexual abuse, rapes – it blew my mind. Our caseload was really high,” Radosevich said.
She worked closely with the state’s Children, Youth and Families Department, following up CYFD interviews with her investigation.
“I was like the baby detective; that was in about 1993,” she said, recalling one case of incest that resulted in 32 felony counts. “My first big case.”
She did that for three years. In 1994 or so, she said, she met Jody Wheatley, intrinsic to the origins of Haven House but then an advocate for the victims, helping them navigate the system.
“We worked together, and it was a real joy for me,” Radosevich said. “I could do the criminal investigation and know the victims had an advocate for protection.”
The victims had no place to go and often returned to their abusers; only Safe House in Albuquerque provided shelter then.
But the flood of such disturbing cases took its toll and Radosevich became burned out. Promoted to corporal, she returned to field work in 1996-97.
Over the next few years, she became a paramedic — with DPS, first responders had to be capable of fighting fires, handling medical emergencies and arresting perps — and was happy “honing my skills.”
In 2001, she was promoted to sergeant, spent time in Internal Affairs and then was part of the Criminal Victims Assistance Unit.
“I worked closely with them; they did domestic violence, rapes, child abuse. (Then) Chief (Robert) Boone was super-supportive of me taking that and running with it,” Radosevich said, and frequent meetings with other entities in the county provided a good network.
Despite the horrific cases, she’s happy she didn’t listen to her mother all those years ago.
“It was always the right decision — my whole career was helping those who weren’t able to help themselves,” she said. “I had a fabulous career.”
So, “after 21 years, it was a good time to retire,” Radosevich said.
She stayed active: For three years, she was a security officer at Lincoln Middle School, and she ran unsuccessfully for Rio Rancho City Council. Her mate, Robert Radosevich, was with Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Office for 22 years and is now working part-time for Albuquerque Police Department.
The two met in Clovis in 1995, during a first-line law enforcement supervisors class.
Hello, Haven House
Radosevich seemed like the perfect hire in 2015 to lead Haven House.
Among her accomplishments has been working with other county entities — Bernalillo, Corrales and Sandoval County itself — that don’t have victim advocates.
Board member and friend Jalene Berger said she’s sorry to see Radosevich step down.
“She’s very passionate about what she does,” Berger said.
Haven House is “not only an asset, it’s a necessity,” she said. “It’s the only domestic-violence shelter serving Sandoval County and she’s been very integral in running the shelter.”
Radosevich, Berger added, “knows a lot about the laws — and it’s really just her passion that drives… all those people that work there. It’s 24/7 — you never know when you have to do an intake or talk to someone over the phone.”
New Mexico is among the leaders in the U.S. for domestic violence.
“Stats for domestic violence across the country are one in four women (are victims),” Berger said. “In New Mexico, it’s one in three.”
Radosevich said Haven House serves about 300 people annually and gets about 650 calls a year on its crisis line.
Radosevich is too modest to think she can’t be replaced, but said she hopes her successor “is somebody with an in-depth understanding of trauma-informed care, has compassion and a non-judgmental attitude toward the clients we serve,” as well as experience in fundraising, grant-writing, budgeting and community relations.
Her goal is to serve until June 30, and then hit the road, traveling.
“During my time at Haven House, we have been able to grow, to become stronger, to become more trauma-informed,” Radosevich said.
“I believe we’ve come to be more respected by the community — my team allowed us to get Non-Profit of the Year from the chamber, Humanitarian of the Year through Rio Rancho the Magazine and Best Non-Profit through the Observer’s Reader’s Choice Awards,” she said.
Haven House Board of Directors President Andrea Rogers said Radosevich and her team have been the driving force behind increasing awareness of domestic violence.
“Her knowledge of the issue and her commitment to helping people affected by domestic violence will be difficult to replicate, and she will be greatly missed,” Rogers said. “Roberta will work closely with the incoming executive director and the board during the transition, and she will remain a key supporter of our efforts. We are looking for a compassionate and motivated individual to be the face of the agency and carry the torch into the future to help meet the strategic goals.”
Anyone interested in the position can send a résumé and letter of interest to Rogers at [email protected] Interviews will begin in February.