Sara Kern doesn't want to go backwards.

She sees concerning reports in the media and a spread of misinformation from uninformed people around the country. Yet, with many reasons to be pessimistic, Kern believes the country is moving forward still.

“I think that people are talking about it. And when we’re talking about it, we’re moving forward.”

On July 1, Kern began her work at HOPE Coalition as the nonprofit's director. Throughout her career, Kern has provided assistance to many, primarily as a sexual assault therapist in Washington. Kern also oversaw housing, homelessness and a middle school youth program.

Her passion bubbled up during a sociology of gender class in college. It was an eye opener for Kern, who grew up in a small, sheltered community on the Idaho-Washington border.

Becoming a sexual assault therapist gave Kern her footing. Every day, she felt like she was making a difference. The work she was doing with her team was "amazing," Kern said.

"We implemented prevention programming in schools where it didn’t exist.," Kern said. "We created relationships with our law enforcement that were unheard of. And I really hope some of the things that we were able to do there, that if it’s not already happening at HOPE, I hope that we can make it happen.”

There isn't something specifically missing in HOPE, Kern said. She's excited to be in a small city setting and looking forward to cultivating relationships with the community.

Kern and her family came to Red Wing after her husband found a position as a flight attendant operating out of Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. With a young child, the family wanted to find a smaller city to live in while also having a short commute for her husband.

The job posting at HOPE provided the perfect opportunity.

At the nonprofit, Kern acknowledges that funding will always be limited. That's why community support is integral to HOPE and Red Wing's success.

Equity work will never stop. But neither will Kern and HOPE, she said.

“We have a problem in this country, where women are not treated with equity and there is a fear for violence in many avenues of life," Kern said. "So being able to provide direct services is really important to me.”

For more information on HOPE Coalition and its services, visit https://hope-coalition.org.