The World Affairs Council of St. Louis had the pleasure of hosting a French delegation through the Department of State’s International Visitors Leadership Program. The program, titled “Preventing Gender-Based Violence and Supporting Gender Based Violence Victims” worked to to review, discuss, and become more knowledgeable on how both The United States Government and non-governmental organizations are combating gender-based violence. This group of visitors came from a variety of backgrounds including professionals such as foundation directors and political coordinators.

The group arrived in St. Louis on October 28, 2023 and spent their first full day  exploring St. Louis sites. That evening, our visitors were able to experience the warmth and hospitality of an American dinner hosted by Charlie Brennan, host of, “The Charlie Brennan Show with Amy Marxkor”.

On October 30th, this delegation met with Detective Brittnee Sanders and Paul Kosednar, investigators with the Saint Louis Metropolitan Police Department’s Domestic Abuse Response Team (DART). They then had a meeting with Katherine M Wessling of the Crime Victim Center, whose mission is to empower those impacted by crime to move from crisis to resiliency through advocacy, counseling, legal assistance, and community engagement. This was followed by a meeting with Brigid Welch and Emily Stoinski of Safe Connections, an organization dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence including women and teens in the St. Louis region.

The following day, the group met with Michelle Rhode of Saint Martha, an organization providing shelter and empowerment to those impacted by domestic violence. Following that meeting, they met with members of the St. Louis County Domestic Violence Court – Jessica Meredith, Kelly Russell, and John O’Sullivan. This court increases safety for victims by increasing  legal accountability for offenders, and establishes a coordinated community response to domestic violence.

On November 1st, the French delegation departed home with a fresh understanding ofthe ways in which St Louis is countering gender based violence in our community.

Leo Klayman, Intern