Meet Winter 2008, Volume 8, Number 1

As program director of the NNEDV Fund, Cottman coordinates national and regional meetings among state coalitions in order to establish a network, combine resources, develop solutions, and address emerging issues.

by Michelle Theilmann

Meet Karma Cottman

Program Director of National Network to End Domestic Violence



arma Cottman has participated in advisory planning meetings for IDVAAC’s national conferences for the past three years. In addition to contributing to IDVAAC’s initiatives, Cottman currently works as the program director for the National Network to End Domestic Violence Fund (, where she has been working for the past six years.

The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) consists of two agencies. The NNEDV oversees all policy and lobbying initiatives, while the NNEDV Fund, which Cottman works for, provides training and technical assistance.

As program director of the NNEDV Fund, Cottman coordinates national and regional meetings among state coalitions in order to establish a network, combine resources, develop solutions, and address emerging issues. Cottman provides ongoing assistance for state coalitions and oversees the direct assistance program. “This program provides direct funding for emergency needs to women who are fleeing violence, such as a plane ticket, a hotel room, or other urgent requests,” Cottman explains.

Karma Cottman

The NNEDV relies on IDVAAC to provide research, expertise, presentations and advocacy recommendations for state coalitions, which is how Cottman first became involved with IDVAAC three years ago. “IDVAAC is an absolutely amazing organization that bridges a gap that exists in providing programming specific for African Americans,” says Cottman. “They engage the community and explore questions that others are unable to tackle.”

The two organizations have a good working relationship, explains Cottman, and she credits IDVAAC for broadening the view of state coalitions. “I want to take what I learn from IDVAAC back to my personal job,” says Cottman. Cottman identifies community engagement and education as the two best strategies to end domestic violence in the African-American community.

As program director of the NNEDV Fund, Cottman also works with organizations across the country to address rising issues and concerns, such as the recent immigration raids in several states. “This is a human rights issue as women, children, and families are being separated,” says Cottman. When emerging situations like this arise, Cottman works with organizations to determine their response and whether or not they should mobilize national media. “We need to engage our programming to be responsive to situations and stand up for something we think is wrong,” says Cottman.

Cottman became interested in the domestic violence arena after seeing it affect so much of her community. She then took a course about domestic violence while studying criminal justice during college. After graduation, Cottman worked for Florida’s state coalition against domestic violence, where she assisted with the development of a community assessment tool that was used to identify service gaps in numerous Florida communities. Cottman also conducted diversity training and provided assistance to local programs.

She enjoys working with NNEDV because its mission resonates with her personal values. The NNEDV strives to instigate social change and end domestic violence by working with state domestic violence collations and allied organizations. They serve as an advocate and public policy voice for battered women and children. One of their most significant public policy successes was spearheading the Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) in 1994, and playing crucial roles in the law’s reauthorizations in 2000 and 2005.

The VAWA combines resources and creates collaborations to provide services to domestic violence victims and their families. In addition to providing safety and security for domestic violence victims, the act focuses on prevention and an improved criminal justice and legal response to domestic violence.

The NNEDV’s sister organization, the NNEDV Fund, provides onsite training and assistance to these state coalitions, who lead local and state efforts to implement the Violence against Women Act. The NNEDV Fund also increases awareness of domestic violence, trains advocates, and provides resources to communities working to address domestic violence.

Cottman notes, “I’m pleased to work for NNEDV, an organization that addresses domestic violence on so many levels: at the hour of need for victims, at a community level, and at the legislative level. And my association with IDVAAC strengthens my connections with other professionals throughout the country; it also helps keep me on the leading edge of new information about this field. ”


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