The seasoned attorney and activist envisions a groundbreaking chapter in the organization’s ongoing mission to end child sexual abuse.
Oakland, CA – Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC) is excited to announce the appointment of Nicole Pittman as the new Executive Director. Pittman is a visionary and compassionate thought-leader in the work to end child sexual abuse with twenty-three years of experience as a lawyer, social justice policy advocate, and activist. Her devotion to centering survivor stories from the “margins” aligns both with the spirit of JBC’s genesis and coming evolution.
With Pittman, JBC will broaden the picture of child sexual abuse beyond state and systematic responses. These interventions, based mainly on the extraction and punishment of a few “bad apples” do not provide healing for survivors or transformation for those who caused harm. JBC opens pathways apart from punitive models, focusing instead on obliterating the social conditions and oppressive norms that perpetuate and are perpetuated by child sexual abuse. With an overarching goal of creating seismic cultural shifts, JBC will foster narratives that weave child sexual abuse into the broader tapestry of all intersectional movements to end violence at the source.
“We have to hold two truths at once: child sexual harm can be devastating and it is also absolutely preventable,” said Pittman. “In fact, I believe that the end of child sexual abuse is inevitable. Realizing this belief means unleashing our imaginations, because the current options for thinking and talking about child sexual abuse shape a limited number of solutions. Our nation’s recent public health crisis shows us the restricted nature of institutional responses to urgent issues and our most vulnerable populations. Yet it also contains non-institutional, local, and community-based examples of compassionate care. JBC is incubating similar collective responses—we are dreaming of and building the movements that will guide us to a future free of child sexual abuse.”
Pittman’s bold position on reframing the conversation was borne after decades of striving to end the destructive and dangerous practice of placing children—some as young as eight years old—on sex offender registries. In the course of creating national initiatives like the Center for Youth Registration Reform (CYRR), writing a Human Rights Watch report, and transforming laws at the state and federal levels, she saw firsthand that our country’s existing “solutions” are merely after-the-fact responses to harm. Grounded in the lineage of anti-violence feminist work led by women of color, Pittman’is moving upstream toward the root causes of child sexual abuse.
“Nicole has seen how our most vulnerable children get caught in the crosshairs of legislation intended to combat crimes against children, and how this practice perpetuates a cycle,” said JBC Steering Committee Member Trishala Deb. “Like JBC, she is thinking critically and systemically about sexual harm. We welcome her inspiring leadership, experience, and insight, and look forward to the new landscapes of engagement she will help us navigate.”
As Executive Director, Pittman will advance JBC’s position as an accelerator hub—a connector of survivor-centered efforts to one another and to a community of like-minded funders. Pittman’s appointment heralds a renewal of the organization’s commitment to amplifying the voices of survivors of color, those within LGBTQIA communities, those with disabilities, and those considered to be at the margins where sexual harm proliferates. Survivors who have harmed others are also often excluded from the conversation, despite their being a prime example of the way cycles of abuse continue without intervention targeted at root causes.
JBC’s first cohort of fellows is already planting the seeds for a transformation of how our society conceives of, talks about, and addresses the issue. Pittman identifies this exceptional group as one of JBC’s greatest assets: “Our grantees have taught us to prioritize the provision of space around funding, radical approaches, and culturally responsive leadership. By working collaboratively across and beyond systems and institutions, we will continue collaborating with survivor-leaders in pivoting society toward a liberatory and equitable approach to ending child sexual abuse.”
More About Nicole
Nicole Pittman founded the Center on Youth Registration Reform at Impact Justice and is the nation’s leading expert working to eliminate laws that place kids on sex-offense registries. She began working on this issue over a decade ago, before going on the road to collect 500+ stories for a Human Rights Watch report documenting the psychological and emotional toll of subjecting children to this practice. Feeling challenged to figure out the next step beyond “fixing” the existing system, she is exploring the root causes of sexual abuse among children. She continues working on a “Roadmap” to the future of addressing sexual violence that is bold, exciting, healing and non-carceral, and that will interrupt harm before it happens.
More About Just Beginnings Collaborative
The Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC) is an accelerator hub designed to nourish and fund strategic efforts to end child sexual abuse. It is the home for a survivor-led community of activists, organizers, and funders who care about this issue and want to achieve greater impact than would be possible on their own.