Diane Cornman-Levy…On Fighting For Women

By Jane M. Von Bergen

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Great Q&A with activist Diane Cornman-Levy on what is driving her to fight for the health, safety and welfare of women.


One look at Diane Cornman-Levy’s resume tells you that her new post as executive director of Women’s Way isn’t much of a stretch.

There’s the requisite set of credentials — executive positions in the nonprofit arena, and a couple of entrepreneurial nonprofits she established herself — all appropriate for the leadership of an enterprise that makes grants to organizations helping women: Women Against Abuse, Women Organized Against Rape, and Women’s Law Project, to name a few.

Two key credentials, however, don’t show up on her resume: survivor of attempted rape and a close relative of a rape victim.

What happened to Cornman-Levy’s family member is horrific, and Cornman-Levy wants to keep it private. The relative, badly traumatized, is fragile, but gaining strength, amid setbacks.

“Actually, doing this work and always doing work around social justice and gender equality has helped keep me sane,” said Cornman-Levy, 56. “It gives me passion, determination, resilience.”

Question: What happened to you?

A: It was 11 on a Sunday morning. I was going to get my mail at Brown University. This guy said, “I just got kicked out of my home.” He pulled me behind bushes, down to the ground. I just started screaming and kicking, and I managed to kick him in the balls and I got away. I’ve also worked with a lot of women that have been raped. I’ve done a lot of work with homeless women that didn’t have a choice but to get on the streets. I’ve worked with women coming out of prison that had been traumatized. I think this addiction epidemic is totally connected to trauma. Also, a lot of boys have been raped. That is really a hidden issue in this country.

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