Fil-Am to lead board of Baltimore’s rape crisis response center
Filipina American Bella Owens, who has focused on issues of violence against women, is the new president of the board of TurnAround, a Baltimore provider of free comprehensive services to victims of intimate partner violence, sexual violence and human trafficking.
“Bella has been advocating for women in Baltimore for nearly two decades. Her influence among government, non-profit, professional, and private organizations, makes her the perfect person to lead our board as we continue to expand our impact beyond the individual survivors we serve,” said TurnAround Executive Director Amanda Rodriguez.
TurnAround is the rape crisis response center for Baltimore City and Baltimore County. Its experts in trauma provide free, comprehensive services to people of all ages and genders. “We know the impact TurnAround has had serving individual survivors in Baltimore for the last 40 years. What we have learned from our frontline experience is the urgent need to change the larger systems that affect survivors. Bella knows the people who turn the gears of those systems.”
“I have been focused on the complicated issues of violence against women and human trafficking for almost 20 years in Baltimore, working together with government, law enforcement, social services, and professionals in health, law, and education,” said Owens. “I have always admired TurnAround’s deep expertise in serving individual survivors.”
After moving from the Philippines to Baltimore in 1987, Owens was the art director at an advertising agency before stepping into community leadership, promoting Philippine culture in Maryland. She launched the largest Philippine Festival in Towson and coordinated relief efforts with the Philippine Embassy in Washington, DC to aid victims of a massive typhoon.
She is the former chair of the Baltimore County Human Trafficking Work Group and former president of the Baltimore County Commission for Women. Under her leadership, the commission won four national achievement awards.
Owens praises TurnAround’s decades of leadership as service providers, noting that “they are focused now on using that expertise to change the larger systems that affect survivors.”
She lauds TurnAround’s support for the Safe Harbor bill (HB833) in the state house that protects child trafficking victims from prosecution for crimes they committed as a direct result of their trafficking.
“The Safe Harbor bill is exactly the type of urgent structural change TurnAround is fighting for,” she said. “I’m honored to be part of this remarkable powerhouse team that is changing the landscape for survivors.”
Owens and her husband, Floyd, live in Towson, Maryland.