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At Proven IT, our ongoing commitment is to partner with minority-led companies, amplifying voices and fostering community success because we believe in supporting those who uplift others. With our 2024 Inspiring Black Leadership Spotlight, Proven IT celebrates some partners who genuinely make a difference in the world and the black community.

One of our Proven people, James Webb, immediately suggested Joyce Coffee, an inspirational black leader at one of our partners, Family Rescue, as one of the Inspiring Black Leadership Spotlight nominees. Joyce’s charitable and down-to-earth nature made her the perfect person to honor.

Joyce’s journey to become Executive Director at Family Rescue is a testament to her extraordinary spirit and unwavering advocacy, making her one of  Proven IT’s Inspirational Black Leaders of Black History Month.

Proven IT Presents: Inspirational Black Leadership Honoree Joyce Cofee, Executive Director of Family Rescue

Joyce Cofee, M.A., ICDVP. Executive Director, Family Rescue

Joyce's Story: Domestic Abuse Advocate

Joyce became an advocate for victims of domestic violence and their children before the term was even a part of her vocabulary.

Her journey began as the Director of a day care center in the early 1970’s.  There she encountered mothers whose children were being removed from their care due to abuse.  Only it wasn’t the mothers abusing their children; nor was it only the children that were being abused.  As a result of her compassion, Joyce wrote a proposal, which was funded, to provide counseling and case management services to mothers struggling with violent relationships, so that their children could remain in their care.  It would be a number of years before Joyce understood what the term “domestic violence” meant.

Joyce recognized the silent cries of those trapped in violent situations as she continued her career as  Head Start Coordinator for Washtenaw County in Michigan, and later as she worked in a residential setting with emotionally disturbed teenagers in California.

It wasn’t until Joyce and her family moved to Chicago, and Joyce applied for the Shelter Director position with Family Rescue, that she realized her true calling. Preparing for an interview with Family Rescue’s founder, Joyce read a book, “Scream Quietly Or Your Neighbors Will Hear,” by Erin Pizzey, who is often credited as opening the first battered woman’s shelter. Family Rescue’s founder had studied and worked with Erin in England for a year. Joyce’s Master’s Degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan, her previous experience working with victims of domestic violence, and her residential experience, landed her the job. A year later Joyce became the agency’s Executive Director. Family Rescue was four years old.  And the rest, as they say, is history.

Under Joyce’s leadership, Family Rescue has grown from an emergency shelter with 10 staff, to a comprehensive domestic violence agency providing services to victims and survivors through five innovative programs, with over 55 staff.

Joyce Coffee advocates for passing "Karina's Bill", a law in Illinois to take away guns from accused abusers.

Jan 2024: Joyce and Family Rescue advocates for Karina’s Bill, supporting family members who lost their family members to domestic gun violence.

Throughout her tenure, Joyce and Family Rescue have been recognized with numerous awards, including:

  • 1995: Joyce received the Victim Advocate of the Year Award from President Bill Clinton.
  • 1999:  Joyce received the Human Dignity Award from the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence.
  • 2000: Family Rescue received the ORBA Award for Excellence in Financial Management from Nonprofit Financial Center.
  • 2005: The Chicago Community Trust awarded the agency the James Brown IV Award for Outstanding Community Service.
  • 2005, 2007, 2009: The Cook County State Attorney’s Office has recognized agency staff four times for outstanding legal advocacy to victims.
  • 2010:  Joyce received the Community Advocate Award from the Network Advocating Against Domestic Violence; an Impact Award Honoree from The Chicago Foundation for Women; and the Women & Gender Rights Award from the Journal of Women, Gender, and Law, the College of Law at Depaul University.
  • 2011: Avon selected Family Rescue as its Chicago Domestic Violence Community Partner.
  • 2014:  Joyce received the Outstanding Advocacy Award from the Cook County State’s Attorney.
  • 2019:  The Family Rescue Board of Directors voted to name the corporate office building after Joyce.
Our team of runners participate in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as well as the Chicago Half Marathon and 5K.

Family Rescue team of runners participate in the Bank of America Chicago Marathon as well as the Chicago Half Marathon and 5K.

Joyce’s leadership and Family Rescue’s dedication to excellence have transformed lives and set a standard of excellence in domestic violence advocacy. Join us in honoring Joyce Coffee and the incredible legacy she continues to build.

Want to help?
Learn more about domestic violence.

Take action to help survivors of domestic violence with Family Rescue here, or donate using the button below.

Need Help?

Call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 800-799-7233 or text START to 88788.
You can also call the 24-HR CRISIS LINE at 800-360-6619