Megan Walker retiring as executive director of LAWC after 24 years
LONDON, ONT . -- The London Abused Women’s Centre (LAWC) has announced that Megan Walker will be retiring from the agency by the end of the summer.
In a media release, LAWC said Walker was resigning as executive director effective Aug. 31.
Walker has worked with LAWC for more than 20 years.
She tells CTV News it’s been an honour.
“Every single day I am blessed to sit in my office and watch women walk through the doors. And the courage and bravery it takes for them to step into our office is something else.”
Since Walker took the helm of LAWC it has grown to assist more than 8,000 women and girls each year.
The LAWC under Walker worked closely with London police to revamp their policy on dealing with cases of sexual assault, including naming the accused in press releases.
But she’s most proud of the role she played in Canada’s revamped prostitution legislation.
“Which decriminalizes women in prostitution, while holding sex purchasers and traffickers accountable.”
Walker calls the change her "single greatest accomplishment."
During her tenure, Walker has been the face and voice of LAWC.
“My voice, that I was once afraid to use, has become strong. I’m happy that I was able to use my voice for the benefit of this issue of ending male violence against women.”
Walker also often spoke out on issues that did not always relate directly to her agency.
At times, her beliefs would spark a public reaction.
“I’ve butted heads with many people over my career. You cannot be an advocate and not butt heads. But I’ve never taken any of it personally.”
Kate Wiggins, the retired Director of Women’s Community House (now part of Annova) is one who frequently agreed and disagreed with Walker.
“Ya, we did our little tap dance every once in a while. But, at the end of the day, I think we truly respected one another.”
Wiggins says London and beyond benefited from Walker’s creation of the Shine the Light on Woman Abuse campaign and her drive to protect women and girls at courts locally and nationally.
“So she was always a fantastic advocate.”
Walker says part of her drive comes from her own “lived experience” with abuse, she rarely speaks about.
Stepping away, she says that story and the thousands she’s now come to know will ensure her legacy, to protect women and girls, is in good hands.
Meanwhile, she expects to keep a lower profile, at least for a short while, once she steps away in August.
“I don’t know if you’ll see my name, but I will definitely be working in some capacity whether out front or behind the scenes. This city has so much potential and is starting to embrace that potential, and I want to be part of that success.”
Before and during her time at LAWC Walker was also a politician. She served as a councillor on London City Council from 1994-2000 and ran unsuccessfully for the federal NDP in 2006.
She began her public life as a community advocate fighting to save the Carson Branch Public Library in Old East London.
Jennifer Dunn will be taking over as executive director of the LAWC when Walker retires.
Dunn has been with the agency for more than a decade.