Written by The Business Journal Staff
Genelle Taylor Kumpe, Executive Director
Marjaree Mason Center
What we do: Marjaree Mason Center is Fresno County’s only dedicated provider of domestic violence shelter and support services, including education for victims and youth.
Education: Bachelor’s Degree in Business Management from California State University, Fresno
Family: Husband Matt, son Aiden and daughter Ava
How did you come to your position as Executive Director of the Marjaree Mason Center, Genelle?
I worked for Fresno State for 15 years and was not looking for another job. I was approached by a friend about the Executive Director position at MMC, and knew that this opportunity presented itself for a reason. I’ve always had a passion for empowering individuals and especially women. Being a mom of two young children, I knew I needed to take this on, as I want these children affected by domestic violence to have a good life too.
What did you do prior to joining the Marjaree Mason Center, Genelle?
Ever since graduating from Fresno State, I have been working in the field of entrepreneurship education. I worked at Fresno State for 15 years, with the last 10 of those years as the Associate Director at the Lyles Center for Innovation and Entrepreneurship on campus.
If you could affect any change in the Fresno community, what would it be, Genelle?
My hope is to break the cycle of domestic abuse, and live in a community free of domestic violence.
Recent news events have put a spotlight on domestic violence. What do you think is the most important thing for the public to keep in mind about this issue, Genelle?
The recent domestic violence news proves that domestic violence knows no boundaries. It affects women, men and children across every description of age, class, socio-economic or educational status, race or sexual orientation. Domestic violence is a serious problem. Using this national media attention to start conversations about healthy relationships in our homes and with our children is imperative.
Marjaree Mason Center can be utilized as a resource for those exposed to or affected by domestic violence in the Fresno County area. To contact MMC, call our office at 559-237-4706 or our 24-hour crisis hotline at 559-233-HELP (4357).
The Marjaree Mason Center recently began offering exercise and lifestyle classes to clients and staff. What is the goal of this program, Genelle?
The goal of MMC’s Living Well Program supported by Kaiser Permanente is to empower our clients — victims of domestic violence — and staff to live well by instilling practices of mental health and mindfulness, healthy eating and exercising.
Marjaree Mason Center is passionate about inspiring healthy lifestyles in our clients and staff both by living free of domestic violence and instilling self-care values.
What has been the response from the business community for the Living Well program, Genelle?
There has been an outpour of generosity from local community organizations that want to partner with MMC on this wellness initiative in various capacities. The majority of Marjaree Mason Center safe house residents’ annual income is less than $9,000, therefore this program is able to provide them with empowering resources they might not have had the chance to utilize without MMC and Kaiser Permanente Fresno’s partnership.
What was the best advice you ever received, Genelle?
My dad always told me that I can be and have anything I wanted if I set my mind to it. He believed in me and taught me to be confident in myself, my decisions and my actions. Miss him.
What was your first job and what did you learn from it, Genelle?
My very first job was at a local pizza and sandwich shop where I grew up. I was 15. It taught me about time management, having to balance school work, extra-curricular activities and work. It also gave me financial independence when I wanted a little spending money. I learned the value of hard work and developed indispensable life skills, such as teamwork and communication.
What person now or in history would you be most interested in meeting and why, Genelle?
There are so many important historical people that come to mind that I would like to meet, if I could. Some examples, for obvious reasons of being a fan of empowering women, would be Rosa Parks, Mother Theresa and Susan B. Anthony. But, I think because of the work that I am currently in, I would have to say Mahatma Gandhi. I find his story to be fascinating. He believed very strongly in devoting oneself to helping others and that it was a privilege to be able to give. I see some pretty horrific things every day in my career. If more people had his mindset, our community, our nation and our world would be in a much better place.
What do you like to do in your spare time, Genelle?
First and foremost, I love spending time with my family. Having a loving husband and two young children keep me motivated to do my work. They give me inspiration and hope that more families can have as much laughter and love in their homes. I enjoy taking care of myself, so I enjoy working out and finding new healthy recipes online. I also enjoy the small bits of time I get to travel!