Meet Natalie Rose Tibbs, a registered nurse and the executive director at Children’s Advocacy Center of Benton County. It is a non-profit organization that serves children who have experienced some form of child abuse.
Natalie grew up watching her parents tirelessly serve the needy and vulnerable. She was 6 when they moved to Northwest Arkansas to open a long-term women’s shelter there. It housed several women and children and provided restorative services. Seeing those women suffer and her parents strive to help them put things into perspective for her. After this, she decided that she wanted to create a safer world for the community. With a passion to serve, she graduated as a registered nurse in 2006. She became one of the few certified pediatric sexual assault examiners in Arkansas.
Natalie specializes in performing sexual assault exams for pediatrics, adolescents, and even adults if required. She started a training program in the area to recruit more nurses and was named the executive director in 2015. Owing to the values instilled in her by her parents, Natalie is working to provide a safe space for these children and eliminate child abuse. She is also empowering these children to find a voice and support services to the victims. 14 years later, Natalie is back in grad school at John Brown University. She is currently pursuing her bachelor’s in psychology. She is a mother of five, out of which two were adopted from foster care.
Talking more about her organization, she says, “We provide advocacy support, forensic interviews, medical examinations, and counseling services. Additionally, we have an education component training the community on how to effectively respond to child abuse and how to combat it”. Last year, they served 1007 children.
As an executive director, Natalie realized that the western side of the country did not have access to the highest standard of services where there were concerns about child abuse. The organization opened a satellite facility last fall and has served over 15 children and families since then.
As she took on a new role, Natalie had minimal training and experience in leadership. For someone who had never supervised anyone, she was now leading an organization, but eventually, everything came through. COVID posed another challenge, as the children are more likely to face abuse at home. “Additionally, our community is heavily saturated in nonprofit organizations and therefore competing for the same fundraising dollars. We needed to grow the awareness of our agency within the community”, she says.
Natalie is happy to state the community has fully embraced their organization and is on board with its mission. Last year, they were able to raise $1.1 million for the satellite facility. Her hard work and conviction landed her a spot as a 40 under 40 individual in the Arkansas Business Journal. She creates practical business plans for the organization and prepares detailed reports for execution. She also developed a leadership structure to remove the flat structure for the smooth functioning of the organization. Over the years, Natalie has learned to never give up on something, even if others do not see or believe in it. She is now leading the organization successfully and knows with her team by her side, they can accomplish anything.
Addressing all the women who wish to make a difference, she says, “Know what sets your soul on fire and pursue it with everything you have. Never give up on your dreams. Adversity will come. It doesn’t build character though, it only reveals it. So be sure that it reveals something you can be proud of!”