In 1994, Nicole Brown Simpson was brutally murdered, and domestic violence was catapulted into American conversations. Julia Kathary was working in mortgage services for a large banking institute in Southern Indiana and, like the rest of America, was watching a graphic and traumatic tale of intimate partner violence unfold on the news each night.
Other than helping with an occasional community fundraiser, Julia had no connection to impacting those who were being affected by domestic violence. But within months of Nicole Brown Simpson’s murder – around the same time the Violence Against Women Act was first authorized – Julia started working for a domestic violence program, and her life changed forever. Eighteen months later, Julia found herself face-to-face and talking candidly with Nicole Brown Simpson’s sister, Denise Brown, about Nicole and about what losing her had meant to the entire Brown family.
With O.J. Simpson’s acquittal still fresh and reeling with the pain of losing her sister, Denise’s anger, grief and passion were raw and unmasked that April in 1996. New to victim services, Julia’s undergraduate degree in psychology from Indiana University had not fully prepared her for the depth of emotion Denise brought to the conversation. But Denise wasn’t seeking healing or help from Julia. Julia had invited Denise to come to educate others about the reality of domestic violence. Julia got an education that day and every day for the last 25-plus years she has worked to end interpersonal abuse.
Julia has provided direct services to adults and children and presented at local, state and national conferences. In 2006, she began consulting with various charities in community planning efforts, strategic planning, capacity-strengthening, financial sustainability and organizational effectiveness. Julia worked with notable nonprofit organizations including the Susan G. Komen Indianapolis Affiliate, the Marion County Commission on Youth, the Domestic Violence Network, and the former Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault. In 2008, she earned a master’s degree in philanthropic studies with a concentration in nonprofit management from Indiana University’s now Lilly Family School of Philanthropy. Julia has served as CEO of Coburn Place since 2010.
Julia’s leadership has established Coburn Place as a trendsetter and model program providing multitype housing and support to interpersonal abuse survivors in their journey to overall wellness and trauma recovery. She has led the organization from financial instability to sustainability while tripling the overall operations, budget and impact. Coburn Place is the recent recipient of a $2.5 million financial sustainability award from the Lilly Endowment Inc, a $1.25 million leadership award from the Day 1 Families Fund, and highlighted in a 2019 Michigan State University Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence publication, Coburn Place: An Exemplar of the Domestic Violence Transitional Housing Model.