Rita Bailey and Sandy Sarhatt, newly elected co-chairmen of the Darien Domestic Abuse Partnership, will be taking the reins from Chairman Susan Warren, who is retiring.

After five years of service, two as chairman, Warren successfully launched many initiatives and raised awareness of the partnership and the issue of domestic abuse.

"It has been an honor and a privilege to serve as chairman of the Darien Domestic Abuse Partnership," said Warren.

"On behalf of the DDAP, we thank and welcome Rita Bailey and Sandy Sarhatt. With their many years of experience, they will bring new and exciting ideas to the partnership and continue to lead and guide the DDAP into the future to create even more awareness."

Bailey has been a Darien resident for 33 years. While raising six boys, she worked in education, tutoring children with learning difficulties.

Her career path took many directions from a catering business to owning a retail business in Maine for eight years. Recently, she has been an active volunteer with the Domestic Violence Crisis Center in its medical advocacy project working with victims of abuse.

Sarhatt, a seven-year Darien resident, has a diverse business background. She earned a Master of Business Administration from Harvard Business School and is a certified public accountant.

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She was president of Lang Communications, the publisher of Working Woman, Working Mother, MS., Sassy and Success magazines at the time.

For the last 16 years, she has been a principal at Beecher Investors Inc., serving as its chief financial officer.

The DDAP raises awareness of domestic violence in the community. Awareness initiatives include the Purple Ribbon Campaign, in which ribbons are displayed throughout town to represent each victim in Darien for the past year; the Wings of Hope Campaign, in which each victim is represented with the release of a butterfly; and the SACK Domestic Violence Homecoming Campaign led by the Darien High School football captains, in which the team makes a symbolic stand against domestic abuse by wearing purple eye-black in solidarity with victims.

The partnership also spearheads the SafeHouse initiative, which collects household items for the victims housed in the Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses.

The DDAP have four highly trained Darien police officers on its 25-member board who not only serve as advisers, but active participants in the recognition and prevention of domestic violence in Darien. In addition, the DDAP works closely with the Domestic Violence Crisis Center and the seven communities it serves. Through the DVCC, key resources are made available to the Darien community including safe houses, counseling and legal support.

The DVCC is available 24 hours a day through its hotline at 888-774-2900 and www.dvccct.org.