Sojourner Center Appoints Dr. Robert L. Knechtel as COO

Seasoned business executive will support new five-year strategic plan, expanding the domestic violence center’s services for women, children and the community

Sojourner Center  Dec. 11, 2014

As Sojourner Center embarks on a five-year plan to strengthen and expand its safety net of domestic violence services, the organization has added a new chief operations officer, Robert L. Knechtel, J.D., M.D.

Dr. Knechtel, a co-founder of three startup companies and holder of a medical degree, fortifies Sojourner Center’s executive team for the years of growth ahead. Dr. Knechtel was most recently a partner at Wiemelt Knechtel, a boutique Intellectual Property and FDA regulatory law firm with offices in Phoenix and Chicago. He has led technology, medical and pharmaceutical, and manufacturing companies as president/CEO, COO, and as general counsel over the course of his 25-year career.

“Sojourner Center is at the cusp of a journey that will rapidly evolve the domestic violence services field,” said María Garay, Ph.D., M.S.W., and chief executive officer of Sojourner Center. “Dr. Knechtel’s incredible business, legal and medical qualifications are directly relevant to many of our organizational priorities. These skills matched with his phenomenal passion for helping those affected by domestic violence make him uniquely suited to help us achieve our vision of a world free from domestic violence.”

Dr. Knechtel became involved with Sojourner Center as a volunteer in 2010. Until recently, he served on the Sojourner Center Board of Directors. As a co-chair of the strategic planning committee, he was instrumental to developing Sojourner Center’s new strategic plan.

Sojourner Center, one of the largest domestic violence centers in the United States, helps 8,700 individuals impacted by domestic violence each year. While deepening the existing continuum of care for women and children, the plan will extend Sojourner Center’s services further into Arizona’s diverse communities with education and prevention efforts aimed at ending the cycle of domestic violence.

In addition to his operational responsibilities, Dr. Knechtel will help oversee implementation of this plan, which includes incorporating rigorous research and quality assurance programs to inform, scale and disseminate Sojourner Center’s evolving care models.

“The common thread throughout my career is that I’ve been at the center of companies or organizations going through very fast growth periods,” said Dr. Knechtel. “The same holds true for the transformation underway at Sojourner Center today. I’m thrilled with the prospect and potential Sojourner Center has to carry forward best practices as a national leader in domestic violence services, prevention and advocacy.”

Since 1977 Sojourner Center has provided shelter and support services to tens of thousands of women and children affected by domestic violence. Through empowerment, families discover hope and can build new futures free from violence. As one of the nation’s largest domestic violence shelters, Sojourner Center is a tireless advocate for domestic violence victims and survivors. With the continued support of the community, Sojourner Center can help women and children overcome the impact of domestic violence.

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