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First Witness gets new leader

Tracie Clanaugh

The Duluth organization that shepherds child victims through criminal investigations and educates students on sexual-abuse prevention has a new executive director.

Tracie Clanaugh has been hired to lead First Witness Child Advocacy Center following an extensive search to replace Beth Olson, said an agency news release on Wednesday.

Clanaugh comes to First Witness following a career spent working in nonprofit leadership, the news release said, including serving in multiple directorship positions with the local YMCA.

She described the First Witness team as "working to end child abuse."

"I look forward to providing the support and resources that they need to advance the mission," Clanaugh said.

Olson announced in November she was leaving the top post at First Witness after juggling it along with the St. Louis County Board commissionership she was elected to in 2016. Olson will continue with the organization as a consultant, "continuing to advance the organization as a National Trainer in Child Advocacy and Forensic Interview Training," said the news release.

"With Tracie at the helm, I have full faith that First Witness will continue to grow and meet the needs of even more children and families," Olson said.

Cathy Nevanen, president of the First Witness board of directors, called the organization "fortunate" for hiring Clanaugh.

"She brings great experience and vision," Nevanen said.

In 2017 First Witness conducted 175 legally defensible forensic interviews with children, the news release said. Its Safe & Strong Child prevention education program reached more than 2,000 children in 2017 and the organization trained more than 1,500 professionals, parents and community members across the country.