Letter from the Leadership: So Much More Than Shoes

A letter from Marketing Director Carey Kersten.

I started working at AVLF three years ago. Five days into my employment, I was standing on the 16th floor of King & Spalding, watching in bewilderment as two people deftly constructed a 10-foot stiletto shoe out of hundreds of red balloons.

What had I gotten myself into?

Fast forward to 2017, when “purSHOEing” rolls off my tongue more easily than “pursuing.” When I can tell you what part of a shoe is the vamp. When I can recite statistics about domestic violence that make me want to throw back my head and scream until I lose my voice.

PurSHOEing Justice was the brainchild of Elizabeth Finn Johnson and Jennifer Jackson, who wanted to get more women involved with AVLF. Jennifer knew a guy who bought fancy shoes for a department store – why not invite him to bring his wares to party, where female lawyers could sip cocktails, shop, and learn about the Safe Families Office? It was, frankly, brilliant.

The rest was history, although a few things have changed. This year’s event, the fourth, raised a record-breaking $70,000. (For reference, the first annual PurSHOEing Justice raised around one-tenth of that amount.) A giant ice sculpture has taken the place of the balloon shoe. And as I looked around the room, I saw just as many men as I did women. If you missed it this year, you really did miss out. You can read Michael Lucas’ welcoming remarks here, though, sadly, there is no record of Elizabeth’s impassioned (intimidating?) plea for donations. I’ll remember to record her next time.

I have a magnet in my office that says, “I am fairly certain that, given a cape and a nice tiara, I could save the world.” Some days I feel that way more than others, but never as much as when I watch the PurSHOEing Justice planning committee do their thing.

The women who have played a role in planning this event over the years have joined up for different reasons. Some love parties. Some love shoes. Some love Marty and have a hard time saying no when he asks for something. But – and I feel confident speaking for everyone here – we all love AVLF and feel proud and honored to help support the work that the Safe Families Office does day in and day out.

The real heroes, though, are the survivors. Our PurSHOEing Justice guests of honor. Christy Sims. April Ross. Tameka Webb. These women – and the thousands of others who have had the courage to step into the Safe Families Office – display such strength and grace that it literally takes my breath away. Thank you, thank you for letting us play a role in your healing. You are an inspiration to me, to my daughter, and to every person who has ever needed to say, “Enough is enough.”

This event is so much more than just shoes. And I can’t wait to see how we outdo ourselves next year.

Carey Kersten is the Marketing Director at AVLF, where she spends her days planning really great parties that benefit even better causes.