James, a Gun Violence Survivor and Former Deputy Director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives, to Lead Nationwide Community of Gun Violence Survivors
Everytown’s Debbie Weir Tapped to Serve as Chief Mission Officer As Organization Continues Expand Trauma-Informed Engagement
NEW YORK – Everytown for Gun Safety Support Fund and Everytown’s grassroots networks, Moms Demand Action and Students Demand Action, today announced Keenon James as director of the Everytown Survivor Network — the organization’s nationwide community of survivors working together to end gun violence. The Everytown Survivor Network connects survivors to each other, amplifies the power of survivor voices, offers trauma-informed programs, provides information on direct services, and supports survivors who choose to become advocates in the gun violence prevention movement.
“I was just a kid when the impact of gun violence arrived at my family’s doorstep after my brother was shot and killed. I carry that hurt in my heart every day, but with it, I carry the resolve to fight for others and can’t think of a better way to do that than by joining Everytown,” said Keenon James, director of the Everytown Survivor Network. “I am excited to join Everytown and lead a dynamic team in providing survivors of gun violence with the support they need to heal and the tools they need to take action.”
James is a gun violence survivor himself — in 1993, his brother, Sean, was shot and killed in Takoma Park, Maryland. Prior to joining Everytown, James served as Deputy Director of the National Organization of Black Law Enforcement Executives (NOBLE) where he led the organization’s policy research, communications, community engagement, and training teams. In his prior role at the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS), James managed implementation of a national 21st Century Policing report including the Collaborative Reform Initiative team responsible for conducting nationally recognized training and technical assistance to law enforcement agencies. He regularly collaborated with local law enforcement agencies to assess the organization’s culture, community engagement plans, diversity and inclusion, and trust building with community groups and stakeholders.
“I’m thrilled to welcome Keenon James to our team to lead the Everytown Survivor Network,” said Shannon Watts, founder of Moms Demand Action. “As a survivor of gun violence himself, he personally understands the pain and trauma, and has dedicated his life to being there for others and fighting to end this epidemic. Keenon will be a steadfast leader when it comes to uplifting and empowering the voices of survivors who are the heart of the gun violence prevention movement.”
“Keenon is the perfect person to head the Everytown Survivor Network — a tested leader with years of experience working with law enforcement who knows the terrible pain of gun violence first hand,” said John Feinblatt, president of Everytown for Gun Safety. “Gun violence survivors are a driving force behind the gun safety movement, and they have an effective and passionate advocate in Keenon.”
Also announced today was the elevation of Debbie Weir to the role of Everytown’s Chief Mission Officer. In this new position, Weir will be responsible for overseeing the growth of the Everytown Survivor Network’s engagement and programming, as well as integrating trauma-informed best practices into the organization’s overall operational processes, messaging, and strategic plans. Weir will help ensure that survivor voices remain centered in the organization’s work, and will expand Everytown’s reach by collaborating with other local and national trauma experts.
With more than three years as Senior Managing Director of Organizing and Engagement for Moms Demand Action and previously serving as the CEO of Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Weir has spent her career building trauma-informed, compassionate programming to lift the voices of survivors and build engagement. A survivor of gun violence herself, Weir has overseen the Survivor Network’s growth to a diverse group of 3,000 messengers from all 50 states and the creation of National Gun Violence Survivors Week, which just recently wrapped up its third straight year of impressive visibility and growth.
“The voices of gun violence survivors are critical, authentic and put a face to the name of the more than 100 lives taken each day, along with the hundreds more that are wounded by gun violence. After my father’s death by gun suicide nearly 11 years ago, I learned just how important the support and companionship of other survivors was to my own healing process,” said Debbie Weir, Everytown’s Chief Mission Officer. “I’m proud to not only work alongside survivors of gun violence every day, but to bring a trauma-informed lens to the work of the organization as we fight to save lives.”