The board of directors of the Lewiston-based It Happened to Alexa Foundation has announced the recent appointment of Sandra Lahrache to the position of acting executive director.
Lahrache began her association with IHTAF in 2012 as the director of the educational outreach program, providing direct assistance to victims. Initially, she was hired part-time as an instructor of the "Safe Dates Program" for students in three middle schools in Niagara County. The program primarily focuses on middle school students and helps them to understand what a healthy relationship is and recognize the red flags of unhealthy relationships.
Lahrache has since expanded the curricula to target high school and college students and, as a result, has reached more than 10,000 students throughout Niagara, Erie and Orleans counties.
In addition to presenting the "Safe Dates Program," Lahrache also developed such curricula as "Consent - What it is, What it isn't" and "The Red Zone." The programs are presented during the first six weeks on college campuses when more students report rape than at any other time. She also presents the program in guest appearances at such venues as Buffalo State College, Niagara University, D'Youville College and Niagara County Community College.
"In the past four years, Sandra has shown the passion, enthusiasm and leadership skills necessary to affect growth and change at IHTAF," said IHTAF co-founders Tom and Stacey Branchini.
Lahrache, a NCCC graduate of the victim advocate program, has also been a compassionate voice working with victims and their families needing assistance from IHTAF.
In her new role, Lahrache will conduct community outreach, provide direct assistance to victims, increase donor engagement and plan and coordinate events. In addition, she will continue to oversee and expand the IHTAF educational outreach program through the development of curricula to assist physically and developmentally disabled children and adults understand the meaning and intent of sexual assault.
Lahrache has devoted much of her time to volunteering, including as a rape crisis advocate with the Niagara County YWCA since 2011. She serves on the board of directors for the Niagara River Region Chamber of Commerce and Roswell Cancer Institute gala committee. She has also certified her golden retriever, Lily, as a therapy dog through the SPCA's "Paws of Love" program. They frequently visit senior citizens centers and the schools where Lahrache presents her programs.
She has been married to Ahmed Lahrache, chief of operations at Hebeler Corp. LLC, for 26 years. They have two children, Zach (17 years old) and Zahra (21 years old). She enjoys travel, outdoor activities, cooking, community involvement and spending time with family and friends.
Founded in 2003 and headquartered in Lewiston, the IHTAF provides financial, emotional and advocacy assistance to the victims of rape and sexual assault at the time of the trial throughout the U.S. and internationally. To learn more about or donate to the foundation, visit www.ithappenedtoalexa.org or call 716-754-9105.