A familiar face returned to the Pima County Attorney’s Office last month, taking on the role of director of Victim Services Division. Vanessa Helms returned to the office Oct. 16, after more than a decade of experience working with victims of crime.
In 2016, Helms was named the executive director of Homicide Survivors, a nonprofit organization meeting the needs of families of murder victims. She previously worked at the county attorney’s office for 12 years.
The Star spoke to Helms about why she made the switch back to the county attorney’s office and her plans for the Victim Services Division.
Q: How did your role as executive director of Homicide Survivors prepare you for your role as director of Victim Services?
A: “My story is kind of a circular journey. When I first started in the victim services field 13 years ago, I actually started at the county attorney’s office. I coordinated the volunteer program, worked as an advocate, coordinated the Victim Compensation Program and worked with Homicide Survivors through that time.
“Then, about 1½ years ago, the former director left, so I moved over to Homicide Survivors. I had been working in the victim services field all of that time and then working as the director of Homicide Survivors gave me the insight to the administrative role I now have at Victim Services.
“It’s really a combination of the work that I’d previously done at the Pima County Attorney’s Office compiled with the director position at Homicide Survivors that gave me all of the skills, information and experience that I need to now work as director of the Victim Services Division.”
Q: What got you into the victim services field?
A: “When I graduated from the University of Arizona, I wasn’t really sure what I wanted to do like a lot of college graduates. My first job outside of college was working at Child and Family Resources as a case manager. I worked with families who were having a tough time and who needed resources.
“I really loved it. I just found that being able to offer help was really fulfilling to me and I felt like because I was able to, I should. That was really important. It was so nice to see growth and change when people got information that maybe they didn’t have before. It was just so fulfilling to see that change in people and know that I could help.
“I then got my…