Gustafson retires as Victim Witness coordinatorWhen Ann Gustafson graduated from Macalester College with a brand new sociology degree she first went to work for the telephone company. It wasn’t until she moved to Wisconsin with her husband that she returned to her true calling.
By: Jon Echternacht, Hudson Star-Observer
When Ann Gustafson graduated from Macalester College with a brand new sociology degree she first went to work for the telephone company. It wasn’t until she moved to Wisconsin with her husband that she returned to her true calling in the initial days of the Pierce County Victim Witness Program.
After 24 years, Gustafson retired as coordinator of the Victim Witness program in St. Croix County, where she started in 1991 and was the only person in the office of the new undertaking. Today four people operate the program.
With nearly a quarter century behind her she said the job has been rewarding.
“The most important thing we do is help people deal with a system they didn’t choose to be in and they are not familiar with,” Gustafson said. “We help them recover from victimization.”
Gustafson started with the new Victim Witness Program in Pierce County. “When Eric Johnson was running for district attorney he said one of the things he would do if elected would be to start the program,” Gustafson said. “He made good on his campaign promise.”
When Johnson became DA in St. Croix County he followed suit and Gustafson moved north.
“This (St. Croix County) may be a smaller area, but lots of things happen here,” she said reflecting over her career. “Absolutely there has been progress. We have sexual assault response teams in place, a restorative justice program to repair the harm done to victims and a (state) constitutional amendment to protect victims’ rights.”
“Ann has done an excellent job as Victim Witness coordinator both in St Croix County and Pierce County,” Johnson said. “She has provided a strong and consistent voice for victims in the system. We have the best Victim Witness Program in the state because of Ann.”
The former Anna Marie Hertel grew up in Olivia, Minn., where she graduated from high school in 1961. She earned a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College in St. Paul in 1965. After graduation she was one of the first four women taken into management training for Northwestern Bell Telephone Co. in Minneapolis.
While the phone company wasn’t her life’s calling, she said, “It was a good experience” in the working world.
She met and married Bob Gustafson, a University of Minnesota graduate, and moved to River Falls in 1966, where he took over a teaching position at the high school.
The couple raised three sons, all adults now and living in the Twin Cities area. They have six grandchildren, one just 6 weeks old.
What are her plans for retirement? “We’ll do some traveling, I’d like to join a book club,” she said. She will continue with her hobbies of gardening and music and would like to get involved in the bell choir at her church.
But she won’t be completely out of the social work game. She will continue to serve on the Restorative Justice board and SART (Sexual Assault Response Team) board.