Posted by Steve Lettau on Nov 15, 2018

By Melanie Boyung - News Graphic

GRAFTON — Cecile Duhnke will step down as the executive director of COPE Services Friday.

COPE Services, based in Grafton, is a nonprofit offering support and outreach to people struggling with mental illness. Its most well known initiative is the COPE hotline, which people can call when in need of someone to talk to, and trained volunteers answer the phone to help guide people through their difficulties.

Other initiatives include support groups and a text line currently planned for a pilot program this year, outreach efforts and education on coping with mental and emotional struggles.

Duhnke joined COPE in 2014, when she was hired to a newly created position to assist in fundraising. While initially a part-time staff member at COPE in fundraising and event planning – Duhnke worked in marketing before moving into the nonprofit sector – she eventually was promoted to executive director of COPE. She held that position since 2015, according to her professional profile.

“I just decided it was time for me to move on,” Duhnke said.

The COPE Board of Directors has selected current COPE employee Miriam Stern as interim executive director, while the board decides how to move forward in selecting a permanent replacement.

Many of COPE’s services are currently under revision, as some are pulled back and others are expanded in the wake of recent funding changes, Duhnke’s resignation comes on the heels of a major funding shift; about a year ago, Duhnke said COPE found out its main funding source through Ozaukee County Human Services Department was cut from $89,000 to $25,000.

“I care deeply about COPE, the people here, the callers, the staff and volunteers,” Duhnke said.