Visionary Voice Award

Visionary Voice Award

The NSVRC offers the Visionary Voice award, in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) each April, to recognize the creativity and hard work of individuals around the country who have demonstrated outstanding work to end sexual violence. 

Each year, state, territory, and tribal coalitions select an outstanding individual to nominate for the awards. Nominees may be partners from a local community or other outstanding individuals that have worked to end sexual violence.

2014 Visionary Voice Award Recipients

Dorinda Edmisten
For the past 16 years, Dorinda Edmisten has strived to ensure that all victims and their loved ones have access to free and confidential professional crisis intervention and advocacy.  In 1998, she helped found the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and has served on its board in leadership positions.  Dorinda continues to give her expertise to helping women, men, and children as Executive Director of the Ozark Rape Crisis Center, which provides direct services and prevention education in six counties. Dorinda  also has served as president of the Clarksville Johnson County Chamber of Commerce, and has been heavily involved in leadership programs in Harrison and Clarksville, Ark.
 
Nancy E. O' Malley
Nancy E. O’Malley is the District Attorney for Alameda County, Calif. Nancy is a nationally recognized expert on violence against women and sexual assault, more specifically sexual assault against persons with disabilities, interpersonal violence, and human exploitation and trafficking. During her 30-year career, she has distinguished herself as an effective prosecutor and an ardent advocate for victims. She led the creation of the Alameda County Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) that continues to be recognized as a model for communities and a research facility for advancing forensics in sexual assault crimes. Nancy also serves as an appointed member of the California State Sexual Assault Advisory Committee and Chair of the California Sex Offender Management Board.
 
Megan Lechner, RN, SANE-A, SANE-P
Megan Lechner is an outstanding nurse and advocate for patients experiencing sexual violence. As a full-time Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) and team lead at Memorial Hospital- University of Colorado Health (UCH) , Megan has cared for more than a thousand patients who have experienced sexual violence. Megan responds with great clinical expertise and compassion for her patients, and educates community members about the realities of sexual assault. Megan has worked on a state, national, and international level-, traveling to Africa to assist the International Association of Forensic Nurses and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) in caring for pediatric victims of sexual assault. 
 
State Rep. Roberta B. Willis
As a state lawmaker and co-chair of the Higher Education Committee, State Rep. Roberta Willis has championed the rights of sexual assault victims and has worked to improve the response to victims and survivors. She led the initiative to require that all institutions of higher education in Connecticut have the strongest possible response to addressing campus sexual violence by adopting federal Campus SaVE Act provisions before they were adopted for all states under the VAWA. She continues to prioritize legislation that will strengthen the campus response to victims of sexual assault and institute prevention education and training programs.
 
Nominated by the DC Rape Crisis Center
Rev. Santa CanteWi Molina-Marshall 
Santa CanteWi Molina-Marshall has spent more than 25 years serving communities as a licensed social worker supporting survivors of sexual assault. As the Director of Counseling and Advocacy at the DC Rape Crisis Center she leads over 20 staff in providing counseling and advocacy services. Her innovate and holistic approach to creating an environment for healing is nationally known.  Recently, she served as the Interim Executive Director at the DC Rape Crisis Center during a leadership transition at the agency. She is an ordained interfaith minister and certified in yoga, Reiki, and massage therapy. Her practice at Holistic Health Practices, LLC and Interfaith Ministry Services, Inc.  focuses on supporting the community in healing.
 
Judith T. Won Pat, Ed.D. 
Dr. Judith T. Won Pat has served as a senator and Speaker with Guam’s Legislature since 2008, and has served in other leadership roles during her 10-year tenure. For more than two decades, she has led with a commitment to advocating for policies that address sexual assault and violence against women and girls for Guam and the Pacific region. She has served as Chair for Fuetsan Famalao’an, “the strength of women’”, a women leaders’ group. Her efforts focus on advocating and initiating policies that aim to ensure that the needs, care, and health of women and girls are prioritized.
 
Mary E. Govert
For more than a decade, Mary E. Govert has served as Executive Director of St. Jude House, Inc., a domestic violence and sexual assault prevention center and shelter in Crown Point, Ind. She has been instrumental in reaching underserved areas in northern Indiana and keeping sexual violence core to theSt. Jude’s mission.  Mary sits on the Lake Area United Way Agency Executive Council, and co-chairs the Lake County Task Force on Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence. Mary passionately supports and involves herself in events for human rights issues.
 
Sen. Thomas G. Courtney 
Four-term Iowa State Sen. Tom Courtney is a longtime supporter of work to end sexual violence. He has worked to expand the definition of sexual assault so that all sexual violence will be considered a sex crime, to expand protections for survivors of dating violence, and to support efforts to fund programs for survivors of sexual violence. In 2013, he led a hard-fought and successful effort to gain an additional $4 million in state funds for services for survivors. Despite having open-heart surgery during the middle of the legislative session, he returned to see the effort through, and achieved the largest increase in victim service funds in Iowa history.
 
Mary Stolz-Newton
Mary Stolz-Newton has advocated for survivors of sexual violence for more than eight years. At Wichita Area Sexual Assault Center (WASAC), she facilitates yoga groups for sexual violence survivors in the process of healing, and has conducted research (pending publication) on the benefits of yoga and exercise for sexual violence survivors. She trains regularly with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, and has coordinated and provided more than 100 trainings to law enforcement officers in Kansas on responding to crimes involving domestic and sexual violence. She is committed to social change advocacy, and is integral in collaborative efforts with law enforcement, courts, hospitals, and schools.
 
Ann L. Coker, Ph.D. 
Ann L. Coker has focused on interpersonal violence issues throughout her career.  She currently serves as Principal Investigator for “Green Dot across the Bluegrass: Evaluation of a primary prevention project.”  She leads the evaluation team in determining the effectiveness of a bystander intervention program implemented by rape crisis centers at high schoolsin Kentucky. This five-year study, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), has just started its fifth year. In 2007, she became the inaugural Verizon Wireless Endowed Chair in the Center for Research on Violence Against Women.
 
Erin Rhoda
Erin Rhoda has been instrumental in launching several initiatives on journalism and sexual violence in collaboration with the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault (MECASA). As editorial page editor of the Bangor Daily News (BDN), she leads a long-term project to shed light on domestic and sexual violence. She has is a trained sexual assault response advocate, and heads BDN’s multimedia project, “Proof,” which is sensitive to victims/survivors in telling stories of healing from sexual violence. She edited MECASA’s media packet for Maine journalists and presents on the role of journalists in neutral reporting.
 
Sandra L. Pilgrim-Lewis
Sandra L. Pilgrim-Lewis is the newly retired Executive Director of Shelter, Inc . in Alpena, Mich. For nearly 30 years, she has advocated for service with dignity, social justice, and ending oppression. She is a leader at the state and local levels for the domestic violence and sexual assault movements. She was honored for her profound commitment to the movement to end violence against women and  to ensuring that provided services are accessible, relevant, and accountable to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She has worked tirelessly organizing to increase access and justice for survivors from all backgrounds.
 
The DOVES Program 
The DOVES Program is a dual domestic violence and sexual assault program in rural northwestern Nebraska and is celebrating 35 years of service. The organization serves a nine-county area. In an area with limited community resources, it has been creative in its approach to services and community partnerships.  DOVES provides immediate, ongoing, and long-term support for primary and secondary victims of sexual and domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking. Hilary Wasserburger is the current Executive Director and has worked at DOVES for more than 10 years.
 
Forrest Seymour
Forrest Seymour has been a champion of sexual violence prevention efforts at Keene State College, where he serves as a counselor, Sexual Violence Prevention Coordinator, and co-advisor of Mentors in Violence Prevention. He was instrumental in Keene State, instituting sexual violence prevention programming in student orientation programs and working with athletic teams on campus. In addition to campus programming, he coordinates student involvement in Monadnock Center for  annual violence prevention-related events, and he is co-director and co-founder of the Monadnock Men’s Resource Center. He is a licensed independent clinical social worker, and is in private practice as a psychotherapist.   
 
Bill Shaefer
Bill Schaefer is a founding member and co-leader of Northern New York Call to Men, a grassroots organization working to end violence against women. Since 1994, his professional experience in the criminal justice field has focused on addressing and preventing violence against women. Over the years, he has participated in many state-level committees, administered grants, and presented on the criminal justice response to domestic violence and sexual assault. He has a passion for engaging men as allies and working to end oppression. He has worked on violence prevention programs for colleges, high schools, middle schools, and Head Start programs. 
 
Teresa M. Matthews
Teresa M. Matthews is the Witness Victim Coordinator for the Cuyahoga County prosecutor’s office. She has worked in the criminal justice system for more than 20 years. Her work has included leadership in county-level sexual assault response, victim compensation, sex offender management, and addressing sexual assault kit backlogs with a victim-centered approach. She organized the first Take Back the Night event for the city of Cleveland, and has organized rallies and events in honor of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.  She serves as a board member for the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and was elected president in 2013. 
 
Lynn Shiner
Lynn Shiner has 35 years of experience in state government, and she currently directs the Office of Victim Services for the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency. Her leadership has turned the Victims Compensation Assistance Program into a national model through streamlining processes, legislative changes, and technology enhancements that ensure that a victim-centered program, easing the financial burden on victims and their families. Her passion to ease crime victims' pain is informed by her own experience of tragedy. Her young children, Jen and Dave, were murdered on Christmas Day in 1994.  She is committed to making changes to improve the lives of other victims and advocates for the protection of children through the “Jen & Dave” law. 
 
Vickey Cornelison-Grant
Vickey Cornelison-Grant has served crime victims for more than 25 years. Professionally, she has worked at the National Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center and the Medical University of South Carolina since 1986. The facility she works for has made significant contributions to the field of victimization and the study of trauma She served sexual assault victims in her community as a volunteer advocate for People Against Rape (PAR), South Carolina’s first rape crisis center. She serves as Treasurer on PAR’s board of directors. She is the 2013 recipient of the Volunteer of the Year Award from Charleston Magazine and the Coastal Community Foundation of South Carolina, and she is the 2013 Volunteer of the Year for Zonta International Club of Charleston.
 
Debbie Curtis MSN, APN, CEN SANE-A
Debbie Curtis is a registered nurse who has aided victims/ survivors seeking medical care and forensic medical examinations in the aftermath of a sexual assault. Since 1988, she has worked as a Certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner for adults and adolescents at St. Thomas Rutherford Hospital in Murfreesboro, Tenn. She is a founding member and current president of the Rutherford County Sexual Assault Response Team.  She works with the team to review cases, update policies, and promote best practices in responding to sexual assault for medical staff and allied professionals. She also has provided invaluable assistance to the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic & Sexual Violence on the issue of forensic compliance, lending to the drafting of policies to support victims and hold perpetrators accountable.
 
Donna Kelly
Donna Kelly is the Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Resource Prosecutor for the state of Utah. She has been prosecuting sexual assault and domestic violence cases for more than 20 years. Since joining the Utah Prosecution Council staff, she has collaborated with Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice, Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault, the Utah Department of Public Safety, and city and county police and prosecution agencies throughout Utah to provide specialized training on sexual assault and domestic violence investigation and prosecution. These specialized trainings for police, prosecutors, and advocates have strengthened criminal justice system response throughout the state.
 

Photo of Sammuel SanesNominated by the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council
Sen. Sammuel Sanes

Sen. Samuel Sanes is the Vice President for the 30th Legislature of the Virgin Islands. He is an avid supporter of the Women's Coalition of St. Croix and the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council. He has proposed legislation to prohibit the trafficking of persons for the purpose of sexual or labor activity. He also proposed legislation to provide spousal protection in sexual assault cases and to expand on the definitions of sexual contact and child abuse. He currently chairs the Committee on Rules and Judiciary and is Vice-Chair for the committees on Public Safety, Homeland Security and Justice.

Photo of Sanu DiengNominated by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance
Sanu Y. Dieng

Sanu Y. Dieng is the Prevention Education and Community Relations Coordinator for Transitions Family Violence Services. She is committed to creating space for young people to engage in dialogue and creative expression around healthy sexuality as a primary prevention strategy. She has attended extensive training provided by the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance and has attended the Women of Color Network’s 18-month Leadership Academy. She has worked in her community and at the state level to inform prevention efforts and create opportunities to work with youth around healthy relationships and healthy sexuality promotion.

Andrea Jones
Andrea Jones is Youth Advocate and Prevention Educator at AWARE Hardwick, Vt. Since 2009, Andrea has advocated for adults, youth, and children impacted by sexual violence, and has worked to build capacity for comprehensive prevention activities in the community.  From preschool to college students, from parents to teachers and professionals, Andrea creates curricula and spreads the message about sexual consent, healthy sexual behaviors, sexting, and other issues that impact her community.  Andrea has a background in education and has spent her adult life working with children and teens of all ages.
 
Marshall Univeristy Forensic Science Center
Founded in 1994, the Marshall University Forensic Science Center (MUFSC) provides cutting-edge DNA analysis for human identification in criminal cases and forensic training for West Virginia and 47 other states. MUFSC has collaborated with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services since 2003. This collaboration supported development of a Sexual Assault Response Team Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner  trainings, and the development of online resources to enhance sexual assault services and response. Support provided by MUFSC has enabled West Virginia to better train first responders on sexual assault through innovative, accessible training resources, and has ultimately helped improve services for victims in the state. The leadership of founding director Dr. Terry Fenger and the MUFSC team has been invaluable. 
 
Photo of Bonnie CoonenNominated by the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Bonnie Coonen

Bonnie Coonen helped found the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Appleton, Wis. in 1978. She has served in the anti-sexual assault field for 35 years, and for the last 15 years has worked at Family Services of Northeast Wisconsin. Bonnie has presented throughout the region on elder abuse, advocacy, and sexual assault dynamics. She has trained law enforcement, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, judges and other professionals. Bonnie has worked closely with nursing homes and schools to promote sexual safely. It has been estimated she has as supported 5,000 victims and survivors, including survivors of molestation by clergy. She has been a driving force behind community sexual assault response efforts and committees.
 
Jody Sanborn
Jody Sanborn is the Sexual Violence Prevention Specialist for the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She has worked in the movement to prevent and end sexual violence since 2005.  In her current position, she has worked tirelessly with communities across Wyoming for the last five years to increase their capacity to prevent sexual violence.  Her expertise and skillful ability to meet communities where they are has resulted in progress toward readiness to prevent sexual violence.  She has experience as a national, state, and local trainer specializing in rural community education and mobilization, college populations, and leadership for prevention with youth and young adult groups. 
 
Karen Lang
Karen Lang has worked in the anti-rape movement since 1995.  From September 2001 to June 2013 Karen served as a Project Officer in CDC’s National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Division of Violence Prevention working on the national Rape Prevention and Education Program (RPE).  As the Project Lead for RPE, Karen was responsible for setting the overall vision and direction for the program which provides over $34 million dollars to health departments in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Territories.  In this role, Karen helped facilitate a sea change in the RPE Program, and the sexual violence prevention field broadly, by expanding the focus from raising awareness about the problem to preventing sexual violence perpetration through addressing modifiable risk and protective factors at multiple levels of the social ecology.   Karen is currently a Program Consultant in the Division of STD Prevention, Program Development and Quality Improvement Branch where she supports state and city health departments in implementing and evaluating STD Prevention Programs.  Karen received a Bachelor’s of Social Work and a Masters of Social Work from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  
 

 

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