2007 National Award for Outstanding Advocacy and Community Work in Ending Sexual Violence
>Dr. Linda Laras Garcia
>Alana J. Goebel
>Charles E. Thayer
Kathy Beebe has been advocating and working on behalf of sexual violence survivors for the past 18 years. She began working at Sexual Assault Support Services in 1989 where she coordinated the 24-hour client services program before leaving in 1997 to become the Training and Standards Coordinator for the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. In both of these roles, Kathy actively participated on numerous statewide committees to develop protocols and improve services for victims and has provided training to an array of victim service workers, including medical, law enforcement, and legal personnel. In 2002, she returned to Sexual Assault Support Services where she is currently the Executive Director. Kathy is a member of the Governor’s Commission on Domestic Violence and Stalking, a graduate of the National Victim Assistance Academy and was recently appointed to serve on the NH Judicial Selection Commission.
The Utah Commission on Criminal and Juvenile Justice (CCJJ), located within the Governor’s Office, promotes broad philosophical agreement about the objectives of the criminal and juvenile justice system in Utah. To accomplish this goal, the Commission includes a wide and diverse membership of organizations involved with justice issues in Utah. Much of the coordination is done by the disbursement of federal grant money, which CCJJ administers. As an active part in coordinating criminal and juvenile justice issues in Utah, CCJJ continues to play a strong role in developing policy recommendations.
The CCJJ Research and Data Unit conducts and coordinates research on pertinent criminal justice issues and serves as the Statistical Analysis Center for the State of Utah. In 2004, the CCJJ Research and Data Unit, Julie Christenson and Mike Haddon, published the Sexual Violence in Utah report.
In 2006, Rape in Utah: A Survey of Utah Women About Their Experiences with Sexual Violence was developed and conducted by the CCJJ Research and Data Unit, Mike Haddon and Julie Christenson. The results from this survey provided the State of Utah with a better understanding of the extent to which sexually related violence occurs, the impact it has upon victims, and the effectiveness of those who respond to those who have been assaulted. The Rape in Utah report has been used in policy development and program improvement to better address the needs of those who have become, or may become, victims of sexual violence.
It has been six years since Robin Clover became the Executive Director of the Sexual Assault Family Violence Task Force in Sublette County, Wyoming. From the day she began, she eagerly sought out answers to questions that would bring her deeper into the field of advocacy. A field that she was not part of until then, a field that would challenge her as much as she challenged it. Robin holds a profound passion for prevention in her community and across Wyoming. She understands the differences between all types of prevention and understands the capacity they hold for creating change. In April of 2007, Robin will be releasing her program’s prevention campaign, “I’m Doing My Part.” The campaign recognizes that doing one’s part just isn’t about the individual; it’s about where they have an impact in the home, school and community. When a call was made to create a statewide prevention team, Robin jumped on board. In doing so, she became part of one of the first teams to participate in the CDC’s PREVENT institute. This team is now the Wyoming Prevent Team and Robin’s passion on the team is evident. She has independently, with the team’s support, worked with State offices to help the team meet its goals. Robin remains active on the team and continues to push prevention as a priority for her community and across the State. Robin, like many other advocates, worked her way into schools in her community. She brought them information that could change belief systems, by challenging them with harms that are done to women. Robin worked with her local Department of Family Services social worker to create a program called “White Bird,” a program that uses fairy tales to help younger children see the meaning behind behavior and stereotypes. These are only a few highlights the reflect Robin’s passion; she is a role model for all that practice prevention.
Suzanne Coats is the founder of Turning Point’s Sexual Assault Program and is currently the Executive Director. She has worked to develop and expand the scope of Turning Point’s crises and advocacy services for survivors of sexual assault, and can be credited with building a program that stands both as a state and national model for survivor centered services. Suzanne initiated and coordinated a community task force that opened the first nurse examiners program in Southeast Michigan. She has co-authored several publications on sexual assault prevention and evaluation. She has participated on several statewide committees that have focused on enhancing the quality of services to survivors and eliminating the barriers to justice. She is currently serving as Vice President of the MCADSV Board of Directors and has chaired the Survivor’s Advisory Committee. Suzanne is also the past President of the Southeast Michigan Anti-Rape Network.
Dr. Laras is the director of PASOS and its sexual assault forensic examiner. She is also the Assistant Director of the UPR Center for Excellence in Women’s Health and Assistant Professor of Ob/Gyn at the University of Puerto Rico Medical Sciences Campus. In addition, she is an Ob/Gyn with a fellowship in Pediatric Adolescent Gynecology, and holds a Masters degree in Public Health and a Masters degree in Clinical Research. Dr. Laras served as director of the Puerto Rico Rape Crisis Center from 1994 to 2001. During this time, five new offices were opened, five vehicles were purchased, 40 professionals were recruited. Dr. Laras reviewed the Sexual Assault Protocol in an interdiscpilnary manner and wrote the legislative piece that mandated the use of Domestic Violence Protocol. She has participatred with the media on numerous occasions, including the development of a newspaper supplement of victims’ rights within the media and how to appropriately respond. Her current research projects include Women’s Cardiovascular Risk Factor and Violent Experiences, Profile of Sexual Assault Survivors in a Center of Excellence in Women’s Health and Health Needs of Women in Battered Women Shelters.
Alana Goebel has been a great champion in the anti-sexual violence movement through her tireless work on behalf of NJCASA in the legislature and as their representative at numerous statewide advisory committees and task forces. Alana’s work revolves around policy and legislation of issues surrounding sexual violence. At any given time, Alana is following every bill introduced in a legislative session pertaining to sexual violence. She works to identify and draft priority legislation and works within the process to ensure that legislation is passed. Achieving this often means working with specific legislators and with other organizations to ensure that the language and intention of each bill meets the needs of survivors and others impacted by such bills. In the past two years, she has been integral in the passing of two landmark bills: the Emergency Contraception and Charitable Immunity acts, both of which came up against a great deal of resistance. The Emergency Contraception Act ensures that all survivors of sexual violence be offered information and access to emergency contraception to avoid sexual assault related pregnancy. The Charitable Immunity act provides sexual abuse survivors the opportunity to civilly sue nonprofit, religion and charitable organizations which would otherwise be immune to liability claims. In addition to her lobbying work, Alana has built and maintained relationships with key government officials and other entities to move the mission of NJCASA forward. As the individuals in these roles change with some frequency, she is constantly working on this effort, and is consistently able to rise to the task. Alana’s commitment and advocacy work in the legislature has benefited survivors throughout the state of New Jersey along with the rape care programs in the state who serve them. In 2005, Alana was able to secure $400,000.00 in emergency funding for over half of the anti-sexual violence programs that experiences critical funding cuts by working with a senator to petition the Governor. It was her hard work and long hours in that time of need that can be credited for saving a number of programs from having to cut staff and service provisions to the state’s sexual assault survivors and loved ones. Additionally, in 2006, her work within the budget hearings was important in maintaining the current funding within the State budget at a time when many programs were cut. Alana spends a great deal of time on a variety of advisory committees and task forces within the state. She ensures that the work these groups do are congruent with the needs of survivors in New Jersey. She has most recently been Co-Chair of the Governor’s Advisory Council Against Sexual Violence and a member of the Prison Rape Elimination Action (PREA) committee. In addition to her work with NJCASA, Alana has her Masters in Social Work which she completed while working full time for NJCASA. In addition to her important work on behalf of the Coalition, she provides counseling to survivors of sexual violence and domestic violence for a county-based anti-violence program. She is well regarded in this work as well. Alana is a consummate professional who is always willing to do whatever she can to ensure that rape care programs and survivors in the state have a voice and can impact change within the State and Federal Government and the systems that work within the issue of sexual violence.
Sandra Ibarra has been the Sexual Assault Prevention Coordinator for the East Los Angeles Women’s Center for the past seven years. However, this title is misleading because she is the only person in the prevention department. Even though we have one other staff member that helps out with the self defense presentations, she is the main person in the prevention component. As we all know, funding is tight and we do not have the funding to be able to get Sandra any help. Sandra has managed to meet and exceed her goals and objectives on her own. Sandra started out as a volunteer nine years ago after responding to a cable advertisement that was looking for bilingual volunteers. She said that seeing a request for bilingual volunteers is what caught her attention. Sandra felt that she would be able to practice her primary language that now has become secondary. In responding and becoming a volunteer she found her passion. She was the kind of volunteer we wish all of our volunteers could be. The minute a position opened up the agency offered her a job. Shortly thereafter Sandra was promoted to coordinator. Sandra has a passion and determination to educate the community on the issues of rape prevention. She gets request from all over to come and give presentation especially in Spanish. Her passion truly comes out when she presents to the parenting groups in our community. She tailors her presentations to be culturally sensitive and she talks from experience. The parents that attend her presentations are always open to what she has to say. She talked about the myths of our culture and the issues that Latino parents are fased with. Sandra always hold her audience captive and especially when she presents in Spanish.
As the director of the Indiana Commission for Women, Sharon Langlotz serves as and advocate for women. In 2005 when the Coalition was seeking to establish a legislated certification board for rape crisis victim advocate certification, it was Sharon Langlotz who came to our rescue. Her understanding of women’s issues and her compassion for victims has made for strong leadership for the certification program and we are eternally grateful to her for her tenure of service to women, especially to those who have suffered at the hand of violence.
For the past 17 years, Polly Newman has provided community outreach and volunteer management services for the Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault (RCASA) in Fredericksburg, VA. While her service to the community over those years has been vast, the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance particularly recognizes Ms. Newman for the innovative work she has done most recently in providing training, via her research of the Prison Rape Elimination Act, to local jail personnel in Caroline and Rappahannock Counties. Caroline County administrators first approached Ms. Newman in 2004 to request that she provide their 200-member corrections staff with RCASA’s volunteer training. After researching the elements included in the Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA), Ms. Newman responded to the training request by asking for a meeting with the jail management team to identify with them the kinds of information and training they would need in order to comply with the PREA. Ms. Newman then gathered resources that were available throughout the nation, and developed a training curriculum tailored to help the facility meet PREA’s requirements. Word about the success of the training spread, and she piloted a similar training at the Rappahannock Regional Criminal Justice Academy. Following that training, Rappahannock County corrections staff also requested the training be delivered to their personnel.
Sarah O’Shea has a long, prove history of working to end sexual violence on local, state and national levels. She began as the Executive Director of the Nebraska Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Coalition in 1987 and served in that role until her retirement in 2006, dedicating 19 years to the agency to the victims and survivors served by the Coalition’s member programs. Many of the milestones and accomplishments of the Coalition are a direct result of Sarah’s visionary leadership.
There are many life-altering situations that have triggered advocacy efforts to increase support and respect for victims of sexual violence. This movement has benefited from the commitment of those individuals who have been personally affected by these crimes, as well as those who saw the need and joined the cause. For almost 24 years, Diane Sisko has helped create a vision for sexual assault services in spite of numerous obstacles, too much ignorance and too little money.
Twenty-five years ago, Pottsville Area High School (PAHS) was the scene of several acts of sexual violence that confused, terrorized and angered members of the student body, faculty and community. As paralyzing as this fear was, many leaders stepped forward and created the foundation for this county's first victim services agency. Committees were formed, an agency director was hired and a group of volunteers were trained to directly address this problem with action and advocacy.
As a member of PAHS advisory faculty, Diane Sisko directly witnessed the effect of these crimes on the young female students with whom she worked. She recognized not only the need to educate and dispel myths in this small rural community, but to comfort and support those affected. Diane has served as a volunteer with The Rape and Victim Assistance Center of Schuylkill County since the agency opened its doors in 1983. She not only received the first hotline call but has also remained an active member of the hotline staff since that date. In 1991, Diane joined the staff as Case manager, later assuming the duties of Direct Services Supervisor and assisting the agency in computerizing client records.
Over these past 15 years, Diane has modeled the essence of this work – striving to assist in the agency's growth without losing sight of the importance of the mission and the needs of clients. While in direct service, she facilitated one of RVAC's first adult survivor groups for women dealing with addiction and has co-presented the valuable knowledge we gained from this groupwork on a local and statewide level.
Keley has coordinated the Sexual Assault Program for the Crisis Center for Women for almost 10 years after graduating with a BA in Psychology. During this time, she has provided advocacy training for the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ACASA) and Oklahoma CASA and has served on the board of ACASA. She established the Sexual Assault Response Advocate Program at her center and worked hard to forge relationship with law enforcement and hospital personnel in a six-county region. Keley also helped start an on-site program, Center on the STAR (Sexual Trauma, Assault and Rape Response), where survivors of sexual assault can received a forensic exam and support advocacy in a safe, private location. The relationship building she had already accomplished in each of the counties facilitated the success of this program. The Executive Director of the Crisis Center for Women said of Keley, “She truly is a remarkable woman, a fabulous advocate and her passionate crusade to end sexual assault in her community comes through in everything she does. She is constantly looking for creative ways to end the violence and raise awareness in the community. She has been asked not to work so much, but assisting survivors of sexual assault and ending the horror of this crime don’t appear to be work for her. This is her calling and it is as much a part of who she is as breathing.” Sexual assault services could not ask for a more dedicated and passionate leader in the area of sexual assault advocacy and community work in ending sexual violence.
Charles “Chuck” Theyar has worked with the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources (DHHR) since 1998. A graduate of West Virginia University with a master’s degree in community health education, Chuck has served as the Director of Community Health Programs, Division of Health Promotion, at DHHR since 2001. In that capacity he oversees five statewide programs including the West Virginia Injury Prevention Program, and serves as the Principal Investigator and Project Director for the Rape Prevention and Education (RPE) Grant as administered by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In the past year, as Project Director of the RPE, Chuck worked closely with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services (FRIS) and the state’s rape crisis centers on three major projects. For April’s Sexual Assault Awareness Month, he assisted in coordinating the display “The Shoe Project” on the state capitol’s steps. The logistics were massive: a pair of shoes was shipped to his office fore every sexual assault victim served by the rape crisis centers the prior year, hundreds of victims’ stories were printed, laminated and attached to some of the shoes; the shoes were then transported to the capitol and the display was assembled. This event attracted much media attention throughout the state and was a powerful, visible kickoff for the April awareness campaign. Chuck was instrumental in coordinating the on-site details of this event. Chuck volunteered the WV Department of Health and Human Resources as a key partners with FRIS in addressing the issue of sexual violence and persons with disabilities. This collaboration, which included two partners from the disabilities community, secured a three year federal grant to create and implement a plan to assess/improve policies and the accessibility of services in West Virginia. Because DHHR is a central agency that impacts policies for these services, Chuck’s interest and enthusiasm for this project will help to insure its success. In addition to these activities, Chuck is taking the facilitating role in convening the “Key Players in Rape Prevention,” a multidisciplinary group in the state that will be developing a five year plan for the prevention of sexual assault in West Virginia. Because of his work on multiple levels in addressing sexual assault and his willingness to accept increasing responsibilities in this field, FRIS is please to select him as West Virginia’s award recipient for 2007.
The Rape and Sexual Abuse Center (RASAC) began in 1978 as a mission serving sexual assault victims. Today, the Center provides specialized counseling annually for 650 or more adults and children who have suffered sexual violence, and it has developed sexual abuse prevention curriculum serving 88,000 students in middle Tennessee and across the state. Time Tohill was hired as the Executive Director of RASAC in 1993 during a time of turmoil, budget deficit and program uncertainty. By 1996, through his leadership skills, he helped increase the number of people served by 33%, and in 1997, RASAC received the Marvin Runion Leadership Award for Management of a Turnaround. Tim has a BA in Business Administration and 35 years nonprofit experience in planning, marketing, financial development and personnel management. These skills have helped to move the Center to the place it is today. By 1998, he had brought stability and a successful capital campaign was launched raising $1.3 million for building and endowment. Many awards and recognitions have come to the Center and staff during his tenure. Tim sits on a review board for the Catholic Diocese of Middle Tennessee overseeing any sexual assault cases and he is a board member of the TCASDV, providing leadership through the community as well as RASAC. Four staff members and two volunteers have received awards from the TCASDV; the volunteers have received the Volunteer Leadership Award from the Center for Non-Profit Management and were named the 2,396th National Point of Light. Perhaps the most important step in ending sexual violence since Tim has been at the Center was the creation of an education program called Safe @ Last in 1998. It began with one teacher and a few hundred students and today it is touching lives of 88,000 students and hundreds of guidance counselors and teachers have been trained as instructors. For 14 years there have been changes in staff and Board, changes in funding and changes in programs, but Tim has kept the Center firmly focused on its mission to provide healing and reduce risk. Thousands have come through those doors to receive counseling critical to restoring their lives, and many more have been given the tools to prevent becoming a victim of sexual violence. We owe a large part of this success to Tim’s leadership and guidance. Most importantly, he had compassion for those we serve and the continued dedication to make a difference.