2013 Visionary Voice Award Recipients
Nominated by the Alaska Network on Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (ANDVSA)
View pictures and news about award winners.
Nominated by the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Ben has worked on sexual assault prevention programs for the past 10 years.
Sarah has been a sexual violence prevention educator for Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) for the past 10 years. In this role, Sarah finds ways to bring messages of safety to children from elementary school through high school. Her works with puppet characters as part of the Personal Body Safety elementary program. In addition to the school based programs, Sarah has helped create interactive workshops to help adults understand the dynamics of sexual violence. During her time at SASS, Sarah has presented prevention programs to over 50,000 children and youth and has shared her expertise as a presenter at several statewide and national sexual violence conferences.
Nominated by the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services
Dr. Ellen P. Bez
Ellen Bez has worked with Healing Hearts Crisis Center, Guam’s only rape crisis center, for nearly twelve years as a medical consultant and examiner and prior to that, served as the Volunteer Physician for four years. Dr. Bez was instrumental in establishing Guam’s Sexual Assault Response Team. She is very active with several non-profit organizations; is the Founder and Board President of the Guam Sexual Assault and Abuse Resource Center Association and facilitates physician education regarding the management of SA victims in outpatient settings; and serves as a Board member of the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence.
Tracy Blackburn was originally born in Warren, Michigan, but her family relocated to East Tennessee when she was 3 years old. Tracy attended East and graduated with a B.S. in nursing in 1999. Since then, Tracy has worked in a wide variety of nursing. Presently, Tracy is the SANE Coordinator at the Safe Haven Crisis and Recovery Center for Sexual Assault in Knoxville, TN. Tracy was elected to the Board of Directors for the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence in 2007.
Rep. Ellen Cohen
Ellen Cohen is Texas State Representative for District 134 in Houston. As a freshman representative, she authored and passed ground breaking legislation to provide an estimated $25 million/yr for adult and child survivors of sexual assault through an Adult Entertainment Fee. For 18 years before joining the Texas Legislature, she served as the President and CEO of the Houston Area Women's Center, growing the agency to an over $6 million/yr budget. Ellen pledged in her first campaign to work diligently to restore balance and integrity to the Texas Legislature and her work and voting record continues to reflect her commitment.
Rep. Dawn Creekmore
Rep. Dawn Creekmore has served in the Arkansas State House of Representatives since 2004. Her leadership has resulted in legislation that addresses issues surrounding sexual violence, child abuse and domestic abuse, and bringing perpetrators to justice. Rep. Creekmore supports the mission of the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault (ACASA) and assists in its efforts to raise public awareness. She was recently presented with a Resolution of Appreciation by ACASA’s Board of Directors for advocating for the rights and needs of individuals victimized by sexual violence.
Margaret (Peggy) Gusz
Peggy taught Eighth Grade in Coatesville for four years until her daughter was born in 1972. She never returned to teaching, however. A chance meeting she attended in 1973 about concerns for victims of sexual assault (a relatively uncharted territory) put her on a different career path for the next 36 years. Peggy paved the way for women to become victim advocates, while helping to turn the tide on how sexual assault victims were viewed and treated. What an amazing woman and what an accomplished life, yet Peggy remains humble and unassuming.
Abby Kelly-Smith is a visionary who has embraced the anti-sexual violence movement as part of her life's work. Under her direction the first State Plan for the prevention of sexual violence was developed. She is continually working to advance the movement, engage new partners, and find innovative funding opportunities. Her voice at the Department of Health will continue to advance this field.
Ms. Pressman began as a volunteer for CONTACT in 1985, later becoming a member of the Board of Directors. In 2001 the agency was on the brink of closing, with no staff and in significant debt. While many board members wanted to give up and close the agency, Sharon worked tirelessly as a volunteer to assist the agency in recovering and continuing to provide crisis intervention services to victims of sexual assault. Serving in an administrative capacity with a fulltime workload and very part-time pay, Sharon has expanded services from one part-time advocate to four full-time advocates and a full-time prevention educator, providing services in a four-county area of West Virginia.
Kittie Smith has spent her life working to end violence against women. Kittie is a true visionary and her vision drives and sustains the anti-violence work in our state. Her ability to design sustainable, victim-centered programming is a blessing to WCASA. She has been WCASA’s partner since joining the Office of Justice Assistance in 1988 and has worked tirelessly and strategically to change the way our state responds to survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence and stalking. Kittie’s belief that all people should live free from violence is a gift to the state of Wisconsin and the survivors we serve.
Rep. Dan Stewart
State Representative Dan Stewart (D-Columbus) represents his hometown of Columbus in the Ohio House. Voters first elected Rep. Stewart to the Ohio House in 2002. He was re-elected in 2004, 2006 and 2008. Rep. Stewart is Chairman of the Ohio House Elections and Ethics Committee. He is also a member of the Commerce and Law Committee, the Consumer and Economic Protection Committee, the State Government Committee and the Housing Urban Revitalization Committee. He has repeatedly sponsored the Compassionate Assistance for Rape Emergencies (CARE) Act, which guarantees sexual assault survivors access to emergency contraception.
Ms. Wylie is a feminist advocate, who has committed her life to ending violence against women. For more than 20 years, Jennifer has been involved in social justice agencies in all areas of sexual violence prevention. She has worked as an outreach worker on the streets, alongside police officers as a victim advocate, as a rape crisis advocate, in hospitals and as a consultant. Jennifer believes in a collaborative approach to ending sexual violence in our communities. Jennifer holds two Masters Degrees in Social Work and in Criminal Justice, and is always reading, researching best practices and most effective ways to support survivors. She is at the forefront in her field in creating new and innovative programs and collaborations in the community. In the past 10 years Jennifer has worked at Bridges: Domestic & Sexual Violence Support where she has led the agency in initiatives such as screening teens for dating and sexual violence in our local teen health center; facilitating support groups for children who have been sexually abused and also for child witnesses of domestic violence in partnership with the local counseling agency; partnering with local culturally focused agencies to expand our cultural sensitivity to survivors; enhancing our local child advocacy center services; providing support groups to teen girls in the local high schools; implementing a juvenile batterers program with the local mental health center; and mentorship training to her coworkers.
Jeffrey Barrows, MD
Dr. Jeffrey Barrows is an Obstetrician/Gynecologist in central Ohio. In 2005, Dr. Barrows was asked by the U.S. State Department’s Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons (G/TIP) to research the health consequences of human trafficking. Since then, Dr. Barrows has submitted an annual report on the health consequences of human trafficking to the Director of G/TIP. This research resulted in the publication of an article entitled, "Human Trafficking and the Healthcare Professional" in the May 2008 issue of the Southern Medical Journal. His work has also included teaching healthcare professionals to recognize potential human trafficking victims by producing the first online Continuing Medical Education (CME) program on human trafficking. In 2006 he completed a consultation on the health needs of trafficking victims in Sierra Leone and Liberia for the State Department. He also serves as Founder and Executive Director of Gracehaven, a non-profit organization working to build a shelter for adolescent girls who have been commercially sexually exploited in central Ohio.
Sara is a feminist, sociologist, and professor committed to the eradication of violence against women. From April 2008 to January 2009 she was the Assistant Advocate of the Office of the Women Advocate (OWA) of Puerto Rico, where she was responsible for developing Project RURAL, a rural women’s group leadership development project with a community-based focus. In this role she also worked directly on the development of Women’s Agenda 2015 for Puerto Rico. She is the founder and first Director of the first Violence Against Women Prevention Program at the University of Puerto Rico (UPR) in Humacao, a program that has been replicated in the other UPR campuses throughout the Island. She belongs to the Advisory Committee for “Project Campus” of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault. Sara is also a Board Member for the Sisters of Color Ending Sexual Assault (SCESA) organization.
Jackie Biskupski is a member of the Utah House of Representatives, representing the 30th District in Salt Lake County since 1999. As a legislator, businesswoman, and activist she is known for her courageous work on equal rights and civil justice issues. During Utah’s 2009 Legislative Session, Representative Biskupski sponsored House Bill 132: Sexual Assault Victim Protocols. Advocating successfully for victims’ rights, she was able to rally unanimous bi-partisan support for the measure, which will help ensure that rape victims are provided with timely information and access to emergency contraception when they seek medical care.
Tillie Black Bear
Tillie is a member of the Sicangu Lakota Nation/Rosebud Sioux Tribe. She is presently the Executive Director of the White Buffalo Calf Woman Society Shelter (Rosebud Sioux Nation), the oldest shelter on an Indian reservation in the United States and the first shelter for women of color still in existence in the United States (founded in 1977). She is a founding mother of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence and of the South Dakota Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault. She is the first Native Woman to chair the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Ms. Black Bear has worked as a therapist, school counselor, administrator, and a college instructor. She holds a MA/ARD from the University of South Dakota.
Jen has been with the Sexual Assault Recovery and Prevention Agency (SARPA) in Arkansas since August 2005. She began as a victim advocate and later became the Director of Programs due to her intense involvement with the agency and the community involving sexual assault issues. Jen has accomplished the following at SARPA: increased outreach to appropriate agencies (medical, law enforcement, human services) to assist with SART and increase number of crisis and follow-up calls by primary and secondary survivors, increased one-on-one and support group advocacy, developed and implemented a support group curriculum, increased the number of volunteer advocates, collaborated with agencies to respond to the media about sexual assault issues to increase community awareness, increased number of agencies that are receiving sexual assault information on a consistent basis, increased the number of survivors who contact our agency either for the first time or as follow up, increased number of prevention education seminars and trainings to professionals in the community, and implemented SARPA’s SANE clinic in the area.
Mary Grissim’s experience in working with non-profits and community organizations for more than 20 years has prepared her for the work she does at the Sexual Assault Center (SAC) in Tennessee. She has a bachelor’s degree in Social Work from Florida State University, and was Director of Education at Cheekwood Botanical Garden and Museum of Art for nine years before coming to the Center in 2006. She is a community organizer and prides herself on developing a plan and watching it materialize. Her extensive experience in community education and the implementation of non-profit curriculum in schools made her a perfect match for growing SAC’s school-based personal safety curriculum Safe@Last (K-6th grade) and the teen curriculum Be. Promoting Healthy Relationships (7th, 9th and 11th grades). Since coming to SAC, Mary has focused on moving the focus of educational programs from risk reduction and intervention to primary prevention. The curricula have been rewritten to include primary prevention strategies to stop sexual assault. Her life’s work in community organization and advocating for a cause has helped her to bring that same passion to the mission of stopping sexual violence through prevention education.
Stephen Haas, PhD
Since coming to the West Virginia's Statistical Analysis Center (SAC) in 2003, Dr. Haas has become increasingly involved in working with the state coalition on several research projects, in providing statistics and technical assistance, and in serving on three statewide committees facilitated by the coalition. Dr. Haas has worked with the sexual assault coalition on numerous projects, including a victim-service satisfaction survey. He serves on the state SANE Advisory Board, which is working to evaluate the collection of sexual assault evidence; the Key Players in Rape Prevention Committee, where he serves on the data committee; and the recently formed West Virginia Sexual Assault Response Technical Team, for which he is assisting in developing a modified safety audit. Dr. Haas lends much-needed expertise to professionals in our field. The area of evaluation is a very technical one and he graciously offers his time to assist the coalition, rape crisis centers, and allied professionals in creating methods to collect and analyze data.
Clema S. Lewis
Ms. Lewis holds a Bachelor of Arts Degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Counselor’s Education. She is a nationally certified counselor. Clema Lewis has devoted 27 years of her life to helping sexual assault victims. She started with the Women’s Coalition of St. Croix in the Virgin Islands as a dedicated volunteer and has served as the Co-Director since 1991. She provides direct support, counseling, and advocacy to victims on a daily basis, in addition to a multitude of administrative tasks in running the only victim services agency on the island of St. Croix. Ms. Lewis also co-facilitates a group for adult survivors of incest, provides numerous community and national educational presentations on the topics of domestic violence and sexual assault, and tackles policy-related sexual assault issues through her leadership and participation in numerous boards and task forces. She serves on the Virgin Islands Sex Offenders Registry Board and the National Sexual Violence Resources Center’s Advisory Council, the St. Croix Child Abuse and Neglect Task Force, Juvenile Justice Supervisory Advisory Board, and the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council.
Katherine Little, MD,
Dr. Little is a recently retired emergency room physician at Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center (DHMC) in NH and an Assistant Professor of Medicine at Dartmouth Medical School. She chaired the Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force at DHMC where institution-wide protocols and a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Program were established. She was an active member of the NH Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner Advisory Board, and the NH Healthcare Committee. Dr. Little has been a stalwart advocate for victims of sexual violence and during her many years working to strengthen the healthcare field’s response to victims.
Dr. Little has served on the NH Governor's Commission on Domestic and Sexual Violence, the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Healthcare Committee, the NH SANE Program Advisory Board, the NH Victim's Compensation Commission Board, the NH Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee, and Chaired the Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center Domestic and Sexual Violence Task Force. Dr. Little has trained hundreds of healthcare professionals in the state on the impact of domestic and sexual violence on patients and the need for comprehensive screening and care of victims within the medical setting. Dr. Little was also instrumental in instituting a SANE Program at DHMC.
Cristina Perez has been Women Organized Against Rape’s (WOAR) Community Outreach Counselor since May 1998. She provides comprehensive support services to survivors of sexual violence, provides outreach to the Latino community in and around Phildelphia, PA, and recruits, trains, and manages 40 Spanish-speaking volunteers. Cristina has received multiple awards in recognition of her work, including Outstanding Advocate from the Philadelphia Coalition for Victim Advocacy and Mujeres Organizada en Contra de la Violacion. Cristina’s goal is to help women and children who have experience violence gain self esteem and begin to build a new life for themselves everywhere. When no one else was particularly concerned about the plight of Latino immigrant women and their families Cristina saw their needs and began doing outreach single handedly. She organized a community coalition; she went door-to-door to educate the community and gain the confidence of victims/survivors to come to WOAR for help.
Rowe holds a law degree from the University of Maine School of Law, a Master's in Business Administration from the University of Utah, and a bachelor's from the United States Military Academy at West Point. Steve Rowe served as Maine’s Attorney General from 2001 until 2009. Prior to taking office, he served four terms in the Maine House of Representatives, serving as Speaker of the House in his last term. As Attorney General, Rowe was instrumental in working to address and prevent stalking as well as violence against women and children through the development of task forces, conference sponsorship, and contributing his voice to efforts to engage men in the movement. Rowe emphasized issues related to children and families, health care, civil rights, consumer protection, and domestic, sexual, and elder abuse. Some highlights of his commitment to these issues include working to ensure that stalking safety kits are available for all sexual assault and domestic violence projects in Maine and that law enforcement is better prepared to respond to issues of stalking.
Kristy M. Stewart
Kristy Stewart has been Coordinator of Crisis Services at Women’s Resource Center in Norman, OK, since 2002, having served as a women’s advocate since 1984. She quickly advanced from Intake Worker to Women’s Advocate to Supervisor to her current position. Kristy is actively involved in the Oklahoma Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault, especially in the area of legislative initiative and technology development. Kristy led her agency’s efforts in developing a model rape crisis center on the campus of Women’s Resource Center that has set the standard for sexual assault services in Oklahoma.
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Judy King Smith is a native of West Virginia, born in Fairmont and raised in Morgantown. She obtained her B.A. in Sociology from Fairmont State University and a Master’s Degree in Counseling from West Virginia University. She is a Certified Social Worker and Certified Domestic Violence Advocate. Ms. King Smith has served for 29 years as the Executive Director of the Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center, serving Monongalia, Preston and Taylor Counties. This dual sexual assault and domestic violence program is one of the oldest rape crisis centers in West Virginia. Judy has mentored and assisted several other centers in the state in their development.
Judy has dedicated her professional career to ending violence against women. In 1982 she was one of four founding members of West Virginia’s statewide sexual assault coalition, the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services. Because of their vision and the vision of the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources, this coalition has grown into a network of nine rape crisis centers and numerous allied partners working to serve victims and prevent sexual violence. Since the inception of the coalition 26 years ago, Judy has been in a leadership role, serving either as president, vice-president, or treasurer.
In addition to her work in the anti-sexual violence field, Judy was also a founding member of the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence in 1982. She currently serves as chairperson of the Family Protection Services Board, responsible for licensing domestic violence programs, batterer’s intervention programs and monitored exchange and visitation centers.
Montserrat F. Caballero
Anti-Violence Advocate and Educator,
Southern Arizona Center Against Sexual Assault,
Arizona Sexual Assault Network
Montserrat Caballero is an anti-violence advocate and educator who has contributed to her community in Tucson and to the statewide coalition’s efforts to end sexual violence in the state of Arizona. Her work has been on all levels – from the holding hands of battered, sexually abused illegal immigrants to speaking with legislators at state-wide conferences. Arizona has a diverse population containing many immigrants, elderly adults, tribal communities (21 tribes) as well as a mix of rural and urban areas. The southern area of Arizona contains many remote areas that are hard to reach and even harder to protect. Ms. Caballero has personally extended herself to every victim of sexual abuse, assault and violence in need, traveling across vast regions alone and taking many personal risks to help others in need.
Clare Cygan Young
Affiliate Coordinator, Community Foundation Lorain County,
Lorain County Rape Crisis Center (in lieu of Ohio Coalition)
Clare Cygan Young has been in an advocacy role since 1982 when she left nursing at St. Vincent Charity Hospital to become a staff member of the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center. In 1988, she started the first rape crisis service in Lorain County, Ohio. The center advocates for survivors of rape and sexual abuse of all ages and their significant others. In 1996, Ms. Cygan Young became the Client Rights Officer for the Nord Center, the largest community health center in Lorain County. In 1998, she created an advocacy recovery program for those suffering from mental illness. Clare’s passion for advocacy for people who are recovering from sexual victimization and/or mental illness is clear in her ongoing commitment to survivors. She had been involved in many statewide and national initiatives around her work for the past 20 years.
Manager, Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center,
Tennesse Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
Ms. Coffey has worked in the social service field helping under-served populations for over 10 years, concentrating specifically on empowering victims of sexual assault for the past four years. She has been Manager of the Memphis Sexual Assault Resource Center (MSARC) since 2004. With Ms. Coffey’s guidance and hard work, MSARC has succesfully built and sustained partnerships with local governments, medical and academic institutions, service provider agencies, grassroots organizations and the community at large. Ms. Coffey has dedicated her energies towards creating a “one-stop shop” of services for victims including: 24-hour emergency forensic medical and advocacy care; legal advocacy; counseling services; and, outreach and educational programming for the prevention of sexual violence in Memphis and Shelby County. Through Ms. Coffey’s advocacy, MSARC was one of two programs in the U.S. chosen to appear in the National Sexual Violence Resource Center's new Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) toolkit. MSARC staff will appear in the toolkit because of MSARC’s comprehensive model of care and approach to treating victims from multiple jurisdictions. In March 2008, Ms. Coffey became the manager of the Office of Early Childhood Development and Youth for Shelby County Government. In her new position, Ms. Coffey will advocate on the behalf of children and youth, including those who have been victims of sexual assault, in the Shelby County area. She serves on the boards of the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, Disability Law and Advocacy Center, PAIMI Advisory Council, Domestic Violence Council, and Memphis Front Porch, Inc. Ms. Coffey holds a Bachelor's degree in Social Work and a Master's of Science degree in Counseling with a Community Agency concentration from the University of Memphis.
Previous Award Recipients
2003-2006 Outstanding Advocacy and Community Work Recipients
Outstanding Response to and Prevention of Sexual Violence Recipients 2006 Recipients
Outstanding Response to and Prevention of Sexual Violence Recipients 2005 Recipients
Outstanding Response to and Prevention of Sexual Violence Recipients 2004 Recipients