Visionary Voice Awards

We are pleased to announce that the selection process for the annual Visionary Voice Awards has begun! Each state coalition is invited to submit one nominee who has demonstrated outstanding work in ending sexual violence. 

Submit your nomination here!

About the Awards

NSVRC offers the Visionary Voice Awards, in conjunction with Sexual Assault Awareness Month 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.


2016 Visionary Voice Award Recipients


Matthew Smith
Nominated by the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Matthew Smith and his brother, Dr. Marc Smith selflessly and courageously spearheaded a change in Arkansas state law to eliminate the statute of limitations on prosecution of child sex offenders. This extraordinary piece of legislation removed an obstacle to prosecution of those who abuse kids and makes the legal landscape more victim friendly for future generations of Arkansans.

The Smith brothers had been serially abused by a coach in their childhood. In 2012, Dr. Smith encountered the perpetrator working with youth at a local baseball field. Dr. Smith contacted law enforcement, which led to an investigation in which more than ten adult men were identified as victims of the coach. The state statute of limitations at that time precluded prosecution of the coach for crimes committed when the men were minors in the 1980s and 1990s. Because of the efforts of Matthew and his brother the statute of limitations on prosecution of people who sexually abuse children has been eliminated in the state of Arkansas.

Matthew grew up in Texarkana, Arkansas. He earned his BS in Political Science from the University of Central Arkansas and went on to receive his Juris Doctor from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock William H. Bowen School of Law. His practice focuses on creditors’ rights in foreclosure and bankruptcy matters. He serves on the Board of Directors for the Pulaski County Court Appointed Special Advocates and the Arkansas Coalition Against Sexual Assault. He is a member of the State Bar of Arkansas, Arkansas Bar Association, and Pulaski County Bar Association.

California

Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans
Nominated by the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Patti Occhiuzzo Giggans has been a pioneer in the anti-violence against women movement for over three decades. She has provided leadership to the Los Angeles community, the state of California, and the nation through her steadfast commitment to ending sexual and domestic violence. Under her leadership, Peace Over Violence (formerly the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women) has grown into a well-respected and innovative multi-service organization dedicated to ending interpersonal violence.

Patti has consulted with the entertainment industry on scripts and/or storylines about sexual assault. She has also served as a trainer, public speaker, conference keynote speaker, and workshop facilitator for statewide and national organizations and conferences on issues of sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, and youth violence. She also served as master self-defense trainer, training self-defense instructors regionally, statewide, and nationally. 

As early as 1979, Patti was the co-founder and chief instructor of women's and children's classes in martial arts and self-defense at Karatewomen School of Movement & Martial Arts, Los Angeles, the first women's martial arts school in Southern California. In 1999, Patti founded Denim Day in LA and USA, a rape prevention education campaign that has grown to have participation in 110 countries annually. She spearheaded the creation of several violence prevention curricula including In Touch With Teens and Women’s Self-Defense: An Empowerment and Resiliency Model.

Patti has been Executive Director of Peace Over Violence, formerly the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women (LACAAW), since 1985. She has held numerous statewide and national leadership positions in the sexual assault arena, including board Vice-President of 1in6 and former President of the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA).

Colorado

Carmen Murillo Stevens
Nominated by the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Carmen Murillo Stevens has been working in the sexual assault/domestic violence field since 2008. While she is passionate about helping all survivors, Carmen is committed to advocating for underserved communities, especially when she is able to help them in Spanish, her native language. Presently, Carmen is the Immigrant Advocate and Coordinator for the “Por Ti Misma” program at the San Luis Valley Immigrant Resource Center (SLVIRC), providing outreach and immigration legal assistance to battered immigrants and crime victims in the San Luis Valley and beyond. She is in the process of becoming a Board of Immigration Appeals accredited representative. Carmen also serves on the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault's Inclusiveness Team and as a board member for Arte Sana.

Prior to joining SLVIRC, Carmen worked for Tu Casa, Inc., a community-based domestic and sexual violence advocacy organization, as the Lead Bilingual Victim Advocate and 24-hour Crisis Hotline Coordinator. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Spanish and Sociology with an emphasis in Social Welfare. Carmen is a native of Guadalajara, Mexico and is bilingual in both English and Spanish.


Linda J. Cimino
Nominated by Connecticut Alliance to End Sexual Violence (formerly CONNSACS)

Linda J. Cimino is an effective collaborator and champion of victim-centered service models. Under her leadership she has implemented the CT Statewide Automated Victim Information and Notification (CT SAVIN) system, and worked in coalition with sexual assault victim advocates to develop and expand the State’s Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners Program. Additionally she has ensured advocate support for victims seeking new Sexual Assault Civil Protective Orders and paved the way for survivors of sexual violence to have greater access to crime victim compensation.

Linda has served as the Director of the State of Connecticut Judicial Branch, Office of Victim Services since 2000. 

Florida

Terri Poore
Nominated by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence

Over the last twenty years, Terri Poore has worked at the community, regional, state, and national levels to improve the response to victims of sexual violence and ensure that rape crisis/sexual assault programs have the resources necessary to provide confidential, victim-centered services. Terri was an integral part of the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence's growth and development, leading certification standards development and implementation processes and using her considerable advocacy skills to secure state funding for certified programs. Her tireless and skillful advocacy at the national level has ensured that crimes of sexual violence will always be on the public agenda, and her communication skills have seen to it that coalitions have the information and tools necessary to advocate for victims and rape crisis programs at the state and local levels.

Terri has been the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP) Technical Assistance Specialist with the National Sexual Assault Coalition Resource Sharing Project, a project of the Iowa Coalition Against Sexual Assault, over the last three years. She is also a public policy consultant with the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV) and previously served on the NAESV board from 2005-2011. She has 20 years of experience working to end sexual violence and support survivors. For 13 years, Terri worked with the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence in a variety of capacities, including Director of Training & Technical Assistance and Public Policy Director. She worked at a dual rape crisis and domestic violence program in North Florida in the early 90s as a volunteer, advocate, and program coordinator. She also worked as a victim advocate in a prosecutor’s office. Terri received her MSW from FSU and works remotely from her home in Tallahassee, Florida.


Sen. Benjamin J.F. Cruz
Nominated by the Guam Coalition Against Sexual Assault and Family Violence

Benjamin J.F. Cruz, currently Vice Speaker of the 33rd Guam Legislature, has served as a legislator for 11 years. Vice Speaker Cruz is an ardent advocate and has championed for the rights of sexual assault victims to improve systems’ responses to victims and survivors. His key legislative initiatives, now public laws, include: establishing a task force through the LaniKate Protehi Y Famagu’on-ta Act on the prevention of child sexual abuse; creating a category of privileged communication between victim and victim advocate; and ending the statute of limitations on the prosecution of first or second-degree criminal sexual conduct crimes and sex crimes involving child abuse, allowing victims to take civil action against their abusers.

Vice Speaker J.F. Cruz, an attorney by profession, has been a Guam Bar Association member for over forty years, a judge with the Judiciary of Guam for seventeen years, and a legislator for over a decade. He has held key positions in all three branches of the government of Guam. Cruz has always been actively involved in civic/community organizations focused on youth services, cultural preservation, and justice issues. Cruz received his Juris Doctor from the University of Santa Clara Law School and his Bachelor’s in Political Science and Economics from Claremont Men’s College.


TSgt. Marquetta Wines
Nominated by Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam

Technical Sergeant Marquetta Wines briefed over 250 college-aged enlisted Air Force members on dating and sexual assault prevention. She also helped two assault victims through their traumatic event and interviews with law enforcement. She has accomplished 30 hours of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) continuing education units to stay proficient in her volunteer duties.

Marquetta is a Technical Sergeant in the United States Air Force. She has been enlisted for over 10 years. In addition to her cybersecurity and system security responsibilities, she has volunteered additional time to learning and helping Air Force members work through traumatic events. She has received nationally recognized crisis intervention training, which she has used to help build a more tolerant and resilient working environment for Air Force members.


Laura Patzner
Nominated by the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence

Laura Patzner has worked as an advocate, allied professional, executive director, and coalition board member for 25 years. Her current work has made her a leader in developing and providing advocacy services and responses for adult and child victims of sexual assault. Laura is the Executive Director of a program that provides sexual violence advocacy services, a child advocacy center, and much more in a large rural area of Kansas. Through her work with the coalition, she helped actualize core services definitions and accreditation standards for sexual assault services in Kansas. Her leadership has made the goal that great services be provided to “Every Victim Every Time” a reality.

Laura has provided direct services for victims since her mother opened the sexual assault and domestic violence program in Great Bend many years ago. Throughout her career, she has served as an Economic Justice Advocate in the local TANF office, a Victim-Witness Coordinator in the prosecutor's office, and the Executive Director of Family Crisis Center, Inc. At the same time, Laura also served on the Board of Directors of the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence.

Laura has also worked closely with the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual and Domestic Violence, acting at various times as the president of the board, chair of the Advocacy Committee, and chair of the Accreditation Committee. Through her work with the Advocacy and Accreditation Committees, Laura worked with other programs to develop core services and standards for sexual assault services in Kansas and implement those standards throughout the state.  

Maine

Daniella Cameron
Nominated by the Maine Coalition Against Sexual Assault

While MECASA staff engages with Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Coalition (PSATC) Manager Daniella Cameron the most, the whole team has been a true partner in anti-trafficking efforts. As the first human trafficking-specific low-barrier program in the state, the team is on the ground, figuring out how to deliver services, serve on a multidisciplinary team, and work alongside the criminal justice system. It is hard work and it's messy, but they are utterly committed to making it happen.

All the while, they are sharing what they learn with all the local anti-trafficking teams and MECASA to help build capacity to respond to trafficking in a victim-centered way. Additionally, their expertise in both sex and labor trafficking informed MECASA’s Training-of-Trainers curriculum, a project that is used statewide to train other anti-trafficking teams.

Established in 2014 as a program of the Preble Street Resource Center under a federal Office of Victims of Crime grant, the Preble Street Anti-Trafficking Coalition is a multi-agency collaboration that provides intensive case management, mental health and substance abuse counseling, and legal services to victims/survivors of labor and sex trafficking in York and Cumberland Counties, Maine. Their work includes developing protocols and housing resources for a multidisciplinary team.


Meg Stone
Nominated by Jane Doe, Inc

For over 22 years, Meg Stone has been a leading advocate, educator, community organizer, collaborator, and thought leader in the work to prevent and end sexual violence. In her words, she is committed "to prevent violence and abuse by giving people the tools to defend themselves against imminent violence and the bravery and skills to create cultural change by advocating for healthy relationships and sexual respect in their communities." She is constantly looking for new ways to break down the barriers for survivors, especially those who are in marginalized communities such as people with disabilities, people who are homeless, and those who identify as LGBQ/T. Her writing often appears in Huffington Post, Cognoscenti (the opinion page of the Boston NPR station), Ms. Magazine, and elsewhere. Meg is respected by her peers both here in Massachusetts and around the world, especially for her leadership in creating trauma-informed services including self-defense programs.

Meg began working with survivors of domestic violence in 1993, and since that time, has served as a legal advocate, hotline counselor, overnight shelter worker, trainer of health care providers, research assistant, qualitative evaluator, event planner, and program manager. Meg earned her Master of Public Health degree from Boston University with a concentration in long-term health effects of abuse and abuse prevention. Meg created the Take Your Power and Peer IMPACT curricula. As Director of IMPACT, Meg oversees training and prevention programs in schools, businesses, and community organizations. She also developed and coordinates the Project SAFE internship program for homeless parents. Meg enjoys hiking, creative writing, and seeing New England in the fall.


Suzanne Coats
Nominated by the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

Suzanne Coats founded Turning Point’s Sexual Assault Program in 1986 and later joined the organization as the Program Director of Sexual Assault Services in 1990. As the Program Director, she grew a program that includes starting the first Forensic Nurse Examiners Program in southeast Michigan. Suzanne is considered an expert in the field of sexual assault service delivery and prevention. She was promoted to CEO in 2001 and has grown the operating budget by over 1.5 million. During her tenure, the dual domestic and sexual violence organization has grown in both scope and influence.

Suzanne has co-authored several publications on sexual assault prevention and evaluation, is the past President of the Michigan Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence Board of Directors, and has chaired the Survivor’s Advisory Committee. She also led a 3 million dollar campaign that resulted in a new state-of-the-art 52-bed shelter facility that opened in Macomb County in 2013.



 

Patty Wetterling
Nominated by the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Patty Wetterling has been a source of hope and inspiration to victims and parents of children who have been sexually abused. Her tireless advocacy for primary prevention of sexual violence and rationale sex offender management policies has made an indelible impact on the state and the nation. Through her many years as the Director of Sexual Violence Prevention for the Minnesota Department of Health, Patty advanced programming and policy in support of primary prevention in Minnesota. Her national efforts through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the National Coalition to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse and Exploitation have helped shape policies and organizational practices to end child sexual abuse and exploitation.

The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center founded by Patty and her husband Jerry continues to provide crisis response and advocacy to families of missing children and advises and promotes primary prevention programming in Minnesota. Patty has been a beacon of hope to many in the struggle to end child sexual abuse and exploitation. She reaches out with authenticity and compassion to all those affected by child sexual abuse and families of missing children.

Patty has been a long-time community organizer, advocate for rationale sex offender policies, and prevention activist. In 1989, Patty and her husband Jerry's son Jacob was abducted by a stranger outside of St. Joseph, Minnesota. Sadly, neither Jacob nor his abductor have been found. Patty and Jerry founded the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center shortly after Jacob's abduction. The Center, now a program of Gunderson Hospital, continues to provide services to families of missing children and support for prevention programming throughout Minnesota. Patty is the outgoing board chair for the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and served as the Director of Sexual Violence Prevention for the Minnesota Department of Health until her retirement in 2015.  


Julie Donelon
Nominated by the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

In 2014, Julie Donelon initiated discussions with staff, board, and external stakeholders to learn more about the history and familiarity of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault’s (MOCSA) mission and vision. Because of Julie’s efforts, a new vision and mission statement were created that more accurately reflect the direction of the organization. Then in 2015, Julie initiated conversations with MOCSA’s staff and board on the organization’s strategic plan. The most important aspect of the new strategic plan is the emphasis on preventing sexual violence in their community. Julie had the vision to expand prevention efforts and challenge staff to develop strategies that focus on community-level prevention. Under Julie’s leadership, MOCSA recently expanded the services they can provide. She was able to leverage public and private funding in order to expand staff and services focusing on the areas of prevention, campus-based sexual violence, engagement of men and boys, and expansion of legal advocacy services.

Julie supported the continuation of MOCSA’s OVW Disabilities Project, a collaborative project working to ensure accessibility and responsiveness to survivors with disabilities. She also took the lead in establishing a multidisciplinary team in Jackson County to work on issues regarding youth with sexual behavior problems. Historically, this was a population that fell through the cracks due to a lack of jurisdiction over youth sexually acting out on other youth. Julie and her team have worked to close this gap. Ever mindful of effective strategic collaborations that enhance service to victims, Julie recently reached out to a local domestic violence shelter about co-locating sexual assault counseling services at the shelter.

Julie is the President and CEO of the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault located in Kansas City, Missouri. Having worked in both government and nonprofit sectors, Julie has extensive clinical and administrative skills that she has developed in the fields of child abuse and domestic and sexual violence. Julie serves on several regional and statewide boards, including the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic & Sexual Violence Membership Committee and Board of Directors, the Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence Program Committee and Accreditation Committee, and the Missouri Governor’s Task Force to Prevent Child Sexual Abuse.


Christina Powell
Nominated by the Montana Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Christina Powell has tirelessly advocated on behalf of survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking for nearly 40 years, first by creating programming that provided access to help for victims through reproductive health facilities. For the last 25 years, Christina has advocated through the programs of Help Center, Inc., which provides crisis intervention services to 13 counties in Montana. Working with the infrastructure provided by Help Center, Christina is the founder and Program Director of the Sexual Assault Counseling Center (SACC), Montana’s only designated sexual assault center.

SACC was the first program or center in Montana to implement sexual violence-specific trauma-based services and is known for its cutting-edge advocacy and counseling practices. Christina’s research from her early days working on victim issues in the mid-70s was incorporated into the trauma approaches used in the center since 1996. Under Christina’s leadership and expertise, all services of SACC were trauma informed years before the rest of the country implemented trauma-informed practices as best practice. Recognizing the critical importance of trauma-based therapeutic practices to victims of sexual violence, SACC implemented the practice of “trauma recovery” models of therapy in the unique, integrated staff position of counselor/advocate created to minimize the traumatic exposure to victims found in the multiple retellings of their story. The impact of Christina’s work is felt daily in the collaborative structures and programs she helped to build, as well as in the lives of victims of sexual and domestic violence who go on to rebuild happy, healthy lives.

Christina sits on multiple teams and committees working in issues of concern to survivors of sexual assault, including 20 years on Montana Board of Crime Control’s VAWA. Christina's work includes her tireless efforts at building trauma-informed collaborations between systems and community-based agencies to ensure victims are treated with dignity and respect and offenders are held accountable. She helped start and currently chairs both the Gallatin County Sexual Assault Response Team and the Gallatin County Multi-Disciplinary Team (GCMDT) for Child Abuse. She also coordinated the efforts to found the Gallatin County Child Advocacy Center, which opened on March 30th, 2015, and currently works with the GCMDT on not only fulfilling national accreditation standards but also creating protocols that are trauma-informed — a complex endeavor when working on the broad issue of child abuse response.  


Jamie Manzer
Nominated by the Nebraska Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence

Jamie Manzer is Executive Director of the Spouse Abuse Sexual Assault (SASA) Crisis Center, a rural program providing services to survivors of sexual violence, domestic violence, dating violence, stalking, and human trafficking. As an executive director of a rural program, Jamie fills many roles, from administrator and grant manager to supervisor to victim advocate. As an administrator, Jamie has made sexual assault services a priority. She continues to find innovative ways to use available funds to expand or implement services for sexual assault survivors in her service area. She understands the importance of implementing sexual violence prevention efforts in her community and has made this a priority for her program as well. Jamie provides mentoring and role modeling as well as opportunities for reflection, ensuring that advocates feel challenged yet supported and have opportunities to grow. Providing this kind of guidance and support to staff is important to ensure advocates are providing competent and appropriate services to survivors.

Finally, Jamie has made great efforts to implement trauma-informed principles at every level of her agency. Not only does she emphasize advocate self-care, but she also emphasizes the importance of addressing the holistic needs of survivors, including their physical and mental health needs. With this in mind, Jamie has expanded services and forged collaborations in her community in order to provide more comprehensive services to survivors. When providing direct services, Jamie does not hesitate to give her full attention and energy to every survivor, no matter how complex their needs. When a survivor’s needs exceed what the agency can provide, Jamie seeks out and provides referrals, but she also then works to improve her program’s capacity to meet those needs in the future.

Jamie is the Executive Director for SASA Crisis Center in Hastings, NE. Prior to joining SASA in 2013, Jamie was the Program Manager for a community-based care agency in Key West, FL, specializing in child abuse prevention, domestic violence, missing children, and human sex trafficking. Jamie holds a BA in Anthropology with an emphasis on Social Policy and an MA in Public Policy with concentrations in Economics and Public Management.


Detective Julie Curtin
Nominated by the New Hampshire Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence

Detective Julie Curtin has spent her career seeking justice for victims of crime. She is a tireless advocate for justice and a voice for those who may not otherwise be heard.

Her dedication and commitment were put to the test during a recent case involving two teens at a local school. With the media glare focused on the case her investigation and integrity withstood many challenges and the case ended in a conviction.  For the victim her journey did not end there. She and her family faced online harassment and attacks on several anonymous websites in the wake of the trial. Detective Curtin once again went to work, contacting state and federal agencies, corporations, colleges, and agencies outside of the continental United States to advocate for this victim and her family.  Detective Curtin was able to succeed where many would have failed in getting these websites taken down. Detective Curtin never lost sight of the most important part of this criminal investigation: justice for the victim. 

This is the type of work her peers, victims, prosecutors, and advocates are accustomed to seeing day in and day out from Detective Curtin as a member of the Criminal Division’s Youth Services Unit.

After completing her Criminal Justice degree at Marist College in New York, Detective Curtin began her career at the Concord Police Department in June of 1999. While assigned to the Patrol Division, Detective Curtin went on to receive her Master of Arts in Community and Social Psychology from the University of Massachusetts. In December 2004, she was transferred to the Criminal Investigation Division as a member of the Youth Services Unit (Juvenile). Detective Curtin has received specialized training in forensic interviewing and advanced forensic interviewing. Among Detective Curtin’s many duties, her primary responsibilities are cases involving children and adults who have experienced domestic and sexual violence.  Detective Curtin currently sits on the NH Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) advisory board, The Child Advocacy Center (CAC) Advisory Board and the Merrimack County Sexual Assault Resource Team (SART).


Emmeline May​
Nominated by the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.

Emmeline May writes a blog under the name “Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess.” She wrote a post in March 2015 called “Consent: Not Actually That Complicated,” which compared the question of consent and sex with forcing someone to have tea when they don't want it. Rachel Brian of Blue Seat Studios in Providence, Rhode Island read the blog post when it went viral and thought it would make an excellent animation. Rachel emailed Emmeline, who agreed to the video and the idea of the male voiceover, done by Graham Wheller, also of Blue Seat Studios. None of the three were funded at all. This blog went from 14 hits a day to 30,000 daily after word spread about the tea and consent post. Once the video was added, the blog continued to get steady high numbers of hits afterwards — peaking at just over 500,000 hits in one day! The video itself has also gone viral and has been translated into at least 10 languages.

The video has also been used (with permission) in official campaigns in the UK by the Crown Prosecution Service and a number of police forces. It is now used in high schools and colleges and other presentations throughout the world. The original version includes “offensive” language (quite suitable for college-aged students). Several individuals requested a “clean” version — Rachel and Graham, again voluntarily and without funding, created a version without the offensive language. They all remarked that they did this to add to the social justice conversation about ending sexual violence against others. They chose to do the video in stick figures in order to be inclusive to all genders and sexual relationships. This simple video has been viewed worldwide over 30 million times — and has become a free curriculum tool in primary prevention programs.

Emmeline blogs as RockstarDinosaurPiratePrincess. She's from London, UK and started her blog by accident. She blogs about feminism, body positivity, alcohol, and whatever happens to come into her brain.

Rachel Brian​
Nominated by the New Mexico Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs, Inc.

Rachel (Owner, Animator, Blue Seat Studios) has been drawing and coming up with harebrained schemes since age one. She made her first whiteboard video for the book Leaving to Learn, written by her longtime colleagues Elliot Washor and Charles Mojkowski. The combination of art, technology, and humor to convey important ideas was irresistible, and Rachel became hooked on animation.

Since that first collaboration, Blue Seat Studios has produced videos and graphic recordings for the Buck Institute of Education, Scholastic, and the Hewlett Foundation, along with many schools, districts, and start-up companies. Though she still teaches a couple of college courses a year, Rachel can most likely be found working in the studio, sketching wildly, eating beans and rice, playing guitar while videos are rendering, or exploring Narragansett Bay in her kayak.

Graham Wheeler is co-owner of Blue Seat Studios, providing voiceovers and artwork for the animations.


Farah Tanis
Nominated by the New York State Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Farah Tanis launched and chairs the first Truth and Reconciliation Commission in the U.S. ever to focus on Black women and their historical and contemporary experiences with sexual assault. Her national and transnational efforts to end racial-sexual violence denounce the war on Black women's bodies from a grassroots level. Farah’s work began in 1995 with refugees living with HIV/AIDS and women in the New York City shelter system who had been victims of domestic and sexual violence. Farah is a movement maker who has led Black women from the U.S. to Geneva to speak to the United Nations CERD committee regarding the pervasive rape of Black women. Farah also led a Justice Ride to Oklahoma City that brought activists around the country to stand with the 13 Black women survivors of former police officer Daniel Holtzclaw's victimization during his sentencing at the Oklahoma courthouse.

Farah has been published through multiple feminist outlets speaking out on the issue of sexual violence and continues to truth-tell and inspire others to speak their truths. She runs an organization that provides direct services to survivors of sexual violence through healing and counseling services, sister circles, and an open-door policy that invites communities of survivors into the space for sacred refuge and restoration. Farah’s work complicates the issue of sexual violence by looking at issues of race and economic injustice as they impact Black women and girls.

Farah contributes to ending sexual violence through other movements like Black Lives Matter and the fight for economic justice. She has used art as a vehicle for ending rape and sexual violence within communities through Mother Tongue Monologues, an original idea and concept that she herself conceived of and developed to begin intracommunal dialogue. Farah worked domestically to galvanize support in the Diaspora communities and raised funds to support human rights defenders in Haiti who fought to implement legislation against sexual violence, making rape a crime in Haiti for the first time in 2006. She also worked with the V-Day movement to bring the Vagina Monologues in Creole to Haiti and to the Haitian immigrant communities of NYC for the first time in 2007.

Farah is Lead Faculty for the Institute for Gender and Cultural Competence. She is co-founder and Executive Director of Black Women’s Blueprint, working at the grassroots and institutional levels to address the spectrum of gender violence against women and girls in Black/African American communities and other communities of color. Her work includes the development of curricula, policy, technical assistance, and training focused on an intersection of social justice issues facing women and LGBTQ communities of color on Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as well as mainstream campuses and communities.

She is founder and lead curator at the Museum of Women's Resistance (MoWRe), which in 2013 became internationally recognized as a Site of Conscience. Farah also created Mother Tongue Monologues, a theatrical and multimedia art vehicle for teaching Black and Queer sexual politics in communities across the nation. She is a 2012 U.S. Human Rights Institute Fellow and is a member of the Task Force on the International Convention on the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. She is a 2014 Feminist Majority Foundation "Ms. Wonder" Honoree for her work to address gender violence on the nation's college campuses. Farah is a graduate of Columbia University's School of Business, Institute for Executive Management, and possesses a BA in Science from NYU and an MA in Social Work from Fordham University.


Angélica Reza Wind
Nominated by the North Carolina Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Angélica Reza Wind has been involved in several social justice movements that include immigrant rights, women’s reproductive rights, and gender equality. Prior to joining Our VOICE, Angélica worked at the North Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence as their Immigrant Outreach Specialist and Pisgah Legal Services as their Bilingual Court Advocate. During her time as Executive Director of Our VOICE, she has led the agency through considerable growth. In preparation for Buncombe County’s formation of a Family Justice Center (FJC), Angélica has played an integral part in inter-agency and multidisciplinary collaborations to create best practice services for survivors of domestic and sexual violence. As a result of Our VOICE’s move to the FJC, the agency staff has grown by 133%. This has included specialization of counseling for under-resourced populations including Latin@ and African American communities, males, faith-based communities, people who are homeless, and members of the LGBTQIA community.

Angélica leverages community relationships in ways that foster non-traditional projects to support the intervention and prevention of sexual violence. For example, Angélica has positioned Our VOICE to provide drug facilitated sexual assault (DFSA) training to all establishments that seek food and beverage safety certification from the Buncombe County Health Department. Similarly, Angélica has brokered conversations that will allow Our VOICE to lead locally owned restaurants in developing and implementing protocols and procedures that keep both patrons and staff safe from sexual violence. Angélica has been successful in expanding the budget to meet the agency’s and clients’ needs and in growing a dynamic board that is uniquely positioned to sustain our growth into the future. Through all these things, Angélica has led the agency with a passion that ignites and supports each staff person in their individual roles.

Angélica was born to migrant farm workers who settled in North Carolina. From a young age, she witnessed injustices in this community that instilled in her a sense of commitment to the struggle for social justice. Angélica has a Bachelor’s degree in Applied Social Science from St. Andrews Presbyterian College (now St. Andrews University) in Laurinburg, NC and a Juris Doctor from North Carolina Central University in Durham. She has been the Executive Director of Our VOICE, Buncombe County’s Rape Crisis and Prevention Center, for nearly four years. She currently lives in Asheville with her husband, daughter, and dog (and Our VOICE mascot) Snuggles.


Kirsti Mouncey
Nominated by the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence

Kirsti Mouncey has extensive experience in the victim services and advocacy arena, having worked directly with hundreds of survivors of sexual violence, and has developed effective education and outreach programs that reflect best practices. Kirsti has provided national training, consultation, and supervision to many others in the field and has spoken to a wide variety of audiences regarding the impact of sexual violence and sexual exploitation on survivors, trauma-informed care, trauma and addictions, and best-practice service-delivery models. She was part of a statewide committee that developed the Core Standards for Rape Crisis Programs in Ohio.

As Chief Program Officer at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center, Kirsti provides leadership and supervision for the organization’s program directors, leads systems change efforts to ensure comprehensive services for survivors of sexual violence, and develops innovative programming for the expansion of rape crisis services in Northeast Ohio. Kirsti successfully led Cleveland Rape Crisis Center’s first CARF Accreditation and has transformed the organization’s clinical services into a national model program for trauma and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder treatment. Under her direction, Cleveland Rape Crisis Center opened its first satellite offices in Lake, Geauga, and Ashtabula counties, as well as on the near west side of Cleveland to serve Hispanic/Latin@ survivors.

Kirsti has worked at Cleveland Rape Crisis Center for over 10 years and previously served as Trauma and Addictions Therapist and Vice President of Programs and Clinical Services. Kirsti is an adjunct instructor for Case Western Reserve University’s School of Social Work and a trainer/consultant for the Office for Victims of Crime Training and Technical Assistance Center. She serves as an expert witness locally and statewide. She holds a Master’s degree in Social Work from Cleveland State University and is a Licensed Independent Social Work Supervisor and a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor in the state of Ohio.


Dawn N. Rowe
Nominated by the Native Alliance Against Violence

Dawn N. Rowe is the Tribal Government Grants Coordinator and Advocate at the Kaw Nation's Domestic Violence Program. Dawn has been instrumental in the field of domestic violence and sexual assault in Northern Oklahoma. Dawn's most recent contribution in this field is the development and integration of SAFESTARs into five tribes in this area. Kaw Nation is fourth in the nation to be trained and first in the state of Oklahoma. Dawn worked with Southwest Center for Law and Policy out of Tucson, Arizona to certify 10 SAFESTARS in northern Oklahoma. A SAFESTAR is someone who is trained to provide Sexual Assault Forensic Examinations, Support, Training, Access & Resources to a victim.

Dawn has also been active in the collaboration of the Six Nations and represents the Kaw Nation in the capacity of program coordinator. The Six Nations is a group of Tribal domestic violence program coordinators that come together several times annually for the planning of the Six Nations walk each October. These programs are able to combine their resources and work together for the common goal of providing domestic violence awareness to tribal communities in north central Oklahoma.

Dawn is extremely passionate about her position at Kaw Nation and has developed a tribal domestic violence traveling court. Dawn is a member of the Kaw Nation Domestic Violence Coalition and develops program policies, procedures, and protocols. Dawn is also currently working with Native Alliance Against Violence to review and update the Kaw Nation's Domestic Violence Codes to comply with the provisions of the Tribal Law & Order Act and VAWA 2013.

Dawn never takes no for an answer, particularly when she knows the needs and safety of a survivor are at stake. When she encounters barriers to services and issues that might jeopardize the safety of Native women and their children, Dawn suggests solutions and then works tirelessly to see them come to fruition. Further, Dawn's work knows no boundaries, as she consistently reaches out to Tribal leaders, council members, judges, prosecutors, advocates, law enforcement, health care providers, and others to ensure that her program is offering the best possible services to survivors and their families.  Dawn is an asset to her community, the Six Nations, the state of Oklahoma, and all of Indian Country.

Dawn is currently a Program Coordinator for the Kaw Nation's Domestic Violence Program. Dawn attended Northern Oklahoma College and has over seven years of experience working in the field of domestic violence in Tribal Governments. Dawn also completed her Federal Certification for Law Enforcement and received the Commendation of Valor while working for the Otoe-Missouria Tribal Police Department. Dawn holds special certifications in the following areas: Principals of Advocacy; Testifying as a Witness and Expert on Domestic Violence in Tribal, State, and Federal Courts; Developing a Tribal SART Response; and Tribal Court Legal Advocate.


Rep. Mark Rozzi
Nominated by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape

Representative Mark Rozzi has been leading the charge to reform the statutes of limitations that limit the time survivors of child sexual abuse have to bring civil actions against those who abused them and institutions that may have acted to hide the abuse. In fact, he was inspired to run for office by his personal quest to address the trauma he endured when he was raped by his priest at age 13 and the barriers he encountered. Rozzi aims to bring a voice to thousands of survivors who currently don’t have a legal remedy to their pain. At 44, he still struggles — both mentally and physically. “I will think about this for every single day of my life, whether I’m talking about it or not,” Rozzi said. “… Every day, I relive it. I keep playing it in my head. What could I have done differently? I’m still looking for that answer and I still can’t find it. I’m 44 and I can’t get past it. You see this [surface], but you don’t see the scars that come along with this where it is non-stop. That’s what I want people to understand. On the face, it is good. But I hurt just like anyone else. Part of the healing process is being heard.”

Multiple bills idling in the committee — including Rep. Rozzi’s HB 661 — could improve the options available to victims of child sexual abuse, ranging from an extension of the statute for civil claims to creating a two-year window for survivors whose statute of limitations has expired to come forward and file a civil suit. But none are moving forward. Rozzi is calling for the proposed bills to move from committee to be voted on. Additionally, Rozzi's advocacy for survivors of child sexual abuse has led to recognition for compassion and action on all forms of sexual violence. He regularly receives phone calls from survivors who know his name from the papers and reach out for help — and he regularly calls PCAR for assistance. Rep. Rozzi is a champion for reforming how colleges and universities prevent and respond to sexual violence on campuses, a fabulous spokesperson, and a passionate advocate. It is wonderful to see someone turn their personal painful experience into a catalyst for providing leadership in government to benefit all citizens of our commonwealth.

Representative Rozzi was elected to office in November 2012 and is a lifelong resident of the 126th legislative district. He graduated in 1989 from Muhlenberg High School, where he was a member of the Political Science Club and Model UN. Rozzi received his Bachelor's degree in Political Science from Kutztown University with a concentration in Pre-Law and Constitutional Law. Rozzi, his wife Jacklyn, daughter McKenna, and dogs Cali and Aspen reside in Muhlenberg Township, where he remains active in the community. His legislative priorities include education, property tax relief, improvement of the commonwealth's infrastructure system, and the protection of children from predators.


Mary Anne Maldonado
Nominated by Coordinadora Paz para la Mujer

Mary Anne Maldonado has been an important contributor for the creation of agencies focused on sexual violence in Puerto Rico. She was the Director of the first rape crisis center on the island. She has become a mentor for many current organizations and service providers who work with sexual assault, prevention, and education for survivors. She was the first person to take a radical stand by publicly confronting the police department and judicial system in the 1970s. Mary Anne made public and political discussions with the main media by publishing articles on a daily basis for newspapers to make visible the negligence, errors, and violation of rights experienced by victims of sexual assault.

As the director of the first rape crisis center, Mary Anne assisted counselors to create the first emergency crisis line. She was sometimes called late at night for advice and was always available to attend homes to assist victims of sexual assault. According to Dr. Mercedes Rodríguez-López, a psychologist and workshop consultant, “[Mary Anne] accompanied and intervened in cases for victims of all ages. She was especially patient with victims and survivors. She looked at the survivors of rape with compassion, understanding their silence at times.” Mary Anne began to facilitate trainings at courthouses, police barracks, and the Department of Health. She also became a police watcher, a constant vigilante, and an advocate at hospitals and courthouses. Her activism was so progressive and revolutionary that she is a role model for many of us to follow.

Linda Laras, MD, Director of Puerto Rico Health Justice Center and a forensic gynecologist, recounts a moment with Mary Anne after conducting her first sexual assault examination. “I went to the rape crisis center and met Mary Anne Maldonado. I told her what had happened and asked her what I could do. She said I did the right thing by coming and wanting to do better. I told her it wasn’t enough; I felt like I had hurt the victim worse. She gave me a book and told me it will never happen again and because of it, I would do right by any victim that comes my way…. Mary Anne opened a road for me to follow. Thank you, Mary Anne: You gave me in one talk what my residency and profession never gave me.”

Mary Ann was born in the United States on November 18, 1936. She studied nursing at Georgetown University. For many years, she was the Director of the first and only rape crisis center in Puerto Rico. Before becoming director, she was a very committed volunteer. She was also co-founder of Casa Protegida Julia de Burgos, the first women's shelter in Puerto Rico. She is an active member of the American Association of University Women (AAUW ). Mary Ann is a dedicated mother and grandmother as well as a generous, sensitive, caring, and compassionate activist and friend.


Jane Johnson
Nominated by Day One

Jane Johnson is the group leader of One Voice, Day One’s survivor advocacy group dedicated to using advocacy and public speaking as a vehicle to end sexual violence. Through education, awareness, empowerment, and service, One Voice is bringing survivors together to educate the community and work as one voice aligned to end sexual violence. By sharing our personal stories, we hope to give strength to survivors of sexual assault and show that you can heal and lead a happy, productive life after sexual assault.

One Voice members have reached thousands of people through speaking engagements and presentations throughout the Rhode Island and Massachusetts area, including:

  • Speaking at area colleges and universities
  • Presenting at the Rhode Island State House as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month
  • Testifying at the Rhode Island State House as part of a Special Commission Studying Sexual Assault on College Campuses
  • Presenting at Day One-sponsored conferences and workshops
  • Giving media interviews

One Voice began in 2010 with just a few survivors and has since grown to involve over a dozen women and men who all share the same goal: raising public awareness of sexual assault and encouraging other survivors to seek their own healing.


Sgt. Ouita Knowlton
Nominated by the Tennessee Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence

Memphis Police Sergeant Ouita Knowlton has been involved with the Memphis Police Department's DNA Unit since its inception. This unit investigates cases developed from DNA evidence that has been recently tested although the assault happened years ago. Sgt. Knowlton has stressed the importance of victim-centered work to the detectives she supervises. She requires that they do in-person victim notification when the testing of an older rape kit yields DNA evidence. She also insists that the detectives take an advocate and/or a counselor from the rape crisis center with them for the notification to attend to the victim's emotional needs during this very stressful time. The RCC staff then stays in touch with the victim until the case is adjudicated and beyond.

This notification process has become a best practice across the country as more communities begin to test their older rape kits and proceed with prosecution. Sgt. Knowlton was the primary organizer of a recent summit in Memphis for cities addressing their rape kit backlogs. She was committed to making sure police who work with this population know the advantages of including advocates and counselors in this work.

Sgt. Knowlton supports victim-centered policing on these cases in her talk and action, even when she has received pushback from officers. Her commitment to these victims and our community is extraordinary. At a point in her career when many officers are looking for a comfortable assignment, she continues to dedicate her energies to making sure that victims of rape receive professional services and kindness.

Sgt. Knowlton has been an officer since August of 1993. She has worked in sex crimes since 2012 and with the DNA Unit since its inception.  While working in that unit, she has helped to develop victim-centered protocols, trained officers to interact more compassionately with victims, and provided superb supervision. Having her voice and support within the police department has helped to bring about meaningful partnerships to support victims of sexual assault.


Crystal Garcia-Ward
Nominated by the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault

Crystal Garcia-Ward is the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at the Concho Valley Rape Crisis Center in San Angelo, TX. She is positive, dedicated, and unwavering in her quest to create a more just world, free of sexual violence. Crystal, through a “yes, and…” mindset and approach, consistently finds creative and impactful ways to engage and inspire her community in prevention and social justice work to create an environment where sexual violence is less likely to occur. She is a staunch advocate for social justice and for the rights of survivors, giving herself tirelessly to the work. Her dedication is as contagious as her optimism.

A wonderful example of Crystal’s innovative work is that she organized a week-long “camp” for youth in her community called “Break the Box Week,” which took place in November 2015.  Crystal developed a series of community-based events designed to engage San Angelo youth in the difficult work of challenging gender stereotypes that limit people and create problematic and harmful social dynamics. She had the vision to take the project from just an idea to a very successful event with loads of community support. Youth and their parents turned out every single night for the camp to explore the ways in which narrow gender roles create an environment where sexual violence is more likely to happen and to identify strategies to create change. 

Perhaps the greatest testament to Crystal’s work is that she is able to demonstrate success in a part of Texas that is very traditional and socially conservative — where it might seem to others that prevention is not possible. Luckily, “not possible” is not in Crystal’s vocabulary.

Crystal is the Director of Community Outreach and Engagement at the Concho Valley Rape Crisis Center. Crystal helps co-chair the Diversity Task Force for the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault. She also serves on the steering committee for Concho Valley Cares Coalition and the Board of Directors for the Concho Valley Health and Social Resources Coalition, as well as being active in many groups in town. She is the current President of the Tom Green County Coalition Against Violence. She received a Bachelor of Science in Health from Texas Tech University.



 

Capt. Angelo P. Espinosa
Nominated by the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council

Captain Angelo P. Espinosa has dedicated much of his efforts to supporting the VI Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Council (DVSAC) as a volunteer, partner, and presenter at a number of anti-sexual assault activities. As a representative of the Virgin Islands National Guard (VING), he provides resources to assist active and retired military personnel, their family members, and civilians who have been affected by sexual assault. He has also partnered with DVSAC at the Annual “Speak Out” workshop, which is held on the campus of the University of the Virgin Islands during SAAM. That time is spent engaging students and helping them recognize behaviors that can be misinterpreted and invariably lead down a painful path.

In addition, he has conducted a suicide prevention training using the ASIST curriculum. Some of the conversations held at these forums uncover the traumatic experiences, like a sexual assault, that may prompt suicidal behaviors. Capt. Espinosa continues to marvel the DVSAC staff with his experience and willingness to support our mission to reach those living in fear, guilt, and silence.

Captain Espinosa was born on the island of St. Croix in Christiansted, January 22, 1965. He attended St. Mary's Catholic school from first grade to junior high and St. Croix Central High in ninth and tenth grades, transferring to Lake Placid High School in Lake Placid, Florida and graduating in 1983. He moved back to St. Croix, attending the University of the Virgin Islands from 1983 to 1984. There, he read Susan Brownmiller's comprehensive breakthrough book Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape for a research paper on castration as punishment for this terrible crime, which gave him a life-changing perspective on the subject.

From 1994 to 1995, he received a graduate assistance scholarship to study Library Science and Information Studies at Clark Atlanta University. Following CAU library studies, he worked for about a year as a live-in Behavioral Specialist at Hillside Hospital for children with behavior problems, primarily in the cottage for children dealing with issues related to sexual assault. In the last three years, Capt. Espinosa has served the VING full time as the joint force headquarters Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, or SARC. He works closely and collaboratively with military and civilian community agencies such as the Domestic Violence Sexual Assault Council and the Women's Coalition of St. Croix in the prevention, education, victim advocacy, and eradication areas of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and assault. He is father to two bright and wonderful teenagers, Noa and Asa of Washington, DC.

Dilsa Capdeville
Nominated by the Virgin Islands Domestic Violence & Sexual Assault Council

Dilsa Capdeville has been instrumental in creating a Virgin Islands publication (Kidscope) that provides vital statistics outlining the atrocities that affect children, including sexual abuse. Over the years, the information has become a reliable resource and model for many service providers and practitioners in identifying child sexual abuse, which may be attributed to other deficits when untreated.

Dilsa has been practicing social work in the Virgin Islands for the last 51 years. She started working with the Department of Social Welfare, now the Department of Human Services, in 1965 as a student caseworker. When she graduated from Saint Peter and Paul High School in 1967, the Department of Social Welfare sent her away on scholarship to Wagner College on Staten Island, NY, where she received a BA degree in Social Work and Sociology in 1972. She then attended New York University and received a Master’s degree in Social Work in 1974. She returned to the Virgin Islands and resumed employment at the Department of Social Welfare in 1975. In 1978, she became the Child Abuse Specialist for the Virgin Islands.


During that time, she developed task forces and worked with judges and attorneys as well as task force members in developing laws pertaining to child abuse and neglect between 1980 and 1993. 35 years ago, she — along with Attorney Edith Bornn and Dr. Alice Hamilton — met with Governor Alex Farrelly and obtained start-up monies for the Women's Resource Center in St. Thomas and the Women's Coalition on St. Croix. In 1990, prior to leaving the Department of Human Services to work at the Woman's Resource Center, Dilsa wrote the grant and secured the monies to start the Nana Baby Home, an emergency child care facility on St. Thomas. In 1997, as a result of her belief that children were falling through the cracks and innovative services were needed for them, Dilsa started Kidscope, the first and only child advocacy center in the territory. In addition to crisis intervention services and multidisciplinary team approaches, Kidscope also specializes in forensic interviews of children. Holistic healing services are also provided to persons being served.

Gina Salazar
Nominated by the Utah Coalition Against Sexual Assault

Gina continues to work toward ending the horrors of human trafficking on a daily basis through her personal commitment to assisting survivors. As a survivor of human trafficking, Gina has been able to provide assistance to young girls and women currently involved in commercial sex work. By developing an empowering rapport with survivors, she has been able to navigate spaces many of us could not. Through her weekly outreach, she has been able to identify survivors and provide care in areas of housing, health care, counseling, and support. Gina has brought the trauma of human trafficking to the spotlight by sharing her experiences and stories with law enforcement, social service agencies, and the community as a whole. She has become an expert in this area and is often referred to when dealing with the complex issues of human trafficking.

Gina knows a thing or two about human trafficking. As a survivor, she has shared her stories with others and has provided an inside look into the world of human trafficking. After embarking on her own healing process, Gina made a commitment to help victims of human trafficking and those in the commercialized sex industry. She began her work with the Volunteers of America (VOA) by doing outreach work to the homeless population, where she was able to break down the wall of silence on the streets regarding the exploitation of young girls and women. She took the initiative to provide assistance and valuable services to this population through her outreach services.

She moved on from VOA to become a Case Manager for the Asian Association to work specifically with domestic human trafficking survivors. Through this work, she identified the need for a walk-in center, which allows young girls and women to seek wraparound services and a safe place from the human trafficking scene. Gina has developed collaborative relationships with law enforcement, social service agencies, and the community to address the issues of human trafficking.

Marilyn Gillis​
Nominated by the Vermont Network Against Domestic & Sexual Violence

Marilyn Gillis has been on the HOPE Works Board of Directors for over 20 years, having rotated through both the co-chair and secretary roles. Marilyn has been a steady source of organizational wisdom for HOPE Works. This has been invaluable, particularly through times of transformation such as purchasing a new building and changing the name from Women's Rape Crisis Center. Additionally, Marilyn currently serves on HOPE Works Cultural Competence Committee and has been a crucial link between the committee and the Board of Directors. The board has recently adopted a board development plan that focuses on diversity and equity, and that is entirely because of Marilyn's commitment to the issue. She has been unwavering and unapologetic in her commitment to ensuring that underrepresented groups have a voice at the table. Marilyn is a champion of women's leadership, and she has been an incredible support to the executive directors she has supervised. She has used her decades of experience as a high school health teacher to ensure that HOPE Works remains committed to prevention education, even when resources were scarce.

Marilyn is now retired and using her time and talent as a guardian ad litem. Her work with youth is trauma informed and survivor centered. Marilyn is also an accomplished fiber artist and has created several quilts that directly address the issue of violence against women. Marilyn's passion for ending sexual violence has never wavered. Whether it is encouraging people in the community to watch a documentary on sexual violence or forwarding an article on racism to the board, Marilyn inspires others with her dedication. She is a leader, a teacher, and an advocate. Simply put, HOPE Works would not be the successful, robust, sustained organization it has become if it were not for Marilyn.

For the past 20 years, Marilyn has served on the Board of Directors for HOPE Works. For forty years, she taught courses on human development with a focus on sexuality and relationships. She also wrote a dating violence curriculum and served on Planned Parenthood’s Education Committee, reviewing sexuality curricula and resources. Marilyn volunteers as a child advocate in the family court and as a mentor for incarcerated women, most of whom have personal histories of gender-based violence. She has embraced the anti-sexual violence movement as part of her life’s work and is passionate about working to improve services to survivors.

Laurie Schacht
Nominated by the Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs

Laurie Schacht’s passion and dedication for serving survivors of sexual assault never ceases to amaze her colleagues. She expresses time and time again what a privilege it is to support survivors through such a difficult time in their lives. In her words and her actions, she consistently demonstrates respect for survivors’ strength, resilience, and autonomy. At the same time, she offers endless compassion and patience. Laurie’s innovative and compassionate leadership has helped the sexual assault program at YWCA Clark County grow to become a leader in serving marginalized and high-risk survivors as well as providing sexual violence prevention services. Her commitment to comprehensive survivor-centered services for all survivors is demonstrated by her thoughtful engagement with statewide efforts to bring meaningful access to sexual assault advocacy services to survivors who are incarcerated. Additionally, for the last several years, Laurie has provided guidance to her program in participating in cutting-edge competitive projects, such as the state’s first child sexual abuse prevention pilot program and the comprehensive RPE program.

Laurie is also a strong advocate for staff wellness — as a manager, she sets a tone of wellness for herself and her entire agency. The warmth and compassion she shows to herself and her staff, combined with a commitment to address organizational vicarious trauma, continues to lay the foundation for a healthy work culture at YWCA Clark County. Laurie and her program have become an invaluable resource to the state through their willingness to dive headfirst into new and innovative sectors of this work. Her contributions at the state and national levels are all in addition to her advocacy and training in the local community. She is a fierce advocate for survivors and their rights — protecting their confidentiality, advocating for greater access to services and resources, and always remaining open to meeting survivors’ needs in new ways. Laurie is a wonderful ambassador for the movement to end sexual violence.

Laurie is the Director of the Sexual Assault Program at YWCA Clark County. She has worked in victim services for over 14 years. Laurie presents at local, regional, and state levels. She is a co-chair of the Clark County Human Trafficking Task Force and works closely with the Safe Communities Task Force, serving gang-affected youth.  Laurie’s dedication to serving all survivors has led to a strong collaboration with Clark County Corrections, ensuring survivors who are incarcerated have weekly access to sexual assault services. In her free time, she volunteers with the local dispute resolution center as a certified mediator.

Amanda Lindamood​
Nominated by the DC Rape Crisis Center

Amanda Lindamood has devoted her life to serving survivors of sexual violence through advocating and training young people. She has developed infrastructure for issue literacy, capacity building, leadership development and community engagement that powers a culture of consent and healing within the Washington, DC community. Additionally, she has created an exemplary training program that builds up the internal and external capacity of staff, volunteers, schools, and community partners.

Amanda is known throughout the Washington, DC community as an expert on youth and sexual violence. She has reached over 18,000 schoolchildren in prevention work, completed over 150 multi-session education programs, and trained 100 volunteers. Overall, Amanda's contribution to the field of sexual violence is timeless.

Amanda graduated from the University of Georgia in 2011 with a BS in Psychology and a BA in Religion. During her undergraduate years, she provided leadership to a student group that sponsored and facilitated community education on sexual and gender-based issues for the university and wider community. Initially after graduating, Amanda received training as a youth worker and served as a Program Instructor and Advisor for middle and high school students at For Love of Children. She worked as the Community Educator for Teens at the DC Rape Crisis Center, debunking myths, developing skills, and promoting informed consent in young people as the facilitator of the Sister Action Sister Strength school-based curriculum. In fall 2014, she accepted the position of director of training & community engagement. In this role, she partners with the DC community in imparting the knowledge, tools, and skills needed to create a culture of consent.

Adrianne Nichols​
Nominated by the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services

Adrianne Nichols is a tireless advocate for victims of sexual violence; she is never deterred from seeking justice and services by barriers presented by various systems or individuals. She was one of the first advocates providing ongoing services to incarcerated victims. She has developed a model SART and is always working to increase collaboration among all service providers in even the smallest communities within her county.  

Adrianne is attentive and proactive to the training needs of the SART members, gathering information and organizing trainings on emerging issues to ensure that victims are well served.  She has organized and maintained one of the strongest volunteer networks in the state for one of the model SANE programs at her regional hospital. Her compassion has directly impacted hundreds of lives and improved the system’s response for countless others.

A native of West Virginia, Adrianne received her BA in Psychology from Marshall University. Adrianne began her work as an advocate with HOPE, Inc., a Task Force on Domestic Violence, in August 2009, working in Gilmer and Doddridge counties. She accepted her current position as SART Coordinator with HOPE, Inc. in Harrison County in March 2010. Adrianne serves on several teams committed to ending sexual violence, including the Harrison County Child Abuse Task Force, the WV Intercollegiate Council, and the Court Advisory Council of Harrison County. Adrianne has a passion for seeking justice for victims.

Shannon L. Nichols
Nominated by the Wyoming Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault

Shannon L. Nichols has worked in the field of sexual violence response and prevention for nearly twenty years. Her decade of experience serving victims of violence against women as a system-based advocate helped form her approach to violence prevention. Shannon's knowledge of victims' issues and rights fuels her passion about preventing these crimes of sexual violence, and her ability to engage a broad range of constituents makes her a powerful and far-reaching voice. Since becoming Director of Education in rural Jackson, Wyoming in 2006, Shannon has overseen tremendous growth of the organization's privately funded education program. Notable achievements include:

  • Overhauling and redesigning the Community Safety Network’s (CSN) teen violence prevention program, utilizing research-proven curriculum focused on core messages and outcomes; 50-80 students complete the training each year.  
  • Advancing the spirit of victim empowerment and advocacy throughout the community by presenting four hours of advocate training three times each year to both prospective volunteers and interested community members.
  • Inspiring professional colleagues by delivering field-specific continuing education credits to law enforcement, mental health providers, attorneys, and even local salon workers.
  • Becoming a trusted resource among faculty at local middle and high schools for delivery of prevention curricula and classroom support to meet the schools' social-emotional learning objectives.
  • Developing a five-year vision and plan for the growth of education and prevention programming in the region.

Shannon’s career in victim services started in 1997 with the Lane County District Attorney’s Victim Services Program in Oregon. In this role, she communicated with victims, managed DV cases, and provided extensive court advocacy. From 1998 to 2006, Shannon was the Domestic Violence Victim Advocate with the DV Prosecution Center in Clark County, Washington. As the DV Advocate, Shannon was responsible for developing the advocacy component within the multidisciplinary agency and nationally recognized prosecution center. Since 2006, Shannon has served as the Education and Prevention Director at the Community Safety Network in Jackson, Wyoming. Shannon is responsible for the 40-hour advocate training, community education outreach plan, and policy and educational program research, as well as facilitating the Teton County Sexual Assault Response Team and providing community education and training to students on healthy and unhealthy relationships.


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