Children’s Safety Advocate and Educator Patty Wetterling to Be Honored With National Award | National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) Skip to main content
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Children’s Safety Advocate and Educator Patty Wetterling to Be Honored With National Award


June 8, 2017

Laura Palumbo, Communications Director
National Sexual Violence Resource Center
877-739-3895, ext. 128;


Harrisburg, PA — The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) and the Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) are pleased to honor Patty Wetterling with the 2017 Gail-Burns Smith Award. Wetterling, who is the co-founder of the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center and Team H.O.P.E., will receive the award during the 2017 National Sexual Assault Conference held in Dallas, Texas June 7-9. 

Presented jointly by ATSA and NSVRC, the award is named in honor of Gail Burns-Smith, one of the first advocates to recognize and speak publicly about the importance of collaboration between victim advocates and those working in the area of sex offender management to effectively prevent child sexual abuse. 

Wetterling has worked tirelessly to educate professionals and the public, advocate for children and prevention, support parents in their darkest hours, and ultimately make the world safer. Along with her husband Jerry, she founded the Jacob Wetterling Resource Center shortly after their 11-year-old son Jacob was abducted in 1989. The Jacob Wetterling Resource Center provides services to families of missing children and support for prevention programming throughout the state of Minnesota.

In addition, Wetterling co-founded Team H.O.P.E., a volunteer group that provides support and resources for families with missing or exploited children. She has also served in leadership roles with the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and served as the Director of Sexual Violence Prevention for the Minnesota Department of Health until she retired in 2015.  

Karen Baker, NSVRC Director, notes “I have been inspired by the professional accomplishments of each of our honorees since the award began in 2010, but Patty is unique. Her commitment to the work comes from unimaginable personal heartbreak and yet she finds the strength and courage to continually uplift the positive. She chose to commit her personal and professional life to prevention — to making our world safe for all children, even though it was not for her own.”

ATSA’s Executive Director, Maia Christopher, adds “It is such an honor and a joy to know Patty. Her courage, warmth, compassion, and determination make a deep impression on everyone she meets. She is an inspiration to all the friends, colleagues, and parents who know her – and most of all, she has been a great gift to children. I am honored to be able to present her with this well-deserved award in recognition of her many contributions.”

The Association for the Treatment of Sexual Abusers (ATSA) is an international, multidisciplinary organization dedicated to preventing sexual abuse. ATSA has member chapters throughout the world; and informs evidence-based public policy and prevention initiatives. Visit for more information on the treatment and management of individuals who have sexually abused or are at risk to abuse.

The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) is the leading nonprofit in providing information and tools to prevent and respond to sexual violence. NSVRC translates research and trends into best practices that help individuals, communities and service providers achieve real and lasting change. The center also works with the media to promote informed reporting and sponsors a Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) prevention campaign each April. Visit NSVRC online at