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2010 Visionary Voice Awards

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
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.

Abigail Kelly-Smith
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.

Sharon Pressman
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
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.

Jennifer Wylie
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.