National Crime Victims' Rights Week Awardees 1994

Ms. Vicki Coffey
Executive Director
Chicago Abused Women Coalition
Chicago, Illinois

For five years, Ms. Coffey has served the needs of domestic violence victims in Chicago, as Executive Director of the Chicago Abused Women's Coalition. The highlights of her service include outreach to culturally diverse, non English speaking, and homeless populations; and the development of two model domestic violence response programs: the Hospital Crisis Intervention Project, that involves local physicians in the identification and care of abused women, and the Domestic Violence Reduction Project, an innovative law enforcement program that pairs officers with civilian volunteers to track and respond to high risk families. Herself a survivor of domestic violence, Ms. Coffey has provided testimony before Congressional Representatives on issues pertaining to violence against women.

Reverend Robert Denton
Executive Director
Summit County Victim Assistance Program
Akron, Ohio

Reverend Denton has been involved in victim assistance efforts for over twenty years. A founding member of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), Reverend Denton began serving victims locally through the nationally recognized Summit County Victim Assistance Program, which he founded in 1974. He has worked with abusive men, child abuse victims, and survivors of vehicular fatalities; and as a member of NOVA's National Crisis Response Team since 1987 -- he has provided on-site crisis intervention with survivors of mass crimes, such as the Dahmer murders in Milwaukee. Additionally, he has been instrumental in the passage of important legislation in Ohio, including the Ohio Crime Compensation Law; and has taught courses on victimology both in the university and law enforcement training academy settings.

Ms. Sharon English
Assistant Director
Office of Prevention and Victim Services
California Youth Authority
Sacramento, California

For two decades, Ms. English has worked to develop corrections- based victim services, through her leadership at the California Youth Authority. Her many achievements include the development of state legislation requiring notification of victim rights upon the incarceration of an offender, and legislation mandating the payment of restitution by incarcerated juvenile offenders; the crafting of recommendations for the report of the California Council on Criminal Justice, Crime Victims Task Force, on the corrections system's responsibility to victims; and the creation and implementation of the model "Impact of Crime on Victims" curriculum, used to teach juvenile offenders about the impact of criminal acts on victims lives, and to build the empathy necessary to avert future offenses.

Lucy Friedman, Ph.D.
Executive Director
Victim Assistance Agency
New York, New York

For over 16 years, Dr. Friedman has devoted her energies to helping victims, through her work at the Victim Assistance Agency (VSA), the largest victim assistance provider in the nation. Dr. Friedman built VSA from a small, 1976 test project designed to involve victims in the court process. She has made it her mission to incorporate victim services in institutions that come into contact with victims -- such as schools, hospitals, and the courts -- and to make these institutions more responsive to victim needs. Among her innovations are a domestic violence program that conducts outreach with teams of police officers and counselors; New York City's first school-based mediation program, to teach youth non- violent conflict resolution; the country's first domestic violence service program in a public housing setting; and a counseling program for homicide victims.

Ms. Sandra Matheson
Office of Victim and Witness Assistance
Hooksett, New Hampshire

Ms. Matheson's advocacy for crime victims spans twenty years, beginning with her career as a law enforcement officer specially trained to handle sexual assault cases. Later, as the director of a rape crisis counseling agency, she developed New Hampshire's first child sexual abuse prevention program for school personnel. In 1987, she assumed her present position as Director of New Hampshire's State Office of Victim and Witness Assistance, where she worked to pass 15 major state bills pertaining to crime victims, including New Hampshire's crime Victim's Bill of Rights. She also chairs the state's Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect as well as the Sexual Assault Protocol Committee, both of which have worked to develop standardized protocols for working with victims of sexual violence. Ms. Matheson participates in national victim advocacy groups, and lectures widely on victim related topics.

Mrs. Nell Myers
Founder People Against Crime
Austin, Texas

Mrs. Myers has been providing direct services to victims on a volunteer basis since 1979, when her daughter was murdered. Mrs. Myers subsequently organized People Against Violent Crime (PAVC) in 1982, one of the first grassroots advocacy groups in Texas. PAVC has grown to seven chapters that have assisted hundreds of victims over the past 12 years. Mrs. Myers has also been a leader in the passage of state victim-oriented legislation, including the 1979 Crime Victims Compensation Act, the 1985 Crime Victims Bill of Rights, and the 1989 Constitutional Amendment for Crime Victims. Finally, Mrs. Myers has served as advisor to the Crime Victims's Compensation Board; helped design the format for the Texas crime victim impact statement; and has worked with the State Board of Pardons and Paroles to install a toll-free number for victim access to information about parole hearings, release dates, and victim impact statements.

Ms. Polly Poskin
Executive Director
Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault
Springfield, Illinois

For more than 15 years, Ms. Poskin has been a spokesperson, advocate, fundraiser, and counselor for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence in Illinois. As Executive Director of the Illinois Coalition Against Sexual Assault since 1982, she works with the state assembly and state agencies to secure adequate funding for victim services and responsive state laws on behalf of victims. She was one of the drafters of the state's Criminal Sexual Assault Act and helped win passage of the Victim Rights Amendment to the state constitution. She has also served on the Governor's Task Force on Crime and the Attorney General's Victims Advisory Council, and has been a trainer at the state and national levels on battered women, sexual violence, and victim issues. She has also worked in a battered women's shelter, and continues to volunteer time at a local hotline for abused women.

Ms. Rosemary Rocco
Executive Director
Program to Aid Victims of Sexual Assault
Duluth, Minnesota

For twenty years, Ms. Rocco has served as a stalwart advocate for sexual assault victims in Minnesota. In 1975, she was a founding member of the first sexual assault program in St. Louis County, one of the largest rural counties in the nation. Ms. Rocco helped set up the crisis line, trained volunteers to respond to calls, and secured Law Enforcement Assistance Act grant funds to begin a staffed sexual assault program in 1976. Over the years, Ms. Rocco has pushed for legislation to secure victim service funding and victim rights, and reform state criminal codes. She has also worked to expand services available to sexual assault victims, both at the grassroots level and through her participation in the Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Department of Corrections Sexual Assault Advisory Council.

Mrs. Roberta Roper
Stephanie Roper Committee and Foundation
Upper Marlboro, Maryland

In the twelve years since the brutal murder of her daughter, Mrs. Roper has lead the Stephanie Roper Committee and Foundation, an all-volunteer citizen's group that is one of the largest state victims' rights organization in the country. Mrs. Roper guides the work of the Foundation in providing a broad array of vital direct services to survivors and victims of crime, including emotional support, help in drafting impact statements and compensation claims, and accompaniment to court. As the state's pre-eminent advocate for victim rights, Mrs. Roper has almost single handedly guided to passage nearly three dozen pieces of landmark legislation; because of her efforts, victims in Maryland can anticipate restitution, can file victim impact statements, can be notified of and attend court hearings, and can receive victim compensation. Most recently, she has lead grassroots efforts to pass a state constitutional amendment articulating victims' rights.

Mrs. Miriam Shehane
Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL)
Montgomery, Alabama

After the 1976 murder of her daughter and a prolonged trial involving multiple defendants, Mrs. Shehane became a founding member of Victims of Crime and Leniency. The organization has since spread throughout the state, providing meaningful support and advocacy; and, under Mrs. Shehane's leadership, has for pushed state legislation that secures and protects victims' rights in the areas of sentencing, probation and parole, and restitution. Three successive governors have recognized her leadership by appointing her to the Alabama Crime Victims' Compensation Commission. Mrs. Shehane has also spoken to victims groups around the country, and on more than one occasion, has traveled to Washington, D.C. to testify on victim-related legislation before both House and Senate committees.

Mr. John Stein
Deputy Director
National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA)
Washington, D.C.

Mr. Stein currently serves as Deputy Director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), the oldest national victims' advocacy organization in the country. He has been a significant force in the victims' movement for over twenty years. He provided policy direction and drafting assistance on the Victim Witness Protection Act of 1982 and the Victims of Crime Act of 1984, and has testified in numerous states in support of crime victims' Bills of Rights. Mr. Stein also worked with members of Congress to craft the 1990 Federal Child Victims Bill of Rights, and continues to track legislation of importance to victims. As one of NOVA's trained crisis interveners, he regularly fields crisis calls from victims of child sexual abuse, homicide survivors, and victims of domestic violence. He is a respected trainer as well, having presented workshops on a variety of victim related topics at seminars across the country.