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Message from Director Carbon: June 2011

Despite our electricity issues for the last week, we have started the month of June and the Summer with the excitement of convening our second meeting of the National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women. The National Advisory Committee (NAC) is a federal advisory body chartered to provide guidance to the Department of Justice and Department of Health and Human Services on ways to help children and youth exposed to violence.  Its members are appointed by the Attorney General. The first meeting, held in January, brought this group together for initial introductions, presentations and small group discussions. This second meeting allowed the 15-member NAC to begin developing concrete ideas for ways to address the tragic realities of teen dating violence and children exposed to violence in America and worldwide. NAC members spent two days sharing their perspectives on these issues and listening to some of the amazing work being done in the government and the field.  A presentation by the National Crittenton Foundation gave voice to the stories of just six of the thousands of girls who experience myriad forms of violence in their lives.  These stories of tragedy-turned-triumph were both inspiring and telling of where the current system often fails young people. A presentation by Dr. David Wolfe gave members background on some of the interesting research being conducted on not just intervention after, but prevention before, these horrible incidents occur. We were also joined by the Stalking Resource Center and the National Network to End Domestic Violence with a cutting edge presentation on how technology has changed all the crimes we seek to address, specifically stalking among our teens and pre-teens. Finally, our many federal partners joined us to update the NAC members on the important and innovative work currently being done within many parts of the Administration.  We were honored to be joined by Tina Tchen, Assistant to the President and Chief of Staff to First Lady Michelle Obama and Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls, who detailed the importance of these issues to the President and First Lady and described the critical work of the White House Council on Women and Girls. Lynn Rosenthal, the first-ever Advisor on Violence Against Women in the White House, shared some of the work being done in the White House on issues of youth violence.   Associate Attorney General Tom Perrelli engaged the NAC in a lively discussion and challenged the members to “think big” in framing their recommendations. NAC members also received updates on the Attorney General’s Defending Childhood Initiative; OVW’s Protective Parents Roundtable; The Office of Justice Programs’ Youth Violence Summit; the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ work on issues within the Administration on Children, Youth and Families; recent research from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; and the work of the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools. In one of the more poignant moments of the meeting, 18-year-old NAC member and advocate Amber Johnson shared a poem by Andrea Gibson, an excerpt of which follows:
When two violins are placed in a room, if a chord on one violin is struck, the other violin will sound the note. If this is your definition of hope, this is for you. The ones who know how powerful we are, who know we can sound the music in the people around us simply by playing our own strings.
We at OVW feel so honored to have such an exquisite group of experts serving on the NAC to address these critical issues, tirelessly working to end these crimes through research, advocacy and outreach. This group, which includes experts in domestic violence and sexual assault, individuals from urban and rural communities, individuals of all ages and many different backgrounds, bring rich and varied expertise.  Their diverse and unique perspectives will help guide how we begin to turn the tide for teens and children exposed to violence worldwide. We will share updates as the NAC continues to meet and compile official recommendations for Attorney General Eric Holder and Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. At the end of last month, I was honored to participate in another collaboration of experts on addressing issues of violence against women: the Sexual Assault Response Team National Conference in Austin, Texas.  This biennial conference of SARTs from across the country, sponsored by the Office for Victims of Crime and Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention as well as OVW, had the primary focus of expanding the capacity of SARTs to promote health and healing of sexual assault victims, hold sex offenders accountable for their crimes, and realize the hope of preventing further sexual violence in their communities. This year, the conference hosted nearly 1,000 attendees from around the country.  Addressing this group of extremely impressive and well-versed champions in the field through a closing address and federal panel was a true learning experience of the amazing work being done by SARTs across the country, as well as additional resources needed to make the work of these teams more effective. This month, we are pleased that we have OVW representation at The Hague Conference on Private International Law as they hold a Commission Meeting on the Hague Convention on International Child Abduction.  As the issue of domestic violence was to be discussed at the meeting, the State Department invited OVW to participate on the US Delegation.  Domestic violence is a factor in a large number of Hague Convention cases- most typically, a battered woman fleeing the country with her children in order to protect herself and her children.  At the June meeting, the Special Commission is currently discussing domestic violence allegations and return proceedings, including research and case law, protective measures to enable safe return of the child and accompanying parent, and promoting consistency in judicial practice. We are also proud to announce that on Saturday, June 4, at 3:32pm Susannah Elizabeth Schmechel Davis was born to Deputy Director of Policy Development Virginia Davis and her husband Richard Schmechel in Washington D.C.  Zuzu weighed in at 7lbs. 12oz. and is 19.5 inches long.  We are excited for Virginia’s new addition to her family! Finally, we are very excited to introduce a new member of the OVW family: Beatrice (Bea) Hanson has recently joined OVW as Principal Deputy Director.  In this capacity, she will support the Office as liaison between the Department of Justice and federal, state, tribal and international governments on the crimes of domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence and stalking. She will also be responsible for handling the Department’s legal and policy issues regarding the implementation of the Violence Against Women Act. Prior to her appointment, Bea served as Chief Program Officer for Safe Horizon, a crime victim service organization in New York City which serves 350,000 victims of violence and abuse annually. There she directed a staff of 500 in 60 locations. Bea joined Safe Horizon (formerly Victim Services) in 1997 as the Director of Emergency Services and went on to oversee the agency’s domestic violence, homeless youth and child abuse programs before serving as Chief Program Officer. During her tenure at Safe Horizon, she doubled domestic shelter capacity and tripled revenue in four years for the country’s largest domestic violence shelter provider. She also advocated and collaborated with City and State governments to establish Child Advocacy Centers in Manhattan and the Bronx, co-locating the police, assistant district attorneys, child protection workers, and medical providers to serve victims of child sexual and severe physical abuse.  She established a new borough-based victim-centered program which refocused interventions on meeting all safety needs of clients, developed program-based performance measures to evaluate services meeting budgetary and operational objectives and refocused research and evaluation activities to prioritize internal evaluation. Before joining Safe Horizon Bea served as the Director of Client Services for the New York City Gay and Lesbian Anti-Violence Project, serving 2,000 victims of hate crime, domestic violence, and sexual assault annually. She also held positions with the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, the National Training and Information Center, and Ozone House: Counseling Center for Runaway and Homeless Youth. Bea recently earned a Doctorate in Social Welfare degree from City University in New York, and previously, a Masters of Social Work degree from Hunter College School of Social Work in New York and a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. We could not be more thrilled to have such a dedicated advocate and life-long supporter of the issues we dedicate ourselves to each day joining the OVW team.  We believe her appointment demonstrates the deep commitment of this Administration to ending violence against women.  Please join us in welcoming Bea! With Hope, Susan B. Carbon Director
Updated April 27, 2017