(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost announced winners of four victim assistance awards in connection with his office’s annual conference for victims’ advocates. A victim assistance program in Hamilton County and individual victim assistance professionals in Cuyahoga, Wood and Franklin counties were recognized for their work in providing aid to survivors of trauma including sexual or domestic violence.
“When Ohioans are hit by serious crime, the stability and predictability they normally count on is transformed into a nightmare,” Yost said. “These advocates are the ones who help survivors rebuild their world. We’re grateful for their leadership in bringing healing and justice.”
This year’s awards winners are:
- Alexandria Ruden, senior attorney at The Legal Aid Society of Cleveland, received the Robert Denton Special Achievement Award in recognition of her work to help more than 5,000 survivors of domestic violence throughout her 40 years of practicing law. Named for the long-time executive director of the Victim Assistance Program in Akron, the Denton Award recognizes an individual with at least five years of experience in the field of victim assistance who has demonstrated leadership in the crime victims’ rights movement.
- The Women Helping Women program in Hamilton County received the Promising Practice Award for their Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team. Also known as DVERT, the team began operating in 2018, offering a community-based response model that works in collaboration with law enforcement to provide advocacy and safety planning for survivors of intimate partner violence. The Promising Practice Award is presented to a program that has enhanced their organization or services with new projects or initiatives.
- Kathy Mull, executive director of The Cocoon in Bowling Green, received the Special Courage Award. The Cocoon provides shelter, counseling, legal and safety assistance, financial advice and other programs for survivors of sexual or domestic violence. Mull was nominated by staff members at The Cocoon for her mentoring and leadership. The Special Courage Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated strength, resiliency and perseverance in serving crime victims.
- John Martin, Crime Victim Claims Investigation Supervisor at the Ohio Attorney General’s Office, received the AGvocate Award. The award is presented annually to an employee of the office who has performed over and above the call of duty. Martin was nominated for his leadership in the implementation of a new victims’ assistance claims management system. The new system makes claims more accessible to applicants, their attorneys and their advocates through an online portal.
The awards are normally presented as part of the attorney general’s Two Days in May Conference on Victim Assistance. The 2020 edition of that event was transformed to an online format due to COVID-19 concerns. The video summary of the award recipients can be viewed here.