The Center evolves and grows based on the expertise and interest of Penn faculty and students. Over the years, the Center has involved faculty and students from 9 of Penn’s 12 Schools: Annenberg School for Communication, Arts & Sciences, Dental Medicine, Engineering and Applied Science, Nursing, Penn Law, Perelman School of Medicine, Social Policy & Practice, and Wharton. Center affiliates are Penn Faculty Fellows, Scholars (experts at other colleges and universities across the country), Fellows (practice and training experts at Penn and across the country), Student Fellows, Teaching Fellows with the executive program, and staff.

Susan B. Sorenson, PhD

Professor of Social Policy, Professor of Health & Societies

Executive Director, Ortner Center on Violence & Abuse

Susan Sorenson

Professor Susan B. Sorenson has a unique interdisciplinary background in epidemiology, sociology, and psychology. She moved to Penn in 2006 after more than 20 years at the UCLA School of Public Health. Since 1986, she has taught a graduate course in family and sexual violence – the first violence prevention course in a school of public health in the nation. She currently teaches three courses that she developed: Foundations of Public Health, Public Health and Violence, and Violence in Relationships through the Life Span.

A primary focus of her work is the social context in which violence occurs, specifically, the norms that shape whether and how violence is tolerated. With over 150 publications to her credit, Professor Sorenson has published widely in the epidemiology and prevention of violence, including the areas of homicide, suicide, sexual assault, child abuse, battering, and firearms.

Professor Sorenson’s contributions to science include framing violence against women as a public health issue, studying firearms as a consumer product, and applying multiple and emerging research methods to the study of the epidemiology and prevention of violence. Policy implications are a core aspect of her research.

In addition to her academic work, Dr. Sorenson has served on the board of directors and advisory boards of local community-based organizations, state government agencies, and university injury prevention centers. In 1991, she co-founded the Violence Prevention Coalition of Greater Los Angeles, a broad coalition of agencies and individuals which continued for over a generation. She has provided invited testimony on violence prevention at the local, state, and federal levels.

Professor Sorenson was a member of the National Academy of Science’s Panel on Research on Violence Against Women, a consultant to President Clinton’s National Advisory Council on Violence Against Women, a consultant to UNICEF’s May 2000 report on Domestic Violence Against Women and Girls, a member of the advisory panel for the 2001 U.S. Surgeon General’s Report on Youth Violence, and the author of a 2008 WHO report on health indicators of violence against children in low- and middle-income countries. Most recently, she was a member of the 2013 Institute of Medicine committee Priorities for a Public Health Research Agenda to Reduce the Threat of Firearm-related Violence. Professor Sorenson currently is serving a second term as a member of the Committee on Law and Justice at the National Academy of Sciences.  She also serves on the advisory board for the Biden Foundation in their efforts to end violence against women.

Select Recent Publications

Cardoso LF, Sorenson SB, Webb O, Landers S. Recent and emerging technologies: Implications for women’s safety. Technology in Society, January 2019, in press.

Schut R, Sorenson SB, Gelles RJ. Police response to violence and conflict between parents and their minor children. Journal of Family Violence, posted online July 2019.

Sorenson SB, Spear D. New data on intimate partner violence and intimate relationships: Implications for gun laws and federal data collection. Preventive Medicine. 2018; 107:103-108,

Sorenson SB, Schut R. Non-fatal gun use in intimate partner violence: A systematic review of the literature. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse, 2018;19(4):431-442.

Sorenson SB. Guns in intimate partner violence: Comparing incidents by type of weapon. Journal of Women’s Health (Larchmt). 2017 Mar;26(3):249-258.

Richard A. Berk, PhD

Professor of Criminology, Professor of Statistics

School of Arts and Sciences, Wharton

Richard Berk

Richard Berk, PhD, is a Professor of Criminology in the School of Arts & Sciences and a Professor of Statistics in Wharton. Professor Berk served as chair of the Criminology Department from 2016-2019. He has conducted research on policy related to domestic violence for over 30 years. He co-authored the article about the Minneapolis Experiment, which led police departments across the country to change their policies to arrest batterers, rather than try to “cool down” and then let them go. His most recent policy-related work on domestic violence involves the use of machine learning to help inform judges’ decisions regarding pre-trial release and police officer decisions regarding how to handle cases of domestic violence.

Click here to watch his 2013 Chicago Ideas Week talk on forecasting criminal behavior and crime victimization.

Recent Select Publications

Small D, Sorenson SB, Berk RA. After the gun: Examining police visits and intimate partner violence following domestic violence incidents involving a firearm. Journal of Behavioral Medicine, January 2019, in press.

Berk RA. An impact assessment of machine learning risk forecasts on parole board decisions and recidivism. Journal of Experimental Criminology, 2017; 13: 193-216.

Berk RA, Sorenson SB, Barnes G. Forecasting domestic violence: A machine learning approach to help inform arraignment decisions, Journal of Empirical Legal Studies, 2016; 13: 94-115.

Cristina Bicchieri, PhD

Department of Philosophy (SAS) and Wharton

S. J. Patterson Harvie Professor of Social Thought and Comparative Ethics

Cristina Bicchieri

Professor Bicchieri’s research focuses on judgment and decision making, especially pro-social decisions, and how social expectations affect behavior. Social norms are a big part of this work, and many of her experiments show the effect of norms on behavior. She also is interested in the evolution of social norms, how they can emerge and decay.

In her recent work, she designed behavioral experiments aimed at testing hypotheses based on the theory of social norms that she developed in her book, The Grammar of Society: the Nature and Dynamics of Social Norms (Cambridge University Press, 2006). The experimental results show that most subjects have a conditional preference for following pro-social norms. Manipulating their expectations causes major behavioral changes. Policymakers who want to induce pro-social behavior have to work on changing people’s social expectations.

Her new book, Norms in the Wild: How to Diagnose, Measure and Change Social Norms, forthcoming with Cambridge University Press, summarizes her experience consulting with UNICEF and other NGOs on social norms including norms about violence against women. In the book, she stresses measurement and change, and what sort of policies may be most conducive to positive social change.

Her work on dynamics of social norms asks how norms may emerge and become stable, why an established norm may be abandoned, how is it possible that inefficient or unpopular norms survive, and what motivates people to obey norms.

Recent Select Publications

Bicchieri C, Dimant E. Nudging with care: The risks and benefits of social information. Public Choice, 2019; doi: 10.1007/s11127-019-00684-6

Bicchieri c, Dimant E, Gachter S, Nosenzo D. Social proximity and the evolution of norm compliance. Working paper posted online March 2019.

Bicchieri C. Norms in the wild: How to diagnose, measure, and change social norms. Oxford University Press, 2016.

Thulin EW, Bicchieri C. I’m so angry I could help you: Moral outrage as a driver of victim compensation. Social Philosophy & Policy, 2016, 32: 146-160.

More publications by Professor Bicchieri can be found here.

Download new papers by Professor Bicchieri here.

Robert Boruch, PhD

Graduate School of Education

University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Statistics

Robert Boruch

Robert Boruch, PhD, is the University Trustee Chair Professor of Education and Statistics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is Co-Director of the Center for Research and Evaluation in Social Policy. He has served as a member of advisory groups for the U.S. Government Accountability Office, the National Science Foundation, the National Center on Educational Statistics, and other federal agencies. Dr. Boruch also has been on the Board of Trustees of the William T. Grant Foundation, the Board of Directors of the Society for Research on Educational Effectiveness, and the Advisory Board of the Coalition for Evidence-Based Policy. He has served on more than a dozen committees and working groups in the National Academy of Sciences.

Dr. Boruch’s work focuses on research methods and evidence for determining the severity and scope of social and educational issues, implementation of programs, and estimating the effects of interventions.  He co-founded the Campbell Collaboration, an international organization that promotes positive social and economic change through the production and use of systematic reviews and other evidence synthesis for evidence-based policy and practice.

Recent Select Publications

Boruch R. Street walking: Randomized controlled trials in criminology, education, and elsewhere. Journal of Experimental Criminology. 2015; 11(4):485-499.

Taljaard M, Brehaut JC, Weijer C, Boruch R, et al. Variability in research ethics review of cluster randomized trials: a scenario-based survey in three countries. Trials. 2014 Feb 5;15:48.

Kathleen Brown, CRNP, PhD, FAAN

School of Nursing

Practice Associate Professor of Nursing

Kathleen M. Brown

Kathleen M. Brown, PhD, is a pioneering nurse who helped create the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) programs that have become common across the country. Her protocols have been implemented into state policy and the American Prosecutors Research Institute, a division of the National Institute of Justice.

Dr. Brown consults with prosecutors and defense attorneys nationally, consults with the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General’s Corp, and has been the sole nurse expert in many criminal trials and court martial procedures. In 2009, she received the Bridge of Courage Award from Women Organized Against Rape and was inducted as a fellow into the American Academy of Nursing.

Click here to read about an effort Dr. Brown co-founded in 2014 to break the cycle of prostitution. As Dr. Brown said, “Little girls don’t grow up wanting to be a prostitute. There often is a history of abuse there.”

Recent Select Publications

Sommers MS, Regueira Y, Tiller DA, Everett JS, Brown K, Brignone E, Fargo JD. Understanding rates of genital-anal injury: Role of skin color and skin biomechanics. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. 2019; 66: 120-128.

Brawner BM, Sommers MS, Moore K, Aka-James R, Zink T, Brown KM, Fargo JD. Exploring genitoanal injury and HIV risk among women: Menstrual phase, hormonal birth control, and injury frequency and prevalence. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. 2016; 71(2): 207-12. doi: 10.1097/QAI.0000000000000824.

Peter Cronholm, MD, MSCE

School of Medicine, Family Medicine and Community Health

Associate Professor

Peter Cronholm

Peter Cronholm, MD, MSCE, FAAFP, is an Associate Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, where he also is the Director of Community Programs as well as the Director of the Mixed Methods Research Lab.

Professor Cronholm’s research focuses on integrating trauma-informed approaches and primary prevention strategies into systems of primary care. He has a particular interest in identifying and working with perpetrators of intimate partner violence.

Dr. Cronholm is on the Board of Directors and past-Chair of the Education, Research and Scientific Programs Committee for the Academy of Violence and Abuse and was the Co-Chair of the Society of Teachers of Family Medicine’s Group on Violence Education and Prevention.

Recent Select Publications

Whittaker J, Kellom K, Matone M, Cronholm P. A community capitals framework for identifying rural adaptation in maternal-child home visiting. Journal of Public Health Management and Practice. Published online July 2019. doi: 10.1097/PHH.0000000000001042. [Epub ahead of print]

Cronholm PF, Dichter ME. The need for systems of care and a trauma-informed approach to intimate partner violence. American Family Physician. 2018; 97(11): Online.

Wade R Jr, Cronholm PF, Fein JA, Forke CM, Davis MB, Harkins-Schwarz M, Pachter LM, Bair-Merritt MH. Household and community-level Adverse Childhood Experiences and adult health outcomes in a diverse urban population. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2016;52:135-45. doi: 10.1016/j.chiabu.2015.11.021.

More publications can be found here.

Maria Cuellar, PhD

School of Arts & Sciences

Assistant Professor

Maria Cuellar

Dr. Cuellar is an assistant professor in Penn’s Criminology department. She earned a PhD in statistics and policy at the joint program of the Carnegie Mellon University Department of Statistics and Data Science and the Heinz College School of Public Policy and Management. She earned her bachelor’s degree in physics at Reed College.

Before earning her doctorate, Dr. Cuellar managed a 200-person team at MIT’s Justice and Poverty Lab that implemented the largest JPAL randomized controlled trial in Latin America at the time (70,000 participants) to evaluate the impact of parental involvement on educational outcomes. Working with the EcoScience Foundation, she created the Bus ConCiencia, a mobile laboratory that offers student and teacher workshops in remote towns in Chile.

Dr. Cuellar studies causation in legal contexts and has applied this framework to evaluate the use of scientific evidence in cases of Shaken Baby Syndrome and other forms of child abuse. She is exploring using experimental designs to develop a mechanism that can reduce contextual bias in forensic analysis.

In 2018, Dr. Cuellar was awarded the Norman Breslow Prize, the Statistics in Epidemiology section’s top award presented to young investigators, which is given to papers with both methodological contributions and substantive epidemiological applications.

Recent Select Publications

Cuellar M. Short fall arguments in court: A probabilistic analysis. University of Michigan Journal of Law Reform, 2017; 50: 763.

Cuellar M. Causal reasoning and data analysis: Problems with the abusive head trauma diagnosis. Law, Probability and Risk, 2017; 16(4): 223–239.

Rangita de Silva de Alwis, LLB, LLM, SJD

School of Law

Associate Dean for International Programs

Rangita de Silva de Alwis

Professor de Alwis is an esteemed women’s human rights scholar and practitioner with over 25 years of experience working globally in over 25 countries with a vast network of academic institutions, government, and nongovernment entities on women’s human rights law and policy making and institutional reform.

Before joining Penn Law in 2015, she was the inaugural director of the Wilson Center’s Global Women’s Leadership Initiative and the Women in Public Service Project launched by Secretary Hillary Clinton and the Seven Sisters Colleges. She has been an adviser to UNICEF, UN Women, UNFPA, and UNDP. Professor de Alwis has published widely with the World Bank, United Nations, and in various leading law journals. Her recent publications include a report on child marriage and articles on domestic violence law in Asia.

Click here to see her 2-minute video addressing the question of what happened to the initial burst of momentum regarding the role of women and why hasn’t it been sustained?

Recent Select Publications

de Alwis RS (ed.). Making Laws, Breaking Silence: Case Studies from the Field. 2018.

de Alwis RS. Women’s human rights and migration: Sex-selective abortion laws in the United States and India, Asia-Pacific Journal on Human Rights and Law, 2018.

de Alwis RS. Martin AM. ‘Long past time’: CEDAW ratification in the United States. Journal of Law and Public Affairs. 2018; 3: 16.

de Silva de Alwis R, Jaising I. The role of personal laws in creating a second sexNew York University Journal of International Law and Politics. 2016; 48(4): 1085-1104.

de Silva de Alwis R, Klugman J. Freedom from violence and the law: a global perspective in light of the Chinese domestic violence law, 2015. University of Pennsylvania Journal of International Law. 2015; 37(1):1-52.

Malitta Engstrom, PhD

School of Social Policy & Practice

Associate Professor

Malitta Engstrom, PhD, is an associate professor in the School of Social Policy & Practice. Her research focuses on substance use, criminal justice system involvement, HIV, and victimization, particularly in relation to families and women across the life course. Her scholarship advances understanding of these intersecting health concerns and informs evidence-supported practices designed to address them. Professor Engstrom’s research has been funded by numerous organizations, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse, the John A. Hartford Foundation, the Penn Center for AIDS Research, and the Penn University Research Foundation. She brings experience as a clinical social worker, supervisor, and field instructor to her research and teaching.

Recent Select Publications

Masin-Moyer M, Engstrom M, Solomon P. A comparative effectiveness study of a shortened trauma recovery empowerment model and an attachment-informed adaptation. Violence Against Women. posted online April 2019. doi: 10.1177/1077801219836730.

Engstrom, M, Winham, KM, & Gilbert, L. Types and characteristics of childhood sexual abuse: How do they matter in HIV sexual risk behaviors among women in methadone treatment in New York City? Substance Use & Misuse, 2016; 51:3, 277-294.

Golder, S, Engstrom, M, Hall, MT, Higgins, G, & Logan, T. Psychological distress among victimized women on probation and parole: A latent class analysis. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2015; 85:4, 382-391.

Winham, KM, Engstrom, M, Golder, S, Renn, T, Higgins, GE, & Logan, T. Childhood victimization, attachment, psychological distress and substance use among women on probation and parole. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 2015; 85:2, 145-158.

Engstrom, M, El-Bassel, N, & Gilbert, L. Childhood sexual abuse characteristics, intimate partner violence exposure, and psychological distress among women in methadone treatment. Journal of Substance Abuse Treatment, 2012; 43:3, 366-376.

Edna B. Foa, PhD

Perelman School of Medicine

Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry

Edna Foa

Edna B. Foa, PhD, is a Professor of Clinical Psychology in Psychiatry in the School of Medicine and Director of the Center for the Treatment and Study of Anxiety. Dr. Foa is the world-renowned developer of prolonged exposure therapy, a treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) in which people revisit the traumatic event in order to help them heal. Her groundbreaking work has changed the lives of victims of rape, members of military, and others who have experienced traumatic events. She has received many awards for her contribution to the field, including her first honorary doctorate degree from the University of Basal in Switzerland.

Click here to see what Time magazine wrote when they named her one of the 100 Most Influential People of 2010.

Recent Select Publications

Keshet H, Foa EB, Gilboa-Schechtman E. Women’s self-perceptions in the aftermath of trauma: The role of trauma-centrality and trauma-type. Psychological Trauma. 2019;11(5):542-550.

Chang C, Kaczkurkin AN, McLean CP, Foa EB. Emotion regulation is associated with PTSD and depression among female adolescent survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Psychological Trauma. 2017 Jul 6. 10(3), 319-326, doi: 10.1037/tra0000306.

Foa EB, Asnaani A, Zang Y, Capaldi S, Yeh R. Psychometrics of the Child PTSD Symptom Scale for DSM-5 for trauma-exposed children and adolescents. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. 2017 Aug 18: 47:1, 38-46, doi: 10.1080/15374416.2017.1350962.

McLean CP, Foa EB. Emotions and emotion regulation in posttraumatic stress disorder. Current Opinions Psychology. 2017; 14: 72-77. doi: 10.1016/j.copsyc.2016.10.006.

Foa EB, McLean CP. The efficacy of exposure therapy for anxiety-related disorders and its underlying mechanisms: The case of OCD and PTSD. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2016; 12: 1-28.

Kaczkurkin AN, Foa EB. Cognitive-behavioral therapy for anxiety disorders: an update on the empirical evidence. Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience, 2015; 17(3): 337-46.

McLean CP, Yeh R, Rosenfield D, Foa EB. Changes in negative cognitions mediate PTSD symptom reductions during client-centered therapy and prolonged exposure for adolescents. Behavior Resesearch Therapy, 2015; 68: 64-69.

Schnyder U, Ehlers A, Elbert T, Foa EB, Gersons BP, Resick PA, Shapiro F, Cloitre M. Psychotherapies for PTSD: what do they have in common? European Journal of Psychotraumatology, 2015; 6: 281-286.

Sara Jaffee, PhD

School of Arts & Sciences, Department of Psychology

Professor of Psychology, Director of Graduate Studies

Sara Jaffee

Dr. Jaffee is broadly interested in the links between exposure to violence and child and adolescent well-being. Her research tackles questions like: “What makes some children resilient to maltreatment and other forms of violence?” “Does a child’s genetic makeup influence how sensitive a child is to violence?” “If some youth are more likely than other to be exposed to violence, are there social contextual factors that are protective?” and “To what extent does exposure to violence shape physiological stress response systems?”

Recent Select Publications

Brumley LD, Brumley BP, Jaffee SR. Comparing cumulative index and factor analytic approaches to measuring maltreatment in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2019; 87: 65-76.

Jaffee SR. Lead exposure and child maltreatment as models for how to conceptualize early-in-life risk factors for violence. Infant Mental Health Journal. 2019; 40(1): 23-38.

Jaffee SR, Ambler A, Merrick M, Goldman-Mellor S, Odgers CL, Fisher HL, Danese A, Arseneault L. Childhood maltreatment predicts poor economic and educational outcomes in the transition to adulthood. American Journal of Public Health, 2018; 108:1142–1147.

Crush E, Arseneault L, Jaffee SR, Danese A, Fisher HL. Protective factors for psychotic symptoms among poly-victimized children. Schizophrenia Bulletin. 2018; 44(3): 691-700, doi: 10.1093/schbul/sbx111

Crush E, Arseneault L, Moffitt TE, Danese A, Caspi A, Jaffee SR, Matthews T, Fisher HL. Protective factors for psychotic experiences amongst adolescents exposed to multiple forms of victimization. Journal of Psychiatric Research. 2018; 104: 32-38.

Stern A, Agnew-Blais J, Danese A, Fisher HL, Jaffee SR, Matthews T, Polanczyk GV, Arseneault L. Associations between abuse/neglect and ADHD from childhood to young adulthood: A prospective nationally-representative twin study. Child Abuse and Neglect. 2018; 81: 274-285.

Jaffee, S. R., Takizawa, R., Merrick, M., & Arseneault, L. Supportive, stable, nurturing relationships buffer women with a history of maltreatment from poor physical and mental health. Psychological Medicine. 2017; 47(15): 2628-2639

Brumley, L., Jaffee, S. R., & Brumley, B. P. Hoping for the best: Expectations for the future mediate associations between adverse childhood experiences and health risk behaviors in the transition to young adulthood. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 2017 46, 1-14.

Jaffee, S. R. Child maltreatment and risk for psychopathology in childhood and adulthood. Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, 2017, 13, 525-551.

Ivona Percec, MD, PhD

Perelman School of Medicine, Division of Surgery

Assistant Professor

Ivona Percec

Ivona Percec, MD, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Cosmetic Surgery Division of the Department of Surgery in the Perelman School of Medicine, and a Fellow in the Institute of Aging at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her A.B. degree in Molecular Biology with a minor in Medieval Studies at Princeton University and her M.D./Ph.D. at the University of Pennsylvania, where she also completed six years of surgery internship and residency training.

Professor Percec, a surgeon specializing in genital reconstructive surgery, has developed surgical techniques to repair women who were victims of female genital mutilation. To our knowledge, her work is the first to be published in a medical journal.

To read more about her path-breaking work, click here for an interview with The Development Set and here for an article in Time magazine.

Recent Select Publications

Akinbiyi T, Langston E, Percec I. Female genital mutilation reconstruction for plastic surgeons — A call to arms. Plastic Reconstructive Surgery Global Open. 2018;6(11):e1945. doi: 10.1097/GOX.0000000000001945.

Chang CS, Low DW, Percec I. Female genital mutilation reconstruction: A preliminary report. Aesthetic Surgery Journal. 2017; 38(8): 942-946.

Phyllis Solomon, PhD

School of Social Policy and Practice

Kenneth L. Pray Chair in Social Policy & Practice

Phyllis Solomon

Phyllis Solomon, PhD, holds the Kenneth L. Pray Chair in Social Policy & Practice and is the Associate Dean for Research at the School of Social Policy & Practice. She is internationally known for her research on clinical services and service system issues related to adults with severe mental illness and their families. Her research has focused specifically on family interventions, consumer-provided services, and the intersection of criminal justice and mental health services. Her work has been recognized by organizations as diverve as the American Association of Community Psychiatrists, the U.S. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Association, and the Society for Social Work and Research. In 2014, she received the Distinguished Career Achievement Award from the Society for Social Work and Research.

Professor Solomon has a particular interest in policies and practices that address circumstances in which a person with severe mental illness is violent toward a family member, which in many instances is an adult son targeting an aging mother.

Recent Select Publications

Barchi F, Winter SC, Dougherty D, Ramaphane P, Solomon PL. The association of depressive symptoms and intimate partner violence against women in northwestern Botswana. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. posted online August 2018. doi: 10:886260518792986.

Kageyama M, Solomon P, Yokoyama K, Nakamura Y, Kobayashi S, Fujii C. Violence towards family caregivers by their relative with schizophrenia in Japan. Psychiatric Quarterly. 2018; 89(2): 329-340.

Kageyama M, Solomon P. Post-traumatic stress disorder in parents of patients with schizophrenia following familial violence. PLoS One. 2018; 13(6): e0198164.

Labrum T, Solomon PL. Elder mistreatment perpetrators with substance abuse and/or mental health conditions: Results from the National Elder Mistreatment Study. Psychiatric Quarterly, 2018; 89(1): 117-1287.

Labrum TK, Solomon PL. Rates of victimization of violence committed by relatives with psychiatric disorders. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2017; 32(19): 2955-2974.

Marilyn S. Sommers, PhD, RN, FAAN

Lillian S. Brunner Professor of Medical-Surgical Nursing

Director of Center for Global Women's Health

Marilyn Sommers

Marilyn (Lynn) S. Sommers is the Lillian S. Brunner Professor of Medical-Surgical Nursing at the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to her academic career, Dr. Sommers had 15 years of experience as a staff nurse, clinical nurse specialist, and nurse administrator in the areas of critical care and trauma.

Dr. Sommers is known for her expertise in the physiologic basis of critical illness and injury. She has taught graduate courses in advanced physiology and pathophysiology, and in particular, the cellular changes that occur with injury and shock.

Dr. Sommer has developed innovative strategies to understand patterns of physical injury resulting from sexual assault. In the groundbreaking first phase of her team’s research funded by the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR; R01NR05352; F31NR009727), they found that females with dark skin had a lower genital injury frequency and prevalence following consensual and non-consensual sexual intercourse than females with light skin. With funding from NINR and National Institute of Mental Health (2R01NR05352), she tested novel ways to identify injury through digital image analysis, and determines innovative strategies to measure injury across the continuum of skin color and range of skin mechanics.

Recent Select Publications

Sommers MS, Regueira Y, Tiller DA, Everett JS, Brown K, Brignone E, Fargo JD. Understanding rates of genital-anal injury: Role of skin color and skin biomechanics. Journal of Forensic and Legal Medicine. 2019; 66: 120-128.

Kim T, Draucker CB, Bradway C, Grisso JA, Sommers MS. Somos Hermanas Del Mismo Dolor (We Are Sisters of the Same Pain): intimate partner sexual violence narratives among Mexican immigrant women in the United States. Violence Against Women. 2017; 23(5):623–642.

Brawner BM, Sommers MS, Moore K, Aka-James R, Zink T, Brown KM, Fargo JD. Exploring genitoanal injury and HIV risk among women: Menstrual phase, hormonalbBirth control, and injury frequency and prevalence. Journal of Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome. 2016; 71(2): 207-12.

Anne Teitelman, CRNP, PhD, FAAN

School of Nursing

Associate Professor

Anne Teitelman

Anne Teitelman, an advanced practice nurse, is a leader in advancing health for girls and women nationally and internationally. Her research focuses on promoting equity and health for marginalized groups, especially adolescent girls and young women. In one of her NIH-funded studies, she and her research team developed an HIV and partner abuse prevention program for adolescent girls that addresses topics such as “condom coercion.” Two recently-completed community-based research projects, funded by the CDC and the Pennsylvania Department of Health, assessed youth perspectives on neighborhood and teen dating violence in Philadelphia. In her global health research agenda, Dr. Teitelman collaborates with researchers in Botswana and South Africa to better understand and prevent HIV and gender-based violence.

Recent Select Publications

Wright EN, Hanlon A, Lozano A, Teitelman AM. The impact of intimate partner violence, depressive symptoms, alcohol dependence, and perceived stress on 30-year cardiovascular disease risk among young adult women: A multiple mediation analysis. Preventive Medicine. 2019; 121: 47-54. doi: 10.1016/j.ypmed.2019.01.016.

Kim SK, Teitelman AM, Muecke M, D’Antonio P, Stringer M, Grisso JA. The perspectives of volunteer counselors of Korean immigrant women experiencing intimate partner violence. Issues in Mental Health Nursing. 2018; 39(10): 888-895.

Wright EN, Hanlon A, Lozano A, Teitelman AM. The association between intimate partner violence and 30-year cardiovascular disease risk among young adult women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2018: 886260518816324. doi: 10.1177/0886260518816324.

Jemmott JB, Jemott LS, O’Leary A, Ngwane ZP, Teitelman AM, Makiwane MB, Bellamy SL. Effect of a behavioral intervention on perpetrating and experiencing forced sex among South African adolescents:  A secondary analysis of a cluster randomized trial. JAMA Network Open, 2018; 1(4):e181213. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.1213

Washio Y, Novack Wright E, Davis-Vogel A, Chittams J, Anagnostopulos C, Kilby LM, Teitelman AM. Prior exposure to intimate partner violence associated with less HIV testing among young women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. 2018: 886260518768564. doi: 10.1177/0886260518768564.

Lyle Ungar, PhD

Computer and Information Science


Lyle Ungar

Lyle Ungar, PhD is a Professor of Computer and Information Science at the University of Pennsylvania, where he also holds appointments in multiple departments in the Schools of Business, Medicine, Arts and Sciences, and Engineering and Applied Science. Professor Ungar has published over 200 articles and is co-inventor on eleven patents. His current research focuses on developing scalable machine learning methods for data mining and text mining, including spectral methods for NLP, and the analysis of social media to better understand what determines physical and mental well-being. He is a leader in Penn’s World Well-Being Project and, with the Ortner Center, is supervising the #YesAllWomen project.

Click here to watch his 2015 TEDx talk.

To see recent publications and learn more, click here.

Michelle Dempsey, JD, LLM, DPhil

Villanova School of Law

Professor and Associate Dean of Faculty Research & Development

Michelle Dempsey

Michelle Madden Dempsey teaches and writes in the areas of criminal law, feminist legal theory, and jurisprudence at the Villanova University Law School, where she also serves as the Associate Dean of Faculty Research and Development. In 2015, she co-founded the Villanova Institute to Address Commercial Sexual Exploitation. Professor Dempsey received her BA from the University of Illinois, JD from the University of Michigan Law School, LLM from the London School of Economics, and D Phil (PhD) from the University of Oxford.

Following law school, she worked as a domestic violence prosecutor in the Champaign (Illinois) County State’s Attorney’s Office and later as a plaintiff’s tort litigator in one of Chicago’s premiere personal injury law firms. As a civil litigator, she obtained a record-setting jury verdict of $10.62 million in a medical malpractice trial and a $3.5 million jury verdict in a wrongful death case involving a shooting death by Chicago Police officers.

She was a tutor in law at University College London and served as an expert consultant on domestic violence prosecutions to the Crown Prosecution Service of England and Wales prior to joining the Oxford Law faculty in 2005.  At Oxford, she was a University Lecturer (CUF) in Law and a Tutorial Fellow. She left Oxford In 2009 to join Villanova where she teaches Criminal Law, Evidence, Jurisprudence, Feminist Legal Theory, and Sexuality & Law.

Prof. Dempsey has been working to combat commercial sexual exploitation since the late 1990s, when she served as a lobbyist in Vienna during the United Nations negotiations and drafting of the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons. She has worked on behalf of the Coalition Against Trafficking in Women and has served as a consultant to the former U.N. Special Rapporteur on Trafficking in Persons.

Prof. Dempsey’s work has been published in leading law journals. Her book, Prosecuting Domestic Violence: A Philosophical Analysis, published by Oxford University Press, was awarded second prize in the UK’s Society of Legal Scholars Peter Birks Award for Outstanding Legal Scholarship.

She is an editor of the multidisciplinary, international journal, Criminal Law & Philosophy and is the co-director of the Criminal Law Theory Program at the Robina Institute for Criminal Law and Criminal Justice at the University of Minnesota Law School. She has served as Chair of the American Association of Law Schools’ Section on Scholarship and Section on Jurisprudence and was elected to the American Law Institute in 2015.

Melissa Dichter, PhD

Temple University, School of Social Work

Associate Professor

Melissa Dichter

Melissa Dichter is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Work at Temple University. Dr. Dichter earned her PhD in social welfare and master of social work from the University of Pennsylvania, and her BA in child development from Tufts University. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship in health services research at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion. In addition to her role at Temple, Melissa also serves as associate director and core investigator at the VA Center for Health Equity Research and Promotion at the Crescenz (Philadelphia) VA Medical Center. Prior to her position at Temple University, Melissa was on the faculty at the University of Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine in the Department of Family Medicine and Community Health.

Dr. Dichter’s research focuses on individuals’ experiences with, and system responses to, intimate partner violence (IPV). Her work has examined healthcare system identification of and response to patient experience with IPV; IPV survivor experiences with criminal legal system intervention; health and social impacts of IPV experience; IPV survivor engagement in social services, social relationships, and advocacy; and IPV experiences of women military veterans. Dr. Dichter’s work has also focused on identifying and meeting the health and psychosocial needs of women military veterans and of gender and sexual minority populations. Dr. Dichter has methodological expertise in primary data collection, mixed methods and qualitative research methods, and community-engaged research.

Recent Select Publications

Dichter ME, Sorrentino AE, Haywood TN, Tuepker A, Newell S, Cusack M, True G. Women’s participation in research on intimate partner violence: Findings on recruitment, retention, and participants’ experiences. Womens Health Issues. 2019 May 6, pii: S1049-3867(18)30586-3.

Grillo AR, Danitz SB, Dichter ME, Driscoll MA, Gerber MR, Hamilton AB, Wiltsey-Stirman S, Iverson KM. Strides toward recovery from intimate partner violence: Elucidating patient-centered outcomes to pptimize a brief counseling intervention for women. Journal of Interpersonal Violence. posted online April 2019. doi: 10.1177/0886260519840408.

Dichter ME, Sorrentino AE, Haywood TN, Bellamy SL, Medvedeva E, Roberts CB, Iverson KM.  Women’s healthcare utilization following routine screening for past-year intimate partner violence in the Veterans Health Administration. Journal of General Internal Medicine. 2018, 33(6), 936-941.

Dichter ME, Thomas KA, Crits-Christoph P, Ogden SN, Rhodes KV. Coercive control in intimate partner violence: Relationship with women’s experience of violence, use of violence, and danger. Psychology of Violence. 2018, 8(5), 596-604.

Dichter ME, Wagner C, True G. Women veterans’ experiences of intimate partner violence and sexual assault in the context of military service: Implications for supporting women’s health and well-being. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 2018; 33(6),843-864.

Dichter ME, Butler A, Bellamy S, Medvedeva E, Roberts CB, Iverson KM. Disproportionate mental health burden associated with past-year intimate partner violence among women receiving care in the Veterans Health Administration. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 2017;30(6):555-563

Haya Itzhaky, PhD

Bar-Ilan University

Professor and Former Dean, School of Social Work

Haya Itzhaky

Haya Itzhaky, PhD, is a Professor at and the former Director of the School of Social Work at Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel. Professor Itzhaky has conducted multiple research studies around the globe (South America, Australia, Nepal, India, Canada, Israel, and the U.S.) on community practice topics ranging from trauma to citizen participation to domestic violence. She recently conducted one of the few longitudinal studies of women who lived in a battered women’s shelter. She also has developed a program for community development and community organizations.

Professor Itzhaky is presently a consultant to Israel’s Minister of Welfare. She was Chairman of the Council of the Directors of University-based Schools of Social Work in Israel and is currently the Head of the Ph.D. Program at the School of Social Work in Bar-Ilan University.

Recent Select Publications

Itzhaky H,York A. Sexual abuse by clergymen: An Israeli case of  community-based intervention. In press.

Levy D, Ben-Porat A, Kattoura O, Dekel R, Itzhaky H. Predicting depression among Jewish and Arab Israeli women who are victims of intimate partner violence. Violence Against Women, posted online July 2019.

Refaeli T, Levy D, Ben-Porat A, Dekel R, Itzhaky H. Personal and environmental predictors of depression among victims of intimate partner violence: Comparison of immigrant and Israeli-born women. J Interpers Violence. 2019; 34(7): 1487-1511.

Ben-Porat A, Levy D, Katora O, Dekel R, Itzhaky H. .Domestic violence in Arab society: A comparison of Arab and Jewish women at shelters in Israel Journal of Interpersonal Violence, posted online September 2017.

Weiss-Dagan S, Ben-Porat A, Itzhaky H. Child protection workers dealing with child abuse: The contribution of personal, social, and organizational resources to secondary traumatization. Child Abuse and Neglect, 2016; 51: 203-211.

Dagan K, Itzhaky H, Ben-Porat A.Therapists working with trauma victims: The contribution of personal, environmental, and professional-organizational resources to secondary traumatization. Journal of Trauma and Dissociation, 2015; 16: 592-606.

Mary P. Koss, PhD

University of Arizona

Regents' Professor

Mary Koss

Mary Koss, PhD, is a Regents’ Professor in the Mel and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health at the University of Arizona. She published the first national study sexual assault among college students in 1987. She was the principal investigator of the RESTORE Program; the first restorative justice program for sex crimes among adults that was quantitatively evaluated.  She also directed Safety Connections, a restorative justice-based family strengthening program for children under 5 exposed to violence.  She has developed resources for campus use including ARC3 Campus Climate Survey and the STARRSA model for rehabilitation of those responsible for sexual misconduct. Her ongoing work evaluates a sexual assault primary prevention program focusing on staff of alcohol serving establishments. She recently published a test of the “serial rape” hypothesis among college men. Her credentials document close to 300 publications. The most recent appeared in American Psychologist and focused on victim voice and in re-envisioning responses to sexual and physical violence, better responses to underserved populations, and greater alignment of funding from the Violence Against Women Act funding with expressed victim needs.

Dr. Koss has provided consultations for national and international governments and health and advocacy organizations. Since 2016 she has advised the US Departments of Justice, Education, and the White House Taskforce on Campus Sexual Assault. She was the 8th recipient of the Visionary Award from End Violence Against Women International. She has received awards from the American Psychological Association: The Award for Distinguished Contributions to Research in Public Policy (2000) and the Award for Distinguished Contributions to the International Advancement of Psychology (2017).

Select Recent Publications

Felitti VJ, Anda RF, Nordenberg D, Williamson DF, Spitz AM, Edwards V, Koss MP, Marks JS. Relationship of childhood abuse and household dysfunction to many of the leading causes of death in adults: The Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) study. American Journal of Preventive Medicine. 2019; 56(6): 774-786.

Donde SD, Ragsdale SKA, Koss MP, Zucker AN. If it wasn’t rape, was it sexual assault? Comparing rape and sexual assault acknowledgment in college women who have experienced rape. Violence Against Women; 24(14): 1718-1738.

Koss MP, White JW, Lopez EC. Victim voice in reenvisioning responses to sexual and physical violence nationally and internationally. American Psychologist. 2017; 72(9): 1019-1030.

Swartout KM, Thompson MP, Koss MP, Su N. What is the best way to analyze less frequent forms of violence? the case of sexual aggression. Psychology of Violence. 2015; 5(3): 305-313.

Swartout KM, Koss MP, White JW, Thompson MP, Abbey A, Bellis AL. Trajectory analysis of the campus serial rapist assumption. JAMA Pediatrics;169(12): 1148-1154.

Koss MP, Wilgus JK, Williamsen KM. Campus sexual misconduct: Restorative justice approaches to enhance compliance with title IX guidance. Trauma, Violence, & Abuse. 2014; 15(3): 242-257.

Travis Labrum, LCSW, PhD

University of Wyoming/Division of Social Work

Assistant Professor

Travis Labrum

Travis Labrum, LCSW, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in the Division of Social Work, University of Wyoming. He currently researches issues pertaining to persons with serious mental illness and their families (including substance use, caregiving, money management and—of note—family conflict and violence) and elder abuse by persons with or without mental illness. Prior to becoming a researcher, he worked as a social worker for 9 years at a community mental health center in Salt Lake City, UT, providing mental health, substance abuse, and domestic violence perpetration treatment.

Eleonora Mei

Libera Universita Maria Ss. Assunta

Visiting Scholar 2017-2018

Eleanora Mei

I am a visiting scholar at Penn as part of my PhD studies at Libera Universita Maria Ss. Assunta (Italy), where my research focuses on the use of social norms in designing interventions to improve women’s rights and well-being. While working as a volunteer with immigrants in Italy, I discovered how widespread female genital cutting (FGC) is, including among immigrants in high income countries. While at Penn in 2017-2018, I will help develop a compendium of the literature on FGC.

Emily F. Rothman, ScD

Boston University School of Public Health


Emily Rothman

Emily F. Rothman, ScD, is a Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health with secondary appointments at the Boston University School of Medicine in Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine. She is also a visiting scientist at the Harvard Injury Control Research Center. Dr. Rothman has authored more than 80 publications that span the areas of intimate partner violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, firearm violence, and pornography. She has been a PI or coinvestigator on numerous NIH and NIJ research grants and worked closely with multiple state sexual assault and domestic violence coalitions, state health departments, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on issues related to sexual assault prevention.

Aishah Shahidah Simmons

Annenberg School for Communication

Visiting Scholar (2019-2021)

Aisha Shahidah Simmons

Aishah Shahidah Simmons is an award-winning Black feminist lesbian independent documentary filmmaker, activist, cultural worker, international lecturer whose work examines the intersections of race, gender, sexuality, and sexual violence.

Professor Simmons is a four-year Just Beginnings Collaborative (JBC) Fellow. Funded by the NoVo Foundation, the JBC Fellowship initiates strategies to end child sexual abuse. Her JBC-funded #LoveWITHAccountability Project focuses the power of transformative storytelling to tackle the global epidemic of child sexual abuse through the experiences, insights, and perspectives of diasporic Black child sexual abuse survivors and advocates. She is the editor of the forthcoming anthology, Love With Accountability: Digging Up the Roots of Child Sexual Abuse (AK Press, Fall 2019).

She is a Visiting Scholar at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania, and a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Arizona’s Consortium on Gender-Based Violence. Previously, she was a Visiting Scholar at the School for Social Policy and Practice at Penn. She also has been an Artist-in-Residence, Lecturer, Contingent, and Distinguished Visiting Faculty at Williams College, Temple University, Scripps College, the University of Chicago, and Spelman College.

An Associate Editor of the online publication, The Feminist Wire, and a member of the Editorial Board of The Feminist Wire Books at the University of Arizona Press, Ms. Simmons’ writings are published widely, and her cultural work and activism are documented extensively. She has presented her work across the North American continent, and in numerous countries in Europe, Africa, Asia, and the Caribbean.

For more information on Ms. Simmons and her films (including the internationally acclaimed Ford Foundation-funded NO! The Rape Documentary) and publications click here.

To read a recent interview with Aishah, click here.

Laura Sinko, PhD

National Clinician Scholars Program

Postdoctoral Fellow

Laura Sinko

Laura Sinko is a PhD prepared mental health nurse, sexual assault nurse examiner, and first year postdoctoral fellow in the National Clinician Scholars Program. Laura has expertise in narrative and photography research methods with the majority of her research focusing on understanding recovery after gender-based violence. Currently, Laura is conducting research to identify the impact of violence normalization on recovery after gender-based violence and is testing a pilot photo elicitation intervention to promote self-efficacy and help-seeking actions after intimate partner violence. Laura has a passion for creative research dissemination to educate survivors and service providers about the healing journey.

Salamishah Tillet, PhD

Rutgers University

Henry Rutgers Chair of African American Studies and Creative Writing

Salamishah Tillet

Salamishah Tillet, formerly an Associate Professor of English and Africana Studies and a faculty member of the Alice Paul Center for Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, moved to Rutgers in Fall 2018. At Rutgers, she is the Henry Rutgers Chair of African American Studies and Creative Writing, the Founding Director of the New Arts Social Justice Initiative at Express Newark, and the Associate Director of the Clement Price Institute on Ethnicity, Culture and the Modern Experience.

Professor Tillet has appeared on the BBC, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, TEDxWomen, and written op-eds and blog posts for The Atlantic, The Chicago Tribune, The Guardian, The Nation, The New York Times, The Root, and Time. She is the co-founder of A Long Walk Home, Inc., a non-profit organization that uses art to end violence against girls and women.

To view her TEDxWomen conversation with Gloria Steinem click here. And here for articles published in The Nation – a quick online search will identify more published elsewhere.

Learn more here.

Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD

John Jay College

Distinguished Professor

Cathy Widom

Cathy Spatz Widom, PhD, is an international expert on the causes and consequences of child abuse and neglect. Her seminal, ongoing longitudinal study of a large sample of children with confirmed abuse and neglect in childhood is shedding light on the largely untested, but widely accepted, idea of the intergenerational transmission of violence.

A Distinguished Professor of psychology at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and member of the Graduate Center faculty of the City University of New York, she also has taught at Indiana University, SUNY Albany, and Harvard. She serves on the Committee on Law and Justice at the Commission on Behavioral and Social Sciences at the National Academy of Sciences and was co-chair of the National Research Council panel on Juvenile Crime, Juvenile Justice. Dr. Widom has provided invited testimony to Congressional and state committees.

She is an elected fellow of the American Psychological Association, American Psychopathological Association, and the American Society of Criminology and the recipient, among other awards, of the 1989 American Association for the Advancement of Science Behavioral Science Research Prize for her paper on the cycle of violence. Most recently, she received the 2016 Stockholm Prize in Criminology.

Dr. Widom received her BS in child development and family relationships from Cornell University, and her MA and PhD in psychology from Brandeis University.

Robert Edwin Carter Jr., MSW

African-American Resource Center

Associate Director

Brother Robb

Robert Edwin Carter, Jr., MSW (known as “Brother Robb”) recently retired from his long-time position of Associate Director of the African-American Resource Center at the University of Pennsylvania. Brother Robb is a Senior Clinician at the Men’s Resource Center, where he provides counseling to men guilty of domestic abuse. He is a former board member and lifetime member of WOAR (Women Organized Against Rape) and he co-founded PLP The Unity Performance Art Ensemble, “an expression of spiritual, social and political understanding for social change, racial healing and freedom from oppression.” Brother Robb’s work in publications and the classroom, where he lectures on topics related to race and gender, promotes peace and healing in a divided society.

A description of one of his talks can be found here.

Christine M. Forke, MSN, RN, CRNP

Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Research Director, Nurse Practitioner

Christine Forke

Christine M. Forke, RN, MSN, CRNP, is a pediatric nurse practitioner and research director for the Craig-Dalsimer Division of Adolescent Medicine. For over 20 years, Chrissie has been involved in the development, execution, and analysis of multiple clinical research projects related to adolescent health and risk behaviors. She has served as the project manager of multiple large-scale studies related to access to care, sexual initiation and reproduction, relationship violence, eating disorders, and others. Ms. Forke’s primary interests relate to reproductive health and intimate partner violence.

In 2003, Chrissie chaired the Task Force on Intimate Partner Violence at the Institute for Safe Families, then a non-profit agency in Philadelphia. Under her leadership, the task force implemented a study on intimate partner violence on three local college to assess campus resources and student knowledge of these resources, estimate the prevalence of intimate partner violence among college students, and query students and staff about which resources they would find most helpful in dealing with intimate partner violence on campus.

Select Publications

Forke CM, Catallozzi M, Localio AR, Grisso JA, Wiebe DJ, Fein JA. Intergenerational effects of witnessing domestic violence: Health of the witnesses and their children. Preventive Medicine Reports, posted online June 2019.

Forke CM, Myers RK, Localio AR, Wiebe DJ, Fein JA, Grisso JA, Catallozzi M. Intimate partner violence: Childhood witnessing and subsequent experiences of college undergraduates. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, posted online July 2019.

Myers RK, Nelson DB, Forke CM. Occurrence of stalking victimization among female and male undergraduate students. Journal of College Student Development, 2016; 57(2): 213-218.

Wade R Jr., Cronholm PF, Fein JA, Forke CM, Davis M, Harkins-Schwarz M, Pachter LM, Bloom SL, Bair-Merritt MH.  Household and community-level adverse childhood experiences and adult health outcomes in a diverse urban population. Child Abuse & Neglect, 2016; 52: 135-145.

Cronholm PF, Forke CM, Wade R Jr., Bair-Merritt MH, Davis M, Harkins-Schwarz M, Pachter LM, Fein JA. Adverse Childhood experiences: Expanding the concept of adversity. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 2015; 49(3): 354-361.

Forke CM, Myers RK, Catallozzi M, Schwarz DF.  Relationship violence among male and female college undergraduate students. Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine, 2008; 162(7): 634-641.

Gloria Gay, MSW

UPenn, Penn Women's Center (ret.)

Gloria M. Gay

Gloria M. Gay, MSW, has dedicated her life to championing the rights of women, particularly those affected by domestic violence. Before her 2010 retirement, Ms. Gay served as the Associate Director of the Penn Women’s Center for 25 years and an adjunct instructor at the School of Social Policy & Practice. She has taught courses in adolescent sexuality, counseling, and domestic violence.

During the 1980s, Ms. Gay travelled to Kenya as an NGO representative to learn about efforts to eliminate female circumcision. In 1996, she was one of the recipients of the City of Philadelphia Human Relations Commission Award.

Ms. Gay has been a member of the Board of Directors of Women Against Abuse (WAA), a domestic violence service agency, since it was founded in the late 1970’s.

Casey Gwinn, JD

Alliance for HOPE International


Casey Gwinn

Casey Gwinn, JD, is the President of Alliance for HOPE International, the founder of Camp HOPE America, and co-founder of the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention.

Casey’s efforts to reduce violence against women and children span more than three decades. He founded and led the San Diego City Attorney’s Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Unit, where he prosecuted both misdemeanor and felony cases, from 1986 to 1996; co-founded the San Diego Task Force on Domestic Violence in 1986; founded the San Diego Domestic Violence Council in 1991; and served as the elected San Diego City Attorney from 1996 to 2004.

Casey led the effort to create a comprehensive, multi-agency Center bringing together many diverse services for victims of family violence under one roof, resulting in the opening of the nationally-acclaimed San Diego Family Justice Center in 2002. In January 2003, Casey and the San Diego Family Justice Center were profiled on the Oprah Winfrey Show as leading the way for other communities in developing a coordinated approach to co-locating services for victims of domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, human trafficking, and sexual assault. The Center was the model for President George W. Bush’s subsequent national initiative to create Family Justice Centers across the country and he asked Casey to lead the effort. Casey continues to oversee a national technical assistance team that supports all existing and developing Family Justice Centers in the United States and around the world.

He also has served on the U.S. Attorney General’s National Advisory Committee on Violence Against Women, the American Bar Association Commission on Domestic Violence, the Congressionally-created Department of Defense Task Force on Domestic Violence, and more.

Casey has received many, many local, state, and national awards over the years including the Avon Foundation for Women Advocate of the Year Award and the Women’s E-News 21 Leaders for the 21st Century Award. He has been recognized by The American Lawyer magazine as one of the top 45 public lawyers in America. In 1993, the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges recognized his Child Abuse/Domestic Violence Unit as the model domestic violence prosecution unit in the nation.

He has authored a host of articles on domestic violence and has authored or co-authored nine books (including one in Arabic and one in Spanish) on the Family Justice Center movement. He wrote the first book ever targeted to the general public on the Adverse Childhood Experience (ACE) Study called Cheering for the Children: Creating Pathways to HOPE for Children Exposed to Trauma.  He is an honors graduate of Stanford University and UCLA School of Law.

To learn about Casey’s work to prevent and prosecute domestic violence and strangulation cases, click here.

LaShawn R. Jefferson

University of Pennsylvania

Deputy Director of Perry World House

Sue Osthoff

National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women

Executive Director

Sue Osthoff

Sue Osthoff co-founded the National Clearinghouse for the Defense of Battered Women in September 1987 with Barbara Hart, Esq. As the organization’s director, Sue provides direct technical assistance and trainings, develops resources and other written materials for a wide variety of audiences, and participates in national organizing and policy development. Prior to the Clearinghouse, Sue coordinated the Self-Defense Program at Women Against Abuse, a battered women’s program in Philadelphia, and provided direct services to both battered women charged with homicide or aggravated assault and their attorneys. Sue’s initial work in the battered women’s movement was in 1979 as a counselor/advocate in Massachusetts.

Sue has served on the advisory boards of several national domestic violence organizations. In 2002, she co-edited three special issues of the journal Violence Against Women on women’s use of violence. She is an Associate Editor of the journal Violence Against Women and is on the advisory board of the journal Women, Girls & Criminal Justice.

Sue has been honored with multiple awards:  the Gloria Steinem “Women of Vision” Award (1991), the Crystal Stair Award for “extraordinary contributions to social welfare” from the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Social Work (2000), the Louis D. Apothaker award from the Philadelphia Bar Foundation (2003), the Saltzman Award for Contributions to Practice from the American Society of Criminology Division on Women and Crime (2010), one of 21 Leaders for the 21st Century by Women’s eNews (2010), and the Trailblazer Award from the Bread & Roses Community Fund, located in Philadelphia (2014).

Gael Strack, JD

Alliance for HOPE International


Gael Strack

Gael Strack, Esq., is the CEO and Co-Founder of Alliance for HOPE International. She spearheaded much of the initial work and research on strangulation crimes from a prosecutor’s perspective.

In her role as CEO of the Alliance for HOPE International, she provides leadership for the following programs:

  • The National Family Justice Center Alliance, which provides consulting to over 150 existing and pending Family Justice Centers around the world.
  • The Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, which provides basic and advanced training on strangulation prevention to 5,000 professionals annually. [link to]
  • The Justice Legal Network, an innovative public interest law firm of solo attorneys who have pledged to provide civil legal services to victims and their children.
  • Camp HOPE America, which, under the leadership of Casey Gwinn, provides summer camp and mentoring experiences to help children exposed to violence heal.
  • The VOICES Survivor Network – DV survivors who volunteer their time to provide awareness, education, outreach and feedback to their local Family Justice Center.

Prior to launching the Alliance for Hope with Casey Gwinn, Gael served as the Founding Director of the San Diego Family Justice Center, where she worked closely with 25 on-site government and non-profit agencies that, in 2002, came together to provide services to victims of domestic violence and their children from one location. Prior to her work at the Family Justice Center, Gael was a prosecutor at the San Diego City Attorney’s Office. She joined the office in 1987 and served in many capacities including Head Deputy City Attorney responsible for the Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Unit.

Gael has worked with multiple state and local organizations as well as national ones, for example she is a former member of the American Bar Association’s Commission on Domestic Violence. She has been honored with numerous awards, most recently by U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder as the 2010 Recipient of the National Crime Victim Service Award for Professional Innovation in Victim Services.

Gael is an adjunct law professor for California Western School of Law where she teaches a course on domestic violence and the law. She has co-authored a series of articles and books about strangulation. To read her 2011 article “On the Edge of Homicide: A Prelude to Homicide” click here.

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