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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Jennifer Storm Receives Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award

June 20, 2012

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    Jennifer Storm, author and executive director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, accepts the 2012 Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award at the 11th Annual Crime Victim Law Conference.

A member of our Board of Directors from 2002 until her untimely death in 2009, Gail Burns-Smith was a tireless leader in the victim services community.  This award honors her legacy by recognizing outstanding efforts to advance the rights of crime victims.  To learn more about Gail, click here.

Jennifer Storm is the Executive Director of the Victim/Witness Assistance Program (VWAP) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania.  A private, non-profit organization dedicated to serving victims of crimes, VWAP’s mission is to reduce the trauma of a crime by empowering and assisting clients in reconstructing their lives through advocacy, support, information, and referrals. In assisting over 8,000 crime victims and witnesses annually, VWAP strives to prevent further victimization by intervening on behalf of its clients to address any problems created by their involuntary involvement in the justice system. Ms. Storm’s job consists of everything from procuring and sustaining a budget of one million dollars and managing a staff of eighteen to working hand-in-hand with law enforcement and prosecutors.  In her role as first responder, she can been seen at any hour of the day or night at a crime scene, the hospital or the home of a family giving notification of a loved-one’s tragedy, a funeral service paying respects, working at her office trying to help victims have funeral expenses paid, as well as in the courtroom walking families through the criminal justice system.

Before joining VWAP, Ms. Storm was the first full-time director of the Statewide Pennsylvania Rights Coalition (SPARC), a nonprofit coalition dedicated to securing and defending fully-inclusive civil rights for Lesbian Gay Bisexual and Transgender people.  During her tenure at SPARC, Ms. Storm worked diligently on obtaining inclusive hate crime legislation.  In 2002, the Pennsylvania legislature passed one of the most inclusive hate crime statutes in the country.  Governor Edward G. Rendell appointed Ms. Storm as a commissioner to the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency.  In 2011 she was appointed by Governor Tom Corbett to the Victim Services Advisory Committee where she assures that the voices, needs and perspectives of all crime victims/survivors will be considered in the development of services, service standards, policies, funding priorities, legislation and outcomes.  Ms. Storm is the recipient of the 2012 Liberty Bell Award, presented by the Dauphin County Bar Association. The award recognizes her outstanding commitment to civic responsibility.

Ms. Storm is also the author of several books on addiction, recovery and victimization:  Leave the Light On: A Memoir of Recovery and Self-Discovery; Blackout Girl: Growing Up and Drying Out in America; Picking Up the Pieces Without Picking Up: A Guidebook through Victimization for People in Recovery.  On June 5th, her ebook Echoes of Penn State: Facing Sexual Trauma, will be released at the BookExpo America in New York, and will be available to download on tablets and notebooks on June 15th.

Past Recipients (formerly the Victim Advocacy Award):

  • Gail Burns-Smith (2004)
  • Kathy Skaggs (2005)
  • Diane Moyer (2006)
  • John Stein (2007)
  • Roberta Roper (2008)
  • Steve Derene (2009)
  • Steve Doell (2010)
  • Anne Seymour (2011)