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National Crime Victim Law Institute

NCVLI Announces Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award

August 01, 2011

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    Gail Burns-Smith

Gail Burns-Smith was a member of NCVLI’s Board of Directors from 2002 until her untimely death in 2009.  The Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award honors Gail’s legacy as a tireless leader in the victim services community and recognizes outstanding efforts to advance the rights of crime victims.  In 2011, the inaugural year of the award, the award was presented posthumously to Gail. 

Gail Burns Smith was a tremendous leader in the crime victims’ rights movement. She was the Executive Director of Connecticut Sexual Assault Center of Crisis Services (CONNSACS) from 1982 until her retirement in 2004. In 1996 she partnered with the Center for Treatment of Problem Sexual Behavior, creating the first Victim Advocate Program for sex offender treatment, which later became the national model for such programs. She also co-founded the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence. The Alliance was instrumental in securing passage of the National Violence Against Women Act and the related funding of programs for services to victims of sexual assault and other violence. Gail served on the Board of Directors at the National Crime Victim Law Institute starting in 2002 until her death in 2009.


The Gail Burns Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award is an annual award designed to honor Gail’s legacy as a tireless leader in the victims’ rights community. The recipient of the award will exemplify Gail’s leadership in advancing the rights of victims of crime and her tireless advocacy to shed light on often hidden issues. Because Gail continues to inspire and guide the work of NCVLI, not only will the recipient receive a physical award each year, but a perpetual plaque upon which each recipient’s name is etched will be on permanent display at NCVLI’s offices in Portland, Oregon.


In 2011, the inaugural year of the award, the award was presented posthumously to Gail and hers is the first name etched in the plaque.

In future years, the recipients of the award will be attorneys, advocates, or other allied professionals who have worked to promote or implement policies and practices to advance victims’ rights.

The Gail Burns-Smith Excellence in Victim Services Award was previously the Victim Advocacy Award.  For information about past recipients of the Victim Advocacy Award, please click here.