Champions of domestic violence intervention honored at annual celebration

October 14, 2014

From left: Maureen Sheeran, National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges; Annie Neal, Multnomah County Domestic Violence Coordinator; Judge Maureen McKnight; Judge Amy Holmes Hehn; and Judge Katherine Tennyson

One of the largest crowds since the Judge Herrell Award Ceremony began eight years ago showed up at Multnomah County headquarters on Oct. 10 to honor community members making strides towards ending family violence.

The county board room was bustling with representatives from national, statewide and local organizations as well as members of the public dedicated to the cause.   

“This annual celebration gives us an opportunity to recognize all the great work that happens every day in our community,” said Multnomah County Domestic Violence coordinator Annie Neal.

"Hundreds of professionals and community members take action every day to prevent and end domestic violence - advocates, police, attorneys, probation officers, counselors, faith leaders and more. It's very rewarding to work with such a broad range of people who are truly committed to safety and justice.”

Neal and her staff  help coordinate the annual event and are responsible for staffing the Family Violence Coordinating Council or FVCC.  The FVCC, a multi-agency, multi-jurisdictional forum which coordinates domestic violence intervention programs, selects recipients for the Judge Herrell Award. The award, named after Multnomah County Judge Stephen B. Herrell who championed efforts for children and families, honors outstanding collaborative efforts to end family violence.

Judge Amy Holmes Hehn (left) smiles at honorees Missy Kloos (center) and Cassie Russell at the 8th Annual Judge Herrell Award Ceremony.

This year, Chief Multnomah County Family Court Judge Maureen McKnight and program coordinators for Bradley Angle’s Economic Empowerment Program were honored for their achievements.

Judge Amy Holmes Hehn hosted the hour-long program and presented recipients with awards.

“She is such a leader and such a key player in our collaborative community response to domestic violence”, said Judge Holmes Hehn in reference to Judge McKnight.  “It would take literally hours to list all of her accomplishments.”

Judge McKnight humbly thanked the Family Violence Coordinating Council while accepting her award. McKnight helped establish Domestic Violence Court in Multnomah County and wrote the grant that helps fund the Family Court Enhancement Project, a program that helps improve how the courts handle domestic violence and custody cases. McKnight also served as the first chair of the Family Violence Coordinating Council.

Missy Kloos and Cassie Russell accepted their award on behalf of the Bradley Angle’s Economic Empowerment Program which helps domestic violence survivors increase their financial independence.

“Both Missy and Cassie exemplify the drive and determination needed to effectively pursue opportunities that increase resources available to survivors in Portland,” said Judge Holmes Hehn.  “Their ‘Asset Building for Survivors Toolkit’ recently received national attention from a national organization dedicated to achieving economic independence.”

The award ceremony is one of many events in honor of Domestic Violence Awareness in October. This year also marks the 20th Anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, a federal law that supports domestic violence victim resources nationwide.