Each year, as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC) holds their Visionary Voice Awards to highlight individuals whose outstanding prevention work is making a significant impact in their communities. Nominees are selected by state, tribal, or territory anti-sexual violence coalitions and represent a wide-range of individuals working in various professions to end sexual violence and promote safe, healthy communities. In partnership with NSVRC, MCASA is proud to have honored the following Marylanders with this national award.

National Award Recipients

Roberta Eaton

Roberta Eaton has been a dedicated advocate for sexual assault survivors for more than 10 years. Currently, she is the Interim Executive Director at DAWN, an organization focusing on providing healing support services to survivors who live in Maryland; Washington, DC; and Virginia. Roberta is a passionate advocate for the rights of all individuals, including people with disabilities. In addition to her powerful work as an advocate for sexual assault survivors, she is also a national trainer, helping to train new and advanced advocates on trauma-informed practices. Her past work experience includes being the assistant director for a deaf-centered nonprofit organization, Deaf World Against Violence in Columbus, Ohio. She has also worked for Vera Institute of Justice as a senior program associate designing a national deaf virtual services program that aims to improve accessibility to support services for survivors who are deaf and hard of hearing.

Cheryl L. Banks

Cheryl Banks has worked as a Community Educator on sexual violence since 1976. She has been the Community Educator/Volunteer Coordinator at the Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center at UM Prince George’s Hospital Center since 1992, providing training for police, medical personnel, social workers, attorneys, and many other professionals. For 25 years, she was a consultant to the Montgomery County, MD Department of Health and Human Services Child Welfare Program. She worked with Montgomery County Child Welfare Services to develop programs and trainings for child care providers, teachers, guidance counselors, clergy and other professional organizations on child abuse and neglect. Ms. Banks also worked with the Montgomery County Victim Assistance and Sexual Assault Program to develop trainings and presentations on sexual assault and acquaintance rape. In 26 years, she has successfully delivered nearly 4,000 sexual assault prevention presentations to over 100,000 high school and college students.

Heather Hanline

Heather Hanline has spent the past 22 years as the Executive Director of the Dove Center, a sexual assault and domestic violence program in rural Western Maryland.  With passion and perseverance, she has led the agency in overcoming many challenges. Under her leadership, community attitudes and knowledge about domestic violence and sexual assault have positively shifted.  A state-of-the-art counseling and shelter facility, on-site indoor pet kennel (the first in the state of Maryland), and most recently, four transitional housing units have been constructed.  School and campus counseling and prevention programs were developed and expanded.  She began JEWELS, a counseling group for women experiencing co-occurring trauma and addiction. She also created a community initiative called Healing Garrett, through which she passionately works to encourage and implement trauma-informed care in the community by providing adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) education and awareness. She constantly strives to improve and expand the agency’s existing programs and to create new and innovative ones.

Mary E. Shine

Mary E. Shine worked for over 24 years with Montgomery County Health and Human Services, where she served as a Child Welfare Supervisor. She is a graduate of the Boston University School of Social Work. When Shine was working with Montgomery County Child Welfare Services, one of her clients had become pregnant from rape. Shine learned the rapist had the same parental rights as other fathers. She brought this issue to the Maryland General Assembly and tirelessly advocated for a bill to allow survivors to ask the court to end rapists' parental rights. In 2018, after a dozen years, the Rape Survivor Family Protection Act was enacted into law.

Michele Hughes

As Executive Director of Life Crisis Center, Michele Hughes spent over a decade working tirelessly to ensure that sexual assault survivors on Maryland's Lower Eastern Shore receive expert, survivor-centered, trauma-informed care. Prior to her work on the rural Eastern Shore, she served as the leader of the YWCA – the rape crisis center for Anne Arundel County – a much more suburban and urban area, where she overcame different challenges to ensure survivors had accessible and compassionate care available. Hughes is also a well-known policy advocate, never hesitating to speak truth to power to ensure that the rights of women and children are protected. She currently sits on the boards of the Wicomico Child Advocacy Center and the Somerset Child Advocacy Center.

Vicki Sadehvandi

Vicki Sadehvandi is the founder and Executive Director of CASA, Inc. the Washington County rape crisis center, which staffs a 24-hour hotline for sexual assault survivors that provides crisis intervention, education, information, referrals, and safety planning. She has worked tirelessly since 1984 to increase the program's services, which offers counseling in addition to crisis intervention and serves persons of all ages who have been sexually assaulted or abused. CASA also provides education on the issues in the community. She is also a founding mother of the anti-sexual violence movement in Maryland and has worked for decades to help respond to rape survivors and survivors of sexual abuse.

Senator Barbara Mikulski

On December 20, 2012, Senator Barbara Mikulski became the first woman and first Marylander to chair the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which she has served since she arrived in the Senate in 1987. She has consistently and successfully fought for services for survivors of sexual violence throughout her time in office.

The longest serving woman Senator in U.S. history, Senator Mikulski is quite simply a hero to the field of ending sexual violence. She helped create and fund the Sexual Assault Services Program (SASP), which represented the first time the federal government devoted funding for rape crisis centers. Most recently, she successfully helped avert government shut down and pass the Omnibus budget including significant increases in VOCA and VAWA funds. This funding will significantly help support services for survivors. Mikulski has state, "It's not about how long I serve, but about how well I serve my state and my nation."