MEDIA CONTACT: ANGELA HALE, 512.289.2995, angela@redmediagroup.com

Austin, Texas – November 19, 2012– This Thanksgiving, The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV) honors four Texas champions who make a difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence in Texas.

Thanksgiving is a time for reflection and gratitude. Today, we reflect on the large numbers of Texas families who will spend Thanksgiving in domestic violence shelters across the state. As a backdrop, over the past year, 223 thousand Texans called domestic violence hotlines, nearly 80 thousand people, primarily women and children sought services from family violence programs, because they did not feel safe in their own homes and 102 women lost their lives along with 26 additional family members, friends and bystanders in domestic violence homicides.

This is also a time for giving thanks, today, TCFV recognizes champions who have emerged from professions and sectors whose primary work is not in domestic violence.

“Thanksgiving is a time for reflection on the pain caused by family violence,” said Gloria A. Terry, President of the Texas Council on Family Violence.  “Thanksgiving is also a time for gratitude. I am proud to recognize four outstanding Texas heroes who are making a difference in the lives of victims of domestic violence. I am thankful for these Texas champions who through their occupations in health care, state government, philanthropy and athletics are making a difference in the lives of Texans.”

TCFV recognizes Deputy Texas Attorney General for Child Support Alicia Key, Texas Nurses Association Assistant Program Director Deborah Cortez, Texas High School Coaches Association Executive Director D.W. Rutledge and Philanthropist Dave Swalm.  These gold medalists not only strengthen response and services to families in crisis, they inspire hope for a safer, more peaceful Texas.

Since 2004 Alicia Key has been the Deputy Attorney General for Child Support in Texas. Under her leadership, the Texas Office of the Attorney General (OAG) has consistently received recognition as having one of the highest performing child support programs in the country – providing more child support to families than any other state.  Ms. Key’s recognition that financial support is only one part of the picture for families in the child support system has guided the Child Support Division’s development of a range of programs and services designed to respond to many challenges faced by families in Texas.

Thanks to Ms. Key’s vision and commitment to families, the Texas child support program has reached out to family violence advocates and programs across the state to increase the safety of survivors needing child support services, strengthen referral networks between child support and family violence programs, and expand the family violence training for the more than 2,400 child support staff working in offices across the state. The OAG recently created a series of high quality educational videos in collaboration with TCFV that involved interviews with family violence advocates, survivors of family violence and child support staff on how survivors can increase their safety while accessing the child support system. 

TCFV recognizes Texas Nurses Association Assistant Program Director Deborah Cortez.  Cortez is a registered nurse and a champion for social change. During her recent term as President of the Texas Healthy Start Alliance, Deborah worked in the critical intersection and opportunity between the home visitation and domestic violence fields.  Through her keen vision of healthy babies and healthy moms, she recognized that home visitors have unique access to people’s homes and play an instrumental role as early detectors for violence in the home, which results in earlier intervention. Her leadership on bolstering this critical connection between fields continues to receive national attention.  As such her strong contribution benefits not only Texas families but informs approaches across the country.

TCFV recognizes Texas High School Coaches Association Executive Director D.W. Rutledge a true champion who has vision and wisdom on and off the field.

During his 16 years of coaching, Rutledge was one of the most successful coaches in Texas high school football history, winning four state championships in the state’s highest classification, 5A. The stadium in Converse Texas is named after him.  He co-authored a book and curriculum titled Coaching to Change Lives that is still widely used across the country. However coaching to him means much more than developing physical prowess. He believes that athletics offer coaches a unique opportunity to build the character of young athletes.   D.W embodies the very mission of the association: To help and serve our Texas high school coaches as they work to help and serve our student athletes. “HELPING COACHES TO HELP KIDS.”

As Executive Director of the Texas High School Coaches Association, Coach Rutledge has prioritized TCFV’s Coaching Boys into Men program. He has offered access to his 21,000 members to raise awareness of the program and has been instrumental in its implementation in Texas high schools. A new initiative of the Association under his direction is the Game Changer Leadership Summit, a forum that brings together a community of coaches tapping on their leadership to be ambassadors for change in the lives of young athletes.  A focus is on young athletes where a father may not be present in the home.  More information can be found at the Game Changer website, http://www.coachessummit.com/index.html.

TCFV also recognizes Philanthropist & Businessman David C. Swalm.  Swalm was a self-made man who achieved international success in the petrochemical business. He passed away  in 2008, but he left behind an outstanding legacy of service. He and his wife established the $5 million Swalm Legacy for Safe Families Endowment Fund and selected TCFV as the fund administrator. So far, more than $1 million dollars has been awarded to provide critical services such as shelter, counseling, legal advocacy, education, transportation and a host of life saving services for families in crisis. TCFV honors him posthumously for his many contributions that continue to address family violence in Texas.

In this time of thanks, we honor these superior champions and their contributions. 

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The Texas Council on Family Violence (TCFV), formed in 1978, is one of the largest domestic violence coalitions in the nation.  TCFV promotes safe and healthy relationships by supporting service providers, facilitating strategic prevention efforts, and creating opportunities for freedom from domestic violence.  www.tcfv.org