Last week, VALOR hosted the National Sexual Assault Conference® (NSAC) in San Francisco, CA. Joined by over 2,000 advocates, activists, survivors, prevention practitioners, policymakers, and more, we answered the call to fearlessly embody Equity in Action. All 115 sessions uniquely dove into embracing the conference theme and pushing our movement forward to set the national agenda for the coming year to demand a world free from sexual violence where the dignity of every person is valued and respected.
Our pre-conference day was open to VALOR members and prevention practitioners who met to discuss emerging needs and advocacy efforts in the field, celebrate California rape crisis centers with over 50 years of service, and ended with a member reception, allowing VALOR members to connect and enjoy the San Francisco skyline. Want to join our pre-conference day next year? Become a VALOR member.
The first day of NSAC kicked off with a motivating plenary session featuring a warm welcome from Leanne Guy, Executive Director of the Southwest Indigenous Women’s Coalition, Keely Linton, Executive Director of Strong Hearted Native Women’s Coalition, and Nicole Matthews, Executive Director of the Minnesota Indian Women’s Sexual Assault Coalition.
Key federal agents, including Cailin Crockett, Senior Advisor to the White House Gender Policy Council, Allison Randall, Principal Deputy Director for the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, Lynn Rosenthal, Director of Sexual and Gender-Based Violence at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and virtual remarks from Dr. Debra Houry, Chief Medical Officer and Deputy Director for Program and Science at CDC, shared powerful messages of the importance of cross-department work and the nation’s goal to prevent and address sexual violence.
VALOR’s CEO, Sandra Henriquez, delivered a moving plenary calling on us to platform innovative, creative, restorative, and transformative ideas to join the call to prevent and end sexual violence. She reminded us that NSAC instills a sense of responsibility in all of us to use this national platform to advance the important work of our movement. Nicole Pittman, Executive Director of Just Beginnings Collaborative, calling for NSAC participants to examine how our field has overly relied on a single narrative to prevent and end child sexual abuse and challenges us to explore alternatives outside of the criminal legal system. Closing out day one plenary, we were joined by Samba Warriors.
Day one sessions ranged from Why Decriminalizing Sex Work is a Sexual Violence Prevention Strategy to The Absence of Equity in Action in Tribal Communities. We closed out day one with a screening of the RECALL: REFRAMED and a walking tour of the Cameron House.
The second day of NSAC started out on a high note with an uplifting performance from Rhythm Magic, followed by inspirational plenary addresses from Ponny White, Youth Advocate at Girls for Gender Equity, who called for centering the voices of young people in our work, Dr. Allyn Walker, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Moore Center for the Prevention of Child Sexual Abuse, challenging us to think about holistic approaches to preventing child sexual abuse, and closing the plenary session with motivating words from Tony Porter, CEO of A Call To Men.
Earlier this year, the White House Gender Policy Council released the first-ever National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence: Strategies for Action. NSAC allowed for the perfect platform to convene national stakeholders for a listening session to provide feedback on the effectiveness of implementing the National Plan in local communities.
Our third and final day of NSAC began with 16 sessions and ended with our closing plenary session where we honored the work of Karen Baker, Managing Partner of RALIANCE and CEO of Respect Together. Shiree Teng brought all conference participants to their feet as she called for this movement to center love in our work. And Dr. Apryl Alexander, Metrolina Medical Foundation Distinguished Scholar in Health and Public Policy at the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, shared about combining her work of direct service providers, researchers, and clinicians to examine how oppressive systems create barriers to ending all types of violence and provides tangible solutions to work towards safer communities. The plenary session was concluded with a performance by Queer Taiko, an Oakland-based taiko drumming group.
Thank you to everyone who attended the 2023 National Sexual Assault Conference® and answered the call to embody Equity in Action. Most conference materials are available on the NSAC website and we cannot wait to reconvene again in Washington, D.C. next year!