A Message from Our CEO
When we set out at the beginning of 2023 with the goal to center the theme Equity in Action in our work, we did not anticipate the incredible year we were going to have. From hosting the National Sexual Assault Conference® in person in San Francisco, to the powerful chants from ¡Ya Basta! at our Denim Day rally, to attending the launch of the first-ever National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence at the White House, VALOR had a monumental year where we answered the call to embody Equity in Action.
Through uplifting the voices of survivors, working with our partners in prevention, and joining alongside fierce advocates from across the country, we continued to carry VALOR’s mission and work into all spaces that we entered. This year’s annual report only highlights a fraction of the impactful and wide-reaching work VALOR was able to accomplish. We look forward to continuing centering equity in action as we dive into 2024 and we want you to join us. Become a VALOR member today and commit to a lifetime of work of preventing and ending sexual violence.
Sandra Henriquez, CEO
2023 National Sexual Assault Conference®
VALOR welcomed 2,000 survivors, advocates, activists, and community partners to San Francisco, CA for the 2023 National Sexual Assault Conference®, August 22nd -24th. Participants were asked to fearlessly embody Equity in Action and with 115 sessions over three days, each presenter and attendee embraced the conference theme and pushed our movement into innovative, creative, and transformative spaces. VALOR uses the platform of the National Sexual Assault Conference® to advance the important work of our movement to set a national agenda for the coming year and demand a world free from sexual violence.
Sexual Assault Awareness Month and Denim Day
This Sexual Assault Awareness Month, VALOR centered the theme, Equity in Action, as staff, advocates, rape crisis centers, and so many others joined the call to embody equity in action during SAAM.
VALOR’s Deputy Director, David Lee, participated in me too, International’s #WhatsAtStake: A Panel on Sexual Violence as a Public Health Crisis, where he shared about current prevention efforts at the state and national levels, and provided insight into the importance of viewing sexual violence as a public health crisis; therefore, using public health solutions to address the problem.
For the first time since 2019, VALOR hosted a Denim Day rally on the California Capitol lawn. With over 200 attendees, we welcomed back legislatures, advocates, survivors, and community partners for a powerful rally where we asked, “What does it mean to embody equity in action in our work?”
Legislative speakers included First Partner Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Assemblymember Mia Bonta, and Assemblymember Rebecca Bauer-Kahan. Community partner speakers included Eric Morrison-Smith, Executive Director for the Alliance for Boys and Men of Color, the ¡Ya Basta! Coalition, and Michelle Coleman, co-Executive Director of Advocacy and Shelter Services at My Sister’s House and a member of the Culturally Responsive Domestic Violence Network.
VALOR national program, PreventConnect, hosted a five-part web conference series, Health Equity in Practice: Foundations for Sexual Violence Prevention, in partnership with the National Sexual Violence Resource Center, which explored how health equity translates into real-world prevention strategies by uplifting perspectives and innovative work happening across the country.
Leadership Education and Advancement for Professionals
In 2023, VALOR’s national project, LEAP, welcomed our 9th cohort. 22 leaders of color across the country gathered to learn from each other, grow their leadership skills, and build community.
Pushing Forward Innovative Policy Solutions
VALOR is proud to partner with California-based reproductive justice and gender justice organizations to advance important legislation aimed to strengthen the state’s reproductive and gender-affirming care protections. SB 345, authored by Senator Nancy Skinner, was signed into law October 2023. As law, SB 345 will provide protections for healthcare practitioners who provide reproductive and gender-affirming care to patients out of state. This law will also prohibit bounty hunters and bondsmen from apprehending individuals who are seeking emergency care in California. The national publication Truthout published an article of VALOR’s CEO, Sandra Henriquez, that highlighted the importance of SB 345 and the need for cross-movement work to advance sexual violence prevention and reproductive justice.
Building Cross-Movement Bridges
At VALOR, we recognize that we cannot prevent and end sexual violence without working at the intersections of other types of violence and oppression. This year, VALOR hosted Gender Equity: Building Inclusive Leadership, Policy, and Practice for Violence Prevention Training which provided an overview of gender equity, explored the intersections of sexism, heterosexism, transphobia, homophobia, and Sexual and Intimate Partner Violence (SV/IPV), and highlighted areas of opportunity for increasing equity and preventing violence.
With a panel of experts across California from Planned Parenthood, California Work and Family Coalition, Commission on the Status of Women and Girls, and Equality California, participants were able discuss prevention program development, organizational strategic planning, and how best to advance equity in their sexual violence programs.
Advocating for Survivors Nationally
VALOR continues to have a national presence in the anti-violence movement and this year presented great opportunities for us to engage in national work. VALOR staff attended the launch of the first-ever National Plan to End Gender-Based Violence at the White House. Staff also traveled from California to Washington, D.C. to advocate for increased funding to support national, Tribal, state, and local organizations.
VALOR continues to expand our number of growing partnerships and we especially appreciate our work with the ¡Ya Basta! Center and Líderes Campesinas. VALOR is proud to support ¡Ya Basta! and the promotoras, a group of janitors and survivors who have been trained on the intersection of discrimination, oppression, and sexual violence to become peer trainers. Through VALOR’s partnership with Líderes Campesinas, we continue to build their capacity to prevent violence in the farm worker and agriculture community. These organizations are leading a movement to prevent violence against janitorial and agricultural workers.
RALIANCE a national partnership, in which VALOR is a founding partner, announced a new logo and tagline: Creating Equitable, Respectful, and Safe Environments. RALIANCE continues to expand this work by partnering with businesses, organizations, and corporations to change cultures. In the last year, RALIANCE has worked with organizations to review their policies and procedures, implement RALIANCE’s Sexual Misconduct and Violence Taxonomy, develop and implement training, and more to support positive, inclusive work cultures.
Supporting Incarcerated Survivors
VALOR Staff participated in a multi-agency workgroup as part of a legislation request to develop a portfolio of recommendations and policies that address all aspects of sexual violence within the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation, as part of the California Advancing PREA project.
C.A. LEADDS released resources for rape crisis centers and disability service providers including a guide on providing accommodations for survivors with developmental disabilities and a guide on trauma-informed approaches to mandated reporting. C.A. LEADDS also presented about the project at the California Disability Advocacy Conference, The Gathering for The Learning Community for Person Centered Practices, and the National Sexual Assault Conference®.
In 2023, VALOR held in-person trainings on trauma-informed interviewing and investigation practices at Sonoma State, USC, and Cal State Long Beach. VALOR also attended Denim Day events at USC, CalTech, and Rio Hondo.