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Carol Jordan Named Woman of Distinction

By Gail Hairston

(Feb. 26, 2015) — The Center for Women and Families (CWF) will honor five Women of Distinction tonight at the center's 28th Annual Celebration of Service and Survival at Churchill Downs in Louisville. One of those outstanding women is Carol Jordan, executive director of the University of Kentucky Office for Policy Studies on Violence Against Women.

“The Center for Women and Families has been recognizing outstanding women in the community through the Women of Distinction Award since 1988,” said CWF’s CEO Marta Miranda. “An individual honored as a Woman of Distinction has given a lifetime of professional and/or volunteer services that has left an indelible mark on the Kentuckiana community.”

“Women of Distinction have made significant contributions to education, health care, civil rights, the arts, human services, the welfare of children and the advancement of women,” she said. To date, 152 women have received this honor.

For 30 years, Jordan has worked in research, writing, programming, public policy and legislative advocacy to address intimate partner violence, rape and stalking. She has served as the first director of a statewide sexual and domestic violence program in the Department for Mental Health, as founding executive director for the Governor’s Office of Child Abuse and Domestic Violence Services. At UK, she was the founding director of the Center for Research on Violence Against Women, a premiere academic research center, and is now founding director of the Office for Policy Studies on Violence against Women in the College of Arts and Sciences.

“When one receives an award of any kind, one is reminded of the influence and enduring support of colleagues and loved ones who helped make the success possible,” Jordan said. “I glance back over more than 30 years and feel that way today. That this award comes from the Commonwealth’s first and largest domestic violence and rape crisis program also amplifies its significance to me, so I am grateful on one hand, and inspired to continue this work on the other.”

A primary focus of Jordan’s career has been advancing legislative reform. She has co-authored 30 pieces of legislation including criminal and civil justice reforms related to domestic violence, rape, and stalking; bills to expand and strengthen services to victims; and legislation to advance victim’s rights. Many of her accomplishments have had a broad influence; however, it is the idea that those accomplishments have touched the lives of individual women that she finds most meaningful. 

“It is our honor to celebrate these distinguished women. We are humbled by their contribution to our community and look forward to celebrating their accomplishments,” Miranda said.

This year’s honorees are Jordan, Pat Byron, president emeritus, Mary Byron Project; Dawne Gee, anchor for WAVE 3 News; Dorothy S. “Dot” Ridings, past president, Council on Foundations; and Audrey Tayse Haynes, Secretary of the Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Commonwealth of Kentucky.

Pat Byron

Byron was thrust into advocacy work for victims as a direct result of her daughter Mary's murder in 1993. Since that time, Byron has been very active in the rights of crime victims. She helped with the creation of VINE (Victim Information and Notification Everyday) and lobbied to help create a statewide notification system for victims. The Mary Byron Project was established in 2000 in memory of Byron’s daughter. As a nationally recognized thought leader on domestic violence, the Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of this epidemic and help build safer, healthier communities. Byron continues to use her expertise to speak in communities throughout the nation about dating violence and crime victims' rights. She served as president of the Mary Byron Project from 2000 to 2008, when she was designated president emeritus.

Dawne Gee

Dawne Gee is no stranger to Kentuckiana with her diverse broadcasting background in Louisville. Her experience includes 17 years in radio broadcasting and 20 years at WAVE 3 news anchoring and hosting WAVE Country with Dawne Gee showcasing wonderful people, places and events in Louisville. With her love of community, Gee steps out of the role of newscaster to be an advocate for people in need and a neighborhood leader. She donates her time and efforts to organizations all over the region and presents at more than 200 speaking engagements each year, many specifically for women and girls in Kentuckiana. She gives her time, heart and soul to motivate her community to always be our brothers’ and our sisters’ keeper. Recently, Gee founded two nonprofits: A Recipe to End Hunger, which helps feed children in food-insecure homes, and Care for Kids and Families, which helps children in low-income families receive free dental care and glasses.

Dorothy S. “Dot” Ridings

Ridings has been passionate about education, information and advocacy throughout her career. She has worked hard to help provide opportunities for everyone to have the best education that will enable them to succeed in life. Ridings works to encourage every person to speak out, stand up, and work hard to advance the issues they believe will improve social and political orders. She is a past president of the Council on Foundations, the Washington-based membership association for grant-making foundations and corporate-giving programs both in the United States and abroad. Before joining the council in 1996, Ridings’ professional career was as a journalist, working as a newspaper reporter and editor at newspapers in Charlotte, Louisville and Washington and as a daily newspaper publisher in Bradenton, Florida. Ridings served four years as president of the League of Women Voters of the United States, and 10 years on the league’s national board, after serving as president of the local league in Louisville. She is an elder in the Presbyterian Church and has served 16 years as a trustee of Louisville.  

Audrey Tayse Haynes

Haynes has devoted most of her career to furthering and improving the status of women in the workplace as well as promoting policies that will have the greatest influence on women and families. Since her appointment as secretary of the cabinet by Governor Steve Beshear, she has overseen the transition from a fee-for-service delivery model to managed care for the majority of Kentucky’s Medicaid population, saving taxpayer dollars and improving member health outcomes. During her tenure, Kentucky has also received widespread national recognition for its participation and implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Haynes has helped prior appointments in the administrations of three previous Kentucky governors (Wilkinson, Jones and Patton), including executive director of the Kentucky Literacy Commission; a member of the Kentucky Board for Elementary and Secondary Education following Kentucky’s landmark education reform legislation; and as deputy secretary of the Cabinet for Health Services.

The Center for Women and Families helps victims of intimate partner abuse or sexual violence to become survivors through supportive services, community education and cooperative partnerships that foster hope, promote self-sufficiency and rebuild lives. The center has been serving the community since 1912, when it began as part of the YWCA. Today, it is a private nonprofit organization serving nine Kentuckiana counties and operating seven regional locations, three of which provide emergency shelter, transitional housing and/or long-term housing options. The center maintains a $4.7 million budget and provided housing, advocacy, counseling, therapy and education to over 30,000 people last year.