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U Honors State’s Social Justice Advocates

March 27, 2014 – On Friday, April 4, the University of Utah College of Social Work will celebrate the work of four of Utah’s social justice advocates and activists with the Moving It Forward Social Justice Awards.

The awards—formerly known as the Pete Suazo Social Justice Awards—will be presented to the University of Utah Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center, Rebecca Hall, the Rape Recovery Center, and Brandie Balken. The awards ceremony and reception will begin at 6 p.m. in the Okazaki Community Meeting Room of the University of Utah College of Social Work’s Goodwill Humanitarian Building, 395 South 1500 East, Salt Lake City.

Award Recipients:

Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center

The University of Utah Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Resource Center works to promote a safer and more inclusive campus and community.  Staff members are instrumental in forming and advocating for policies that promote equal treatment for LGBTQ Utahns, with special attention to intersecting identities with other marginalized groups.  Safe Zone Trainings offer a starting point for students (at the U and on other college campuses) to become more culturally competent in LGBTQ topics, helping students reframe common misconceptions about gender and sexuality.  Students have individual advocacy and educational opportunities through the Center’s mentoring program and Speakers Bureau.

Rebecca Hall

A housing rights attorney, scholar, teacher and activist, Rebecca Hall’s work concentrates on the intersections of race, gender, law, resistance and social change.  She has assisted in the coordination of policy and legal advocacy on economic justice issues for domestic violence survivors, assessed economic obstacles for women leaving abusive relationships, and developed economic empowerment and justice curriculum for service providers.  She worked with the Salt Lake City mayor’s staff to screen proposed city ordinances for discrimination, conducted town hall meetings to investigate discrimination, and drafted nondiscrimination ordinances that have been adopted by municipalities throughout the state. Hall is currently exploring the interconnectedness of climate, economics and social justice and the impact of these forces on marginalized groups.

Rape Recovery Center

Established 40 years ago, the Rape Recovery Center has been advocating on behalf of and alongside victims of sexual violence since its inception.  The Center offers a 24-hour crisis line and hospital response team, and provides crisis intervention, advocacy, and therapeutic counseling services to victims of sexual violence.  Through numerous partnerships with local organizations and events, the Center works to educate youth on healthy dating relationships, encourage proactive awareness to empower potential victims, and increase the visibility of the services available to survivors of sexual violence—often saving lives, providing hope, fostering confidence and allowing victims to find their voices again.

Brandie Balken

From immigration reform to voter’s rights, Brandie Balken’s social justice activism and advocacy has been longstanding and far-reaching.  As executive director of Utah’s strongest LGBTQ equality group, Equality Utah, Balken is described as a collaborative and compassionate leader who has greatly expanded the organization’s capacity and scope of work over the last five years.  She was instrumental in the mobilization and coordination of community advocates that led to more than 20 cities throughout Utah adopting nondiscrimination protections, and has provided guidance to leaders in cities around the country on how to build similar coalitions of support.

Additional information about the Moving It Forward Social Justice Awards can be found on the University of Utah College of Social Work’s website.

The University of Utah College of Social Work is committed to providing outstanding education and training, preparing students to succeed in the diverse profession of social work.