Happy 40th Anniversary, SARA!

Last week, Action Alliance staff traveled to Charlottesville to attend the 11th Annual SARA (Sexual Assault Resource Agency) Awards Breakfast. We cherish opportunities to be included in our members’ events and this event was particularly exciting as it also marked SARA’s 40th anniversary. The event honored SARA’s past, present, and the future they see towards a vision of eliminating sexual violence.

Six people standing around a banner that says, "eliminating sexual violence in our community- SARA"

Action Alliance staff celebrating SARA’s 40th anniversary at their annual breakfast.

To honor the past, the morning was filled with stories from current and former staff, board members, and community supporters about the immense and invaluable impact SARA’s services have had on survivors.

To honor the present, we presented Becky Weybright, SARA’s Executive Director, with the 2019 Visionary Voice Award from The National Sexual Violence Resource Center (NSVRC). This award recognizes the creativity and hard work of individuals around the country who demonstrate outstanding work to end sexual violence. Each year, state coalitions select an outstanding individual to nominate for the awards and for 2019 our leadership team excitedly identified Becky as the perfect candidate.

Becky is a thoughtful and strategic leader in the statewide movement to end sexual violence. She’s worked in the sexual and domestic violence field since 1988 and now provides excellent leadership as the Executive Director of SARA. Becky successfully navigates that balance between supporting compassionate direct services and building evidence-informed and effective prevention strategies, recognizing that both advocacy and prevention need to be cultivated. As a director, she genuinely cares about her staff.  She leads by example and has the respect and gratitude for those whom and with whom she serves.  Becky doesn’t hesitate to answer the phone or serve a walk-in client.  She is respected by her community partners for having a strong vision for the agency and creating a space for survivors in the community to have a voice. She is proud to be a part of a team of dedicated staff, board, and volunteers and pleased to support the work of her state coalition.

Kristi VanAudenhove and Becky Weybright holding her clock award.

Kristi VanAudenhove and Becky Weybright at SARA’s 40th Anniversary celebration, where Becky was awarded the NSVRC’s 2019 Visionary Voice Award.

To honor the future, the focus shifted to SARA’s leadership and dedication to prevent sexual violence. Dr. Lisa Speidel, a former SARA staff and now UVA Assistant Professor, carried this theme of honoring the past and while continually pushing towards a more equitable, safe, and thriving future. The road forward requires investing in prevention, taking an intersectional approach to our work, centering community norms that reinforce empathy, supporting healthy sexuality, and teaching nuanced consent skills.

It’s often said by those of us in this movement that we’d like our communities to put us out of business. Until that happens, we are grateful to work alongside agencies such as SARA to ensure all survivors are treated with dignity. Cheers to 40 wonderful years of advocacy and prevention!

About SARA: SARA works to eliminate sexual violence and its impact by providing education, advocacy and support to men, women and children. Their vision is a community free from sexual violence. They are based in Charlottesville, Virginia, and serve residents of Charlottesville, Albemarle, Nelson, Louisa, Fluvanna and Greene.


Kat Monusky is the Director of Resilience & Capacity-Building at the Virginia Sexual & Domestic Violence Action Alliance where she works with the Movement Strategies team to lead coalition social change initiatives focused on primary prevention and trauma-informed advocacy.

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