On February 13, the Center for Women and Families will honor five Women of Distinction at the 27th Anniversary Celebration of Service & Survival at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. Among the honorees is Phyllis E. Florman, president of the Mary Byron Project.
The Mary Byron Project was established in 2000 in memory of the young woman whose murder led to the creation of automated crime victim notification technologies. VINE – Victim Information and Notification Everyday – started in Kentucky and now operates in 47 states.
According to freedom of information statutes, victims and other interested parties have the right to know the status of offenders. VINE makes it easy,allowing users to check the custody status of offenders online. The system automatically notifies users of any change in status, including transfer, escape, or release, so they can take steps to protect themselves.
In addition, the Mary Byron Project cultivates and supports efforts that extend beyond crisis management to attack the root causes of abuse and help build safer, healthier communities.
To Florman, education is the key. Educating victims to opportunities that lift them out of victim status, educating them on where and how to find safety – even educating them to the fact that they can be and deserve to be safe – all of these things move action on domestic violence from crisis management to prevention. To help achieve that goal, the Mary Byron Project annually awards five $10,000 grants to NGO (non-governmental organization) or non-profit groups with working programs to address the root causes of domestic violence.
Beyond education of victims, Florman focuses on working for legislation that will protect people from abusers. Today, Kentucky is the only state in the union with no civil protection for victims of dating violence. Florman and others want legislation that permits domestic violence protection orders for dating relationships, as well as the implementation of educational and school policy requirements to prevent and deal with teen dating violence.
Beyond her involvement with the Mary Byron Project, Florman has served as a commissioner of the Louisville Jefferson County Human Relations Commission and was appointed three times to the Kentucky Commission on Women. During her third term, she was elected vice-chair of the National Association of Commission on Women. Other career highlights include president of the Louisville Bar Foundation, The University of Louisville Law Alumni Association, and The Family Place, a child sexual abuse treatment agency. She now is a professional arbiter and mediator.
While she prefers not to discuss her personal life and connections, Florman does say she has “a loving husband, three wonderful, successful children, and eight grandchildren.” A native of Brooklyn, NY, Florman and her husband moved here to attend the University of Louisville. They have found the Louisville Jewish community to be very open to newcomers and have enjoyed years of being involved with the community in various capacities.
For Florman, “indifference is not an option.” Her mission is elevating women and families so they can see and accept new opportunities that will improve their lives. She is grateful for the people, family, friends and experiences that have given her the opportunity to make a positive difference. While she is honored to receive the Women of Distinction award, ultimately, she believes the work is what’s important.
She likes to quote executive director Marcia Roth, who says of the Mary Byron Project that, “We’re an agency that wants to go out of business.” Phyllis Florman takes every chance she gets to move that goal a step closer to reality.
Other recipients being honored as Women of Distinction include:
Ann L. Coffey, Chief of Staff – Office of Advancement, University of Louisville; former president and chief executive officer of Women 4 Women (W4W), a non-profit organization dedicated to improving the health and economic well-being of women and girls in the community.
Jennifer R. Jewell, associate professor of social work, Spalding University; co-founder of Women In Transition (WIT), a grassroots organization run by and for poor people working to ensure the economic human rights of all people.
Judy Lambeth, president and CEO, Maryhurst. During her 40 years at the agency, she spent 12 years working as a therapist before moving into administration. Under her leadership, Maryhurst has grown from a single-service agency with a budget of $1 million to a multi-service agency with an $11 million budget.
Kathryn M. Mershon – of the three million nurses in the United States, she is one of 2,000 elected as a Fellow in the American Academy of Nursing. She served two terms on the Medicare Prospective Payment Assessment Commission (ProPAC), which reported to Congress, making recommendations for improving the Medicare Payment System to hospitals.
The Center also will honor Markham French, executive director of Plymouth Community Renewal and winner of the third annual Joan E. Thomas Lifetime Achievement Award, which recognizes an individual whose work exemplifies a deep commitment to social and economic justice. Currently, French uses his position at Plymouth Center to advocate for intensive case management and wrap-around support services for African-American males ages 18-35, a population that represented more than a third of the city’s homicide victims in 2011.
Tickets are still available for the Celebration of Service & Survival, which will be held on Thursday, February 13, at the Louisville Marriott Downtown. A reception and silent auction begin at 5:30 p.m., with dinner and the program starting at 6:30.
Sponsorships start at $2,000 and individual reservations are $175. Funds raised through the event allow The Center for Women and Families to continue serving more than 30,000 individuals annually, advocating, fostering hope, promoting self-sufficiency, and rebuilding lives for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault. Call Development Manager Carrie Petrocelli, 581-7209 for reservation and information.