The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) created the Diane Reese Excellence in Advocacy in the Movement (DREAM) Award in 2004. This is designed to honor someone who encapsulates and perpetuates Ms. Reese’s essence, described below.
Diane Reese was a founding member of the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence and an integral champion in the passage of the Violence Against Women Act and its subsequent reauthorizations. She was a renowned educator and an ardent national activist with many accomplishments. Perhaps her most extraordinary contribution to the movement to end violence, and the reason NNEDV created this award in her memory, was that which emanated from her very essence. True advocacy is more than activism, duty, or responsibility. True advocacy was a way of life for Diane Reese. It was intrinsic to her very nature and apparent in her every action. What is more, Diane possessed the incredible capacity to instill that advocacy spirit in others, to inspire camaraderie and turn a movement into a community.
The DREAM Award therefore honors an individual who incorporates and demonstrates the spirit and promise of true advocacy in all aspects of life—one who emulates Ms. Reese’s commitment to clear and ethical communication, her eagerness to collaborate in the spirit of true partnership, and her deep respect for the dignity, worth, and humanity in each one of us.
Past recipients of the Diane Reese Award are:
- 2004: Sue Julian, West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- 2005: Cynthia Cline, Women Helping Women
- 2006: Anne Menard, National Resource Center on Domestic Violence
- 2007: Shamita Das Dasgupta
- 2008: Marilyn Smith, Abused Deaf Women’s Advocacy Services
- 2009: Colleen Coble, Missouri Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
- 2010: Tonya Lovelace, Women of Color Network
- 2011: Sarah Kenney, Vermont Network Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
- 2014: Kristi VanAudenhove, Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance
- 2015: Carol Post, Delaware Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- 2017: Vanessa Timmons, Oregon Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence
- 2019: Nan Stoops, Washington State Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- 2021: Isabel Martinez Santos, Iowa Coalition Against Domestic Violence
About Diane Reese
After graduating from Notre Dame High School in Belmont, California, Diane began a 49 year journey with the Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur. She received her Bachelor’s of Arts degree in English from the College of Notre Dame in 1958 and continued her education at the Catholic University of America, where she received a Master of Arts in English in 1966.
Diane started her calling as a “teacher of life” when she taught in secondary and elementary schools on the California coast. Her role as an educator expanded as she began providing social justice education in secondary schools with the Sisters of Notre Dame. In 1978, Diane received certification in Community Organizing and continued her social justice work as a rural VISTA (Volunteers in Service to America) worker. As a VISTA worker, Diane traveled to Tennessee and then in 1979 to Mingo County, WV. Diane’s community organizing efforts, spirit for social justice and expert skills as an educator helped her to form the Tug Valley Recovery Shelter where she served as Administrative Coordinator from 1984 to 1988.
While in Mingo County, Diane became an Adjunct Faculty member with Southern WV Community College. In addition, she served with the Mountaineer Food Bank, the Appalachian Research and Defense Fund Board, the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), the Women’s Task Force, the Catholic Committee of Appalachia (Chair), the National Conference of Battered Women, and the National Conference of Womenchurch.
In 1988, the network of domestic violence programs in West Virginia formed the West Virginia Coalition Against Domestic Violence (WVCADV). Diane, along with her lifetime partner, Sue Julian, became a Team Coordinator of the Coalition. Her life’s work unfolded at WVCADV where she received national and state recognition for her dedication to ending violence against women. Diane’s commitment to lifelong learning encompassed receipt of certifications in Law Enforcement Training and Nonprofit Management. She used her knowledge and education to inspire and train others through numerous workshops and conferences.
Diane provided mentoring to all she encountered. Her relentless efforts to advocate for battered women and their children were pursued with kindness, respect, knowledge and expertise and recognized by all who were privileged to work with her.