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Doreen Nicholas Named 2022 Recipient of the NNEDV DREAM Award

December 6, 2022


Contact: Lisa B. Winjum, Director of Development and Communications (

Washington, D.C. – The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) congratulates Doreen Nicholas, the recipient of the 2022 Diane Reese Excellence in Advocacy in the Movement (DREAM) Award. This award honors a person who incorporates and demonstrates the spirit and promise of true advocacy in all aspects of life as Diane did —one who emulates a commitment to clear and ethical communication, an eagerness to collaborate in the spirit of true partnership, and a deep respect for the dignity, worth, and humanity in each one of us.

Doreen led the Arizona Coalition to End Sexual and Domestic Violence (ACESDV)’s Speakers Bureau and Strength, Hope, Awareness, Respect, Education (SHARE) Survivors Advisory Committee, as well as ran a weekly “Surviving Abuse” support group. Many former support group participants have gone on to careers of their own supporting other survivors. In her DREAM Award nomination, Doreen was described as a symbol of advocacy and service in Arizona, with the community drawn to her authenticity, kindness, humility, and humor. Through the decades, Doreen has built trust with coworkers, communities, systems, and programs, connecting on both sides of the aisle in the name of centering survivors.

“Doreen remained a constant source of hope, healing, and comfort for survivors facing additional barriers and challenges that came with the pandemic. She ensured ACESDV always centered survivors in every decision and in every aspect of our work,” said Christa Lindsay, ACESDV’s Director of Engagement. “Doreen recently announced her retirement, and this has led to hundreds of individuals citing her as the reason behind their journey to become advocates. Doreen is truly the seed that began a movement in Arizona.”

Doreen’s service to the community began in the late 1980s, when she worked at the Arizona Foundation for the Handicapped (now The Opportunity Tree), where she solidified her mission to support people through various life experiences, trauma, and healing. As a survivor herself, Doreen “found her way,” as she puts it, to Arizona’s Sojourner Center in 1990. She has worked for a variety of local programs in Arizona and North Carolina, along with supporting ACESDV through tremendous change and growth. She has also served on a variety of boards, including Arizona South Asians for Safe Families, and has been a domestic violence expert witness for numerous court cases and a source of support for survivors during countless sentencings, hearings, and arraignments.

One of Doreen’s career highlights was developing ACESDV’s “The Sharing Experience”, a 40-hour training for advocates in the early 2000s. This original training—which still lives on a floppy disk in the ACESDV office—is a point of deep pride for Doreen. The Sharing Experience is still held four times each year and has evolved to connecting domestic violence to anti-oppression work through a social justice framework.

“Doreen’s longtime commitment, advocacy, and work to always center survivors truly embody what the DREAM Award is all about,” said Deborah J. Vagins, NNEDV President & CEO. “Our movement is made stronger by advocates like Doreen, who are intentionally planting seeds that will flourish for generations to come. NNEDV, our Membership Committee, and the DREAM Award Selection Committee are proud to recognize Doreen with this year’s DREAM Award and wish her well in her retirement.”

Doreen embodies peace and loving kindness in her personal time as well; she is an avid gardener who posts pictures of her morning glories to spread joy. Doreen’s legacy spans through many states, and she has been referred to as a “national treasure” by advocates across the country. She has spoken at countless national conferences as well as at an international conference in the United Kingdom.

NNEDV presented Doreen with the DREAM Award on December 6 during its virtual Annual Meeting. Learn more about the work of Doreen and ACESDV at


The National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV) represents the 56 state and U.S. territorial coalitions against domestic violence. NNEDV is dedicated to creating a social, political, and economic environment in which domestic violence no longer exists. NNEDV works to make domestic violence a national priority, change the way society responds to domestic violence, and strengthen domestic violence advocacy at every level.