Crisis Center North employee recognized for dedication |
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Tory Smith from the Clinton County Women’s Center, Susan Higginbotham, executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence, and Charlene Woods, the recipient of the Luminary Award at a conference Oct. 24-26 in Lancaster.

Charlene Woods hopes a statewide award she earned will shine light on a topic she has cared about since childhood.

Woods, 55, from Cranberry, was the recipient of the first Luminary Award presented by the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence during its conference Oct. 24-26 in Lancaster.

Coalition spokeswoman Julie Bancroft said the award recognizes a person who has inspired others to create positive change. Nominations were open to the organization’s 59 local domestic violence programs across the state.

Woods is a data specialist at Crisis Center North, where she has been employed since 2002. The center, which is marking its 40th anniversary, helps domestic violence victims in northern and western Allegheny County.

She is the center’s diversity chairwoman and, since 2015, has served as co-chair of the coalition’s Women of Color Caucus (West), of which she has been a member since 2004.

Under her leadership, caucus membership has grown, including among Latino women.

To increase the power of the caucus, she asked the coalition for a one-time budget increase and was granted $10,000 for more women to attend the conference this year. In 2017, she helped establish a statewide Diversity Award.

Crisis Center North Executive Director Grace Coleman nominated Woods for the Luminary Award.

“Charlene is a force of nature,” Coleman said. “Through sheer optimism, she organizes large groups of individuals to succeed.

“She makes every individual she works with feel special.”

Woods, who has been passionate about domestic violence since suspecting a high school classmate was a victim, said the award is as much for the caucus as for herself.

“We serve as voices for the voiceless,” said Woods, who is married and has two sons. “We may not be (able to) reach all, but if this work could impact just one, it was well worth it.”

Karen Kadilak is a
Tribune-Review contributor.

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