Press Release

NIU Clinical Professor Honored for Preventing Violence

November 16, 2012

DeKalb, Ill.--NIU Law Clinical Assistant Professor Wendy Vaughn was awarded the 2012 Pioneer in Peace Award in commemoration of a career rich in devotion to the prevention of violence. The Violence Prevention Collaborative (VPC) recognized Professor Vaughn as part of the VPC’s 13th annual violence prevention awards ceremony and luncheon recently held in Rockford, IL.

Professor Vaughn has an extensive list of achievements as an attorney, educator, and administrator, which made her a natural selection for this special award. Most significantly has been her work with NIU Law’s Zeke Giorgi Legal Clinic in Rockford. Since 2007, Professor Vaughn has represented low income survivors of domestic violence, sexual assault, stalking, and elder abuse. As part of her work with the law school’s domestic abuse and elder law clinics, she has helped survivors obtain orders of protection, crime victim’s compensation, and assistance with other related civil legal needs including housing, public benefits, and employment matters.

In addition to her direct supervision of law students at the clinic and in court, Professor Vaughn has taught a domestic violence seminar focusing on the dynamics of domestic violence, the legal remedies available, client safety and autonomy, and the provision of client-centered services. She currently serves as the supervisor of NIU Law’s Civil Justice Clinic, which specializes in elder law and domestic abuse cases.

Director of Clinics Anita Maddali is extremely proud of Professor Vaughn’s distinguished honor and service to the community. “Professor Vaughn's legal representation of survivors of domestic violence and her commitment to improving protection and access to justice for survivors throughout Winnebago County has had a significant impact on the community. Her dedication and skill is not only a benefit to the Rockford community but also to the NIU law students who are enrolled in her clinical course and who learn to effectively represent survivors of domestic abuse,” said Professor Maddali.

As noted, Professor Vaughn’s involvement and dedication extends beyond the courtroom and classroom and into the community. She is a member of the 17th Judicial Circuit Court’s Family Violence Coordinating Council (FVCC), where she sits on the Court Procedures Committee, Elder Abuse Committee, Domestic Violence Awareness Month Committee, as well as other groups.

Andrea Carlson of the FVCC remarked that Wendy “has motivated the forward movement of the FVCC with her innovative and optimistic suggestions for change. She is an asset to our community and those who are coping with the issue of family violence.”

During her time with the FVCC, Professor Vaughn was a founding board member of Children’s Safe Harbor, a non-profit organization dedicated to child safety that provides safe, supervised child exchange services in Winnebago County. In 2012, Professor Vaughn assisted in drafting a grant proposal to the Department of Justice which resulted in the award of $400,000 to Winnebago County to create the county’s first safe supervised visitation center. Professor Vaughn also assisted in drafting a grant application ultimately resulting in the award of $299,000 to Winnebago County in 2011 to create a dedicated Domestic Violence Coordinated Court Division. She is now active in the Planning Committee for the new court.

Professor Vaughn also chairs the newly created Domestic Violence Enhanced Response Team, a joint collaboration comprised of members from the Rockford Police Department, the Winnebago County State’s Attorney’s Office, the Winnebago County Probation Department, Remedies, Inc., and the College of Law. The mission of the response team is to identify and hold accountable perpetrators of domestic battery and abuse while providing services and counseling to their victims.

A highly active administrator for a number of bar associations, Professor Vaughn was appointed by the Winnebago County Bar Association to the Board of Directors of Prairie State Legal Services (PSLS), and in 2010, she was elected President of the Board; she was reappointed in 2012. Additionally, she was appointed to the Illinois State Bar Association’s (ISBA) Standing Committee on the Delivery of Legal Services and more recently as the ISBA’s new Continuing Legal Education Coordinator, responsible for providing training to pro bono attorneys each year.

Prior to NIU Law, Professor Vaughn practiced in Los Angeles, California where she represented domestic abuse survivors and represented low-income clients as Supervising Attorney of the Family Law Advocacy Group at Neighborhood Legal Services as well as Legal Director of Levitt & Quinn Family Law Center. A 1998 graduate of New York University School of Law, Professor Vaughn received the Ann Petluck Poses Prize for outstanding clinical course work. After graduation, she was awarded a National Association of Public Interest Law (Equal Justice Works) Fellowship to create a project providing legal services to domestic violence survivors at the Legal Aid Society of the District of Columbia.

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For more information, contact:
Melody Mitchell
Alumni Events & Public Relations
(815) 753-9655 or mmitchell@niu.edu