Illuminate Colorado recognized several Colorado leaders for their instrumental roles in preventing child maltreatment in Colorado over the last year. Illuminate Colorado (Illuminate) is a statewide nonprofit organization building brighter childhoods through education, advocacy, and family support to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families. Each year, the organization honors the contributions of exceptional individuals and organizations to the field of child maltreatment prevention in Colorado.
Recipients of the 2019 Illuminating Leadership Awards are Colorado State Representative Leslie Herod, Dr. Sarah Enos Watamura, Eileen Bisgard and The Colorado Health Foundation.
Special thanks to Michael Best Strategies for making the Illuminating Leadership Awards presentation possible this year.
PICTURED: JADE WOODARD, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF ILLUMINATE COLORADO, REP. LESLIE HEROD, EILEEN BISGARD, DR. SARAH ENOS WATAMURA, AND HILLARY FULTON, SENIOR PROGRAM OFFICER WITH THE COLORADO HEALTH FOUNDATION.
The Lori Moriarty Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has demonstrated a career that exemplifies the achievements and character displayed by the late Commander Lori Moriarty. A former Children’s Trust Fund Board Member, 20-year law enforcement veteran, and founder of both the Colorado and National Alliance for Drug Endangered Children, Commander Moriarty was unyielding in her efforts to educate professionals on prioritizing drug endangered children.
Eileen Bisgard is presented with this career achievement award in recognition of her dedication to addressing fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASD) in Colorado. Bisgard served as a guardian ad litem for 25 years in Colorado and taught the Child Advocacy Clinical Program at the Sturm College of Law at the University of Denver. She served as project director for the Seventeenth Judicial District Juvenile Court FASD Project through SAMHSA’s FASD Center for Excellence and was the executive director of the Colorado affiliate to the National Organization on Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (NOFAS) from its inception.
Bisgard’s passion is both professional and personal. She and her husband fostered teenagers with FAS and adopted two children with FASDs who are now adults. When NOFAS Colorado consolidated with several other organizations to form Illuminate Colorado in 2017, Bisgard continued to volunteer her time as a member of the board of directors for several more years to ensure a smooth transition. Illuminate is proud to continue the work of NOFAS in Colorado today and live up to her legacy by providing training throughout Colorado on intervention with children living with FASDs.
The Courageous Leadership Award recognizes a Colorado public official for distinguished service focused on the prevention of child maltreatment and strengthening families.
Representative Leslie Herod is recognized for her determination in advocating for children and family issues in the Colorado Legislature. Her sponsorship of House Bill 19-1193 to meet the needs of pregnant women and new mothers with substance use disorders helped caregivers access what they need to take care of themselves and their families.
This bill helped increase access to great programs like Special Connections, an existing state program that supports high-risk pregnant women with substance use disorders. The program provides a two-generation approach to helping women find a path toward recovery while preventing negative outcomes for Colorado children, such as child welfare involvement and future mental health and substance use disorders.
“I am honored to receive this award and inspired by the women participating in Special Connections, who are ready to treat their own substance misuse while caring for a newborn,” said Representative Leslie Herod. “We have a duty to help strengthen these vulnerable families by providing real treatment options for new moms and keeping mother and child together. That’s exactly what Special Connections does.”
The Catalytic Leadership Award honors a philanthropic partner in Colorado that is invested in accelerating efforts to prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families.
The Catalytic Leadership Award is bestowed on The Colorado Health Foundation in recognition of the foundation’s willingness to invest in the prevention of child maltreatment as a prevalent issue in Colorado communities impacting health and health equity.
The Foundation has been instrumental in supporting the immediate child care solutions for families impacted by substance use disorders (SUD). In 2019, Illuminate received a multi-year grant from the Foundation to pilot a new and innovative type of child care in Colorado with a focus on serving families with children ages 0-5. The three-year mobile child care pilot will begin in 2020 in two regions, serving multiple SUD treatment facilities in order to meet the immediate needs of caregivers accessing SUD treatment. Illuminate has plans to expand the pilot by outfitting motor-homes into infant/toddler classrooms to visit treatment centers around the state to provide child care to parents seeking support for substance use disorders.
“It’s truly an honor to accept this award on behalf of The Colorado Health Foundation” said Hillary Fulton, senior program officer at the Foundation. “We believe that one way to strengthen the health and well-being of Colorado’s families is through investing in early childhood social-emotional development. Illuminate’s pilot program has the potential to positively transform the lives of Colorado’s youngest residents by considering how to support whole families, and we are pleased to support this important work.”
The Innovative Leadership Award is presented to an individual who has made repeated significant contributions to research on preventing child maltreatment and increasing support for families over their career to advance the field.
Dr. Sarah Enos Watamura receives this award for her focused attention on the impact of toxic stress in the lives of parents and children. Watamura is an associate professor of psychology and director of the Child Health & DevelopmentLaboratory at the University of Denver. She is also the co-director of the Stress, Early Experience and Development Research Center. Dr. Watamura has been conducting research on physiologic stress in young children for nearly 15 years, and is part of the international community of scholars who focus their research efforts on explicating the contributing and buffering factors associated with early life stress as well as its consequences. Her Recent research has been instrumental in highlighting that it isn’t just a parent’s life that is permanently changed by parenthood, but also your brain.
“I am deeply honored for the opportunity to work alongside so many dedicated individuals, agencies, and non-profits in this critical work in support of children and families. This award is so meaningful because it signals to me that we have integrated science and practice in Colorado, and shaped science for impact.” said Watamura.
“It is my honor to work with and recognize some of Colorado’s most effective leaders in the field of child maltreatment prevention” said Jade Woodard, executive director for Illuminate Colorado. “We present the Illuminating Leadership awards each year to shine a light on others because we know that prevention happens in partnership. No one organization or government agency can solve the public health crisis that is child maltreatment in Colorado. We are honored to partner these Colorado leaders in bringing about change that brightens thousands of childhoods each year and ultimately strengthens our economy,” said Woodard.
With a research-based approach that emphasizes building Protective Factors in families, Illuminate Colorado works to address systemic and multi-sector issues affecting the well-being of children and families, collaborating with partners at the state and national level to develop powerful programs, policies, and initiatives that prevent child maltreatment and strengthen families.
Visit IlluminateColorado.org to learn more.
The statewide effort aims to strengthen connections between families and communities.
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