Women of Achievement 2013 Bio: Sally Katzif
Sally Katzif has dedicated the last 30‐plus years of her life to serving the St. Louis community. She believes in giving back and supporting others through her time, expertise and leadership.
The following summary of her volunteer activities in St. Louis presents a woman who gives back by making a positive impact on her community and who works to improve the lives of others. In speaking with Sally about her nomination, she shared the following thoughts.
“I love my work as a community activist with organizations such as National Council of Jewish Women (NCJW), Legal Advocates for Abused Women (LAAW) and College Bound (CB). My work is varied, interesting and important to my community. I’ve been lucky to have many good things happen in my life, and I believe it’s my responsibility to give back. My dreams of becoming a leader in the community came to fruition when I received the ultimate affirmation—being named President of the Board of Directors of both LAAW (2001‐2003) and NCJW (2008‐2010).
“Much of my volunteer work has been concentrated in the area of domestic violence. Before being named President of the LAAW Board of Directors, I was a legal advocate, helping victims of domestic violence get orders of protection and advocating for the expansion of the law to include gay and lesbian couples and victims of stalking. I answered hotline calls from victims of abuse, taking the time to talk with them about safety planning, legal referrals, and caring for themselves and their families. I became the spokesperson for LAAW, educating the public and raising awareness of the issue in the community. Occasionally, I was asked whether passion for my work came out of a personal experience with violence. I’ve had the great fortune of living my entire life in a safe and secure home. Indeed, the security of living in a safe home was the driving force behind my passion to help those who do not. Empowering women is at the heart of building security and independence.
“Leading up to my becoming President of NCJW’s Board of Directors, I was co‐creator of the Missouri Silent Witness Project, designed to raise awareness of domestic violence through its travelling exhibit. The exhibit is comprised of life‐sized silhouettes, in the shape of women, each painted red and bearing a true story of a Missouri woman whose life was cut short by an abusive partner. The project expanded to include exhibits in all fifty states. In 1995, hundreds of volunteers from across the country, carrying silhouettes, gathered in Washington D.C. and marched from the Washington Monument to the steps of the Capitol. There, we heard from families of some of the victims and from volunteers who were determined to end intimate partner abuse, stalking and sexual violence. Through Silent Witness, I worked with my legislators to help craft a law that mandates the tracking and recording of domestic violence murders. In addition, I led a group of volunteers who put together a manual that could be used by youth organizations and schools to educate teens on the dangers of dating violence. It’s important that teens and young women have confidence in themselves when it comes to detecting unhealthy behaviors in their relationships. Empowering them is at the heart of building strong, lifelong relationships.”
Sally was appointed to the Missouri Domestic Violence Task Force by Congressman Richard Gephardt, serving from 1996 through 2005. She joined other community leaders, including mayors and county executives, police chiefs and domestic abuse detectives, attorneys
specializing in domestic and family issues, executives from abused women shelters, food pantries, and low‐income housing units and leaders of religious organizations, churches and temples. Leaders reported on existing conditions and shared ideas for improvement. The Task Force was charged with finding ways to improve the lives of victims and their families.
Sally has been recognized in the community with several awards. In 2002, she received the Meritorious Service Award from the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence (MCADV) for the St. Louis Region. That same year, she received the Women of Worth Award from OWL’s Gateway Chapter. In 2004, Sally received the Special Recognition Award from LAAW and the Leadership Award from NCJW‐St. Louis Section.
Sally’s background in teaching – she was a high school math teacher – has made her aware of the importance of education in lifting people out of poverty. Recently, Sally has expanded her work in the community to include service on the Board of Directors of College Bound, whose mission is to “provide promising high school students from under‐resourced backgrounds with the academic enrichment, social supports and life skills needed to apply, matriculate and succeed in four‐year colleges.”
In conclusion, in Sally’s words, “For more than thirty years, I’ve been a community volunteer; an agent for change; a devoted, passionate and compassionate volunteer. I’m proud to speak for those who have been silenced by abuse, to help those who need it most, and to empower
women to help themselves and their families.”