SWCLAP Executive Director Receives OVC Award

Hallie Bongar White is the executive director of the Southwest Center for Law and Policy (SWCLAP), and a survivor of violent crime, who is dedicated to advancing safety and justice for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) survivors. She received the Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award on April 12, 2019 in Washington, D.C. The Ronald Wilson Reagan Public Policy Award honors those whose leadership, vision, and innovation have led to significant changes in public policy and practice that benefit crime victims.                                                              

Ms. White is an attorney and founder of SWCLAP, a nonprofit organization in Tucson, Arizona. Ms. White’s leadership had transformed victim services in Indian Country over the past two decades.In response to the severe shortage of sexual assault forensic examiners in Indian Country, Ms. White developed the SAFESTAR program in collaboration with the International Association of Forensic Nurses. SAFESTAR trains AI/AN women to provide emergency sexual assault first aid and to collect forensic evidence. Ms. White recently expanded SAFESTAR by opening a new office in Anchorage, Alaska, to address sexual violence.Subsequently, Ms. White also found that the shortage of civil legal service providers and victims’ rights attorneys was a barrier to AI/AN victim safety and justice. In response, she developed the National Tribal Trial College Certificate in Tribal Court Legal Advocacy in 2015. The course has been approved by the U.S. Department of Justice, Columbia University, the University of Wisconsin, and the University of Washington. She wrote the curriculum and, in July 2019, the 100thstudent is expected to graduate and join the ranks of AI/AN graduates who have represented thousands of victims in just four years. The program consists of a 20-week online course and 40 hours of on-site, intensive, skills-based training. Graduates can represent victims in tribal court domestic violence protection order hearings, housing matters, tribal employment hearings, tribal schools and campus hearings, divorce and custody hearings, and in criminal cases as a victim rights legal advocate.With funding from OVC, Ms. White created a separate Victim Rights Legal Advocacy Academy and developed expert witness training on violence against women matters. She has assisted dozens of tribes in drafting criminal justice codes when none existed. She has authored national protocols for tribal prosecutors and law enforcement officers on sexual assault, and other important publications such as Creative Civil Remedies for Non-Indian offenders and Sex Offender Registration and Notification in Indian Country. Further, she is also the founder and director of the National Indian Country Clearinghouse on Sexual Assault, a comprehensive compendium of the nation’s laws and resources on sexual violence in Indian Country.