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Faith and Community Based Approaches to Victim Services

Katherine Lawson

Katherine "Kitty" Lawson, Ed. D., is Founder and Executive Director of Victims to Victory Inc., a nonprofit organization initiated in 1995 to provide faith-centered counseling and support to families grieving losses from homicide. As a victim services professional, Dr. Lawson integrates her training and experience as a psychologist, educator, and pastoral counselor with special interest in working with faith communities. She has trained faith leaders and victim service providers in spiritual dimensions of grief, trauma, and victimization and has worked in crisis response, including helping clergy after the 9-11 terrorist attacks. In addition, she has provided training and faith-based consultation to healthcare and university partners engaged in violence reduction, intervention, and research projects.

Dr. Lawson earned her doctorate in educational psychology and counseling in 1991 from the University of Memphis where she served as an adjunct and assistant professor for nearly 4 years before moving into full-time congregational ministry. It was during this time, while serving as Director of Counseling and Support, that a double murder impacted a church family, beginning the visioning for a ministry to families of homicide victims. In 1994, Dr. Lawson completed Clinical Pastoral Education at Methodist Hospitals of Memphis and further conceptualized what would later become Victims to Victory.

Dr. Lawson's service has been recognized by various awards, including the NIA Purpose Award from the Tennessee Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence, the Champion of Victim Rights Award from the Trauma, Faith, and Resilience Initiative of the Center for Just and Caring Communities of Union University, and the Tennessee Board of Probation and Parole's 2011 Voice for Victims Award for Outstanding Service on Behalf of Victims of Crime. Dr. Lawson continues to educate and advocate for families and youth affected by violence through partnership with the Shelby County Defending Childhood Initiative and Operation Safe Community.