On March 30th, The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women's Network honored Jennifer Cushman for her work as the Field Coordinator and Policy Specialist for the Responsible Budget Coalition. During her time with the RBC, Jennifer worked tirelessly organizing and advocating for a state budget that fully funds our state's social services. Read her acceptance remarks below.
Jennifer Cushman remarks, receiving the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network Community Advocate Award, “For Outstanding Leadership and Contribution in the Work Against Domestic Violence”
March 30, 2017
I’m so happy to be here and to be honored by the Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network.
I staffed the Responsible Budget Coalition over the past year and a half during the state budget impasse. During that time I worked closely with Kathy Doherty and Megan Rose and others at the Network to advocate for a budget that fully funds services.
I started in social work as an advocate for domestic violence survivors so I know how important the work is. Survivors and consumers are too often portrayed as a group that is separate from us. This “othering” narrative contributes to the current crisis in our state where Illinois is risking lives by failing to fund even the most basic protections for women and families fleeing violence. Our state is also failing to fund a number of other service areas that survivors need and that are vital to our communities.
Survivors are parents who need quality schools and safe neighborhoods for their kids. They are workers who need affordable childcare. They are students who need access to higher education, immigrants who need services to achieve self-sufficiency, and people with disabilities who need supports to live free from abuse.
Our shared vision is one in which an investment in our neighbors is an investment in ourselves – because they are our families and our communities, not a vague group of “others.”
Our task is to hold our elected officials accountable and to take action to demand that this vision is represented in our public policies.
The Chicago Metropolitan Battered Women’s Network has been a great example of this type of work – using the power of unifying with others around a shared vision, even in a discouraging political climate.
I hope the connections made will carry the work forward in the fights to come. Kathy, Megan, and others at the Network, thank you so much for being model advocates and wonderful colleagues and thank you to all of you for being a part of this fight.