Child Welfare Awards

In previous years, the Child Welfare Certificate of Appreciation Awards were given by the former Governor’s Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect. In July of 2012, the duties and responsibilities of the Governor’s Advisory Board on Child Abuse and Neglect were merged with FACT. As a result, FACT now has the distinguished honor of recognizing the contributions of special individuals whose prevention, intervention and treatment efforts in the area of child abuse and neglect have shown exceptional merit. Recognition is given to public practitioners, private practitioners, and corporate/business, volunteer, and community representatives who have made outstanding contributions to the field of child welfare in Virginia.

2019 Award Recipient

Sunny Shin, PhD

VCU School of Social Work & VCU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry, Assistant Professor – Richmond

Sunny Shin is an associate professor in the VCU School of Social Work and the VCU School of Medicine Department of Psychiatry. He is also a faculty affiliate of the Institute for Drug and Alcohol Studies at VCU. Prior to joining VCU in 2013, Sunny was a faculty member at the Boston University School of Social Work and is currently a faculty affiliate at the Boston University Center for Addictions Research and Services.IMG_6192

Having a broad practice and research experience in childhood traumatic experiences and addiction, Shin’s research has tested theoretical models and theory-driven preventive interventions that include individual vulnerability characteristics, social processes and environmental variables as well as the interactions between these. In particular, Shin’s research team has focused on developing and testing theoretical models that explain the developmental mechanisms that link childhood traumatic experiences to adolescent substance abuse. His team has also designed and evaluated several innovative drug preventive interventions for adolescent populations. Shin’s research has been funded by National Institute of Drug AbuseNational Institute on Alcohol Abuse and AlcoholismSubstance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, White House Office of National Drug Control Policy, Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Virginia Foundation for Healthy Youth and ABMRF/Foundation for Alcohol Research.

His work has been published in leading academic journals including the Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, Drug and Alcohol Dependence, Preventive Medicine, and Psychiatric Services. Shin has received various awards including the Society for Social Work and Research Excellence in Research Award, National Institute of Mental Health Children’s Health Intervention Prevention Service Fellowship Award, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation New Connections Fellowship Award, and the Daniel S. Sanders Fellowship, University of Illinois.

Sunny has been an integral part of the Greater Richmond Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN). He has shared his expertise and passion with the TICN Brief Screening Tool Committee to learn about implementation pilots of the North Carolina Project Broadcast Brief Trauma Screening Tool at four local DSS agencies. He assisted with the development of a data gathering system for the project and worked with VCU SSW PhD research assistants to create a survey for workers to complete that is accessible in web and app based applications.  Dr. Shin carefully selected a system that is user friendly, straightforward and passes all of the security requirements necessary for university requirements.

Sunny also lent his expertise to the TICN membership as a whole on several occasions including presenting on ACES and substance use disorder and the potential for piloting a personality-targeted substance-use prevention program for adolescents and youth with adverse childhood experiences. Sunny also presented on his research with “U-BET” (United in Building Evidence Together) on the impact of Toxic Stress on Adolescent Substance Use. Sunny has also been actively involved in exploring evaluation and outcomes for Trauma Informed Community Networks in our area.

Not only has Sunny lent his considerable expertise and knowledge to enrich policy and practice across the community, but he has done it with such generosity, kindness and a real commitment to creating trauma-informed systems and communities.

2018 Award Recipients

Johanna Schuchert 

Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, Executive Director – Richmond

For the past 40 years, Johanna Schuchert has been a major force in the field of child abuse and neglect.  Her leadership has impacted thousands of children and families across Virginia where she has traveled to localities to meet with parents, volunteers, direct service providers, administrators, government officials and community leaders.  Johanna’s ability to connect with people one-on-one at all levels has been a characteristic of her success. fact_award_winner_2018_johanna_schuchert

Johanna served as the Executive Director of Parents Anonymous of Virginia before the organization merged with Prevent Child Abuse Virginia (PCAV). At PCAV she served as the Healthy Families Director and then as the Executive Director. Most recently, PCAV and CHIP of Virginia have joined to form Families Forward Virginia with Johanna continuing in a leadership role.

Through the years Johanna has brought a hands on and collaborative approach to the creation and implementation of countless programs; including MILK programs for incarcerated parents, Healthy Families home visiting programs, the child sexual abuse prevention play “Hugs & Kisses”, the Virginia Statewide Parent Education Coalition and Virginia’s Child Abuse Prevention Month Campaigns. Johanna’s long-time colleague and collaborator Ann Childress accurately summed it up: “Johanna’s work has truly been a calling. Her impact on children and families and those who work in the field is immeasurable.” FACT is honored to recognize Johanna Schuchert with a 2018 Child Welfare Certificate of Appreciation Award.

 Margaret Shultze 

Virginia Department of Social Services, Commissioner, retired – Richmond

As the Commissioner of the Virginia Department of Social Services (VDSS), Margaret Ross Schultze was committed to ensuring that many of Virginia’s most vulnerable residents had access to the services and benefits available to them, touching the lives of thousands of individuals and families across the Commonwealth.fact_award_winner_2018_margaret_schultze

Margaret’s experience in state government began in 1997 as the Executive Director of FACT where she raised resources and awareness for the prevention and treatment of family violence across the lifespan. While her tenure there led to increasingly responsible positions within VDSS culminating in Commissioner; she continued to provide on-going support and leadership to FACT over the years and has played a large role in it’s sustainability and increasing impact across the Commonwealth.

During her time as Commissioner, she oversaw both programmatic and administrative functions within VDSS, one of the largest agencies in the state, partnering with 120 local departments of social services along with faith-based and nonprofit organizations. Under her leadership, VDSS was able to increase protections for Virginia’s families and children, including expanding services to foster care youth up to age 21. Additionally, she led Virginia’s Three Branch Initiative to address the overuse of psychotropic medications for children in foster care and helped lead Virginia’s efforts to move all foster care children into managed care while creating a healthy home for each and every foster child. Throughout her career, Margaret has been an advocate and champion for the most vulnerable residents of Virginia, FACT is honored to recognize her efforts with a 2018 Child Welfare Certificate of Appreciation Award.

2017 Award Recipient


Ann Wilbourne Childress
Virginia Department of Social Services Child Abuse Prevention Supervisor, retired- Richmond

For the past 36 years, Ann Wilbourne Childress, MSW, has shown unwavering commitment to the prevention of child abuse and neglect among Virginia’s families.  Her leadership has touched millions of lives and has had a permanent impact on child abuse prevention in the Commonwealth.

Ann had an instrumental role in the Virginia Child Protective Newsletter (VCPN). Since the newsletter’s inception in 1981 until she retired in 2016, Ann worked with Dr. Joann Grayson at JMU to research and write each publication. As Joann expressed, “Ann was not a figure-head or someone who simply rubber-stamped what was sent. She was a full contributor to the ideas, direction, and educative functions of the VCPN.”

Beyond her role in VCPN, Ann has worked on multiple child abuse prevention awareness efforts including the initial statewide promotion of Child Abuse Prevention week in 1982.  When the week was expanded to a month, she was instrumental in the development of the Child Abuse Prevention Month Packet which still exists today and was the first of its kind in the nation. Ann partnered with PCAV over the years to select a theme, honorary chairs and the topics for each annual packet. Additionally, the first Statewide Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect was launched under Ann’s leadership in 1985.

In 1982, Ann initiated the Hug’s & Kisses play, a partnership with Theatre IV and PCAV that uses children’s theater to implement a child sexual abuse prevention program. Since its inception, it’s been seen by over 1.5 million children in every school district in the state; over 13,000 have sought help directly after the play.  Bruce Miller, the creative director of Theatre IV conveyed his appreciation for Ann by saying, “Because of her commitment to children, her uncompromising sense of duty, her generous heart and creative mind, she has been one of the strongest influences of my life and I will be forever grateful.”

Under Ann’s leadership of contract management for PCAV Healthy Families initiatives, contracts grew exponentially from 3 in 1996 to 39 in 2007. Again, Ann’s leadership and creativity within that state government system allowed maximum use of state allocated resources.

Beginning in 2007 VDSS, with Ann’s leadership, partnered with PCAV and Family and Children’s Trust Fund to host annual Child Abuse Prevention Month Conferences. Johanna Schuchert, executive director of PCAV expressed, “Ann’s leadership, friendship, and uncompromising dedication to the mission we both share, has had a profound impact on my life’s work and the evolution of Prevent Child Abuse Virginia. There are no words to express my gratitude for this long-term partnership.”

2016 Award Recipients


Fredericksburg Department of Social Services Protective Services Team

The Fredericksburg Department of Social Services (FDSS) Protective Services Team, led by Supervisor Shannon Hartung, implemented the Safe Sleep Program in October 2012. Since that time, the FDSS has provided over 225 portable cribs and countless educational materials to the community. This program is the only one of its kind in Planning District 16 and funding is made possible solely through donations, community grants and staff fundraising efforts.

Ford Flannagan
Company Manager, Virginia Repertory Theatre – Richmond

Ford Flannagan is on staff at Virginia Rep and has directed 28 productions of the award winning child sexual abuse prevention play “Hugs and Kisses.” His skill as a director has ensured the continuous quality of the productions and he has done exemplary work in preparing the cast of actors to handle the sometimes difficult questions asked by the young audience members after the production.

Kathryn Jessee
Sr. Community Programs Specialist – Chesapeake

Kathryn Jessee is responsible for the implementation and growth of the City of Chesapeake’s Comprehensive Plan for Youth. Her work and dedication has been instrumental in addressing child abuse, parental engagement, partnerships, and systems’ changes to ensuring children get a healthy start, enter kindergarten with the appropriate skills, and succeed in school.

Lisa Wright
Trauma Focused Treatment Coordinator and Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN) Coordinator, Greater Richmond SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) Inc. – Richmond

Lisa Wright serves as the Program Coordinator for Greater Richmond SCAN’s Child Advocacy Center’s Trauma Focused Treatment Program and coordinates logistics for the Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN) that SCAN leads and convenes.   Lisa’s work in both of her roles has helped shape both the practice and policy levels of trauma informed care for hundreds of children.



2015 Award Recipients

Eastern Region Child Fatality Review

The Eastern Region Child Fatality Review Team is to be commended for its 20 years of service, for the recommendations and data contained in its annual reports, and for the value of their fatality reviews in contributing to community education and advocacy around the prevention of child abuse and neglect.

Meaghan Gordon
CPS Family Service Specialist III, Charlottesville Department of Social Services – Charlottesville

Meaghan Gordon’s career thus far has been devoted to serving children and their families. She has a reputation as a source of support and expertise with child protective services, domestic violence, and mental health and substance abuse disorders. Colleagues and community partners have commended her for her devotion, genuine desire to help, ability to use best practices, and find alternative solutions to difficult problems.

Paul McWhinney, MSW, ACSW, MAPA
Deputy Commissioner of Programs, Virginia Department of Social Services – Richmond

With a long history of public child welfare experience, Paul McWhinney was one of the driving forces behind the Virginia Children’s Services System Transformation. Paul helped bring about a paradigm shift in the relationship between agency workers and families that has had a positive impact on human services work and had resulted in a decrease in the numbers of children in Virginia’s foster care system.

Dr. Allison Sampson-Jackson, PhD, LCSW, LICSW, CSOTP
CEO, Integration Solutions, Inc. – Chesterfield
Trauma Informed Care Operations Manager, Richmond City DSS – Richmond

Dr. Sampson-Jackson provides trauma informed care consultation, education and technical assistance to human service organizations interested in furthering their integration of trauma informed child and family service systems. She was one of the early members of the Trauma Informed Community Network (TICN), a group of trauma-informed champions and service providers in the greater Richmond area who have been instrumental in bringing pilot trauma informed service programs to Chesterfield, Henrico and Richmond DSS.

Ms. Michele Thames, M.Ed.
Forensic Interviewer Supervisor, Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters, Child Abuse Program – Suffolk

Michele Thames is a Forensic Interviewer Supervisor at CHKD’s Child Abuse Program.  She has created a Regional Peer Review, is a board member of the Child Advocacy Centers of Virginia, and faculty of ChildFirst Virginia.  She helped create a therapy dog program and created CHKD’s Child Abuse Program’s Facility Dog program where an expertly trained dog named Pecos is a part of all of their services.  Ms. Thames and Pecos were invited and went to Washington D.C. to be a part of the Presidential Inauguration Walk.

Dr. Viola Vaughan-Eden, PhD
PhD Program Director, Norfolk State University – Norfolk

Viola Vaughan-Eden is Associate Professor and PhD Program Director with The Ethelyn R. Strong School of Social Work, Norfolk State University.  As a clinical and forensic social worker, she also serves as a consultant and expert witness in child maltreatment cases.  Dr. Vaughan-Eden is President of the National Organization of Forensic Social Work, Chair of the Advisory Committee for the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services’ CASA/CJA Programs, and Immediate Past-President of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children.

To view past recipients, click here.