Department of Justice Recognizes Georgia Victim Advocate with National Crime Victim Service Award
WASHINGTON – The Office for Victims of Crime, a component of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, presented Brenda J. Muhammad, Atlanta, Georgia, with the National Crime Victim Service Award.
This award category honors extraordinary individuals and programs that provide services to victims of crime. It also recognizes programs and individuals whose work exemplifies the long-term commitment that characterizes many victim service providers, some of whom are also victims of crime.
“Ms. Muhammad has been a saving grace to the community in the Atlanta area for many years,” said Amy L. Solomon, Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General of OJP. “Through her commitment and innovation, borne of her courage and resilience, she has given hope to crime survivors and changed the trajectory of many lives.”
Ms. Muhammad’s journey to advocacy had a tragic beginning, when her 16-year-old son was killed in 1989. Ms. Muhammad persevered through her grief, founding Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS), an organization that offers emotional support, encouragement and advocacy to other mothers who have faced such tragedy. Today, MOMS has over 5,000 members who are dedicated to community organizing, and providing technical assistance, training, advocacy and community-based programming to eradicate violence.
Ms. Muhammad is currently the Executive Director of Atlanta Victim Assistance (AVA), Inc., a nonprofit that advocates for the fundamental rights of victims of crime. One of her notable achievements is the Law Enforcement Advocacy Program (LEAP) through which she has partnered with the Atlanta Police Department to provide more hands-on services to victims by embedding trained AVA advocates in police precincts to provide direct services, referrals and case management, along with community education and outreach. The LEAP program tripled AVA’s capacity to serve victims and, in fiscal year 2020, they provided services to almost 7,000 victims. Ms. Muhammad has also served on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education and as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Victim Witness Assistance Program under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Atlanta Crime Commission. Her work has transformed the landscape of victim services in Atlanta
“Ms. Muhammad endured something no parent should ever have to experience, yet she has become an example everyone would be proud to follow,” said Kristina Rose, Director of OVC. “She is a shining beacon for the Atlanta community, and has touched countless lives with her advocacy and compassion.”
Every April, OVC leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. President Ronald W. Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, calling for greater sensitivity to the rights and needs of victims. This year’s observance is taking place April 24-30, and features the theme, “Rights, Access, Equity, for All Victims.”
The Office of Justice Programs provides federal leadership, grants, training, technical assistance and other resources to improve the nation’s capacity to prevent and reduce crime, advance racial equity in the administration of justice, assist victims and enhance the rule of law. More information about OJP and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov.