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Russell, Sarah Jane

Sarah Jane
Year Inducted: 
Sarah Jane Russell
  • Director of the Douglas County Rape Victim Support Service
  • From 1983 to1984 she served as an International Consultant for the Kingston, Jamaica Ministry of Education
  • Author of the Child Advocacy Manual for the Lawrence Women’s Transitional Care services

Sarah Jane Russell, Director of the Douglas County Rape Victim Support Service, is a shining example of community leadership and passion.  As one co-worker explained, “Many people speak of caring; many offer assistance when called upon, but a very very few make a life’s investment in giving to humanity each and every day.  Sarah is one of these few.”

She received her BGS in Speech Communication and Human Relations with emphasis in group interaction and minority relations at the University of Kansas, then continued there with her MS in Behavioral Psychology/Education from the Department of Human Development and Family.

During her work in the Masters Program, she served as a Teacher Trainer and Lab Supervisor at the Edna A. Hill Child Development Laboratory at KU, where she coordinated undergraduate student research projects and administrated the full-day preschool research program.  Upon completion in 1979, she took this experience and founded and administrated a full-day early childhood education program for home day cares.  She held this position until 1988, although she spent 1983-1984 as an International Consultant for the Kingston, Jamaica Ministry of Education.  She directed teacher training seminars and made policy and curriculum recommendations for the Ministry.

In 1988, Ms. Russell became the Director of the Douglas County Rape Victim Support Service (RVSS).  Under her direction, the program has flourished.  One colleague commented, “There is a pattern of solid planning, honest communication and success in all that Sarah does…[RVSS] has grown from a small campus based project headed by a few dedicated students to an often copied model of effective intervention for women.”  With RVSS, she has performed victim advocacy meditation and formed survivor support groups, designed and developed staff policy, budgeted and raised funds, supervised 24-hour advocacy staff, and expanded the program.  She has worked in depth with many other community institutions, creating and implementing training programs for mental health, hospital, and law enforcement personnel.  Ms. Russell has dedicated countless hours to educating men and women about rape and sexual assault for junior high, high school, and college students.  One client noted perhaps her biggest contribution has been spending “many hours crying, laughing, and sharing with women like me who need a little help along the way.”

Her work in the Lawrence community has extended far past her work with RVSS.  She has been a Board Member of the Douglas County Special Advocates for Children, Douglas County Girl Scout Association, Lawrence Public Schools Parents as Volunteer projects, Lawrence Public Schools Early Childhood Education Task Force, and the Volunteer Clearing House.  She co-organized the Parent Involvement Conference for the Lawrence Area Council’s Smaller Kindergartens in Lawrence.  She has also served as a National Education Consultant for Girl Scouts, USA and written the Child Advocacy Manual for the Lawrence Women’s Transitional Care services. 

One colleague concluded: “When Sarah gives, it is a thoughtful, intense, and emotional dedication to action.  It is exciting to watch her as she analyzes, draws together resources, develops commitments and sets a course of action which you can be sure will end in success.  She is an organizer of caring.”

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