Press Room


For Immediate Release                                                         
Contact: Mallory Hanora 617-825-1917


The Peace Institute to recognize survivors of homicide victims who “Inform, Influence, and Impact Policy” at the Opening Ceremony of Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month

Monday November 21, 2016. BOSTON, MA: The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute convenes the Opening Ceremony of the 16th Annual Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month (SHVAM) at the Massachusetts State House today. SHVAM is a month-long effort to educate the public and policymakers about the impact of murder on families and communities and recognize the diverse contributions of the survivors’ movement.

Senator Linda Dorcena Forry will open the program and welcome fellow elected officials, survivors, clergy, and providers. “I applaud the work of the Louis D. Brown Peace Institute for empowering families impacted by violence and I’m proud to have hosted this event since 2014,” said Senator Forry. “The incredible advocacy work from survivors of homicide informs the policy decisions we make in the legislature but also brings awareness to a critical issue concerning public health. It is essential that we provide the resources necessary for survivors, those personally affected or who may have witnessed these acts of violence in our neighborhoods,” concluded Senator Forry. Senator Forry will also read a proclamation in honor of SHVAM issued by Governor Charlie Baker.

Attorney General Maura Healey and Liam Lowney, Executive Director of Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance and a survivor himself, will be keynote speakers.

Staff of the Peace Institute will present survivors of homicide victims from across the state with awards for their exemplary advocacy. Gregory Gibson will receive the Inform Award for persistently educating the public and policymakers about the impact of homicide on families and complex issues facing the survivor community. Mr. Gibson’s son Galen was killed in a school shooting at Simon's Rock College in 1992. This prompted Greg to write Gone Boy, a critically acclaimed investigation into his son's murder and gun violence in America.

Carla Sheffield will receive the Influence Award for courageously changing the conversation about murder victims to include people who are killed by police. Ms. Sheffield’s son Burrell Ramsey-White was killed by a police officer in 2012. Since then, Ms. Sheffield has founded Better Opportunities, Inc. to advocate for mandated licensing of police officers.

Mary Franklin is to receive the Impact Award in honor of her tireless leadership on the issue of unsolved homicide through her organization the Women’s Survivors of Homicide Victims Movement. Ms. Franklin’s husband Melvin was killed in 1996 and his murder remains unsolved. Heather and Jerry Mullin will also receive the Impact Award for establishing Joanna's Place, a center that provides free counseling and support groups for grieving children and families. Mr. and Mrs. Mullin’s six year old daughter Joanna was murdered in 2007.

“Today marks the re-birth of a movement,” Peace Institute Program Coordinator and survivor Alexandra Chéry remarked. “Survivors are leading the way on policy initiatives that impact all of our families. Though we are grieving, we are committed to healing ourselves and working with our allies to create communities where all families are treated with love, dignity and compassion.”

The Opening Ceremony is the first in a series of events all month long. For the full schedule, please visit



MEDIA ADVISORY: 16th Annual Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month

November 20 - December 20

Contact: 617-825-1917


WHAT: Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month (SHVAM) is a month-long effort to educate the public and policymakers about the impact of murder on families and communities and recognize the diverse contributions of the survivor’s movement. The theme of 2016 is “Inform, Influence, and Impact Policy.”

Since SHVAM was established in 2000 through 2015, more than 2,558 people have been murdered in Massachusetts (statistics from FBI UCS Annual Crime Reports). For every person who is murdered, there are at least 10 impacted family members left behind to cope with ongoing grief and trauma.  There are more than 25,580 surviving family members mourning loved ones killed in Massachusetts over the past sixteen years.

Survivors of murder victims have taken a leadership role in peacemaking through advocacy, education, and organizing. SHVAM is the time to highlight their work and the need for statewide coordinated, compassionate, and consistent support and services in the immediate aftermath of a murder and ongoing opportunities for healing in the months and years afterward.

WHO: The Louis D. Brown Peace Institute is the convening agency behind Survivors of Homicide Victims Awareness Month. The Peace Institute is a center of healing, teaching, and learning for families and communities impacted by murder, trauma, grief, and loss. The Peace Institute was founded in 1994 and is the go-to homicide response agency in Massachusetts.

WHERE: Massachusetts is the only state in the country to acknowledge the unique needs and experiences of survivors of homicide victims with an awareness month.

WHEN:  November 21 – Opening Ceremony at the State House from 9:30am-12pm will be hosted by Senator Linda Dorcena-Forry with speakers including Attorney General Maura Healey and Liam Lowney of the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance. Awards will also be given to survivors who have informed, influenced, and impacted public policy.

December 3 – Massachusetts Survivors of Homicide Victims Network inaugural convening at Lombardo’s from 12-4pm. This gathering will focus on building the momentum of the survivor’s movement for more peaceful communities.

December 19 – Homicide Response Briefing for Law Enforcement from 8-11:30 am at the Edward M. Kennedy Institute with presenters including Boston Police Commissioner William Evans and Chairman of the Joint Committee of Public Safety and Homeland Security Representative Harold Naughton. Over 40 survivor-serving organizations will be on site to make connections and share resources with law enforcement officers. 

December 20 – Closing Ceremony at Roxbury Presbyterian Church from 9:30am-12pm with speakers including survivors from across the state.