ATLANTA - The Georgia Commission on Family Violence (GCFV) will host its 25th annual Statewide Family Violence Conference at the Classic Center in Athens, Georgia. The conference begins Sunday, September 8th and runs through Wednesday, September 11th. The conference theme this year is Supporting Survivors and Restoring Hope: 25 Years Ago to 25 Years Ahead.

The silver anniversary conference will feature three highly-acclaimed keynotes including Vanessa McNeal, Melissa Jeltsen, and the High Point, North Carolina Collaborative.

Vanessa McNeal is an award winning documentary filmmaker, national speaker, and two-time TEDx speaker. Vanessa travels and speaks nationally about how to confront adversity with grace, using her personal story as a vehicle to inspire and empower others. Vanessa will share her harrowing story of surviving sexual violence and how it led to her groundbreaking film work. She will also share insight into her work within the sex trafficking industry, and will discuss how best to empower survivors through supporting and believing them.

Melissa Jeltsen, a senior reporter at HuffPost, will talk about her experience as a journalist covering domestic violence in the U.S. She will discuss how she documented the intersection of mass shootings and domestic violence, the phenomenon of battered women imprisoned for killing their abusers, and will revisit some of her most difficult stories.

Representatives from the High Point, North Carolina Collaborative will discuss their inter-agency, community-based model of ending domestic violence which holds offenders accountable while prioritizing the safety of the victims. Led by law enforcement, the model has been shown to deliver remarkable results by nearly eliminating homicides and reducing offender recidivism. This plenary session will include the screening of a documentary about the program and an address from their Chief of Police and a victim services advocate who will discuss their implementation of the program. An Assistant U.S. Attorney will then speak about the success that a county in South Carolina – nearly three times the size of High Point and once the worst county in the country for domestic violence – is having replicating the program.

More than 650 local and national stakeholders are expected to attend the sold out conference. The multidisciplinary audience includes judges, domestic violence advocates, family violence intervention program providers, sexual assault advocates, victim advocates, judges, prosecutors, law enforcement, faith leaders, counselors, 911 responders and community members.

The conference’s theme, which will thread through the three keynotes and nearly 30 workshops over three days, will provide a time for attendees to reflect on the work achieved in the movement to end family violence over the last 25 years, and will frame current issues facing the movement and innovative ideas to address them.

“The Annual Family Violence Conference continues to provide our state with some of the most current, powerful, and moving presenters. Given the reputation of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence and the conference itself, it came as no surprise that the 25th conference would be at maximum capacity, as I have seen it grown year-to-year in both its diversity of attendance and depth of content,” stated Stephanie Woodard, Chair of the Georgia Commission on Family Violence. In addition to the exciting content presented at this year’s event, the Commission will announce their new Executive Director during the conference’s opening session.

“We look forward to celebrating the momentum that has been achieved, addressing the problem of family violence over the past 25 years,” said Woodard. “We are also eager to tackle the challenges that lie ahead in our work to end family violence, particularly knowing that the Commission will have a new leader that will only grow our perspective and drive.”

The Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) provided scholarships to domestic violence advocates, sexual assault advocates, Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) personnel, Department of Community Supervision (DCS) Officers and first responders to cover some of the costs associated with attending the event.

About GCFV: The Georgia Commission on Family Violence, created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1992, is charged with developing a comprehensive state plan for ending family violence in Georgia. If you or someone that you know is being impacted by domestic violence, call 1-800-334-2836 to speak with a domestic violence advocate.

Contact Information:

Press Contact: Stephanie Woodard,