Our instructors are experts in the field of Victim Advocacy and most are credentialed advocates through the National Organization of Victim Assistance.
Leanne Graham, MA, CA
Leanne Graham, President & CEO of Victim Assistance Program, was named the successor of founding director, Dr. Robert Denton, in August of 2012. Leanne obtained a Bachelor's degree from Suffolk University in Sociology with a certificate in Criminology and Law after completing a Massachusetts Legislative Internship. Leanne then moved to Ohio, where she obtained her Master's in Justice Studies from Kent State University. Throughout her career, she worked with victims of all types of crimes and held numerous administrative positions with multiple victim service agencies. Leanne's experience allowed her to receive the highest victim advocate credentialing status, Comprehensive Crisis Intervention Specialist, from the National Accreditation Certification Program of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA.) Leanne continues to use knowledge and skills gained throughout her career to professionalize victim advocacy and to provide guidance to her employees while ensuring that the agency has all the resources needed to carry out its mission.
Dana Zedak, L.S.W., CA
Dana Zedak began her career amidst the anti-rape movement in 1988 while attending the University of Akron. Dana’s proficiency in both direct services for victims of trauma and administrative leadership roles across Northeast Ohio has allowed her to become a nationally credentialed advocate with advanced standing through the National Organization for Victim Assistance. Dana, a licensed social worker and an expert witness for prosecuting domestic violence offenders, was provided the Dr. Denton Outstanding Victim Service Award for her continued dedication to the victim service arena. Dana currently provides on and offsite training to victim advocates, student interns, first responders, and other professionals who encounter victims in their day to day work. She thrives on teaching others to become better crisis workers and she loves the idea of helping young professionals advance in their careers. Dana also values the emotional demand put on first responders and social workers and thrives on educating these helping professionals to prevent burn out, compassion fatigue, and most importantly, vicarious trauma. Dana, herself lives to help others inside and outside of the classroom. Dana recently received the status of a Senior Alpine Patroller with the National Ski Patrol after years of volunteering with this robust organization.
Mickey Valdez, CA
Mickey earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Oklahoma City University, a Post-Baccalaureate Certificate from Portland State University in Advanced Crime Analysis, and is a nationally credentialed advocate through the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA). Mickey has worked in several capacities at Victim Assistance Program, including the Intake Advocate at the Summit County Clerk of Courts, as well as a Victim Advocate stationed in the Akron Police Department. Currently, Mickey serves as the organization’s Director of Services. She is actively involved in the advancement of legislation for victim’s rights as it pertains to the areas of Domestic Violence and Dating Violence, recently speaking before the Ohio House Judiciary Committee in Columbus, OH as a proponent of House Bill 392. Outside of her work with victims, Mickey cherishes time spent with her husband, Albert, and two children, Gracie and Matthew.
Larry Richard, CA
Larry Richard is a graduate of Kent State University where he obtained a Bachelor of Science degree. He moved to California in 1996 and worked for a few municipalities in various roles. His final stop was working with the City of Santa Cruz, CA where he retired as a Police Lieutenant in September 2014. He served as Commander for various special teams including the Peer Counseling Team and Emergency Services Unit-Hostage Negotiations Team. His partner and he were given one of the highest honors from Santa Cruz PD, which is the Lifesaving Award, for pulling an unconscious teenage girl from a van that was fully engulfed in flames. In addition, he was deemed a nation-wide expert on Gang Stalking. He moved back to his home in Ohio and joined the Victim Assistance Program family in October 2015 serving as the Intake advocate at the Harold Stubbs Justice Center. He soon later obtained his National Credential from NOVA in February 2016. Larry currently holds the position of Supervisor of Advocacy Services and sits on the Marsy’s Law implementation committee. This committee is charged with ensuring recent legislation amendments are being implemented appropriately across the state of Ohio.
Jen Stasko, CA
Jen Stasko is the Barberton Victim Advocate Coordinator for Victim Assistance Program. Jen has been with Victim Assistance Program since September 2014. She began working as a Victim Advocate at the Prosecutor's Office Victim Assistance Program in a different county in 1999 and worked there until 2012. Jen received her Bachelor's degrees in both Psychology and Criminal Justice Studies from Kent State University in 2000. Jen's many years and extensive experience as a Victim Advocate have allowed her to receive the highest victim advocate credentialing status through the National Accreditation Certification Program of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA) - Comprehensive Crisis Intervention Specialist.
Socorro Morgan, CA
Socorro Morgan is a 2015 graduate of the University of Akron. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Emergency Management and Homeland Security with an Associate’s degree in Criminal Justice. Socorro started her career with Victim Assistance Program as a volunteer and was hired as an Advocate in 2013. She began as a night advocate working out of the Akron Police Department Detective Bureau before transitioning to a daytime advocate. She is a nationally credentialed advocate through NOVA at the Basic Level and is a part of the Ohio Response Team. She has participated in several FEMA training including NIMS, Mass Fatalities Incident Response, Incident Command System (ICS) and more. Her experience helps her mentor fellow employees, interns, and volunteers at VAP. She is not only versed in the civil and criminal courts but also on the basketball court.
Jan Apisa, CA
Ms. Apisa is currently the Director of Community Engagement, Victim Assistance Program in Akron, Ohio. Jan previously worked as a Human Trafficking Public Education Specialist, with the Ohio Criminal Justice Services, AmeriCorps Ohio Prevention and Awareness of Trafficking in Humans Program Grant (PATH). As a Public Education Specialist, she was responsible for: increasing public awareness and prevention efforts of human trafficking; assisting local collaborative and coalitions with their development; and educating volunteers to conduct human trafficking training. In this role, she coordinated a 3-month collaborative quantitative Backpage research project on local human trafficking. The Backpage study resulted in a detailed research report and presentations of the research findings throughout the community. In December 2015, she accepted the nomination to Co-Chair the SCCAHT Executive Committee. She has a Bachelor’s of Science Degree from The University of Akron.
Crystal Baker, MA, RA Summit County Prosecutor's Office
Crystal Baker has a Bachelor's Degree in Political Science/Criminal Justice and a Master's Degree in Justice Studies. She is a Registered Advocate with Senior Standing (RASS) and went through training to become a Volunteer CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate). Ms. Baker has worked in the field of victim advocacy for over fourteen years, formerly as Director of Services at Battered Women’s Shelter of Summit and Medina Counties. Currently, Crystal Baker is the Director of the Victim Services Division at the Summit County Prosecutor’s Office. Ms. Baker is a recognized expert on domestic violence and victims’ rights. She is the Chair of the Ohio Victim Witness Association Public Policy Committee. Ms. Baker served with a group of professionals dedicated to the development of the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center’s Crime Victims’ Rights Toolkit. Ms. Baker is also a member of a state-wide group that drafted language implementation legislation for Marsy’s Law, a constitutional amendment that was passed in Ohio in November 2017 to ensure victims’ rights are protected and upheld.
Lt. Christopher White Barberton Police Department
Lt. White is graduate of the University of Akron with a BA in Secondary Education and a Master of Public Administration degree and a graduate of the police academy. Additionally, he is a graduate of the Police Executive Leadership College and the Certified Law Enforcement Executive Program through the Law Enforcement Foundation of Ohio. He has been a police officer for over 21 years. During that time he has been a patrolman, patrol sergeant, and lieutenant, detective sergeant, critical incident negotiator on the SWAT team. Lt. White is currently the patrol commander for the Barberton Police Department. He states that he became a police officer to help people and feels that it is a true privilege to have the opportunity to do so. His most beloved and rewarding role is that of being a father.
Dodie Sacia, CA, RA
Dodie serves as the Court Watch Coordinator/Advocate for the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties. She has attended court hearings and trials since 2008 to offer free and confidential services to survivors of sexual violence she meets in court. As a Registered Advocate – Senior Standing with the Ohio Advocate Network, and an Intermediate Advocate through the National Organization for Victim Assistance, she has volunteered over 15,000 hours with RCC. Dodie actively participates in the Summit County Sexual Assault Coalition as the secretary and as a member of the planning committee for the annual Summit County Sexual Assault Symposium. She also is an active member of the Ohio Alliance to End Sexual Violence, Guardians Advocating Child Safety and Protection (GASP) and the Summit County Sexual Assault Response Team. Her awards include the “Visionary Voice Award” from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center and the “Model of Justice Award” from the Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center.
Mark J. Zemba, Attorney General's Office
Mark currently serves as an Assistant Attorney General in the Crime Victims Services Section of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office. While working his way through law school, Mark started his career in the Ohio Attorney General’s Office in 1981 as an investigator in the Charitable Foundations Section. In 1983, Mark was requested to assist the Crime Victim Services Section as an investigator. In his tenure in the section from 1983 until 1997, Mark rose from investigator to – after graduating from law school and passing the bar exam - Assistant Chief and was Acting Chief for a period of time. In 2007, Mark was again contacted to once again assist the Crime Victims Services Section where he happily serves. Mark obtained his Bachelor of Arts degree from John Carroll University in 1979 and received his Juris Doctor degree from Capital University in 1984.
Rev. Sandra Selby, D.Min., MBA
Rev. Dr. Sandy Selby is Associate Pastor of Furnace Street Mission and Senior Community Chaplain of Tough Work Outreach, which serves people in crisis and those who work with them. She serves as an on-call chaplain at Akron Children’s Hospital and as Chaplain Associate at Akron General Medical Center. Her doctoral research was on addressing compassion fatigue in individuals who work with people who are in crisis. She received a B.A. in history from Bucknell University, an MBA from the Darden School at University of Virginia, and a Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry from Methodist Theological in Ohio. A graduate of Leadership Akron, Sandy received the Bernard Rosen Community Service Award from Victim Assistance and the Women of Achievement Award from Women’s Network of Northeast Ohio. She is a member of the Summit County Social Services Advisory Board, where she co-chairs the Health and Human Services Committee and is Chair of the Board of Visiting Nurse Service of Akron General Health System.