VERMILLION, S.D. – The newly created Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment, an organization formed at the University of South Dakota to implement the work plan produced by Jolene’s Law Task Force and Coalition, has hired a director, Carrie Gonsor Sanderson. She will direct and coordinate activities at the Center, including work to prevent and respond to child sexual abuse and child maltreatment in South Dakota.
Gonsor Sanderson previously worked as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office in Pierre, South Dakota. She earned three degrees from the University of South Dakota: Bachelor of Arts in English and Spanish, Master of Public Administration, and Juris Doctor.
“The Center was developed to continue the excellent work of the Jolene’s Law Task Force and Coalition, improving our state’s capacity to prevent and respond to child maltreatment,” said Michael Lawler, dean of the University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences and a member of the Jolene’s Law Task Force and Coalition. “Ms. Sanderson is deeply committed to the health and wellbeing of South Dakota, and her legal expertise will add a great deal to the new Center. We are all eager to work with her.”
South Dakota State Senator Deb Soholt served as chair of the Jolene’s Law Task Force (JLTF). The Sioux Falls legislator and her colleagues on the task force spent three years creating a work plan to address and prevent sexual abuse of children. “JLTF created a ten-year plan to change the trajectory of child sexual abuse in SD through the development of the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment at USD,” explained Soholt. “We are simply delighted that someone the caliber of Ms. Sanderson has accepted the director position. Her education and experience are exactly the right fit to move this important work forward, and she will be an incredible statewide leader in this effort to save our children.”
The Jolene’s Law Task Force and Coalition was created to study the impacts of child sexual abuse in South Dakota, and the Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment will carry on the work of the task force and coalition.
The University of South Dakota School of Health Sciences is home to the new Center. USD’s School of Health Sciences, possessing experts in relevant fields such as social work, nursing, physician assistants, public health, occupational therapy, physical therapy, and counseling, and with access to other relevant USD expertise in medicine, law, business, education, and psychology, is an ideal setting for the new organization.