Prevent Child Abuse America is losing one of its longest allies at the end of June, but today we are celebrating her career and legacy. For the past 43 years, Johanna Schuchert, our long-time Executive Director of Prevent Child Abuse Virginia, has dedicated her life to child abuse and neglect prevention.
Johanna got her start in the cause during the 1970s as a member of the General Federation of Women’s Clubs. The Virginia state club had chosen to raise funds and awareness for child abuse prevention, and Johanna volunteered to help. Her volunteering turned into a full time job when Johanna founded Parents Anonymous of Virginia and became its director in 1980.
In 1991, Johanna’s Parents Anonymous group merged with another statewide organization, SCAN (Stop Child Abuse Now) to form Virginians for Child Abuse Prevention Inc. In concert with her friend and colleague Barbara Rawn, Johanna set out to create new programs that would benefit children and families in Old Dominion.
One of those programs that Johanna helped develop is called Hugs and Kisses. Developed for elementary school teachers, the Hugs and Kisses program still exists today and remains Virginia’s only statewide, school-based child sexual abuse prevention and early intervention program. Johanna has also been instrumental in the development and support of Healthy Families Virginia, bringing evidence-based home visiting services to at-risk families throughout the state.
But Johanna didn’t stop there. During her career, she has been involved in the creation of numerous other programs and organizations that have benefited children and families. From a program aimed at helping incarcerated parents remain connected to their children (MILK), to training programs to better educate day care center staff, to issue-based coalitions like the Virginia Statewide Parent Education Coalition, Johanna has been instrumental in the development and cultivation of future-focused, prevention minded action in her home state.
It is easy to see that Johanna has made a profound impact on her state and the families that live there, and so it is equally easy to understand how much we will miss her presence in our network. Fortunately, Johanna has left a remarkable legacy and an indelible mark on Virginia and we are grateful to have had a leader like her in our field for the past 43 years.
If you’d like to show your appreciation for Johanna, consider making a donation to the endowment fund that has been created in her name and which goes to support the Hugs and Kisses program.