April 10, 2018
Celebrating 30 years: Clery Center Gala
Clery Center’s 30th anniversary gala took place on April 7, 2018 at Merion Cricket Club in the Greater Philadelphia area. Alison Kiss, Executive Director of Clery Center, wrote a recap of the event.
Clery Center’s gala was a landmark event that celebrated the organization’s 30th anniversary. We brought together friends, supporters, higher education professionals, and students to reflect on three decades of organizational evolution and progress since our founding in 1987. Attendees included Addie Mix, whose son was murdered during his freshman year, and Anne Seymour, national crime victim advocate who has worked with the Clery family since Jeanne’s murder. Addie and Anne were honored with the Jeanne Clery Award for campus safety to recognize their dedication to changing campus culture. We also shared our accomplishments through the Center’s initiatives (fire safety, hazing, OVW grant program) and training/membership programs. (To read more about our activities this year, see our 2017 Annual Report.)
The evening included remarks from Baylor head football coach, Matt Rhule. Matt spoke about stepping into an environment recently in the spotlight because of reported sexual assaults by football players. Matt has worked with Clery Center, Green Dot, and Men Can Stop Rape to develop programming for his players and is often heard saying, “…sexual assault is not a Baylor thing. This is an ‘our world’ issue.” During his tenure, Coach Rhule has epitomized transparency and openly listens to and responds to criticism. Our keynote speaker, Sara Ganim, CNN correspondent, spoke about her Pulitzer Prize-winning reporting that broke the Jerry Sandusky case at Penn State University. Sara used the platform to challenge the audience to continue to seek truth, as we see more injuries related to campus violence such as hazing. She praised the Clery Act as a tool for seeking the truth.
I spoke about some incredible people who have given so much of their expertise to steer the organization in a direction that best serves our mission: working together with colleges and universities for safer campuses. I referenced the passion of students in the last five years to challenge us all to support safer campus environments. It was only fitting that I traveled to Lehigh University, with board member and alumnus, Andy Cagnetta, on April 5. Andy was a friend of Jeanne and they frequently spent time at his fraternity house, Phi Sigma Kappa. This past Thursday, on the anniversary of Jeanne’s murder, the men at Phi Sig organized a “Blue Light Ball” to shine a light on campus sexual violence and raise money for Clery Center programs. These young men brought tears to Connie Clery’s eyes as I shared the details of the event with her. In fact, it is what she always strived for: remembrance of Jeanne and commitment of future generations to courageously lead us to a culture of dignity and respect.
We will continue to build on 30 years of success with the support of our friends and the higher education community. This work is not easy but the camaraderie and optimism at the gala provides us with a renewed commitment to Clery Center and energy for this next year. It was incredibly humbling to speak with the Gala attendees about their experiences and the impact that Clery Center, Jeanne, or someone on our team or board has had on them. There is so much that we can accomplish together. Thank you again for your passion and dedication to Clery Center. I look forward to continuing to steward the organization’s mission, with your partnership, in the months ahead.
Alison Kiss | Executive Director