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Sept. 27: Into the Light conference targets domestic violence issues

Thursday, September 27, 2012

FREDERICK, Md.—One of the state's most prominent advocates for women's and family issues and a leader in developing strategies for eliminating domestic abuse will deliver the keynote address at the 10th annual Into the Light conference Oct. 26 at Hood College.

The conference, which includes discussion sessions on current domestic abuse issues and guest speakers, will take place from 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. in the College's Hodson Auditorium in Rosenstock Hall. The annual event marks Domestic Violence Awareness month.

Since 1999, keynote speaker Michaele Cohen has served as executive director of the Maryland Network Against Domestic Violence, a statewide coalition dedicated to eradicating domestic violence through education, training and advocacy. She also served as director of communications for the YWCA of Annapolis and Anne Arundel County and director of the YWCA Women’s Center and domestic violence program, where she coordinated legislative and public policy advocacy.

Cohen is also president of the Maryland Legislative Agenda for Women, a statewide coalition of women's groups and individuals that advocate for progressive legislation and policies, and provide a nonpartisan, independent voice for Maryland women and families. She has also served on the board of directors of the Maryland Health Care Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the steering committee of the Women's Legislative Briefing.

Brenda Thomas, bestselling author and motivational speaker, will talk about her 15-year struggle with domestic violence and addiction, and her transition from victim to advocate.

Thomas’ memoir, Laying Down My Burdens, is a graphic depiction of abuse drawn from her own experiences. She has appeared on CNN, Dateline, and E! True Hollywood Story to speak out against domestic violence and is a dedicated fund-raiser for shelters in cities across the nation.

Breakout session will include such topics as serving the unique needs of the abusers and the victims of abuse, domestic violence in the military, the changing demographics of the abused population, dating violence, domestic violence in the senior citizen community and career options within social work agencies that address domestic violence issues.

This year's Into the Light X conference, themed Where Do We Go From Here, is co-sponsored by CareFirst BlueCross BlueShield, Aramark, State's Attorney’s Office of Frederick County, Heartly House and Hood College. The conference seeks to bring police officers, social workers, educators, judiciary personnel and other concerned citizens together to find ways to help stop the cycle of abuse.

As a lead-in to the conference, Telling Amy's Story will be screened Oct. 25 at 7 p.m. in Hodson Auditorium. The documentary traces the events leading up to the death of a 33-year-old mother of two who was killed by her husband 2001 when she decided to leave him after suffering years of abuse.

The events are free of charge and open to the public; registration is required. CEUs will be provided and must be prepaid when registering for the conference.

To register online by Oct. 22, visit

For more information, contact Carol M. Wuenschel, executive director for human resources at Hood College, via e-mail at or by phone at (301) 696-3592; or view the brochure.