July 28 marked 30 years of service to the Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center for Executive Director Vickie Henderson, and local officials are taking notice.
The Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center, also known as the NKYCAC, is a nonprofit organization that provides services to children who have been sexually abused, severely physically abused or who have witnessed violent crimes. NKYCAC is in Florence and sees over 800 abused children a year. For her outstanding service and impact on Kentucky children, Henderson is being honored locally and statewide.
Henderson conducted her first forensic interview in 1992, becoming the first forensic interviewer employed by a children’s advocacy center in Kentucky. Since then, Henderson has conducted over 5,000 child forensic interviews, was instrumental in forming the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Kentucky, lobbied and testified before the state legislature, wrote advocacy-related state statutes, and inspired all those around her to advocate and crusade for children who have been abused.
In the past 30 years, her leadership and vision moved NKYCAC from a hospital-based organization to the first center in Kentucky to gain National Children’s Alliance accreditation and advanced the center from a grassroots effort to a thriving agency that is a model for other centers in Kentucky and beyond, according to a press statement from NKYCAC.
In 2008, in collaboration with the cities of Florence and Fort Thomas, Henderson worked to obtain community block grant funding to build the current NKYCAC in Florence, which was the first free-standing, custom-built advocacy center in the Commonwealth.
Henderson’s impact also stretches nationally: She worked with the National Children’s Alliance for years as a site reviewer, traveling to other CACs to evaluate and strengthen their services. She is continually expanding her knowledge and bringing new concepts back to Kentucky to improve operations and ensure best practices at NKYCAC.
Because of her service to the Children of NKY, Mayor of Florence Diane Whalen issued a proclamation naming Aug. 9 “Vickie Henderson Day.”
“Vickie continues to serve as a beacon of hope for abused children everywhere and serves as an example, inspiration and leader to all who know her,” the proclamation states.
Campbell County Commonwealth Attorney Michelle Snodgrass, who has worked with Henderson for years and also sits on the board of directors at NKYCAC, said few individuals are more dedicated “in the fight to protect Kentucky’s children than Vickie Henderson.”
“For those kids who have suffered horrible abuse, both physical and sexual, Vickie is their protector, she is their champion,” Snodgrass said. “Over the last 30 years, her goal has always been the same – to end the trauma for the children she sees, so that when they walk out of the center, they know they are not just victims, but they are survivors.”
Sen. Wil Schroeder presented Henderson with a proclamation from the Kentucky Senate to recognize and honor her three decades of service.
Rep. Rachel Roberts presented Henderson with a Career Achievement Award from the Kentucky House of Representatives.
Henderson also received a Kentucky Colonel honor from Gov. Andy Beshear. The commission of Kentucky Colonel is the highest honor bestowed by Kentucky’s governor, and it is a recognition of an individual’s noteworthy accomplishments and outstanding service to their community, state, and nation.