Protect Our Defenders News Blog




February 18, 2016



Bay Area native and resident, Nancy Parrish honored for advocacy on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the military, earns $100,000 award

Washington, D.C. – Today, Georgia Institute of Technology President G.P. “Bud” Peterson awarded Bay Area native and resident, Nancy Parrish, founder and CEO of Protect Our Defenders (POD), the 2016 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage. Ms. Parrish has helped launch a national movement to reform how the U.S. military prosecutes rape and sexual assault through legal reform, advocacy, public education and free legal and case assistance for survivors of military sexual assault and harassment. POD the only national human rights organization solely dedicated to ending the epidemic of harassment and sexual assault in the U.S. military,

“Ms. Nancy Parrish has long been at the forefront in addressing the many difficult social issues facing our country today,” Peterson said. “Here at Georgia Tech, we are familiar with her international humanitarian work and the many initiatives she has undertaken, to help alleviate human suffering. Through her exemplary efforts as founder and CEO of Protect Our Defenders, she has given a voice to victims of sexual assault in the military. Our world and our country have been greatly enriched by her selfless service.”

Survivor Terri Odom said, “When I met Nancy Parrish I was broken – I had no purpose, no vision, no voice. I most likely would not be alive without Protect Our Defenders help.” Terri now serves on the organization’s Advisory Board and volunteers as Veteran Advisor to St. Louis VA Executive Leadership Team. “Nancy has given voice and purpose to thousands of assault survivors.”

In 2011, after hearing Terri’s and other stories from survivors and noticing a lack of attention to the issue, Nancy decided to found Protect Our Defenders (POD), which the New York Times has called the “nation’s pre-eminent advocacy group on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the military.” Since its launch, the non-profit has advanced its mission to change the culture and reform the military’s handling of sexual assault. POD has kept this travesty in the public eye through media attention, most recently with the Washington Post’s A-1 investigate report, “In the war against sexual assault, the Army keeps shooting itself in the foot,” increased public support to create an impartial, independent military justice system and secured passage of critical policies that protect victims and curb abuse.

Ms. Parrish co-founded Human Rights Watch’s Northern California Chapter, which as part of its mission to protect human rights around the world sought to prevent the use of child soldiers. She worked with President Jimmy Carter and Rosalynn Carter in support of their international humanitarian work at the Carter Center. She also served as an officer of the Children’s Guardian Fund Board of Sarasota, which helps foster children.

The Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage recognizes individuals who, by standing up for clear moral principles in the social arena, have positively affected public discourse at the risk of their own careers and livelihoods.

Nancy has been harassed and threatened because of her work on behalf of active duty service women and men, veterans and civilians who are victims of military sexual assault.

“I want to make a significant lasting impact, focusing on the root causes of discrimination, injustice and inequality in our society. When we as a society witness injustice and suffering, it is in our nature as Americans to stand on the side of fairness,” Parrish said. “Ivan Allen Jr. was a beacon of light in a dark time and we strive to be that beacon of light today for our young service women and men and veterans.”

The prize comes with a $100,000 stipend. Nancy plans to donate the funds to Protect Our Defenders. The Wilbur and Hilda Glenn Family Foundation endowed the award in perpetuity. Prior recipients include William Foege, U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Beatrice Mtetwa and former Senator Sam Nunn.

“Since Protect Our Defenders’ founding I have watched the United States experience exponential growth in its awareness and resolve to address the treatment of rape victims in the military,” said Loree Sutton, MD Brigadier General (Ret.) Commissioner, NYC Veterans’ Affairs. “Nancy Parrish has been the single most influential leader in this movement and continues to offer lifesaving hope for those in despair, an accessible platform for those otherwise silenced, and a long range strategy aiming for transformational cultural change within our nation’s communities and institutions.”

Learn more about the prize here:

Politico: Military Sexual Assault Advocate Wins Prize for Social Courage

Technique: Parrish awarded the 2016 Ivan Allen Jr. Prize

Vineyard Gazette: Prize for Social Courage

Georgia Tech News: Humanitarian Activist to Receive Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage


About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country and re-victimized by the military adjudication system. POD provides pro bono casework and legal assistance to survivors. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at