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University of Central Missouri
Warrensburg, MO 64093
Contact: Jeff Murphy
WARRENSBURG, MO (Dec. 3, 2009) – St. Louis resident Nina Balsam, a strong supporter of UCM ’s Department of Criminal Justice and a major catalyst in the state’s restorative justice movement, will receive the Distinguished Service Award during 2009 fall commencement exercises.
Honored During Afternoon Undergraduate Ceremony
Balsam will be honored during a ceremony set for 2 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 12 in the Multipurpose Building. The award will be presented by Aaron Podolefsky, UCM president. Bestowed by the authority of the UCM Board of Governors, the award honors individuals who have rendered exemplary and extended service to the human race, society, and/or the university. They are people of such integrity, stature, demonstrated ability and renown that Central Missouri’s faculty, staff, students and alumni take pride in and are inspired by their recognition.
Leader in the Restorative Justice Movement
Working to assist crime victims and their families, Balsam has helped Missouri to become a leader in the restorative justice movement. The movement began during the past five to 10 years in the state, and is a criminal justice model in which offenders are held accountable by bringing the victims of crime and the community together to find solutions that help to repair the harm done to both the victim and the community.
Balsam served from 2004-2009 as Director of Restorative Justice for the Center for Women in Transition in St. Louis. In this position, she implemented the Missouri Restorative Justice Initiative to promote restorative justice in the state and developed the state-wide Missouri Restorative Justice Coalition, consisting of corrections staff, court personnel, public policy makers, victim advocates, faith leaders, restorative justice providers and academics to assist with the implementation.
Leader in Missouri Justice Initiatives
Balsam’s career has also included serving as executive director of Legal Services of Eastern Missouri, 1976-1997, where her accomplishments and accolades included co-authoring the Missouri Adult Abuse Act, and receiving the national Sunshine Peace Award, an honor given to domestic violence advocates. She served as Legal Advocacy Projects Director for the Missouri Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1998-2004.
Although she is not a graduate of UCM, Balsam has been a friend of the Department of Criminal Justice and has engaged the university faculty in working with the Missouri Restorative Justice Coalition. Department faculty members have served the organization as research consultants, and have published and made presentations before professional groups as the result of her work. Balsam’s efforts have also stimulated graduate students to initiate thesis projects in the restorative justice field. In doing so, they have conducted research in areas such as juvenile justice and school bullying programs with partnering agencies in Cass and Jackson counties and the Independence and Kansas City school districts.
Balsam has received numerous awards throughout her professional career, and is currently involved in consulting activities which allow her to continue her work with the coalition. She is a graduate of the Washington University School of Law in St. Louis. She also earned a master’s degree at Lindenwood University in St. Louis, and a bachelor’s degree at Simmons College in Boston, MA.