Bluefield University in the News

JUDY CASTEELE: A VOICE AGAINST VIOLENCE

by | Mar 8, 2012

Bluefield College takes pride in helping students discover, nurture and live their passion. Alumna Judy Casteele is a prime example.

Just ask the Virginia Sexual and Domestic Violence Action Alliance, a coalition committed to ending sexual and domestic violence that just recently named Casteele one of the industry’s “Top 30 Most Influential People.”

In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Action Alliance selected “30 voices” whose service to the development of the statewide coalition has been “indelible,” “far-reaching” and “fundamental” in moving forward the work against domestic and sexual violence in Virginia.

In fact, Action Alliance recognized the “30 Voices” in Revolution, a journal published by the organization. In the magazine, Action Alliance called Casteele’s commitment to the cause, “tremendous” and the difference she’s made, “substantial.”

“Judy’s passion, vision, and work in the sexual and domestic violence movement,” the journal said, “involve a moral compass that orients around the voices and experiences of survivors.”

Casteele began her work against domestic violence at the Women’s Resource Center in Radford, Virginia, in the 1980s, where she touched virtually every aspect of that agency’s efforts. Later, she served as interim director of Virginians Aligned Against Sexual Assault, and today she is executive director of Project Horizon, a non-profit organization in Lexington, Virginia, dedicated to reducing domestic, dating, and sexual violence through crisis intervention and prevention programs.

“Vast and substantial as these accomplishments are,” said Action Alliance, “they reflect only a tip of the iceberg of Judy’s impact on sexual and domestic violence coalition work in Virginia.”

Casteele has served multiple terms on the Governing Body of Action Alliance, impacting services and policy at both regional and state levels, including championing the first forensic nursing program in the New River Valley and advocating for widespread changes to marital rape and sexual assault laws.

“In my eyes, Judy has made the largest contribution to the movement through her consistent mentoring of new professionals in the field,” said her nominator. “Without her, I would not have had the confidence or opportunity to actively participate in the work of the Alliance. If I, along with the others she has touched, can make half the impact that she has, the next 30 years of Action Alliance work will be tremendous.”

Casteele, who earned her bachelor’s degree from Bluefield College in 1992 through the inSPIRE degree completion program, was already working in the field to combat domestic violence when she enrolled at BC. However, she said her studies at the college helped her make an even greater difference for the cause.

“My experience at Bluefield helped prepare me to move from doing advocacy and counseling with individuals to being an administrator,” she said. “After earning my degree, I was promoted to associate director at the Women’s Resource Center. What I enjoyed most about Bluefield was being in a small class and having the opportunity to learn from other adults in various fields. My classmates challenged me in ways I still appreciate.”

Working at Project Horizon alongside fellow Bluefield College graduate Katrina Flowers (director of client services) and current BC degree completion student Leonard Stewart (director of community outreach), Casteele said she’s thankful to be considered one of Virginia’s most influential voices against domestic violence. She’s been able to reach that level of recognition, she said, because she’s pursuing her passion and not just working a job.

“I’m not sure a person could survive in this field if it were only a job,” said Casteele. “I certainly have a passion for working to end violence against women, but it’s more than that. As a Christian, I believe that this is the place I’ve been called to serve.”

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