L-R: Dr. Lissa Power deFur, Ian Danielsen, David Malakouti, Emily O'Brion
L-R: Dr. Lissa Power deFur, Ian Danielsen, David Malakouti, Emily O'Brion

A Longwood social work professor who has spent years advocating for children—as a resource for police investigators, a legislative advocate and a courtroom expert—has been recognized by the Virginia Office of the Attorney General with its Unsung Hero award.

Ian Danielsen, assistant professor of social work at Longwood, received the award in a ceremony on Wednesday, April 21, at Longwood. David Malakouti, community outreach coordinator with the Office of the Attorney General, presented the award to Danielsen.

“I am grateful to the Office of the Attorney General for this great honor,” said Danielsen. “It’s so important that we shine a brighter light on issues surrounding child abuse and take steps to prevent its occurrence. These are issues that we discuss in my classroom every day, and I’m thankful to have the opportunity to continue to serve as an advocate while training the next generation of social workers.”

Before joining the Longwood faculty in 2016, Danielsen worked for many years as the director of the Greater Richmond SCAN Child Advocacy Center for the city of Richmond and surrounding counties, coordinating child abuse investigators and service providers and working with legislators to draft laws protecting children. He has also served as an expert witness in court, educating jurors regarding numerous issues relevant to child abuse and neglect.

“[Ian] testified on various subjects that include why sexual abuse victims often delay disclosure, how victims experience trauma, and what the research shows about how offenders offend,” wrote Nancy Oglesby, domestic and sexual violence resource prosecutor with the Commonwealth’s Attorneys’ Services Council, in a letter nominating Danielsen for the award. “Being a prosecutor myself, I can attest to the invaluable resource this provides to those fighting for justice for children in the classroom.”

In 2019, Danielsen supported his students as they went before the Prince Edward County Board of Supervisors to advocate for declaring Child Abuse Prevention Month, which was successful. During that month, Danielsen and his students held numerous educational events and training for community members to recognize the signs of child abuse and help prevent it.

Unsung Hero awards are presented to a very few individuals across the state who show a deep commitment to victim services. Attorney General Mark Herring honored the award recipients in April during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week.

“This morning, we honored 11 Virginians who have dedicated their time and efforts to supporting victims’ services, but who oftentimes go unthanked, with the Unsung Heroes award,” he said. “These incredible men and women have gone above and beyond to provide victims with a safe space and the support that they deserve. Each of today’s recipients has given immeasurable comfort and help to victims or survivors, especially when they may feel lost or alone. It is my honor to recognize these remarkable Virginians and thank them for their unwavering dedication to this critical work.”

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