Brenda J. Muhammad | National Crime Victim Service Award
Executive Director, Atlanta Victim Assistance, Inc.
Brenda Muhammad is a national leader in violence prevention and the creator of a volunteer movement. She has dedicated her entire career to victim services, and has made an indelible mark on the city of Atlanta and on the hearts of crime victims throughout the country.
Ms. Muhammad is the Executive Director of Atlanta Victim Assistance, Inc., (AVA), a nonprofit that advocates for the fundamental rights of victims of crime. Since taking over as Executive Director in 1997, she has steadily grown AVA into a uniquely inclusive organization that serves the complex needs of victims of all crime types.
One of Ms. Muhammad’s notable achievements at AVA is the Law Enforcement Advocacy Program (LEAP). Since 2005, AVA has partnered with the Atlanta Police Department (APD) to provide more hands-on services to victims. LEAP embeds trained advocates within police precincts to provide direct services, referrals, and case management, along with community education and outreach.
In 2017, Ms. Muhammad spearheaded an effort to expand the program by placing a dedicated AVA advocate within each of the six APD zones and within six specialized investigation units, effectively tripling the program’s capacity to serve victims. In FY 2020, AVA provided 38,858 services to 6,947 victims.
Ms. Muhammad’s advocacy journey has a tragic origin. She was inspired to action in the aftermath of her son’s murder in 1989, when he was just 16 years old. Her son’s killer, who admitted the crime, was acquitted. Yet Ms. Muhammad persevered through her grief, founding Mothers of Murdered Sons (MOMS), an organization that offers emotional support, encouragement, and advocacy to similarly brokenhearted mothers.
Today, MOMS has over 5,000 members who are dedicated to community organizing, technical assistance, training, advocacy, and community-based programming to eradicate violence within communities.
In addition to her accomplishments at AVA and MOMS, Ms. Muhammad served on the Atlanta Public Schools Board of Education, and as Chair of the Board of Directors of the Victim Witness Assistance Program under the umbrella of the Metropolitan Atlanta Crime Commission from 1992−1997. She has given a lifetime of service, and has transformed the landscape of victim services in Atlanta.
2022 National Crime Victims' Service Awards Tribute Video
Watch this video to learn more about Brenda Muhammad, 2022 recipient of the National Crime Victim Service Award.