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Visionary Women

Published Date:

March is Women’s History Month and the theme for 2019 is “Visionary Women: Champions of Peace & Nonviolence.”  Much of this has to do with women who have ended violence and injustices through peaceful means.  As such, we are highlighting some local champions and heroes in the movement here at SIU:  Dr. Tracey Smith, Dr. Careyana Brenham, Dr. Janice Hill-Jordan, Ms. Nancy Kyrouac, Ms. Kimberly Palermo and Ms. Laurie Ryznyk.  Learn about all the incredible initiatives these amazing individuals are leading below.

Please also be sure to see human trafficking and trauma survivors Art Exhibit in the medical library, 4th floor, 801 N. Rutledge, on display March 22 - 28.

Also, please mark your calendars for a special AWIMS Journal Club highlighting an article written by a Human Trafficking survivor 12-1 pm on Thursday, March 28, in Memorial Medical Center Room D443.  Light hors d'oeuvres will be served.



Tracey Smith, DNS

Dr. Tracey Smith has worked tirelessly to help identify gaps in the care of residents in Springfield and create community based and community led programs to fill those gaps.  Her heart lies with those who often don't have a voice.  Over the past several years she has helped develop the growing Community Health Worker Program in Springfield and neighboring counties, collaboratively worked with the justice systems in Springfield and Sangamon County to increase the opportunities for those struggling with judicial problems, bring new services to expectant mothers, and develop programs to help women who have been traumatized begin to heal. 

Springfield Business Journal-Women of Influence

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Community Health Workers Reaching the Vulnerable in Springfield


Careyana Brenham, MD

Dr. Careyana Brenham is a board certified Family Medicine Physician with SIU Family and Community Medicine.  Dr. Brenham served on the Children’s Justice Task Force from 2006 – 2016.  Dr. Brenham also has served on the Child Death Review Team since 2013 which reviews child death cases in central Illinois and provides recommendations to prevent future deaths related to possible child maltreatment.  She currently is the Chair of the Central Illinois Springfield Team.  Dr. Brenham works with the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center and other surrounding County Advocacy Centers to provide medical forensic exams and medical treatment for children that have been sexually abused.  Dr. Brenham also does case reviews for the Department of Children and Family Services and serves as an expert witness in court trials for child maltreatment cases.  Dr. Brenham has served as a Board Member for the Illinois Child Advocacy Center since 2016.

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Janice Hill-Jordan, PhD

Dr. Jan Hill’s career has focused on professional development and programs for intimate partner violence (IPV), juvenile justice, court services, child abuse, and community violence. In her position in the Department of Psychiatry, she mentors residents on their research and QI projects, teaches research methods, and facilitates IRB applications. In addition, she has been the principal investigator for patient victimization research and a medical student victimization survey. In 2018, she received a Caryl Moy grant for collaborative research with Dr. Sheryl Reminger from UIS to create a database of all school shootings from 2005-2013. She works with the Y2 IPV Doctoring program and offers two Y4 electives around the intersection of health, the criminal justice system, and violence. She is the facilitator of a group looking at how to broaden trauma-informed care throughout the school. She is also the program evaluator for a federal Bureau of Justice Assistance grant to divert persons with serious mental illness away from the criminal justice system and into appropriate services. Dr. Hill holds a doctorate in criminology and criminal justice, and is a certified trauma-informed care trainer.

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Evidence-Based Cues

National Health Resource Center on Domestic Violence

Training Tools


Nancy Kyrouac

Ms. Nancy Kyrouac is the director of SIU School of Medicine ThinkFirst - Injury Prevention Program. Nancy holds a Master of Public Health from A.T. Still University, a BS from SIU Carbondale in Administration of Justice and completed a fellowship with the MidAmerica Regional Public Health Leadership Institute. She previously served as the Medical Education Director and Teen Dating Violence Coordinator at Sojourn Shelter and Services in Springfield and as the Director of the Women’s Emergency Shelter (now known as the Center for Women in Transition) in Champaign. Nancy represents SIU SOM on the Illinois Partnership for Safety, Illinois Department of Public Health’s Violence and Injury prevention coalition. She is a nationally certified Child Passenger Safety Technician Instructor and ThinkFirst For Your Baby Instructor.  Privately, she has worked as a Birth Doula for 17 years. 

About Think First

Challenges in Reducing Drunken Driving



Kimberly Palermo

Ms. Kimberly Palermo has spent the past seven years providing services to survivors of abused women and children throughout the southern Illinois region.  While attending graduate school she was selected as a SIU Trauma Based Behavioral health Fellow and as the 2016/2017 Celia M. Howard Fellow at the Paul Simon Public Policy Institute.  In this capacity, she conducted groundbreaking research to address the issue of human trafficking throughout the state of Illinois.  Her goal is to assess the general public’s viewpoint and raise awareness of this global issue that affects millions of children, women and men.  In doing so, it enabled her to further educate individuals and shed light on the need to protect survivors from victimization and ease the reintegration of victims.  She is currently a Health Policy Specialist in the Department of Population Science and Policy.

Human Trafficking Lecture

Simon Institute Poll


Laurie Ryznyk

Ms. Laurie Dunn Ryznyk is an associate professor at SIU School of Medicine where she serves as the associate director and founder of the SIU PA program.  She has been teaching PA and medical students about human trafficking for several years.  Ms. Ryznyk has also presented about human trafficking victims and the medical evaluation at state and national conferences.  She is also a member of our newly founded Southern Illinois Trafficking Coalition called TORCH and has cared for patients who are victims and survivors of trafficking in her family medicine practice.  Ms. Ryznyk has been personally active in human trafficking efforts for the last 12 years.  Her aim is to focus on the health care system, health care issues and long term physical and mental health effects of human trafficking. 

Human Trafficking Conference

Sex Trafficking in Southern Illinois

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