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16th National Conference on Child Abuse and Neglect
ACYF Commissioner's Award Book
M. Elizabeth Ralston, PhD
For over 30 years, Dr. M. Elizabeth Ralston has taken action in regard to child abuse and neglect, typically an issue that few want even to discuss. Devoting her life to our nation's youngest victims, she directs her considerable energies to ensuring the safety of children, as well as to providing the mental health services they need to overcome the trauma of abuse. In the process, Dr. Ralston has changed the way this issue is addressed in Charleston, in South Carolina, and across the nation.
A leading advocate for a coordinated community response in child abuse cases, Dr. Ralston developed and serves as Director of the Dee Norton Lowcountry Children's Center, South Carolina's first Children's Advocacy Center. Since 1989, the Center, which focuses on reducing the incidence of child abuse and its impact on the child, family, and community, has served over 13,000 children. Additionally, Dr. Ralston proved instrumental in establishing 16 additional Children's Advocacy Centers throughout South Carolina.
Dr. Ralston has provided training, consultation, expert testimony, and technical assistance regarding child maltreatment at the state, national, and international level. Additionally, she has served as a member of the Board of Directors of Voices for South Carolina's Children, as a founding Board member and President of the South Carolina Chapter of the American Professional Society on the Abuse of Children, as President of the South Carolina Network of Child Advocacy Centers, and as Chair of the South Carolina Justice Ad Hoc Task Force. Currently, she is a member of both the Board of the National Children's Alliance and the Lowcountry Citizens Review Panel.
Respected in her community and throughout the State of South Carolina, Dr. Ralston holds people accountable in a non-threatening and effective manner. Her dedication to children and families coupled with her vision and notable leadership has achieved a significant impact on the prevention and treatment of child abuse.