Join us as we discuss issues of military justice with the Founder & Chair, President, and Treasurer of Protect Our Defenders (POD), the pre-eminent national human rights organization dedicated to ending sexual violence, victim retaliation, misogyny, sexual prejudice, and racism in the military and combating a culture that has allowed it to persist. We will focus on the ways in which the military has led social change through history, POD’s study on racial disparities in military justice and current legislation which could radically improve the delivery of justice to the victims for whom POD advocates. After their comments all of the speakers will answer questions.
This event is co-sponsored by
The Global Women’s Caucus & The Global Veterans and Military Families Caucus
Founder & CEO, Nancy Parrish
Nancy Parrish is an active leader in community and public affairs. She has devoted much of her life to issues of social justice and human rights.
In 2011, Parrish founded Protect Our Defenders (POD) is the national organization dedicated to ending the epidemic of sexual assault and racial disparity in the military, and its wide-ranging effects on our communities. In 2014, the New York Times, Robert Draper described POD as “the nation’s pre-eminent advocacy group on behalf of victims of sexual assault in the military.” In recognition of her work with Protect Our Defenders, Parrish was named the 2016 recipient of the Ivan Allen Jr. Prize for Social Courage.
Parrish was also a founding co-chair of Human Rights Watch’s Northern California Chapter, an organization dedicated to protecting human rights around the world. She has worked with President and Mrs. Carter in support of their international humanitarian work at the Carter Center, which is guided by a fundamental commitment to the alleviation of human suffering. Parrish served two terms as the development trustee of UCSF’s Friends of the Department of Psychiatry’s Hospital Board, which led to the creation of a children’s center. She also served as Chair of the Ringling Museum, and as Vice President of the Children’s Guardian Fund Board of Sarasota, helping to provide basic needs and enrich the lives of foster children.
President – Colonel Don Christensen, U.S. Air Force (ret.)
Colonel Don Christensen, USAF (ret.) served as chief prosecutor for the United States Air Force between 2010 and 2014. He served as a trial counsel, defense counsel or military judge for every year of his 23-year career in the United States Air Force.
Col Christensen has served as an Assistant Staff Judge Advocate, Area Defense Counsel, Circuit Defense Counsel, Deputy Chief. Circuit Defense Counsel, and Deputy Staff Judge Advocate, as a deployed Staff Judge Advocate, Chief Circuit Trial Counsel, and Staff Judge Advocate and as a Military Judge. He has tried over 150 courts-martial as a trial and defense counsel and has presided over 100 trials as a military judge.
He was born in Sturgis, South Dakota and received his law degree from Marquette University Law School. A third generation Air Force officer, he received his commission as a second lieutenant through ROTC and entered active service on 15 July 1991. Col Christensen is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of Wisconsin.
In his role as President, Col Christensen has appeared regularly in broadcast and print media to advocate for rights of crime victims, including appearances on CNN, CBS, NBC, ABC, MSNBC, Fox News, and the BBC, in addition to the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, USA Today, Time, and Newsweek.
Col Christensen has received numerous awards and decorations including the Legion of Merit, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Air Force Commendation Medal, and the Air Force Achievement Medal.
Paula Coughlin – Treasurer
Paula Coughlin is a retired U.S. Navy Lieutenant and the founder and owner of Ocean Yoga Center in Atlantic Beach, FL. Paula Coughlin-Puopolo comes from a lineage of military and community leaders. Before settling in Florida, she served in the US Navy as a helicopter pilot, serving aboard Naval vessels as one of the earliest women in aviation to become flight deck qualified and maintenance officer/post-maintenance check qualified. While serving as Aide de camp at the Naval Air Test Center, in 1991, her role as a whistle-blower in the infamous Tailhook Convention ended her aviation career, and Coughlin pushed forward working to rectify inequities in the military’s policies for the role of women in aviation and in combat. Coughlin is unwavering in her efforts to make positive changes; she has testified before SASC sub-committee, met with former President GH Bush, Sec. of Defense and more recently through an online petition and appearance on the Hill, forced the House Armed Services Committee to hold open hearings on the sexual abuse scandal at Lackland AFB. In recognition of her leadership in modernizing the roles of