Survivors Rising is honored to welcome our first Executive Director!

Sherry Helmke has been named executive director of Survivors Rising, a local non-profit dedicated to survivor advocacy, support, leadership and engagement.  A University of Nebraska-Lincoln graduate, Sherry’s background includes corporate and non-profit leadership roles, leadership education for underserved populations, survivor mentorship, and social justice work.

We are excited about the support from the cShery Helmke Executive Directorommunity and the growth of Survivors Rising since its inception that has made it possible for us to hire our first executive director.  In seeking a leader, we were looking for someone who shared the organization’s commitment to survivor voices and leadership and who would bring collaborative, innovative leadership skills and an established network of community connections. We are confident that Sherry’s experience will advance Survivors Rising’s strategic objectives and help guide us into a future where survivors are positively influencing institutions and policy.

In 2008, Sherry led the creation of the We-Can and Si, Se Puede Circles, a leadership education project for low-income, immigrant and refugee women in Tacoma, WA that was featured in the Stanford Social Innovation Review. Prior to her responsibilities for program and fund development at Catherine Place in Tacoma, WA, Sherry served as executive director at Omaha’s Institute for Career Advancement Needs (ICAN), where she led the development of the Defining Leadership programs.  Before moving to the non-profit sector, she held director positions at UnitedHealthcare of the Midlands and Methodist Health System.

Since 2010, Sherry has spent more than nine months in India volunteering with and learning from Sr. Lucy Kurien, founding director of Maher, who has received numerous national and international leadership and social work awards.

“I am grateful to the Survivors Rising Board of Directors for the opportunity to serve as Executive Director.  I look forward to working with the board, survivors, community organizations, advocates, and allies, and the legislature to further the organization’s mission, vision and goals of advocacy, education, survivor support, leadership and engagement.”

Founded in 2016, Survivors Rising is dedicated to advocacy, education, and support for survivors of sex trafficking, sexual exploitation, sexual assault, domestic/dating violence and stalking. Our mission is to advocate and empower survivors and ensure the survivor voice is represented in prevention, policy, service provision and offender accountability.  We are committed to working with survivors to provide hope and tools for healing and to providing survivor engagement in all aspects of our communities.