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Department of Navy, SUNY Team up Against Sexual Assault/Sexual Harassment

Lt. Cmdr. Robert Carr

The Department of the Navy is hosting its first joint Regional Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment, in partnership with the State University of New York, on September 5, 2019 in Manhattan.

The one-day conference follows the inaugural National Discussion on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment at America’s Colleges, Universities and Service Academies, held at the United States Naval Academy in April. The event was comprised of leaders and experts from public, private, and government-run educational institutions who shared best practices to reduce the prevalence of sexual assault and sexual harassment.

The Honorable Richard V. Spencer, Secretary of the Navy, will join SUNY Chancellor Dr. Kristina M. Johnson in opening the event, geared toward prevention strategies, as well as program evaluation and data collection. More than 250 attendees have registered for the Discussion.

Secretary Spencer said sexual assault and sexual harassment endangers everyone, both inside the military and out. “We all have the responsibility, and the capability, to confront this behavior,” Spencer said. “I’m going to take advantage of every opportunity I can to change the culture and win this fight.”


All four military academy leaders will join the Secretary at the Regional Discussion, and will participate in a Leadership Forum panel. This panel will include Rear Adm. William G. Kelly, superintendent of the United States Coast Guard Academy; Lt. Gen. Jay B. Silveria, superintendent of the United States Air Force Academy; Vice Adm. Sean S. Buck, superintendent of the United States Naval Academy and Lt. Gen. Darryl A. Williams, superintendent of the United States Military Academy at West Point; as well as Rear Adm. Michael Alfultis, president of SUNY Maritime College.

Keeping with the regional conversation, East Coast experts in sexual assault and sexual harassment prevention programs will also lead panel discussions at the conference, including Dr. Nathan Galbreath, deputy director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office in Alexandria, Virginia; Elizabeth Brady, project director of sexual and Interpersonal Violence Prevention at SUNY; Dr. Sarah McMahon, director, Center of Violence Against Women and Children at Rutgers University in New Jersey; and Sharyn Potter, executive director at Prevention Innovations Research Center at the University of New Hampshire.

Dr. Elizabeth (Elise) P. VanWinkle, executive director of the Office of Force Resiliency for the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness, will lead a keynote panel, “Promoting a Culture of Change through Data.” She will discuss the role of data and how an in-depth understanding of metrics can guide efforts to eliminate sexual assault and sexual harassment from America’s colleges, universities and service academies.

Melissa Cohen, Director of the Department of the Navy’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Office, said a regional focus will allow the military and academic community to narrow the scope of joint efforts, primarily through shared experiences on topics like data collection and ways to effectively measure prevention programs, and find meaningful, effective solutions together.

“We want to sustain the momentum we have created with the academic community, who share our desire to end sexual assault and sexual harassment on our nation’s campuses, military service academies and within our communities,” she said. “At this event, we can learn from each other, and work together to eliminate these criminal and destructive behaviors. We must give our focused attention in this topic, and be willing to try new approaches to stop sexual assault and sexual harassment. We’ve been asked to continue the conversation, and we are responding.”


For more information, contact Lt. Cmdr. Robert Carr, DON-SAPRO Public Affairs Officer, at 703-693-2954 or [email protected]

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