CNN names Lonnie and Sandy Phillips/Survivors Empowered one of their Champions for Change.  

One of 12 award recipients, Survivors Empowered is being recognized by CNN anchor Anderson Cooper as an uplifting community champion for empowering survivors of gun violence to move forward with their lives.

These survivors include most notably the family and friends of shooting victims, as well as shooting survivors themselves. 

Tragically, Jessi Redfield Ghawi, the daughter of Survivors Empowered founders Sandy and Lonnie Phillips, was one of 12 killed in the 2012 Aurora, CO theater shootings. As Sandy and Lonnie learned firsthand, surviving family and friends need much help to navigate the new reality they face. Survivors Empowered has become a nationally prominent resource to help shooting survivors. Survivors Empowered also helps survivors ultimately wanting  to share their stories to help educate and reduce violence.

Beginning as Jessi’s Message in 2012, the organization grew into Survivors Empowered – a 501(c)(3) national non-profit organization created By Survivors, For Survivors, Empowering Survivors.

Resources for survivors are far-ranging and life-sustaining—starting with the first moments and days after the tragedy. Three Survivors Empowered resource centers are: Survivors Toolkit co-authored by Gabby Giffords, Trauma Therapy Resources, and Mindfulness CoursesNext year, the organization is launching a Mobile Retreats program. SE’s big-picture mission is to:

  • Provide support and referrals for services to survivors of violence, and connect survivors to a support network of others nearby.   
  • Educate survivors about how to tell their stories in a compelling way to speak to the issue of violence in their communities.   
  • Facilitate ability of wounded gun violence survivors to archive their stories for research purposes.
  • Make available a Rapid Response Team made up of veteran survivors of violence that have walked the walk.  After a mass casualty event, local governments and law enforcement are overwhelmed. Victims are in total shock or fighting for their lives. No one understands what these survivors need better than those of who have gone through it.

As a grassroots organization, Survivors Empowered relies almost totally on individual donations to fund efforts. Sales of two Sandy and Lonnie Phillips co-authored books and Survivors Empowered store merchandise provide additional funds. Please help us help gun violence survivors—including the families and friends of gun suicide victims, casualties of individual shootings, and domestic abuse victims, as well as the more widely publicized mass-events.


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