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Pace University Criminal Justice Professor Wins Prestigious National Award

Pace University Criminal Justice Professor Kim Collica-Cox won a prestigious national Jefferson Award.
Pace University Criminal Justice Professor Kim Collica-Cox won a prestigious national Jefferson Award. Photo Credit: Provided

Pace University Criminal Justice Professor Kim Collica-Cox won a prestigious national Jefferson Award for outstanding public service.

She was honored for her innovative animal-assisted therapy program which helps to heal mothers incarcerated at the Westchester County Jail in Valhalla.

Developed in partnership with the county’s Department of Correction and non-profit Good Dog Foundation -- "Parenting, Prison and Pups’" pairs incarcerated mothers with trained therapy dogs to teach them parenting skills as part of their return home after release.

Collica-Cox won the award over 75 other nominees nationwide. She was cheered at the ceremony by her daughters Antoinette, 24, and Annalise, 6.

Nationally, "Parenting, Prison and Pups" is the first program of its kind to incorporate animal-assisted therapy into a structured classroom curriculum. It helps instill trust in female inmates, many of whom have experienced prior trauma and violence or suffer from mental health issues and addiction.

In working with therapy dogs, the program enhances their parenting skills in an effort to return them to their families and reduce intergenerational incarceration.

The Jefferson Awards Foundation was created in 1972 by Jaqueline Kennedy Onassis and others in public service. The Foundation partners nationally with groups such as the NFL, Yale University, the Hispanic Heritage Foundation and the United States Conference of Mayors in an effort to foster meaningful public service for underserved populations and youth.

In addition to Collica-Cox, the Jefferson Foundation honored Super Bowl Champion Chris Long, who donated his entire 2018 salary to underserved youth; billionaire philanthropist Elaine Wynn; and Pia Phillips and Abbie Nelson, teenagers who founded Pab’s Packs, an organization which custom designs backpacks for seriously ill children.

Westchester Commissioner of Correction Joseph K. Spano said: “Professor Collica-Cox’s receipt of this prestigious award confirms her commitment to ensuring that incarcerated mothers are provided with transferable skills that are critical for a safe and productive reunification with their families."

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