This week’s issue highlights our Role Model honoree Emily Sims and our Lifetime Achievement honoree Heidi Kuhn. Here are a few reasons why each hero was nominated for her heroic efforts in Marin and beyond:t is an honor to sponsor the 2014 Heroes of Marin awards. In a county full of residents whose aptitude and determination are testament to what makes Marin such a unique place to call home, we are honored and humbled to celebrate our eight nominees.
Emily Sims graduated cum laude from Golden Gate University in 2002 and magna cum laude with a master of arts from Sonoma State University in 2012. Her thesis, “Social Service and Law Enforcement Responses to Human Trafficking,” has been utilized by West Marin Advocacy, a nonprofit that Emily founded to provide direct service advocacy for survivors of family and community violence and training materials for other nonprofit organizations and public service agencies. Emily had personally experienced domestic violence and sexual exploitation and has chosen to dedicate her initiative and experience to helping others overcome and cope with life during and after abuse. Directly out of college, at age 22, she became a domestic violence intervention advocate with W.O.M.A.N. Inc. at the San Francisco Police Department, working as an advocate with survivors of family violence. Over the next decade, she served as an employee, volunteer and board member at several human service agencies throughout the Bay Area. As a freelance writer she has published essays covering the topics of human sexuality, reproductive health and rights, sexual assault prevention and recovery and adoptive and foster parenting.
Returning to Marin County in 2009, Emily was concerned to find a lack of services for survivors of human trafficking. Drawing from the examples of community task forces in neighboring counties, she proposed the creation of a countywide response to sexual and labor trafficking, with the aim of assisting juvenile and adult survivors. Emily is, quite simply, a role model.
Heidi Kuhn, fifth-generation member of a founding family in Marin and a mother of four, established Roots of Peace in 1997 out of her great respect for her mother and her passionate conviction that the earth should be safe for children. She works courageously to remove landmines, the deadly seeds of war planted in the earth, and replaces these seeds of war with roots of hope and sustenance. Roots of Peace has worked in Croatia, Angola, Bosnia, Iraq, and Israel/West Bank, and current projects continue in Afghanistan and Vietnam.
Roots of Peace reclaims farmland despoiled by landmines, partners with American universities to bring best practices for environmentally appropriate agricultural, and assists and educates the local farmers to raise, market and ship high-value produce, enhancing their income at least threefold. These projects promote sustainable agriculture and education (in addition to training the farmers, Roots of Peace builds or enhances schools for children, and replaces formerly mined soccer fields).
Teaming with her husband Gary, who defines and shepherds the agricultural projects, Kuhn has built a dedicated staff and strong partnerships with the California wine industry and the U.S. and foreign governments.
Mrs. Kuhn’s commitment to this cause has been at great personal sacrifice. She continues to participate and support local groups here in Marin, as her heart lies here, and the beauty of her life in Marin inspires her to “pay it forward” and help make life better for someone less fortunate. She truly is a hero.