January 26, 2011 – (Washington, DC) — RAINN, the nation’s largest anti-sexual violence organization, today announced the appointment of a prominent Minneapolis resident to its board of directors. Berit Francis has long been a philanthropic leader in the Minneapolis community and has spoken publicly about the importance of providing help and obtaining justice for survivors of sexual violence. As a member of RAINN’s Board of Directors, she now seeks to take her efforts national.
Berit has personal experience with the devastating effects of sexual violence. At 29 years old, Berit was violently raped in Berkeley, CA. She reported the crime to police, and had DNA evidence collected through a sexual assault forensic exam (“rape kit”). Thanks to the technology of DNA evidence, law enforcement eventually found that the DNA from Berit’s attack matched three other rapes. Although the statute of limitations had expired on Berit’s rape, her perpetrator was prosecuted two years ago for the torture of another victim ––a thirteeen year old girl. Berit testified at the trial, and the perpetrator is now serving life in prison.
“To whom much is given, much is expected,” Berit said. “Rape changes you forever. As a survivor and member of RAINN’s Board of Directors, I endeavor to bring rapists to justice and help other survivors receive the help they deserve through the National Sexual Assault Hotlines, as well as promote other RAINN initiatives.”
RAINN’s founder and president, Scott Berkowitz, highlighted how much Berit has already helped other survivors of sexual violence. “Berit is an admirable leader in her community, and we have worked with her both on advancing public policy that would improve DNA testing and to raise funds to increase awareness of this crime and its devastating impact on victims and their loved ones,” said Berkowitz. “She is a great ally and advocate, and in this new role, she will make a positive difference in countless lives.”
Berit and her husband, Target Executive Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer Michael Francis, are also active in other local charities and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, TN.
Berit retired from a fifteen-year career in nursing management in 1999, though she still maintains her license as an R.N. She lives in Orono, Minnesota with her husband and four children.
RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) is the nation’s largest anti-sexual assault organization and was named one of “America’s 100 Best Charities” by Worth magazine. RAINN created and operates the National Sexual Assault Hotlines (800.656.HOPE and rainn.org) in partnership with more than 1,100 local rape crisis centers across the country. The hotlines have helped more than 1.5 million people since 1994. RAINN also carries out programs to prevent sexual assault, help victims and ensure that rapists are brought to justice. For more information about RAINN, please visit rainn.org.