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Our annual Capitol Hill event focuses on safe driving during the holidays and honors traffic safety leaders

Today, The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility provided Capitol Hill staff and Members of Congress with the chance to learn about how alcohol affects a person’s body and how to get home safely during the holidays. Additionally, 10 leaders from across the nation were honored for their leadership in traffic safety with The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s second annual Kevin E. Quinlan Traffic Safety Awards. The annual event was held with the Congressional Stop DUI Caucus in attendance and aimed to increase awareness of the dangers of drunk driving, particularly during the holiday season.

Kevin E. Quinlan was the Chief of the Safety Advocacy Division of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).  Mr. Quinlan was with the Safety Board for nearly 20 years, serving as the Alcohol and Drug Program Coordinator and Chief of the Safety Recommendations Division.  He was instrumental in promoting state action on Safety Board recommendations to reduce fatalities, injuries, and crashes in all modes of transportation.  Mr. Quinlan authored five major studies for the Board.  Kevin was a mentor to countless traffic safety advocates and an inspiration to the thousands of people who lost loved ones.  His expert testimony led to the passage of many effective traffic safety countermeasures across this nation. 

The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility honored the following 10 national traffic safety leaders today:

Jonathan Beeton has served as the senior advisor/communications director to Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz for nearly nine years and together with his boss, he has made underage drinking and drunk driving prevention a priority. Throughout his 17 years of public relations experience, Mr. Beeton has been a spokesperson on five presidential campaigns, served in the Clinton Administration, and worked as spokesperson for three Members of Congress.

Mike Boland lives in St. Louis and has spent more than two decades volunteering for Mothers Against Drunk Driving’s Missouri organization. In that time Mr. Boland has dedicated 40 hours a week, held every office within the local chapter and served on MADD’s national board. Mr. Boland was inspired to take action in the fight to eliminate drunk driving after his son’s best friend was killed by drunk driver. He has trained hundreds of volunteers and has spent countless hours in the state legislature and in the United States Congress working to enact legislation to reduce drunk driving deaths and injuries.

Judge James Dehn is a judge in the Isanti County District Court in Minnesota. He pioneered the staggered sentencing approach for repeat drunk driving offenders, which is now utilized in over 30 states and was studied by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Judge Dehn was the first judge in the nation to require repeat drunk driving offenders to wear a pre-trial continuous alcohol monitoring device. He also founded the Minnesota SAFE RIDE program, a successful public/private partnership that has dramatically reduced drunk driving in Isanti County, Minnesota.

Cathy Gillen is based in the Washington, DC area and is a highly respected national highway safety expert with more than 23 years of specialized experience in traffic safety public, media and government relations.  Over the course of her career working for such national traffic safety organizations as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), Ms. Gillen has been an influential leader with a unique talent for connecting government agencies, advocates, companies and non-profit organizations.  Her work has successfully launched countless traffic safety campaigns on a variety of issues from teen driving safety, child passenger safety, impaired driving and everything in between. Ms. Gillen also serves as the Coalition Leader for the Maryland Safe Teen Driving Coalition which regularly conducts events and undertakes programs and campaigns that address distracted driving among teen drivers. 

Judge Gary Graber is a judge in Darien Center, New York and the former president of the New York State Magistrates Association. Judge Graber has been a long-time advocate for improving underage drinking and drunk driving laws in New York and works diligently with the New York State Legislature to pass legislation that will save lives.

Kate Hallahan has nearly twenty-seven years of public service and currently serves as the lead transportation staff person on the House Appropriations Committee. Prior to her current position, Ms. Hallahan served on the U.S. Senate Appropriations Transportation Subcommittee staff under the leadership of Senator Patty Murray (D-WA). Her experience also includes Congressional and policy work at the Department of Transportation during the Clinton Administration and work as personal and transportation committee staff in the U.S. House of Representatives. Ms. Hallahan’s highway safety accomplishments include helping to secure the initial federal funding for the national media mobilizations for “Click It or Ticket” and impaired driving campaigns, providing funding for core competency training of NHTSA and state traffic safety employees, and encouraging standardized procedures for evaluating State highway safety programs.

Rachel Kelly is the Deputy Chief of Staff for Congressman Jim Himes (D-CT). Ms. Kelly, a native of Fairfield, CT, has worked for Himes since he was elected to office in 2009. Her key areas of focus include the Congressman’s Financial Services Committee work as well as budget, taxes, trade, foreign affairs and transportation. Prior to working for Himes, she worked on Hillary Clinton’s 2008 Presidential Campaign, served as Deputy Research Director of the WOMEN VOTE! Program at Emily’s List, and represented a number of state and local governments, public universities and hospitals at Blank Rome Government Relations. Ms. Kelly holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Michigan.

Elizabeth Ryan is a junior at Park View High School in Sterling, Virginia. As a safe driving advocate, she has been a leader at her school and community as part of the Extra Mile club at Park View High School. As a member of Extra Mile, Ms. Ryan has championed traffic safety and represented her school at the National Organizations for Youth Safety distracted driving summit. She has also provided invaluable support to The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s IKnowEverything teen driver safety program.

Tracee Sutton has worked on Capitol Hill for 17 years, building a reputation as an experienced policy leader with a deep understanding of the legislative process.  She currently serves as Legislative Director for Senator Heidi Heitkamp, advising the Senator on key issues and leading a legislative team of policy staff as they work to develop and implement the Senator’s legislative priorities. Particularly significant to the Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s initiatives, Ms. Sutton is helping to establish the STOP DUI caucus in the Senate with Senator Heitkamp as its co-chair.

Before joining Senator Heitkamp’s team, Ms. Sutton served on the staff of Senator Kent Conrad for 11 years where she directed his legislative work on transportation, including leading the Senator’s efforts on several highway bill reauthorizations.  Sutton also played a key role assisting Senator Conrad in securing crucial resources for flood protection and recovery efforts throughout North Dakota. Prior to joining Senator Conrad’s office, she worked for Congressman Earl Pomeroy, where she started as an intern, and worked her way up to a lead policy advisor on a wide range of issues.  

David Wallace is a highly respected traffic safety professional with more than a decade of experience which began in Michigan as the state’s first Traffic Safety Resource Prosecutor. He then served as the first Director of the National Center for DWI Courts. Mr. Wallace is currently a traffic safety consultant best known as the Traffic Safety Guy, a blogger for traffic safety issues. He produces a regular podcast called Highway to Safety where he interviews traffic safety practitioners, policymakers and experts.

In addition to the Kevin Quinlan traffic safety award, attendees at the event could try on Fatal Vision Goggles in order to safely experience what it feels like to be at high BAC levels, see the effects on motor skills, and better understand the dangers of drunk driving. Attendees were able to play The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility’s interactive traffic safety trivia game and learn more about how alcohol affects their personal blood alcohol concentration (BAC) levels. Kurt Erickson, President of The Washington Regional Alcohol Program’s (WRAP) was present to speak about the free SoberRide initiative in the Washington, DC metro area for the Holiday Season.

To view photos from the event, please click here.

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