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2011 WOMAN OF INFLUENCE: Kerry Hyatt Blomquist

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Legal Director, Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Sphere of Influence: She has spearheaded the fight against family abuse statewide. She has created programs to offer victims immediate protection from the time they enter a hospital and she founded the state’s first domestic-violence education program for attorneys.

Most lawyers who start out in public service work eventually opt out, drawn by the higher salaries and financial security of private practice. But not Kerry Hyatt Blomquist, 50, legal director of the Indiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence.

“People who have the most influence in this kind of issue are the ones that have been around the longest,” Blomquist said. “It’s like Congress. You pretty much have to be there for a while before you have any sort of power or can work for the betterment of the problem.”

Domestic violence killed 62 Hoosiers between July 2010 and June 2011, and drove nearly 11,000 to take refuge in an emergency shelter, according to the ICADV. More than 20,000 victims received other services, and 65,000 called a crisis line.
 

blomquist-kerry04-15col.jpg (IBJ Photo/ Perry Reichanadter)

Once Blomquist realized the extent of the problem several years ago, she decided to work for change. She became executive director of the Protective Order Pro Bono Project of Greater Indianapolis Inc. in 2001, which was eventually absorbed by ICADV, where Blomquist has worked since 2005.

In her current position, Blomquist represents domestic-violence survivors in emergency hearings, provides expert testimony in criminal and civil cases, trains law-enforcement recruits and speaks statewide on the impact of family violence on the legal, health care and social-service system.

She worked closely with the Indiana Supreme Court to develop the online Protective Order Registry, which allows police to verify protective orders 24/7. She also created a pilot program that makes law students available to represent domestic-violence victims at all times, and puts judges on standby around the clock to issue protective orders even before victims leave a hospital.

Blomquist founded the state’s only domestic-violence legal education program at the law school, which she touts as her most significant accomplishment. Teaching at her alma mater allows her to put domestic violence on the radar screen of future attorneys.

“If you’re a lawyer that works in family practice or in any kind of practice with clients on personal issues, and if you don’t screen for domestic violence, you’re arguably committing malpractice, because it’s so relevant in so many areas of the law,” Blomquist said.

One of the things she values about her job is the opportunity to expose her children and herself to problems far worse than they have ever faced themselves.

“When you’re starting to feel so self-absorbed that little tiny things drive you crazy, sometimes it’s time to revisit the big picture,” Blomquist said. “I’m consistently grateful because I see people with seemingly insurmountable challenges every day.”

The plight of victims makes her impatient for change, which she said is her greatest professional weakness. Gradually she has learned to pare her goals down and approach them with patience, rather than frantically pursue every good idea that occurs to her.

Blomquist also has been active in the legal community. She is first vice president of the Indianapolis Bar Association and will become president in 2013.

A native of Evansville, Blomquist is single and has two sons: Michael, 18, and Eric, 15. She enjoys running and is learning the art of home repair.•

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  1. We gotta stop this Senior crime. Perhaps long jail terms for these old boozers is in order. There are times these days (more rather than less) when this state makes me sick.

  2. One option is to redistribute the payroll tax already collected by the State. A greater share could be allocated to the county of the workplace location as opposed to the county of residency. Not a new tax, just re-allocate what is currently collected.

  3. Have to agree with Mal Burgess. The biggest problem is massive family breakdown in these neighborhoods. While there are a lot of similiarities, there is a MASSIVE difference between 46218 and 46219. 46219 is diluted by some stable areas, and that's probably where the officers live. Incentivizing is fine, but don't criticize officers for choosing not to live in these neighbor hoods. They have to have a break from what is arguably one of the highest stress job in the land. And you'll have to give me hard evidence that putting officers there is going to make a significant difference. Solid family units, responsible fathers, siblings with the same fathers, engaged parents, commitment to education, respect for the rule of law and the importance of work/a job. If the families and the schools (and society) will support these, THEN we can make a difference.

  4. @Agreed, when you dine in Marion County, the taxes paid on that meal go to state coffers (in the form of the normal sales taxes) and to the sports/entertainment venues operated by the CIB. The sales taxes on your clothing and supplies just go to the state. The ONLY way those purchases help out Indianapolis is through the payroll taxes paid by the (generally low-wage) hourly workers serving you.

  5. The government leaders of Carmel wouldn't last a week trying to manage Indianapolis. There's a major difference between running a suburb with virtually no one below the poverty level and running a city in which 21+% are below the poverty level. (http://www.census.gov/did/www/saipe/data/interactive/#view=StateAndCounty&utilBtn=&yLB=0&stLB=15&cLB=49&dLB=0&gLB=0&usSts_cbSelected=false&usTot_cbSelected=true&stateTot_cbSelected=true&pLB=0?ltiYearSelected=false?ltiYearAlertFlag=false?StateFlag=false?validSDYearsFlag=false)

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