Ventura County Family Justice Center to honor three local heroes at annual Gala

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VENTURA COUNTY — Ventura County Family Justice Center announced (on May 28) that it will host the Voices of Hope Gala on July 20, 2024, from 5 p.m. – 10 p.m., at the Zachari Dunes on Mandalay Beach in Oxnard.

The Gala will honor three local heroes: Dr. Thomas Duncan, the Honorable Brian J. Back, and the Ventura County Community Foundation. The theme, Voices of Hope, shines a light on, and raises money for, victim support to improve the lives of those impacted by family violence and trauma in Ventura County. The evening will be filled with inspiration, education, music, a live auction, dinner, and more. For tickets and sponsorship opportunities, please visit

The 2024 Voices of Hope Honorees have been selected for their dedication, continued support, and for giving hope and a voice to the residents of Ventura County who need it most.

Hero of the Year Dr. Duncan, DO, FACS, FICS, is the Co-Director of Anacapa Surgery Associates where he provides care in general and trauma surgery. As former Chief of Staff and current Trauma Medical Director at Ventura County Medical Center, Dr. Duncan is active in the Violence Intervention Program and Elderly Fall Prevention Program and serves on the Ventura County Family Justice Center Board of Directors.

Champion of the Year Honorable Brian J. Back served as a Ventura County Superior Court judge for 20 years before retiring in 2018. His nomination reflects Judge Back’s long career presiding over juvenile delinquency, criminal, family law, guardianship, domestic violence, and mental health courts. He was formerly named Judge of the Year by the Ventura County Trial Lawyers Association.

Community Advocate of the Year Ventura County Community Foundation (VCCF), led by CEO Vanessa Bechtel, is a powerful collaborative partner in the community.

Most recently, VCCF teamed with Ventura County Family Justice Center to create the Tiny Homes Project, supporting a safe and nurturing environment with amenities that set residents up for long-term success.

“Community is how we find our way through trauma,” says Vanessa Melendrez Jimenez, Executive Development Officer of Ventura County Family Justice Center Foundation. “This year’s honorees demonstrate through action how our community shows up for and support its citizens who have experienced victimization” Joining the honorees will be “Voices of Ventura,” a group of local survivors who will lend their voices, sharing their stories of finding hope through support provided by Ventura County Family Justice Center.

Since opening its doors in 2019, over 10,000 adults and children from throughout Ventura County have received assistance from the Ventura County Family Justice Center with recovering from domestic violence, child abuse,

This article was originally published by Amigos 805.

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