Shelter, Inc. names new director, retiring director receives state award

Shelter, Inc. has announced the retirement of its long-time executive director, Sandra L. Pilgrim-Lewis. For nearly 30 years, she advocated for service with dignity, for social justice and for ending oppression.

For her efforts, Pilgrim-Lewis recently was presented with the Visionary Voice Award from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center. The award recognizes the creativity and hard work of individuals around the country who have demonstrated outstanding work to end sexual violence.

Pilgrim-Lewis has been a leader at the state and local levels for the domestic violence and sexual assault movements. She was honored for her profound commitment to the movement to end violence against women and to ensure that provided services are accessible, relevant and accountable to survivors of domestic and sexual violence. She has worked tirelessly organizing to increase access and justice for survivors from all backgrounds.

With the retirement of Pilgrim-Lewis, Shelter, Inc. has named Kathleen (Katy) Conklin as the agency’s new executive director. Conklin, a Rogers City native, also has a long record of commitment to ending domestic and sexual violence. Her background includes working as an advocate and support group facilitator for a domestic violence shelter, and more than 17 years as an attorney.

She was the supervising attorney of the Domestic Violence Unit of Legal Services of South Central Michigan, where she and her staff represented survivors of domestic violence. She also was the staff attorney for the Civil Justice Project for the Michigan Coalition to End Domestic and Sexual Violence, and has worked many years as an attorney representing people with disabilities.

Conklin is known both statewide and nationally as a legal educator and speaker as well as a legal trainer for lawyers, judges, legal advocates, mental health professionals, physicians and other professionals working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Prior to returning to her northern Michigan roots, Conklin was a Lansing resident since 1983. She is a graduate of the Thomas M. Cooley Law School and Michigan State University. She has been licensed to practice law in the state of Michigan since 1996.