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Lambert named first rural representative for Child Advocacy Centers of Michigan

March 14, 2024 | By Emilie Jacques

Victim Support Program Director Virginia Lambert was elected to serve on the statewide Board of Directors for Child Advocacy Centers of Michigan (CACMI) in 2024, as the Rural Child Advocacy Centers Representative on the Policies Committee.

“I'm honored to have a voice on the board for the UP and rural communities,” said Lambert. “Prior to this, no one from the UP had served on the board.” 

Melissa Werkman, President and CEO of CACMI had made it a priority to have involvement on the board from the Upper Peninsula. Lambert is joined by two other UP representatives that now serve on the board. 

Virginia CACMILambert was nominated and elected by CACMI board members to serve as the rural representative on the CACMI board. This position is brand new as of 2024, making Lambert the first person ever appointed to the position. She will be focusing on bringing funding, awareness and training opportunities closer to home.

As it stands now, people who work for child advocacy centers in Michigan can only take training in lower Michigan. The biggest conference takes place in Detroit at the Justice for Children’s Conference. This is both a time sink and financial burden for many rural child advocacy centers. Lambert explained that every year the Copper Shores CAC team spends two days traveling for a three-day training, which also takes them away from any urgent work in the Copper Country.

“There are a lot of different resources we don’t have,” said Lambert. “We often get overlooked for funding and training opportunities, like training that is specific to rural communities.”

In a rural area like the Copper Country, it is very challenging to keep CACs above ground without funding from the government. There are not as many donors or funding opportunities to keep an entire CAC afloat. Copper Shores’ CAC has also had the opportunity to receive accreditation, something that has taken more than two and half years and multiple resources. 

“Serving on the board allows us to have a voice for our area and other areas like ours,“ explained Lambert. “Without recognition of the UP and its developing CACs, we don’t have as much technical support for our accreditation. It’s a lot easier when your technical advisor is down the hall.”

Positive changes are quickly underway. With the UP being represented on the board for the first time, the board is also having a UP Summit for multidisciplinary teams to take their training in Marquette. 

To learn more about the Child Advocacy Center, visit

Emilie Jacques

Emilie Jacques

"I graduated from Michigan Tech with a B.S. in Psychology, a minor in Communication Studies, and a minor in Media Production. I love the outdoors and DnD." You can reach Emilie at