Nineteenth Annual Pennsylvania Governor’s Pathfinder Award, 2017

Governor Tom Wolf and The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency honor Paws for Empowerment Victim-Assistance Canine Advocacy Program with the most prestigious award in Pennsylvania for victim services programs, the Pennsylvania Governor’s Pathfinder Award.

 The power of canine advocacy is harnessed by Crisis Center North (CCN) through its Paws for Empowerment Program, comprised currently of two dedicated rescue dogs, six-year veteran Penny and new canine trainee Ari, at work for victims of domestic violence. CCN has led canine advocacy in Pennsylvania through Paws for Empowerment since 2010 when the human services agency welcomed former shelter dog Penny to its team. The first four-legged court advocate in Allegheny County, Penny has played a part in CCN’s multi-faceted strategy to serve families and individuals affected by domestic abuse. Ari, the new canine team member, is now in his first stages of training.

 In 2016, the program’s Canine Advocacy Advisory Board was formed with leaders in the fields of victim services and canine-assisted therapy to provide expert resources and enhanced awareness. Dora has served as a Member of the Advisory Board since its formation.


 State Honors Dog Therapy Program That Helps Domestic Violence Victims, by Karen Kadilak


Gargoyle issue 61 with Dora E. McQuaidGargoyle Literary Journal nominates Dora for a Pushcart Prize in Poetry in 2014 for her poem, Tunnel of Love.

Winners to be announced in Spring 2015.




Dora McQuaid at One Billion RisingDora’s image replaces that of Gerry Sandusky in the Inspirations Mural near Penn State, State College, PA, 2012

Dora’s dedication to addressing through poetry, performance and activism the issues of sexual and domestic violence was honored in 2012 by her image being painted into the place previously occupied by the image of former Penn State football coach and convicted sex offender Jerry Sandusky in the Inspirations Mural by artist Michael Pilato of the Public Art Academy in State College, PA, where Penn State is located. Extensively covered by international print, television, radio and Internet media sources.

To view a PDF of Dora’s statement to the press, click here.


Remarkable Women of Taos, New Mexico, 2012

Chosen by community members as one of the women highlighted during the 2012 yearlong celebration of women whose lives and creative spirits have influenced the Northern New Mexico community. Dora is included in the 2013 book, Remarkable Women of Taos, by Liz Cunningham, which celebrates the women honored in the yearlong campaign. Nighthawk Press, Taos, NM


Vagina Warrior Award, 2005

Honored by the cast of the 2005 Penn State Production of Eve Ensler’s award-winning play, The Vagina Monologues, for my statewide and international activism to end violence against women and girls.

“V-Day 2005 is about recognizing Vagina Warriors as leaders. We are honoring our Penn State Vagina Warriors to celebrate and support the women who are making a difference, who are changing the paradigm and perception of violence against women and who are leading our community to a better future.”


Penn State Roots Of Leadership Honoree, 2004

Dora was honored by the student leaders of Penn State for her leadership:

“Your involvement, dedication and commitment to social justice has been inspirational. You have been a mentor and friend to many when they needed a strong shoulder the most. You have also been the source of inspiration to many women and men that have found their voices thanks to your classes, readings and presence…thank you for making Penn State a better place.”


 Fifth Annual Pennsylvania Governor’s Pathfinder Award, 2003

Dora with her Mom and Dad receiving the Governor's AwardGovernor Ed Rendell and The Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency stated “Ms. McQuaid was awarded for her outstanding and visible contribution to and impact upon the victim services movement in Pennsylvania through her work on behalf of victims of domestic and sexual violence” as a survivor/activist.

Pennsylvania Coalition Against Domestic Violence Director, Susan Kelly-Dreiss, stated in her nomination letter that “Dora McQuaid is a treasure to Pennsylvania; her work embodies the spirit of empowerment for all victims… She offers hope to victims who are still in violent relationships and she shines light on the move away from abuse and towards a joyful experience of life. Her words are inspiring and joyful, yet never minimize the experience of being a victim. She represents the weak growing strong, the victim creating enlightenment for the community.”


Citation of Congratulations, The Pennsylvania Senate and Senator Jake Corman, 2003

In recognition of my service to the state of Pennsylvania as poet, activist, teacher and speaker.

“The Senate of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania congratulates Dora E. McQuaid on the meritorious honor which has been bestowed upon her and heartily commends her outstanding courage and commitment to the welfare of the Commonwealth. Her many laudable contributions are worthy of great praise and commendation and will long be remembered and appreciated by the all the citizens of this Commonwealth.”


Scholarship Award, Outward Bound Outdoor Schools, Women of Courage Program, 2000



The New Mexico Woman Writer’s Fellowship,
A Room Of Her Own Foundation, 2011

Recording of Dora performing during the 2012 A Room of Her Own Conference:

The Pagosa Springs Artist-In-Residency Program, Colorado, 2008

The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation, Fellowship, New Mexico, 2007-2008

The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of Taos, New Mexico, established in 1954, is one of the oldest artist residence programs in the United States with the mission to “Support the artist and the creative process”. Located on 15 acres in the heart of Taos, a four-hundred-year-old multicultural community renowned for its popularity with artists, the Foundation offers three months of rent-free and utility-pain housing that serves as a haven for visual artists, literary artists and music composers of national and international origin.

The Harwood Museum of Art, Poet-In-Residence, New Mexico, 2006.


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Dora’s efforts to use her voice as an means of activism and advocacy, social and political engagement and individual and collective empowerment and healing are funded, in part, by her readers. This website provides a wide array of resources to support visitors in exploring and living into their truths, and the support offered in return has allowed Dora to maintain this website as a community-driven, advertising-free space for over sixteen years. If you find that this website offers you inspiration or support, information or resources that benefit you or your community or you appreciate Dora’s voice and efforts, please consider making a contribution to keep her work and art alive. Thank you.
All peace to you.